A little bad luck wasn't going to stop Carl Renezeder from the top of the podium as he continued his 2013 Pro 4 victory streak; but a little bad luck kept Pro 2 in Rounds 3 and 4 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series from being an all-hometown affair as the series hit Las Vegas.
As much as battling each other, the competitors had to battle the track. With temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, the track dried out in a hurry. That meant the track crews put down more water prior to each race in an attempt to prevent that. It resulted in a wet, slick track for the first few laps before the track came in, but it went away soon after as the track dried out and got slick again.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway short course was also changed from prior visits. Gone were the old Turns 4 and 5, both nearly 180-degree turns. With the new layout, the track went straight from Turn 3 to the former Turn 6, which opened up Turn 3, already a good passing spot, even more.
“It's fun. It's got good flow,” said Pro 2 driver Jeremy McGrath. “They changed up Turn 3; it seems like there's better passing. I'm a fan of more technical tracks, a little longer, but I understand their point [in shortening the track]. I think they made it a little easier, because the corners they cut out were a little tricky. I've had problems in those myself, so it was kind of fun trying to get it right.”
Defending Pro 4 champion Kyle LeDuc introduced his new Pro 2 truck this weekend, and it came in handy, as he had problems with his Pro 4 and used the Pro 2 truck in the Saturday P4 race, although he faded quickly. Renezeder sliced through the field in his Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, with Rob MacCachren hot on his heels. Corry Weller finished in third for her first Pro 4 podium.
Even as Renezeder was running away with the victory, he felt his engine tightening up. The crew changed it as a precaution, and Renezeder went out for qualifying for Round 4 with confidence. But a few laps in he was pulling off with a blown engine.
“It was an oil line that delaminated,” said Renezeder of the problem that had his crew putting in his third engine of the weekend. “It was costly – I just wrote the check for that motor last week. I'm glad we found it, because that would have been a real disaster to lose a third one.”
Renezeder now had a hole to climb out of to keep his streak alive. Weller jumped out to the early lead, with Eric Barron in second and Renezeder and MacCachren battling for third. She over-rotated in Turn 1, allowing MacCachren into the lead. But he was soon being attacked by Renezeder, who was not going to be denied in his quest for a fourth straight victory, which left him with a significant lead over Barron in the points.
Renezeder entered the Round 3 Pro 2 contest with a small deficit to Marty Hart, while MacCachren was well back due to a rough day in Round 2 at Firebird. MacCachren had some ground to make up, and his hometown race represented a good opportunity for the Las Vegas resident. MacCachren made quick work of early leader Brian Deegan and ran away to his first win of the season in his Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Tools Ford. Behind him, though, Renezeder was having quite the battle with Robby Woods. Woods found his way by, but promptly had a spectacular roll in Turn 2. He continued, but was given a black flag for rough driving, one for cutting the course to avoid an accident and a third for ignoring the other black flags. He did not race on Sunday and his transporter headed back to Pahrump as qualifying began.
Another Nevadan, Patrick Clark, started Pro 2 up front, but Deegan got out front quickly, although briefly. Clark re-asserted himself out front and pulled away. It looked like it might be another win for a Las Vegas resident after MacCachren's Saturday victory.
“Deegan got a good jump on me at the start,” said Clark. “Coming into Turn 2, I was right there and it was one of those now-or-never things and I went for it and made a clean pass on him, I put my head down for a few laps and got a nice comfortable lead. I guess Deegan found something and he got closer and we battled for the lead. Either there was something on the track or we touched in the wrong way and the tire started to go away. He got the pass on me and I was trying to hold onto second. As luck had it, the tire blew right before the last turn.”
What Deegan found was probably the track coming in to meet his Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Ford. “We made a lot of changes today to the truck because of the track, and it was all the right moves,” Deegan said. “Patrick drove really well. It was so muddy out there. It was like ice skating the first few laps waiting for the track to come in. Once it did, I was able to put pressure on him.”
It was Deegan's second victory of the weekend. He led the duration of Saturday's Pro Lite race. He looked good for a second Pro Lite victory on Sunday when he took the lead from early leader RJ Anderson on a restart in Turn 2. That lead was short-lived, however, as Anderson had it back two turns later and then Deegan tangled with Jerett Brooks. That left Anderson to run to his second victory of the season. Anderson still has some points to make up, though, after a rough day on Saturday.
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series has its next round at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park in Southern California on May 17-18.
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Winners
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
April 26-28, 2013
Pro 4: Carl Renezeder
Pro 2: Rob MacCachren
Pro Lite: Brian Deegan
Pro Buggy: Bradley Morris
Pro 4: Carl Renezeder
Pro 2: Brian Deegan
Pro Lite: RJ Anderson
Pro Buggy: Steven Greinke