Corona, CA (May 22, 2018) – It was an exciting day of racing here at Estero Beach yesterday in Round 2, and as Sunday dawned and the drivers prepared to tackle Round 3 of the 2018 championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, they could look forward to a heavy serving of off-road dessert to cap their weekend. Cool, overcast conditions made the track even heavier than usual, creating the conditions which many motocross riders refer to as "chocolate cake," and it was a near-ideal track to be racing on when the first class, Turbo Production UTV, made its way out here this afternoon.
Unfortunately for three of the drivers in the Turbo Production UTV class, they would be unable to enjoy these amazing track conditions, as mechanical issues sidelined the cars of Ronnie Anderson, Bradley Morris, and Kipp Mickles (Morris and Mickles were due to fill in for Chance and Chelsea Haugen, respectively) before the race had even gotten underway. Nonetheless, Paul O'Brien led the way at the end of lap one in the #711 Weller Racing/DWT CanAm, with teammate Corry Weller running second in the #748 DragonFire Racing/Maxxis Tires CanAm, Andy Ives third, Trevor Leighton fourth, and Eliott Watson fifth. The top two drivers quickly began to move clear of the field, while further back, Van Beekum moved by Watson and up to fifth in the #764 R-N-R Steel/Muzzys Polaris on lap two. On the next lap, Ives then saw a repeat of his race-ending issue from yesterday, as rear suspension failure again ended his run in the rhythm section. This put Leighton, Van Beekum, and Watson up to third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, with Watson then getting back by Van Beekum just before the Competition Yellow, which flew at the end of lap five. At this point, Van Beekum was now well off the pace with an issue, and that issue put Van Beekum out before he'd actually reached the end of lap five. At this point, there were now just four cars left running, and on the restart lap, O'Brien quickly pulled away from Weller, as a front drive issue had left Weller with only three out of her four tires digging. One lap later, Leighton lost a motor and was now out, reducing the field to just three runners, all of whom held position for the remaining laps. O'Brien would get the win, ahead of Weller in second, and Watson, the only other driver to finish all ten laps, would take third in the #713 Tom Watson, Inc./BFGoodrich Tires CanAm. Fourth would still go to Leighton in the #703 Kryptek/Walker Evans Racing Polaris, and Van Beekum would still be scored in fifth.
Following Opening Ceremonies, the next race was Pro 2 Unlimited, and in this one, a crash involving Alan Ampudia and Jeff Shelton in turn one on the opening lap would force a full course yellow and then a full restart of the race. Under yellow, points leader Rob MacCachren would pull into the Hot Pits to change a tire, and would therefore have to start at the back of the field, and so it was fast qualifier RJ Anderson who would now start all alone on the front row. Anderson led the way after lap one, ahead of Jerett Brooks, Jeremy McGrath, MacCachren, and Brian Deegan. An incident in turn two had sent Deegan into the infield and then back on track at turn three, and as other drivers slowed in turn two, MacCachren swept by them around the outside, allowing him to move up several spots in short order. Up front, Anderson was quickly checking out, while further back, MacCachren was all over McGrath on laps two through four. This helped Deegan close in on MacCachren on lap five, but by the next lap, MacCachren's focus was again forward. The Competition Yellow then fell at the end of this lap, and on the restart lap, MacCachren and Deegan bashed each other in turns two and three, allowing Bradley Morris to close in on Deegan. Morris briefly got by Deegan coming out of turn four, but Deegan got right back by with a beautiful inside pass at turn five to re-take fifth. Morris was determined, though, and made another nice pass down the inside at turn seven, with Rodrigo Ampudia then passing Deegan as well as the two exited the corner. Deegan then pulled into the Hot Pits on the next lap, ahead of a full course yellow. When racing resumed, McGrath's truck suddenly quit as the field took the green flag. McGrath's truck reared back under acceleration for a split second, then seemed to die, and MacCachren had nowhere to go, running hard down the left side of McGrath's truck, with Morris also doing a bit of damage on the right side. The field was called back to try the restart again, and somehow, McGrath was back in line in third place. This time, McGrath's truck roared to life just like all the rest on the restart, and on that lap, Rodrigo Ampudia got by Morris for fifth. Up ahead, Brooks was very close to getting down the inside of Anderson at turn four, but Brooks then over-rotated just as Anderson turned in, just in time to avoid being spun by Brooks as it turned out. Morris then got back by Ampudia to re-take fifth, and from there, the top five drivers would make no further passes before the checkered flag. Anderson scored a well-driven win in his #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/Polaris RZR truck, ahead of Brooks in the #77 Rigid Industries LED Lighting/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Ford, McGrath in the #1 Maxxis Tires/Safecraft Safety Solutions Ram, MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford, and Morris in the #24 K&N Filters/Kicker Audio Ford.
