Chandler, AZ (October 21, 2018) – With the 2018 championships now decided in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, the final racing day of the year here in the National Series would be the Lucas Oil Challenge Cup races. Big money and bigger bragging rights were up for grabs today here at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, AZ, and with many months for our teams to make repairs after today's races, our drivers certainly went all out in pursuit of those monstrous checks. It was another beautiful day to be here in the Arizona desert, and the racing was spectacular, with the best being saved for the very end- this one was indeed one that people will be talking about for a long time yet…
Getting things started for our final day of racing here in 2018 would be the Junior 2 Karts, and at the end of lap one, it was newly-crowned champion Connor Barry leading the way in the #1 K&N Filters/CBR Performance Products machine; yesterday's winner Karaston Hernandez ran second, with Braydon Beatty third, Holden Heitritter fourth, and Rhyan Denney fifth. Up front, Barry was quickly pulling away from the field in classic Connor Barry style, while behind him, the rest of the top five held station. These five continued in those same positions all the way to the Competition Yellow, but on lap six (the restart lap), Denney ran wide at turn one, which allowed Rhowan McGrath to get by on the inside for fifth. Ethan Ebert then passed McGrath at turn four to take that fifth spot for himself, and while Barry was now once again pulling away up front, the next five drivers were locked in a tight train, battling fiercely for spots two through six. However, no further passes were actually made within the top five before the checkered flag, and at the finish, it was Barry who got another win, as well as $500, while $250 and second place went to Hernandez in the #483 Hernandez Framing/Black Hat Studios kart, and third place, along with $100, went to Beatty in the #405 Toscany's Coal Oven Pizza/SDHQ Off Road Racing truck. Fourth place today was Heitritter in the #412 Justice Brothers/Action Gas & Welding Supply entry, and fifth was Ebert in the #477 Element 7 Graphics/Vision X Global Lighting Systems machine.
Next up were the Junior 1 Karts, and there were just five of them today, with Lake Adler leading the field at the end of lap one in the #299 4 Wheel Parts/Fox Racing Shox entry; Ayden Ford, Kaylee Federwisch, newly-crowned champion Jake Bollman, and Bergen McGrath rounded out the other positions, respectively. Ford ran wide at turn one on lap three, which let Federwisch by for second, and in turn three, Adler made a similar mistake, which allowed Federwisch to move ahead and into the lead in the #247 C&R Trucking/Blud Racing Lubricants kart. As Federwisch went past Adler, Adler then struggled to get straightened back out, and that held up Ford and Bollman, and also helped give Federwisch a good gap over the rest of the competition. Bollman then pulled off out of turn two on the next lap, race over, leaving only Federwisch, Adler, Ford, and McGrath out on track, in that order. These four held station through the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap five, as well as through the entire second half of the race, during which Federwisch re-grew her lead (which she lost as the field bunched back up under the Competition Yellow) out to an impressive 4.93 seconds. Federwisch took her inaugural win in the National Series, as well as a handsome $500 check- congratulations Kaylee! Second place, and $250, went to Adler, while $100 went to third-placed Ford in the #207 Kar Tek Off Road/Off Road Warehouse truck; fourth was McGrath in the #202 Traxxas/Wienerschnitzel kart, and despite only finishing three laps, Bollman was still fifth in the #271 JB Racing/Signpros Custom Lettering machine.
