With the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at the halfway points of the season, with eight races done and seven to go over the course of four more weekends, leaders are beginning to emerge and, in some of the classes, it's easy to pick out a couple of drivers who will be battling for the championship when the finale rolls around at Firebird in December.
Except in Pro Buggy Unlimited, that is. The points fight in this class is incredibly close, with five drivers within spitting distance of each other. Steven Greinke, who has two wins, leads with 355. But only 14 points behind is fifth-place Justin “Bean” Smith, who has one win. In between are Mike Porter (353 points, 2 wins), Doug Fortin, (351, 1) and Jerry Whelchel (347, 1).
No Pro Buggy driver has swept a weekend, although Greinke and Porter each have two in a row at different tracks.
Smith is the only true rookie to the class, having stepped up from winning Limited Buggy last year. The rest are veterans. But Smith, who started the season with a second at Firebird, appears to be really hitting his stride and adjusting to the faster buggies. If he keep going, he's going to make it tough for the rest of them.
In most of the other classes, two drivers have stretched a lead, but no one has dominated. In Pro 4, Carl Renezeder (RIGHT) took over the points lead from Rick Huseman thanks to Huseman's bad luck in Utah, and leads Huseman 385 to 367. Renezeder has only been off the podium in one race.
Kyle LeDuc is another 49 points back from Huseman. But LeDuc came on strong in the second quarter, with wins at Glen Helen and Miller Motorsports Park. Although he has a host of pursuers within a few points, if he stays on form he'll watch them fall back as he gains on the leaders.
Renezeder also holds the lead in Pro 2, followed by Brian Deegan, three points behind. Deegan is still searching for his first Pro 2 win, while Renezeder has two (and 96 career short course wins), but Deegan has been a regular on the podium to keep it close.
Nobody has seen the top step of the Pro 2 podium more often than Rob “Fig” Naughton this season, but when he hasn't won, he's had some pretty bad luck. As it is he's fifth in points, 51 behind Renezeder. Greg Adler, who has been consistently in the top five all season, is third, while two-time winner and defending champion Rob MacCachren is fourth.
Deegan is the pursuer in Pro Lite as well, but farther behind Chris Brandt (LEFT) in Pro Lite than he is Renezeder in Pro 2 – 392 points to 366. Between them, Brandt and Deegan have won every race but one (Round 7 at Miller, won by Casey Currie). More importantly for the points chase, though, is that Brandt, who recently joined forces with Aero Motorsports, is the only driver in any pro class to have been on the podium for all eight races.
So, some clear leaders have appeared in some of the classes, but there are still seven races spread over four weekends and venues left. The remaining events are at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif., on Aug. 5-7; Speedworld in Surprise, Ariz., on Sept. 23-25; Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Nov. 4-6.; and Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., on Dec. 9-10. The Challenge Cup races will be held on Dec. 11 at Firebird.
See below for the points rundown in all the classes.
Utah Regional Series
Just before the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series began its stand at the new permanent short course off-road track at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, last month, Lucas Oil and the track announced that Utah Region would be joining Southern California and Arizona as part of the Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Racing Series.
With all events held at the new Miller Motorsports Park facility, the racing begins next month and is looking to be a gangbusters event. The BeeHive 1450 Classic race alone reportedly has more than 30 entries, indicating a pent-up demand for short course off-road in the region.
“I think there's a big rock crawling class, guys with jeeps, some people looking for something more exciting,” says series director and veteran short course racer Jerry Daugherty (LEFT), who recently relocated to nearby Riverton, Utah. “This is going to open it up to all those people. Plus I've heard there are quite a few sand buggies, there's some Class A trucks. There's more than anybody really knows, but nobody gets to see them because there hasn't been a venue up here. This is going to bring them all out of the woodwork and give them all a place to play.”
Daugherty thinks it will be especially important as desert racing becomes harder to conduct. For most off-road racers in Utah, Nevada is as close as off-road gets until short course came to town.
“It's great for the area, because they don't have anything like this in the whole state of Utah. They have to travel off to Nevada to run in the desert. They're going to have an affordable way to race here in the Salt Lake area. It's going to make an affordable place for guys to figure out if they want to do this, get involved and learn how to get into the bigger series.”
For more on the Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Racing Series, see http://www.lucasoilregional.com.
After Round 8 in Tooele, Utah
Carl Renezeder 385
Rick Huseman 367
Kyle LeDuc 318
Carl Renezeder 354
Brian Deegan 351
Greg Adler 325
Chris Brandt 392
Brian Deegan 366
Rodrigo Ampudia 329
Steven Greinke 355
Mike Porter 353
Doug Fortin 351
RJ Anderson 371
Patrick Clark 347
Chad George 337
Curt Geer 370
Quentin Tucker 363
Dave Mason 356
Corry Weller 381
Doug Mittag 365
John Dempsey 358
RJ Anderson 385
Chad George 379
Robert VanBeekum 378