Las Vegas was just a teaser. When the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series gathered again for Rounds 3 and 4 at Speedworld Off Road Park in Surprise, Ariz., the memories of the big fields and close racing that the opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway were still fresh. And once again, the top names in short course off-road racing showed up to do battle, including many who have not been regulars in the Lucas Oil Series.
The racers were greeted by a slightly different Speedworld track. Steeper banking in Turns 1, 3 and 4 gave the drivers a little more room to play with different lines; a deeper hole and a large tabletop jump after Turn 5 provided more air time; and a somewhat softened moguls section lessened the havoc that particular stretch of track produced in previous visits to Surprise.
After a bit of bad luck at Las Vegas, Carl Renezeder looked like the defending champion at Speedworld, taking the top qualifying spot for Saturday's Pro 2 Unlimited race. That was all he needed to assure himself the win, as he was never headed after the start. Jeremy McGrath and Rob MacCachren gave futile chase all the way to the flag, but it was all the No. 17 Lucas Oil truck out front.
On Sunday, Renezeder looked on form to repeat Saturday's victory, but while challenging Rodrigo Ampudia for the lead, he got a bit out of shape, Ampudia slid wide and MacCachren (shown at left) came through into the lead. He held off a charging Renezeder for the win, which he celebrated by ghost riding the Rockstar Energy truck down the front straight. MacCachren leads the Pro 2 points heading into the next round, back at Las Vegas.
The Pro 4 Unlimited field was a bit smaller than at the Las Vegas opener, but there was an increasingly familiar face at the front. Rick Huseman took the win in his Monster Energy/Traxxas truck on both days, bringing his 2010 total to four for four. At the start of Saturday's race, Kent Brascho jumped out to an early lead helped by a top-eight inverted start from qualifying. Johnny Greaves followed, with a great start from sixth. Greaves got by Brascho, as did Renezeder, with Kyle LeDuc running fourth when the competition yellow came out. Greaves was losing a right-rear tire, though, and Rick Huseman (below) was taking advantage of a rough battle for second between Renezeder and LeDuc to claim the spot for himself. When Greaves' tire gave up, Huseman pulled away from LeDuc and Renezeder, who had dropped to third.
LeDuc took the early lead on Sunday, but Huseman worked his way quickly from third, followed by Renezeder. Michael Johnson, who made only two laps on Saturday, finished third. Huseman was still unsure of his plans for the rest of the season, but with a perfect start for the first four rounds and a nice lead in the Pro 4 Unlimited points, one might think his sponsors would want him to stick with it.
Saturday's Pro Lite Unlimited race was wild and filled with cautions. Casey Currie jumped out to an early lead before Brian Deegan challenged and passed him. Marty Hart moved up to second, but got wild in the moguls and left the track, ending up going the wrong way on the front straight, which earned him a black flag. Rodrigo Ampudia then started racing Currie for second. After a yellow following a massive roll by Aaron Daugherty, the top five of Deegan, Hart, Matt Loiodice, Chris Brandt and Ampudia were battling back and forth. Then, on what would have been the final lap, Jacob Person's truck went up in flames, bringing out a red flag and setting up a green-white-checker finish. Deegan stayed out in front for the victory in his Rockstar/Lucas Oil Ford, followed by Hart, Loiodice and Brandt.
Like Saturday's race, Round 4 for the Pro Lite Unlimiteds featured a lot of crashes and subsequent restarts. As it came down to the end, it was a battle between Deegan and Brandt. Brandt, running a backup motor in his Lucas Oil/MavTV Toyota, was pressuring Deegan at every opportunity, finally seizing on a small mistake to take the lead and his second win of the season.
After a rough beginning to the season, defending Pro Buggy Unlimited champ Chuck Cheek was aiming for a bit of redemption. Joe Masek jumped out to an early lead over Cheek and Las Vegas double winner Doug Fortin. Fortin had a flat after moving to second, and top qualifier Mike Dondel headed to the lead followed by Masek and Cheek. After trading the lead with Cheek, Dondel rolled on the penultimate lap, leaving Cheek with the win in his Stronghold Motorsports/Lucas Oil buggy followed by Bobby PeCoy, Rich Ronco and Masek. Masek would get the call a couple hours later that his pregnant wife was about to deliver, and had to race back home in time to greet his new baby girl. Masek obviously wasn't in the race on Sunday, and Dondel had some unfinished business. Dondel took Sunday's win in the Racer Engineering/BFGoodrich Tires machine, followed by Fortin and Cody Freeman.
A few new names found their way to the podium in Limited Buggy. Quentin Tucker won on Saturday and finished second on Sunday, while Justin Smith grabbed his first victory on Sunday. Kyle Lucas got his first podium finish with a third on Sunday.
It hasn't taken Chad George long to adjust to Super Lites. The defending UTV champ took the win on both days. George also won in Unlimited UTV on Sunday; John Dempsey took the victory on Saturday. Tyler Herzog and Corry Weller split the SR1 UTV wins.
Brock Heger was a two-time winner in Kart Junior 1, as was Mitchell DeJong in Modified Kart. Eddie Tafoya Jr. and Dustin Grabowski were Saturday and Sunday's winners, respectively, in Kart Junior 2.
The fifth and sixth rounds of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series takes place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on May 22-23. Look for coverage of the Speedworld event on CBS. For more information, see www.lucasoiloffroad.com.