First out onto the full-length track were the Modified Karts, and after a three-kart incident out of turn one, the field was slowed under a full course caution on the opening lap, and then put back in their original starting formation for a complete restart of the race; unfortunately, Mason Prater's weekend went from bad to worse on that opening lap, as damage to Prater's kart left him unable to make the restart. The rest of the field was able to take the restart, though, and at the end of lap one, it was Bronsen Chiaramonte out front in the #574 RTL Traffic Control & Equipment Rentals/Kar Tek Off Road kart out front, ahead of yesterday's winner and newly-crowned champion Brody Eggleston, Braden Chiaramonte, Luke Knupp, and Ricky Gutierrez. On lap two, someone half spun Knupp in turn two, which dropped him out of the top five, and put Gutierrez and Trey Eggleston up to fourth and fifth. Further forward, Braden Chiaramonte's bodywork was now tearing off of his chassis, which may have contributed to Gutierrez's getting by him for third out of turn one on lap four. Up front, the top two were running very close to one another, while a bit further back, Braden Chiaramonte had finally shed all of his bodywork, which left him free to race unimpaired once again. The Competition Yellow fell at the end of the next lap, and in the top five, it was now Bronsen Chiaramonte, Brody Eggleston in the #514 Above All Construction Inc./Walker Evans Racing machine, Gutierrez, Braden Chiaramonte, and Trey Eggleston. These five held station on the restart lap, with the top three running very closely, before a full course caution then fell on lap seven after John Holtger had come to a stop in turn three. On the restart lap, Brody Eggleston and Gutierrez collected each other in turn two, and Gutierrez got the black flag for the incident. Bronsen and Braden Chiaramonte now ran in first and second, with Trey Eggleston now third, Brook Jensen fourth, and Knupp fifth in the #554 Ultra Xtreme Race Wheels/Factory Canopies kart. A full course caution then fell just before the end of the next lap after a double rollover for Mia Chapman and Jaden Uribe in turn three, and on the restart lap, Knupp got past Jensen out of turn two to move up to fourth place. On the next and final lap, Brody Eggleston got by Jensen at turn two to re-enter the top five, while up front, it was a Chiaramonte one-two, with Bronsen taking the win and $600, and Braden taking second and $300. Third in this one was Trey Eggleston in the #590 Above All Construction Inc./CSD Racing Products entry, and he got $100 for that final podium spot; fourth was Knupp, and fifth was Brody Eggleston.
The final race before Opening Ceremonies would be Turbo Production UTV, and in this one, front row starter Eliott Watson led the field after the first lap, ahead of newly-crowned champion Corry Weller, Trevor Leighton, Paul O'Brien, and Chance Haugen. Weller made easy work of Watson down the inside at turn two on the second lap to move into the lead in the #748 DragonFire/Team Full Throttle Battery Can-Am, and soon afterwards, it became obvious that Watson was suffering from broken left rear suspension, which forced him to pull off the track on the next lap. O'Brien, who'd gotten past Leighton, now moved up to second in the #711 Weller Racing/Maxxis Tires Can-Am, with Leighton now third, Haugen fourth, and Dan Kelly fifth. Leighton then slowed briefly out of turn three on the next lap and dropped to fourth, and a similar incident in turn one on lap five put Leighton back to sixth; Kelly and Myles Cheek now ran in fourth and fifth. On that same lap, Kelly then cut down on Cheek going into turn four, and as Cheek was already committed to the inside line, it only took a nudge from Cheek to send Kelly into a wild rollover, which forced a full course caution. Under that caution flag, Leighton stopped at the start/finish line, and as the field, now reduced to just five vehicles, lined back up for the restart, it was Weller, O'Brien, Haugen in the #718 Pinnacle Off-Road Motorsports/SuperATV.com Polaris, Logan Jespersen in the #778 Pinnacle Off-Road Motorsports/Digital Dirt Polaris, and Andy Ives in the #714 California Trailers/Humboldt Motorsports Polaris in the top five. After the restart, O'Brien got by Weller with a nice inside pass at turn three on lap eight, putting O'Brien up into the lead, and that's where he stayed through the end of the race, where he took the win and a check for $1,000. Weller finished in second, and grabbed $500, while third and $300 went to Haugen; Jespersen and Ives finished in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Following Opening Ceremonies, the first Pro class Challenge Cup race was Pro Lite. Yesterday's winner Brock Heger got out to the early lead in the #12 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics Ford, ahead of newly-crowned champion Ryan Beat, Mickey Thomas, Christopher Polvoorde, and Hailie Deegan. Ronnie Anderson got by Deegan for