Nighttime off-road racing returned to Southern California as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, returned to Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino. This is the home of off-road racing, and the once-a-year excitement of a packed house enjoying the balmy summer night and the hot action on the track make this race a fan favorite. With expectations high, the drivers didn't disappoint.
Pro 4 Unlimited
After a six-position inversion of the qualifying results, it was Curt LeDuc and Greg Adler, filling in for the injured Travis Coyne, who started up front. Adler's first foray into Pro 4 Unlimited started as well as it could have, as he took the early lead in his No. 5 ProComp/Lucas Oil Ford, ahead of Curt LeDuc in the No. 43 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Adrian Cenni in the No. 11 Atrium Payroll/Maxxis truck, Rick Huseman in the No. 36 Monster Energy/E3 Spark Plugs Toyota, and Todd LeDuc in the No. 4 Rockstar/Makita Ford.
On lap four, Kyle LeDuc out-drove his brother Todd into turn three, moving up to fifth in his No. 99 Rockstar/Makita Ford. Ahead of them, Huseman also picked up a spot to take over third from Cenni. On the following lap, Huseman picked off Curt LeDuc to take over second, and on the lap after that, he easily out-charged Adler through the rhythm section, nosing ahead and into the lead into Turn 3. As Huseman began to quickly pull open a gap over the competition,
Curt LeDuc's truck suddenly slowed near the start/finish line, which caught out Cenni who rear-ended him before managing to get by. This allowed Kyle LeDuc to move into third, with Cenni now fourth and Todd LeDuc fifth. Huseman continued to pull away from those behind, and had a good gap over second-placed Adler by the competition yellow. With the UTI Toyota pace truck picking up the field, Kyle LeDuc drove by and into the hot pits to fix a flat tire, dropping him to the back of the pack.
At the restart, it was Huseman, Adler, Cenni, Todd LeDuc, and Carl Renezeder in the top five, with Adler getting shoved wide at Turn 2, dropping him back to fifth. Huseman still held the lead, with a fierce battle for second going on just behind between Cenni and Renezeder. As Renezeder tried every move in his repertoire to get past Cenni, Huseman's lead suddenly looked tenuous, as wisps of smoke began shooting intermittently from the back of his truck. Cenni and Renezeder seemed to smell blood, and started to close the gap on the leader as the smoke began to come out in bigger puffs. Huseman kept his cool, though, and as the smoke output began to level off, his lead evened out as well.
Behind him, Renezeder was still trying his best to grab second place, and on the final lap, he made a great outside-inside pass on Cenni through Turn 3 to grab the spot, much to the delight of a packed house. Up ahead, Huseman got back to his winning ways after a very unusual (for him) four-race winless streak, as he picked up his fifth of the season. Renezeder came home second to keep a good lead in the points, with Cenni taking third, Todd LeDuc fourth, and Adler a fine fifth.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
The Pro Buggy Unlimited race was certainly a case of “It isn't over ‘til it's over.” Cody Freeman put his pole starting position to good use as he grabbed the early lead in his No. 2 Race Fuel Energy Drink/Wik's Racing Engines Racer, with Justin Davis, Steven Greinke, Justin “Bean” Smith, and Jerry Whelchel in tow.
In the early going, Smith tried to get by Greinke for third, and in the process, drove over Greinke's right side tires, which sent Greinke to the hot pits for the rest of the race. Shortly after that, Smith got by Davis going into Turn 3, but the two got together and Smith spun, which drew a black flag penalty for Davis.
The order up front was now Freeman, Whelchel in the No. 5 Select Glass/BFGoodrich Tires Foddrill, Doug Fortin in the No. 96 Fortin Racing, Inc./McGrath Fiberglass Racer, Smith in the No. 19 Competitive Metals/Metal Mulisha AlumiCraft, and Brandon Bailey in the No. 17 Stronghold Motorsports/Yokohama Tires AlumiCraft as the competition yellow came out.
With the top four drivers were running nose to tail, some kind of incident seemed eminent. Just ahead of the white flag, that incident happened, as Whelchel, Smith, and Fortin piled up in Turn 4. Porter sped by and into second, with Fortin throwing it in reverse to get un-stuck and slot into third; Whelchel and Smith were less fortunate, losing several spots before finally getting moving again. Up ahead, Freeman drove a flawless race to lead wire to wire and pick up the win for the second consecutive race. Porter's second place should move him into the lead in this class' incredibly close points chase, while Fortin should is now second after finishing third. Fourth went to Malcolm Pointon, and rounding out the top five was Smith.
