The Southern California rounds of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series always bring out big crowds of spectators and big crowds of trucks. Rounds 5 and 6 at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park were no different. But in the end it was two pairs of drivers putting on the best show across three different classes, two first-time winners and one impressive streak that made the weekend.
Sheldon Creed (ABOVE) and defending champ RJ Anderson have been racing hard all season in Pro Lite, and they were the stars of the show at Lake Elsinore. On Saturday, Creed started his AM Ortega/BFGoodrich Dodge out front and was there for the duration, but Anderson, coming from the second row, was in hot pursuit. That pursuit ended against the wall on the step up, leaving Andrew Caddell, subbing for Brian Deegan who was in Barcelona competing in Rallycross, to take up the pursuit. He put the pressure on, but Creed held on to take his first win, delayed from what looked like a sure thing in Round 2 at Firebird.
“My dad was telling me, ‘Keep it calm, keep it calm,' because I've thrown it away so many times,” Creed said on the podium. “I really don't like starting on the front row, but it really helped today, not having to deal with all the traffic. I ran away with it the first half of the race, but my dad told me Andrew was right there. So I really had to step up my game and bring all I had.”
The surprise of the Pro Lite race came from newcomer Jimmy Fishback, making his first start in LOORRS competition. He had raced in the Lucas Oil Regional Racing Series in his new Pro Lite, and won the SR1 UTV title in that series last year, but this was his first pro start. He ran a solid race to finish third, and showed up on grid with some new sponsors on his otherwise bare white truck on Sunday.
While Creed walked away with victory on Saturday, there was no way Anderson was going to let it go that easy in Round 6. With the pair of young guns starting together on the front row, this was surely going to by good. Anderson got the jump at the green in his LoanMart/Loctite Dodge, with Creed and rookie Ray Griffith behind. A big pile-up in Turn 3 on the first lap stacked the field back up and damaged quite a few contenders. A second yellow for Aaron Daugherty's stalled truck interrupted the race again. When it resumed, Creed went on the attack, going inside Anderson at Turn 3 and Turn 4 and taking him on the front straight.
A few laps later, Anderson attacked back, taking the point again. From then on it was Creed trying every move he could throw at Anderson, all the way to the final corner on the final lap, with no luck. Bradley Morris, who had taken third from Griffith at the same time Creed took the point, finished third. Griffith's strong run ended when he got too sideways in Turn 2.
Carl Renezeder is in an impressive Pro 4 streak. Going into Lake Elsinore, he had won every race this year, and his streak actually extends back to the 2012 finale at Firebird. Saturday was no different, although he had some help from mechanical and tire issues that struck Kyle LeDuc, Eric Barron and Rob MacCachren. It's unfortunate, because the fans were left without what could have been an epic battle between Renezeder and MacCachren if following races were any indication.
It began in Saturday's Pro 2 race. The No. 38 Rockstar Ford, this time with Todd LeDuc subbing for Deegan, was out front, and LeDuc made it look easy. After all the years he ran in his own Pro 2 before moving to Pro 4, he finally gets his first Pro 2 victory in Deegan's truck. The real show, though, was behind him.
Renezeder and MacCachren were fighting for second, but one might have thought they were racing for a million dollars. Renezeder started on the front row, and for he first part of the race, MacCachren was hounding him. He finally got by, only to find out he did it just as a caution came out, and had to move back.
On the restart, Robby Woods blew by Marty Hart – who had to rebuild his truck after a massive crash in qualifying – then dive-bombed MacCachren and Renezeder in Turn 3. Where Woods would have ended up had the other two trucks not been there to stop his momentum is anybody's guess, but successfully through the corner was an unlikely option. As it was, all three came to a stop for a moment in the corner before they got going again.
That ended the MacCachren vs. Renezeder battle, as MacCachren came out in second and Renezeder dropped to fifth. Renezeder battle back to the podium while MacCachren tried to attack LeDuc, but they finished in that order.
“Todd ran a great race, congratulations to him,” said MacCachren on the podium. “It was fun racing with Carl. I love racing with that guy, racing him clean. It's always like I want to get out halfway through the corner, reach over and give him a high five. I think we're both giggling and laughing.”
Noted Renezeder: “Rob and I had some great racing going on. Then the yellow came out and all hell broke loose. That last move he put on me was great, though. I said, ‘Dang it! I didn't think about that one!' He came down really low.”
They continued the battle in Pro 4 the next day. They started on the front row together, and Renezeder jumped in front. Kyle LeDuc got by MacCachren for second with a great start before Barron's troubles continued with a blown engine. Kyle had his own troubles, and dropped back in the field, leaving MacCachren to pursue Renezeder. MacCachren attacked repeatedly, even putting a fender into Renezeder on the final lap, but couldn't get by the Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan. Renezeder has now tied Kyle LeDuc's great six-win Pro 4 start from 2012, and the cross-season streak, as Kyle also won the final race of 2011.
“This is a dream,” said Renezeder. “To be able to race guys like Rob and Greg [Adler], to be out there to race these 900-horsepower, 4500-pound trucks going 80 miles-per-hour into Turn 1 and have total trust in these guys because they're that good. I could feel Rob breathing down my neck, though.”
With MacCachren and Renezeder starting on the front row for Pro 2 later in the day, fans were hoping for a repeat. MacCachren, however, wasn't in the mood.
“I did not want to play today,” he said. “These guys worked so hard on the truck and it was super-fast today. Carl knew it was before the race. So I just had to get away from him. Sorry to make it boring, but that's the way it is today.”
Get away he did, putting his Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Ford out front and staying there. Renezeder was a distant second, with Woods redeeming his Saturday mishap with a clean run to third.
Bradley Morris looked to be in control of Pro Buggy on Saturday, but Steven Greinke got by him when his right rear went flat. Greinke cruised to the win in his SC Fuels buggy. Morris got redemption on Sunday with his third victory of the season.
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series next convenes in Utah at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele on June 22-23 for Rounds 7 and 8.
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Round 5 winners
Pro 4: Carl Renezeder
Pro 2: Todd LeDuc
Pro Lite: Sheldon Creed
Pro Buggy: Steven Greinke
Modified Kart: Brock Heger
Kart Jr. 2: Ricky Gutierrez
Kart Jr. 1: Blaze Nunley
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Round 6 winners
Pro 4: Carl Renezeder
Pro 2: Rob MacCachren
Pro Lite: RJ Anderson
Pro Buggy: Bradley Morris
Modified Kart: Myles Cheek
Kart Jr. 2: Hailie Deegan
Kart Jr. 1: Madix Bailey