fifth at turn one on the second lap, while up front, Heger had already opened up a gap over the rest of the field. Lap three saw Polvoorde move up and get all over the back of Thomas in the battle for third, and just ahead of this pair, Beat looked like he was perfectly poised to make a move on Heger in the second half, and almost as though he was holding back slightly until after the Competition Yellow. That flag fell at the end of lap seven, and the top five drivers were now Heger, Beat, Thomas, Polvoorde, and Anderson. On the restart lap, Mamer got into Anderson out of turn one, causing Anderson to spin, and as collateral damage, several other drivers were caught out as Anderson went around. Deegan, meanwhile, moved back up to fifth, and on the next lap, Thomas caught a rut in turn three, biked, and then ran wide, which allowed Polvoorde and Deegan to get by down the inside for third and fourth. On-track debris forced a full course caution at the end of this lap, and on the restart lap, Polvoorde came into turn one a little too hot, where he spun Beat, who in turn was collected into by Thomas. One corner later, Deegan then spun, which caught Mamer out as well, and by the end of the lap, at which point a full course caution was thrown, it was Heger, Polvoorde #94 Steel-It/TIS Wheels Nissan, Trevor Leighton, Mamer, and Anderson in the top five. Mamer then ducked into the Hot Pits on the restart lap, in what looked like the serving of a black flag penalty, possibly for causing Deegan to spin. On lap 12, Leighton then biked in turn one, and when Anderson checked up to miss hitting Leighton, Deegan got by down the inside. In the next corner, Leighton then slid down to meet Deegan door to door, and the resulting hard contact sent Leighton for a rollover. While he landed on his wheels, Leighton's truck was too damaged to continue, and the whole incident forced another full course yellow.
Heger, Polvoorde, Anderson, Deegan, and Jimmy Weitzel lined up in the top five for the return to green flag racing, and with all of the carnage thus far, only nine trucks were still out on track. After the restart lap, Mamer was all over Weitzel on lap 13, and as the two began a nice little battle, Beat then closed right in on Mamer as well. On the final lap, Deegan dove deep into turn three to try and get by Anderson on the inside, but she ran well wide in the corner, and Anderson moved down the inside to stay alongside as they approached the exit of the corner. Anderson then tried blatantly to force Deegan wide out of the turn, but Deegan kept her foot in it and cut wildly across the kart track, before re-joining the track that the race was actually happening on midway through turn four, where she jumped back on in third place. Up front, meanwhile, Heger had been untouchable all race long, and brought home the win, the sweep of the weekend, and for his efforts today, Heger took home a big $10,000 check. Second went to Polvoorde, who took home $5,000, and after both Deegan (who crossed the line third) and Anderson (who crossed the line fourth) were given the black flag for their antics on the final lap, it was Weitzel in the #59 Simon Performance Technologies/Kanati Tires Chevrolet who took third and $2,500. Fourth place was Beat in the #1 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Competitive Metals Chevrolet, and fifth was Keaton Swane in the #21 Appliance Parts Company/Maxxis Tires Chevrolet.
A full course caution fell early on lap one in the Production 1000 UTV race after Ryan Lindsay rolled off to the side of the first jump out of turn one, and wound up high-centered atop the k rail that divides the straightaway between turns one and two and the straightaway between turns two and three. Lindsay was soon pulled free, but his vehicle was too damaged to continue, so he was unable to re-join the field for the full restart. After the restart, Jeremy Houle led the way after lap one in the #54 Speedwerx/Textron Off Road Arctic Cat, ahead of Paul O'Brien, Mickey Thomas, Robby Hornsby, and Kyle Greaves. The field then woed up for a full course caution late on lap two after Jax Redline had come to a stop up in turn one on the beginning of the lap, and on the restart lap, Robert Stout got by Greaves from turn three to turn four to move up to fifth. On the next lap, both Stout and Hornsby were all over Thomas, with the trio running three-wide out of turn three, but by the middle of turn four, these three were back in line in their previous positions, and over the next two laps, the top five drivers held their positions. Stout then got by Hornsby early on lap six, perhaps with the added element of getting by lapped driver Redline, and before the end of the lap, Greaves had gotten by Hornsby as well. The Competition Yellow fell at the end of this lap, and the running order in the top five was now Houle, O'Brien, Thomas, Stout, and Greaves, and all five drivers continued to hold station through the end of the restart lap (lap seven).
