Championship fights ahead
Could the 2012 championship fights get any closer? Well, not in Pro Lite – RJ Anderson has that one all but wrapped up barring any catastrophes. But it's a dead heat in Pro 2, with Rob MacCachren – who recently celebrated his 200th victory in off road racing, counting both short course and desert – and Brian Deegan in a tie for points. Deegan has the tiebreaker in hand right now, with four wins in his Rockstar Energy/Metal Mulisha Ford to MacCachren's three in the Rockstar Energy/Makita Ford. But there are still three races left.
Lurking right behind is Marty Hart in the ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/GearUp2Go Ford. Hart has four wins as well, but some bad luck has left him a bit off the 512 points the leaders have, at 499. Hart has shown that if he gets up front, it's really hard to unseat him from that position. Jeremy McGrath is still technically in the title hunt, but sitting 50 points behind, it's going to take a lot of bad luck on the part of the top three for him to get within sniffing distance of a championship.
In Pro 4, Kyle LeDuc has a solid, if not secure, 23-point lead in the championship over his brother Todd. Kyle swept the first six races of the season in his Monster Energy Ford, but Todd has been the model of consistency in his Rockstar Energy/Makita Ford. A bad weekend by either in Las Vegas could change the championship radically.
Doug Fortin and Steve Greinke are fighting hard in Pro Buggy Unlimited, separated by a mere eight points. Fortin's eight-race podium streak ended in the last round at Reno, but he's been on championship form all season.
Sheldon Creed has only been off the podium twice all season in Super Lite, but he hasn't clinched it yet. Drew Britt is only 13 points behind, so a good weekend in Las Vegas for Britt could take this championship down to the final round at Firebird.
Las Vegas lights
Rounds 13 and 14 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, the LoanMart “Fight Under the Lights,” take place under the setting sun and the nighttime lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 21-22. These races will be pivotal in the championships, so expect no holding back.
A unique feature will be a contingency-style display on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas after qualifying on Thursday night. It will be a good opportunity to get close to the trucks and drivers away from the track. The event begins at 8 p.m.
The gates at Las Vegas Motor Speedway open at 4 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
Tony Vanillo steps down as race director
Competition Director Tony Vanillo (LEFT) has left his position as race director of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. His wife, Sherry, who has served as administrative director, is also departing the series.
Vanillo has been with the series since its beginning and is largely responsible for holding short-course racing on the West Coast together after the collapse of Championship Off Road Racing. He has also designed all the tracks on the LOORRS circuit, most recently the well-received track at Wild West Motorsports Park in Reno.
“Tony Vanillo's contribution to our series and the sport of short-course off-road racing have been both impactful and long lasting," said Lucas Oil Executive Vice President Bob Patison. "Certainly the same can be said for Tony's wife Sherry as well. On behalf of our racers, sponsors and fans, we wish them well in their future business endeavors and thank them for helping make our short-course series the growing form of motorsports it is today.”
The online off road community was quick to praise Vanillo for his work in the series as news of his departure hit. Lucas Oil's executive management says it is exploring options for Vanillo's replacement.