Pro Lite Unlimited
The Pro Lite Unlimiteds came out next, and it was Corey Sisler who turned his pole starting position into an early lead in his No. 19 BFGoodrich Tires/Method Race Wheels Ford. Behind Sisler came Brian Deegan in the No. 38 Lucas Oil/Metal Mulisha Ford, Ryan Beat in the No. 51 Black Rhino/Fiberwerx Ford, Cameron Steele in the No. 16 Monster Energy/Stronghold Motorsports Ford, and Chris Brandt in the No. 82 Aero Motorsports/Oakley Toyota. Beat's truck suddenly slowed, dropping him out of the top five, and moving Steele to third, Kyle LeDuc to fourth in the No. 99 Rockstar/Makita Ford, while Brandt remained fifth.
Up front, Deegan was looking fast, and soon found his way by Sisler, driving right around him on the outside of Turn 3 to grab the lead. Behind this, a series of mistakes by LeDuc meant that both Brandt and Rodrigo Ampudia were able to get by, picking up spots four and five. Steele was also on the move, picking off Sisler after a spin in Turn 4 to move into second position. Ampudia was right behind Steele now, slotting into third in his No. 36 Papas & Beer/Tecate Ford, and by the competition yellow, Brandt had also gotten around Sisler for fourth.
The running order was Deegan, Steele, Ampudia, Brandt, and Sisler as the field returned to green, but as they raced into Turn 2 on the restart, Steele and Ampudia got together, with Steele going around and dropping several spots. Ampudia drew a black flag for his part in the incident, and the top five was now made up of Deegan, Sisler, Brandt, Steele, and LeDuc. From there on in, these drivers all held their places, and it was Deegan who went untouched throughout the race to pick up his fifth win of the year. Sisler had a career-best finish of second, with Brandt rounding out the podium to maintain his record of finishing no worse than third in any race this season. Fourth went to Steele, with LeDuc finishing behind him in fifth.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the night was the highly anticipated Pro 2 Unlimited fracas. Brian Deegan started on pole after a six-position inversion of the qualifying results, and rocketed into the early lead in his No. 38 Rockstar/Makita Ford. Rob Naughton ran second in the No. 54 ReadyLift/Stronghold Motorsports Ford, with Robby Woods third in the No. 99 Lucas Slick Mist/SuperChips Chevrolet, Rob MacCachren fourth in the No. 1 Rockstar/MasterCraft Safety Ford, and Jeremy McGrath fifth in the No. 2 Monster Energy/ReadyLift Ford.
Woods was really looking quick in the early going, and got by Naughton on the inside at Turn 3 to grab second on lap three. Three laps later, Greg Adler moved his No. 10 4 Wheel Parts/Magnaflow Ford up to fifth, while at the head of the field, Deegan was starting to pull away, with Woods being the only driver who could hang with the leader's pace. Deegan seemed to have control of the race, but as the field approached the halfway point, Woods suddenly drove deep into Turn 5 to get by Deegan on the inside, grabbing the lead just ahead of the competition yellow.
The running order was now Woods, Deegan, MacCachren, Naughton, and Adler, and a pile-up in Turn 2 forced a red flag of the race just after the restart. Everyone was OK and the track was quickly cleared, with green flag racing quickly resuming. Carl Renezeder moved up to fifth in the No. 17 Lucas Oil/Team Associated Ford, while up front, Deegan re-took the lead from Woods in Turn 4. Woods wasn't having any of it, though, and got right back by in the next corner, with Deegan then dropping back two spots to fourth. Woods now led MacCachren, Naughton, Deegan, and Renezeder in the top five, and it was now MacCachren who was providing some real heat for Woods.
MacCachren pulled alongside Woods on the front straight, setting himself up for the inside line into turn one and on into Turn 2, which he used perfectly to blow by Woods and into the lead. Behind all this, Rodrigo Ampudia had moved up to fifth in the No. 36 Lucas Oil/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, while Deegan had gotten by Naughton for third after jumping past him into Turn 5. Naughton grabbed the position right back, but then spun at Turn 2, dropping him to fifth. Up front, MacCachren was setting a blistering pace, and moved out to a comfortable margin over those behind on his way to his third win of the year. Woods finished second, with Deegan taking third, Ampudia fourth, and McGrath fifth.