On lap eight, Thomas then got alongside O'Brien out of turn two, and squeezed by for second into turn three. The next lap saw Jason Weller bump his way past Greaves on the inside at turn three, which put Weller up to fifth, while up front, Thomas was right on Houle's back bumper by the very end of the lap. A full course caution then fell early on lap 10, and on the restart lap, Weller got by Stout for fourth at turn two, with Greaves then getting by Stout for fifth in the next corner. Up front, Thomas then passed Houle down the inside after forcing Houle wide in turn one on lap 11, and soon afterwards, O'Brien and Weller both moved up to challenge Houle as well in turn two. O'Brien then managed to get past Houle in turn three to move into second, but at the white flag, it was now Thomas, O'Brien, Houle, Greaves, and Stout in the top five, as Weller had somehow fallen back to eighth. The top five held their positions over the final lap, but O'Brien and Stout received a penalty for having contact after the checkered flag, which dropped them well out on the top five. Thomas was still your winner in the #944 HANS ADA Racing/Crash Addict Yamaha, and this earned Thomas $1,000, but second and $500 now went to Houle, and Greaves, another midwest driver like Houle, finished third in the #34 KGB Customs Race Fab & Repair/Ehren Precision Speed Products Yamaha, which earned him $300. Fourth place was Nathan Barry in the #928 CBR Performance Products/DASA Yamaha, and fifth was Hornsby in the #916 ExtremePerformance.com/Landau Pools Yamaha.
The open-wheeled Pro Buggies were next, and it was yesterday's winner, Eliott Watson, leading the way once again after lap one in this one, ahead of newly-crowned 3-time champion Darren Hardesty Jr., Trey Gibbs, Chris Nunes, and Brady Whitlock at the end of lap one. Matthew Brister got by Whitlock for fifth at turn two on lap two, but from there, the top five then held their positions through the end of lap seven, at which time it was the halfway point, and thus, out came the Competition Yellow. Watson had opened up a 1.67-second lead over Hardesty Jr. up to this point, with Hardesty Jr. in turn leading Gibbs by 3.51 seconds; Nunes and Brister were both within under 1.5 seconds of Gibbs. The top five continued to hold station on the restart lap, though Brister did move up to get all over the back of Nunes late on the lap, and on the next lap, Brister got by Nunes at turn two to move up to fourth. Two laps later, though, Brister ran high at turn two, which let Nunes get back by on the inside to re-take fourth. Brister tried desperately to get back by early on the next lap, but after running wildly wide at turn two on that lap, Brister was struggling just to not lose too much ground. The top five again held station, this time until the end of the race, and at the checkered flag, it was Watson who took the win and the sweep of the weekend, as well as the $10,000 first place prize, in the #3 Tom Watson Incorporated/Fox Racing Shox Alumi Craft. Second went to Hardesty Jr. in the #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Mickey Thompson Alumi Craft, and Hardesty Jr. also took home $5,000, while third place earned $2,500 for Gibbs in the #15 Self Made Training Facility Las Vegas/KB Engineering Alumi Craft. Fourth place in this one was Nunes in the #2 Kicker Performance Audio/BFGoodrich Tires Racer, and fifth went to Brister in the #5 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/Roush Competition Engines Funco.