Front row starters Jason Weller and Paul O'Brien ran one-two after the first lap in Production 1000 UTV, ahead of Brock Heger, Keith Brooks, and Myles Cheek in the early top five. O'Brien had lost control near the end of the rhythm section and run off track while leading on the first lap, and made the exact same mistake on lap two, dropping him down to fifth as a result. At nearly the exact same moment, Cheek got by Brooks, and with O'Brien's second error, that moved Cheek up to third in the #957 Walker Evans Racing/Hoosier Tire Polaris. Another driver struggling with the whoop section was Heger, surprisingly, and while he fought valiantly to counter every one of his vehicle's wild movements, Cheek was able to capitalize on a much smoother run through the whoops on lap three to go by out of the next corner and move into second. By the end of the lap, Weller, Cheek, and Heger were running very close in the top three, and as the trio entered the start of lap four, Cheek ran Heger up high into turn two, before passing Weller with a beautiful sweep around the outside, sealing the pass as he then moved into the preferred inside line at turn three to take the lead. On the next lap, Brooks then closed in on Weller and Heger, while just behind, it was now Robert Stout running fifth in the #915 Magic Dry Absorbent/Lucas Oil Yamaha. The Competition Yellow fell at the end of this lap, and on the restart lap, Heger was again out of shape in the whoops, which allowed by Ronnie Anderson (who'd quickly moved up on the restart lap) and Brooks to start making a move to go by on the inside into turn four. However, just as they did so, Brooks' engine grenaded in spectacular fashion, sending him into Anderson, who biked badly and ran off track. Brooks managed to end up on the infield and out of harm's way, so the track stayed green, and it was now Cheek, Weller, Stout, Heger, and Jacob Rosales in the top five at the end of the lap. Rosales then got into and cleaned out Trevor Leighton at the turn two/three complex on the next lap, which put Anderson up to fifth, and on the same lap, Heger got back by Stout to re-take third spot. From there, the top five runners held position, as Cheek brought home his second win of the season, ahead of Weller in the #948 DragonFire Racing/Lucas Oil Racing TV Yamaha, Heger in the #1 Maxxis Tires/3M Yamaha, Stout, and Anderson in the #952 Holz Racing Products/Walker Evans Racing Polaris.
Yesterday's winner Darren Hardesty Jr. led the way after lap one in Pro Buggy this afternoon, with Kevin McCullough, Bud Ward, Trevor Briska, and Sterling Cling making up the initial top five. McCullough's engine was belching out a major trail of smoke by the end of that first lap, but imminent engine failure didn't seem to slow McCullough, not right away anyway, but an over-rotation at turn two on lap three cost McCullough some momentum, and allowed Ward to get by for second on the inside. Briska then passed McCullough for third at turn five, and both Cling and Eliott Watson then began to close on McCullough as well on the next lap. McCullough finally pulled off late on that lap, moving Cling and Watson to fourth and fifth, ahead of the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap five. On the restart lap, Watson got by Cling for fourth spot in the #3 Tom Watson, Inc./BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft. On the next lap, Cling then got out of shape late in the run through the whoops, and swung suddenly across the track and into the path of Trey Gibbs, who hit Cling in the right rear corner and spun him the rest of the way around. Gibbs had had nowhere to go, and the big surprise was that Cling didn't get rolled, as the incident looked as though it certainly would've led to a rollover for Cling, who instead stayed upright and only looped around. Cling then sat stationary to force a full course caution, which he got, and when racing resumed, it was now Hardesty Jr. in the #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Impact Safety Alumi Craft, Ward in the #17 Ramona Tire/Horsepower Ranch Funco, Briska in the #59 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation/Mickey Thompson Funco, Watson, and Gibbs in the #15 KB Engineering/Kicker Audio Alumi Craft in the top five. After the restart lap, Watson was all over Briska on lap nine (the penultimate lap), and managed to get by briefly in the early part of the lap. However, Briska muscled back by during and out of turn five to re-take the position, and from there, the top five drivers held their positions. Hardesty Jr. got another win to take the sweep of the weekend, ahead of Ward, Briska, Watson, and Gibbs.
