There are a couple of things that are almost guaranteed when the Lucas Oil Off road Racing Series rolls into Glen Helen Raceway Park in San Bernardino, Calif., for a night race: sellout crowds and anything-can-happen results. Just ask Eric Barron, Rob MacCachren, RJ Anderson or Marty Hart. All appeared to have wins in the bag; none of them ended up on the top step of the podium on Saturday. But the fact that those clearly headed to victory never arrived made for some pretty entertaining racing.
Anderson and Bradley Morris (LEFT)) had one of the best battles of Saturday evening. Morris, who had gotten into the lead in Pro Buggy the race prior only to see it slip away to Geoffrey Cooley after a brake problem, seemed determined not to let that happen in Pro Lite. He had a pretty good shot at it if history was on his side, as he won both Pro Lite races at Glen Helen last year. Starting up front as the fastest qualifier in the second group, he lost the lead to Anderson at the start. Points leader Brian Deegan over-rotated in Turn 3, taking out some banners in the process, and dropped back, while Noah Fouch moved into third to try to take the fight to Morris and Anderson.
Really, though, it was all about Morris and Anderson (LEFT). Morris had a real advantage over the whoops and into Turn 3, where he found a secret on the inside line no one else seemed to enjoy.
“I use that line all the time,” he said. “A lot of people are scared to push it to the right side of those three bumps. I pretty much hold it wide open and it flies up to the cushion [on the exit], but it's fast.” Indeed it was, and that was where Morris took the lead from Anderson. But if Turn 3 was his advantage, Turn 4 was his nemesis – that was where he lost the lead in the Pro Buggy race and where Anderson got back by him in Pro Lite.
But after one of many restarts, Morris once again took the lead from Anderson and pulled out just enough to hold it securely. He scored his third straight Pro Lite victory at Glen Helen in his K&N/Kicker Ford. Anderson was second, with Sheldon Creed, sporting a new brightly colored wrap with Traxxas sponsorship, was third.
The evening opened with Pro 4, and this race was about survival. MacCachren started on pole, with fast qualifier Kyle LeDuc starting fourth thanks to the inversion. Renezeder and Barron were in between. Renezeder and MacCachren had a little bump in Turn 1 at the start – not enough to put them out, but enough to slow them down a bit. So the race soon turned into a Kyle LeDuc–Eric Barron battle, stirring memories of last year's hard-fought contest between the two at this same track.
After the second caution, Barron took the lead; but as it turned out, he didn't need to work so hard for it. Kyle LeDuc's truck sputtered to a stop on the next lap. It was too early for Barron to celebrate, though; his Toyota stopped a short time later.
That left MacCachren, still seeking his first victory since adding a Pro 4 truck to his stable this season, in the lead. But Greg Adler was stalking him, and with MacCachren experiencing problems with the front-wheel-drive, it was only a matter of time. Adler got by him coming out of the final turn as the white flag waved and rolled to his first victory of 2013.
“I've got to give a big shout-out to Team 4 Wheel Parts,” Adler said on the podium. “It's Pro Comp Tires first win. Those tires were just digging and digging. Passing Rob Mac? That doesn't happen very often!”
A plethora of cautions plagued Pro 2 as well on Saturday, and it likely cost Marty Hart the victory. Starting up front, he lost the lead only briefly to Carl Renezeder before reasserting himself to the point. The first interruption came when Adler's truck lost a wheel, and after the restart, Robby Woods was getting aggressive in trying to pass Renezeder for second, and Renezeder was defending equally as aggressively. But that slowed both of them down and Bryce Menzies, in his second weekend driving Stronghold's Loctite Pro 2, made a bold move into second.
Still Hart pulled away whenever the track was green, until after the final yellow flag period. Menzies took the lead, and never gave Hart a good opportunity to attack back. Behind them though, on the final lap, all hell was breaking loose. Austin Kimbrell and Rodrigo Ampudia got together in the whoops, sending Ampudia spinning and collecting Renezeder – who had already tangled with Robby Woods. Then Brian Deegan, trying to take third, got into MacCachren, knocking him sideways in Turn 4. The officials deemed the latter move too aggressive, and penalized Deegan and handed third to Woods.
Sunday was about redemption for many of the drivers denied on Saturday. First, Kyle LeDuc grabbed the lead in Pro 4 as Renezeder and MacCachren once again made contact, putting Renezeder out of the race. Barron spun before the field made it back to the yellow flag, dropping him back. While Barron would advance through the pack, he lost a wheel in Turn 1, ending his race.
MacCachren, who had marched through the field after his contact with Renezeder and resulting flat left him in the back, was hard on Kyle LeDuc's six. MacCachren got under him in Turn 4 and alongside over the ensuing tabletop; but LeDuc closed the door and held the lead. On the final lap – a restart/white one-lap shootout, MacCachren made his final attack, but Brandon Bailey got into him and spun him. Bailey was penalized for the move, advancing MacCachren to second and Ryan Beat to third.
It seems bizarre that the defending Pro 4 champ should have been winless through nine round of racing, but LeDuc finally got his first win of 2013 in his Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford.
Morris didn't need any redemption in Pro Lite, but he was seeking it in Pro Buggy, where he was denied the first leg of a possible sweep. While Adrian Cenni, making his first LOORRS appearance in some time, used Morris's line through the whoops to take the lead, it was short lived, and Morris took the Pro Buggy victory in the K&N car. He then jumped into his Pro Lite and started up front, with Anderson, Creed and Deegan following.
The Pro Lite race was frequently interrupted, the longest break a red flag for Jimmy Fishback's endo in Turn 2. Sheldon Creed was also on his side in the same turn in a separate incident. The safety crew was cautious in removing Fishback from the truck after complaints of pain, but Fishback elected not to take an ambulance to the hospital, traveling with family to get checked out.
Meanwhile, Morris was tooling around out front and, when the opportunity to race presented itself, pulling away seemingly easily. He cruised to the Pro Lite sweep and his third victory of the weekend, followed by Casey Currie and Deegan. With Deegan's closest challenger Creed rolling a second time and ending his race, Deegan was able to maintain his points lead.
Unlike the attrition of Pro 4 and the frequent yellows of Pro Lite, Pro 2 was green for the duration, much to Hart's liking. He was never challenged as he reeled off lap after uninterrupted lap in his ReadyLift/Maxxis Ford, followed by Deegan and Woods. Once again, though, Renezeder and MacCachren made contact, this time when Renezeder over-rotated in Turn 2 and collected MacCachren. All in all, it was a pretty dismal weekend for the two competitors.
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series sees action again on Aug. 23-25 at the spectacular Wild West Motorsport Park in Reno-Sparks Nev.
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series winners
Glen Helen Raceway Park
San Bernardino, Calif.
Pro 4 Greg Adler
Pro 2 Bryce Menzies
Pro Lite Bradley Morris
Pro Buggy Geoffrey Cooley
Modified Kart Cole Mamer
Junior 2 Kart Hailie Deegan
Junior 1 Kart Ricky Gutierrez
Pro 4 Kyle LeDuc
Pro 2 Marty Hart
Pro Lite Bradley Morris
Pro Buggy Bradley Morris
Modified Kart Preston Roben
Junior 2 Kart Broc Dickerson
Junior 1 Kart Ricky Gutierrez