Last time the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series hit Las Vegas, it was Ricky Johnson who ran the Pro 2 Unlimited table while Rob MacCachren relentlessly pursued. This time it was all MacCachren, while Johnson was only able to salvage a podium finish on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Pro 4 Unlimited was more of the Rick Huseman and Carl Renezeder show, as the two once again traded wins over the two days of racing.
While qualifying on Friday was warm, it was the wind that was the weather story of the weekend, whether it was the warm and windy conditions on Friday, the pleasant-if-not-for-the-wind weather on Saturday, or the biting cold wind mixed with a little rain on Sunday. The wind gusts up to 35mph made it hard to keep the track damp, and dust was a problem. When the drivers notice that the trucks coming off the jumps are floating longer and flying farther than they expect, you know the wind is strong.
It made for tricky track conditions as well, especially on Saturday. During the course of the races, the track went from muddy and sticky to dry and slick quickly. A versatile truck or buggy was the order of the day. With clouds moving in on Sunday and a threat of rain – only materializing briefly right before the Pro 2 Unlimited finale – track conditions were a little more consistent start to finish.
Carl Renezeder made a debut of a new Pro 4 truck this weekend, and it seemed to work for him. He qualified a second clear of the field on Friday and started fourth on Sunday due to a top-four inversion. That left the Toyotas of Huseman and Johnny Greaves starting up front. Renezeder, who ended up in the back after jumping into the pits right before the start, worked his way up to midpack by the competition yellow while Greaves, Huseman, Kyle LeDuc, Travis Coyne and Adrian Cenni were battling up front. After the restart, Cenni jumped into the lead and Renezeder was shortly up to third. That turned into first when Cenni and Huseman got together in Turn 2. They recovered with Huseman in second and Cenni in third. Huseman turned the fastest lap of the day trying to catch Renezeder, but in vain. Greaves was fourth and Coyne fifth.
On Sunday, it looked like it was going to be Greaves' day, as he jumped into the lead from pole and looked like he had the field handled, chased seemingly futilely by Renezeder, Huseman, Cenni and Steve Barlow. Renezeder hounded Greaves relentlessly after the restart, but couldn't seem to get by him until Greaves started falling back, and eventually pulled into the pits. Renezeder was in command, with Huseman and Cenni battling for second. However, not all was right with Renezeder's engine. “This truck was on rails,” he said. “But four laps from the end it started to sputter coming out of the corners like it was out of fuel. On the last lap, going up to Turn 3, it just stopped.” Huseman and Cenni piled in, with Huseman escaping first to win with Renezeder recovering to finish second and Cenni once again in third.
• Doug Fortin has been very strong in Pro Buggy Unlimited this season, and rounds 5 and 6 in Las Vegas were no exception. Fortin started in third, after a top-eight inversion, behind Chuck Cheek and Bobby PeCoy. He moved up to second quickly and then into first when PeCoy made a mistake in the final turn. But if Fortin had any hope of taking the win, he was going to have to fend off top qualifier Jerry Whelchel, who was marching through the field. Whelchel was up to second when Fortin spun, handing Whelchel the win, followed by PeCoy, Justin Davis in third, Larry Job and Cheek. The next day, though, Fortin worked his way quickly to the front and was in command. Whelchel could only follow him to the checker, followed by Rich Ronco, Cameron Steele – doing double duty by running Super Lite as well – and Cody Freeman.
• Brian Deegan was the fastest guy in Pro Lite Unlimited this weekend, taking the top qualifying spot by half a second. Starting fourth, he got his first break when Adam Wik, starting second, rolled in Turn 1. Then he moved by Jacob Person to run in second behind Marty Hart. He couldn't mount a challenge, though, as smoke began to pour from his truck and he retired, leaving Hart to rout the field, followed by Wik, Jimmy Stephensen, Matt Loiodice and Person.
Deegan would get redemption on Sunday, though. He quickly moved his way to the front and stayed there. Hart could only trail him to the end, followed by Chris Brandt, Loiodice and Wik.
• Like rounds 1 and 2 at LVMS were all about Ricky Johnson in Pro 2 Unlimited, this weekend was all bout Rob MacCachren. After taking one of the wins in Surprise, Rob Mac was unstoppable at LVMS, despite the best efforts of the rest of the field. He was the fastest qualifier, while Johnson and Todd LeDuc started on the front row thanks to the top-four inversion. LeDuc led the first lap while Johnson was getting bounced around like a pinball, followed by Rob Naughton and MacCachren. Naughton spun, moving MacCachren up. Rodrigo Ampudia was turning in a stellar drive despite a painful knee injury and was soon up to third from his sixth starting position. MacCachren got by LeDuc and checked out. Ampudia started stalking LeDuc, who seemed to be having some mechanical issues and, catching big air over the final jump, edged him by 0.054sec to take second.
With him starting up front on Sunday, there was nothing anybody could do to challenge MacCachren. Johnson started far back, but was able to move through the field quickly, if not damage free. Bryce Menzies had his best run of the season, running near the front all race and finishing second, with Ricky Johnson in third, Greg Adler in fourth and Naughton in fifth.
• John Fitzgerald was a double winner in Limited Buggy, as was Austin Kimbrell in the Unlimited UTV. Corry Weller and Tyler Herzog split wins in the SR1 UTV class.
• Brock Heger was the only repeater in the kart classes, taking both victories in JR1. Chad Graham and Sheldon Creed traded wins in JR2, while Bradley Morris and Zac Hunt won in Modified.
You can catch the action from Las Vegas on SPEED on June 19 and 26 and July 4 and 10, or on VERSUS on July 31. Check local listings for time.
The next event for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is June 26-27 in Utah at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, near Salt Lake City. After that, the series heads to the just-announced event at Glen Helen Raceway in Devore, Calif., on Aug. 7-8.