As was the case yesterday, Christopher Polvoorde got right out to an early lead this afternoon in Pro Lite, leading the field at the end of lap one in his #94 Steel-It/General Tire Nissan. Brock Heger ran second, ahead of Ryan Beat in third, Ronnie Anderson in fourth, and Brandon Arthur in fifth. Polvoorde and Heger quickly began to leave the rest of the pack behind, and between the opening lap and the Competition Yellow, which came out at the end of lap five, the only pass within the top five drivers was a pass by Arthur on Anderson for fourth spot. Unexpectedly, though, Heger then suddenly hit the Hot Pits under yellow, as a mechanical issue ended his run then and there. This moved Beat up to second in the #51 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Competitive Metals Chevrolet, Arthur to third in the #6 MAVTV/Stronghold Motorsports Chevrolet, Anderson to fourth, and Jimmy Weitzel to fifth for the restart. Mickey Thomas and Cole Mamer both got by Weitzel early on the restart lap, and that put Thomas up to fifth spot in the #44 Maxxis Tires/Walker Evans Racing Chevrolet. Two laps later, Arthur dove too deep down the inside at turn four while trying to get by Beat, but while the attempted pass didn't work, it did seem to wake Beat up a bit. A rollover by Kyle Knott on that same lap then forced a full course yellow at the end of the lap, and when racing resumed, Polvoorde was off as if he'd been fired from a cannon. Behind him, Arthur was all over Beat on the restart lap, and the two made light contact multiple times as Arthur desperately tried to force his way by without taking Beat out blatantly. Beat held Arthur at bay, though, and on the final lap, Anderson suddenly dropped out, a cruel ending to an otherwise very solid run. This moved Thomas up to fourth and Weitzel to fifth in the #59 Simon Performance Technologies/Kanati Tires Chevrolet, and from there, the top five drivers would hold position. Polvoorde backed up his maiden win from yesterday with another win today to take the weekend sweep, ahead of Beat, Arthur, Thomas, and Weitzel.
After ending his run far too early yesterday, Doug Mittag was again out front early here this afternoon in the final race of the weekend, leading the Pro 4 field at the end of lap one in his #81 AMSOIL/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Ford. Yesterday's winner Adrian Cenni sat in second, with RJ Anderson third, Greg Adler fourth, and Rob MacCachren fifth. A rollover by Kyle LeDuc in turn four caused a full course yellow to fly at the end of lap one, and on the restart lap, Cenni and Anderson collected in turn seven. Anderson was able to get away rather quickly, but Cenni was left nosed against a tractor tire on the inside of the corner, and that forced a second full course yellow to fall at the end of lap two. The top five drivers were now Mittag, Adler, MacCachren, Randy Minnier, and Scott Douglas, but Anderson got by both Douglas and Minnier on the restart to move up to fourth in the #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/South Point truck. Anderson then picked off MacCachren at turn two on lap four when MacCachren struggled to get his truck to turn in, causing him to run wide. Three corners later, Anderson was trying a move down the inside of Adler for second, when Adler over-rotated slightly. Anderson tried to check up, but had nowhere to go, and helped push Adler a bit, as Adler caught one of the tractor tires that lined the inside of the corner, which immediately broke Adler's steering. This forced a full course yellow, and for the restart, it would now be Mittag, Anderson, MacCachren in the #21 Makita Industrial Power Tools/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, Minnier in the #59 Milwaukee/Kohler Ford, and Douglas in the #27 AMSOIL/Cooper Tires Ford in the top five. Minnier got a surprising jump on the restart to shoot past MacCachren for third, while further back, Cenni got by Douglas for fifth on the same lap. MacCachren got back by Minnier, though, with an inside pass at turn two on lap eight, and soon afterwards, Cenni was starting to work on a pass on Minnier as well. Unfortunately for Cenni, he sustained rear suspension damage thanks to the heavy ruts in turn four on the penultimate lap, and that allowed both Douglas and LeDuc to get by him. Up front, Mittag had a solid gap over the rest of the field, as he brought home a very well-driven win, ahead of Anderson in second, MacCachren in third, Minnier in fourth, and Douglas in fifth.
That wraps up the action for this weekend here Estero Beach. As always, it's been a wonderful place to visit, and the series is greatly appreciative of the warm welcome we've continued to receive from our fans south of the border when we return each year. Next up, the series heads east to Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO. June 23-24 will be the dates for Rounds 4 and 5 of this year's championship, so with less than five weeks to go until then, don't wait to get your tickets to see this incredible track, arguably the favorite among the series' drivers. With high speed sections and low speed sections, big banks and flat corners, there's a little bit of everything here on this long lap, and you won't want to miss the action, so start planning your trip now if you haven't already.
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series:
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is the evolution of the long-standing support of short course racing by Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil Products. Steeped in the midwest tradition of short course off-road racing infused with a west coast influence, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing brings intense four wheel door-to-door action to challenging, fan-friendly tracks. Our events can be seen on CBS, CBS Sports Network, MAVTV, and Live all season long on LucasOilRacing.TV. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course! For more information, please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter in our Newsletter Signup section of the home page.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series