In the final race of the year, it would be the infamous Pro 2 versus Pro 4 shootout. As usual, the 4wds would be given roughly a half lap handicap, but this year, both fields would take the green flag from a standing start. At the end of lap one, Brian Deegan led the way in the #38 Monster Energy/Mickey Thompson Toyota, ahead of Jeremy McGrath, RJ Anderson, newly-crowned Pro 2 champion Rob MacCachren, and Bradley Morris, while the top five in Pro 4 were Adrian Cenni, Greg Adler, Kyle LeDuc, Doug Mittag, and Randy Minnier. Morris got by MacCachren early on lap two to move into fourth, but a rollover for Scott Douglas (Pro 4) in turn two left Douglas on his side, which forced a full course caution at the end of the lap. Douglas was righted and able to re-join the fray, but in another new twist for this race this year, two unique starting lines of drivers were formed on the front straight: one for the Pro 2s, and one for the Pro 4s, with the 2wds taking the restart exactly the same number of seconds ahead of the 4wds as had been the gap between the two classes before the caution flag. With the running order getting put back to what it'd been on the previous lap, MacCachren got to move back ahead of Morris, but in a funny moment, MacCachren actually had to parallel park his race truck in the lineup, and amusingly, Morris had to back up as MacCachren backed into place in order to avoid having his nose hit- let's just say it's a good thing that MacCachren left his job as a valet back in the 80s and went with being the most successful driver in off-road racing history instead.
On the restart lap (lap three), Cenni rolled in turn two, but was able to continue. The top five held their positions in Pro 2 (Deegan, McGrath, Anderson, MacCachren, and Morris), but LeDuc moved up to lead the Pro 4 charge, with Minnier, Adler, Douglas, and Mittag in-tow. Anderson then slowed going into turn three on the next lap, and quickly pulled off and into the Hot Pits, race over, promoting MacCachren, Morris, and Jerett Brooks into positions three, four, and five in the process. Meanwhile, LeDuc had now caught the last two Pro 2s, Kipp Mickels and then Justin Suhr, and was now running eighth on track, with Mittag and Adler now in eleventh and twelfth, and Douglas and Minnier in the next two spots. On-track debris forced a full course caution at the end of this lap, and again, two restart lines were formed, though now, of course, the time differential between the two restarts was much less, and the two Pro 2s who'd been caught would now have to start amongst the Pro 4s. LeDuc got by Rodrigo Ampudia and Chad Hord, who'd both collected and spun in turn one on the restart, and LeDuc now sat sixth at the end of lap five (the restart lap), with Mittag and Adler just behind in seventh and eighth, while Cenni and Douglas still sat back in tenth and eleventh. LeDuc and Mittag were running right together, but didn't make any more places on the next lap, as was true for Adler, though Douglas and Cenni now ran in ninth and tenth. LeDuc then caught Brooks at turn three on lap seven, while up ahead, MacCachren got by McGrath to move into second in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford. LeDuc then got past Brooks down the inside at turn two on the next lap, making him the first Pro 4 in the top five. One corner later, LeDuc then passed Morris down the inside for fourth, and on the next lap, LeDuc passed McGrath as well to step onto the provisional podium. Mittag also moved up, passing Brooks and Morris on that lap (lap nine) to move up to fifth, and on lap ten, MacCachren then biked in turn two, which let LeDuc by for second.
LeDuc almost seemed to be taking things somewhat easy, as he had to have known that there was still almost half the race distance remaining, and only one Pro 2 left ahead of him. Still, Deegan was driving a great defensive race, and certainly making LeDuc work for the pass on such a rutted out track, but on lap 12, LeDuc made the move around the outside at turn three to take the lead. At the end of the lap, Mittag (who'd already passed McGrath for fourth one lap earlier) jumped alongside MacCachren as they crossed the start/finish line, with Mittag edging ahead by a whisker for third. Mittag then got by Deegan around the outside at turn three on lap 13 to move up to second, and appeared to be closing a bit on LeDuc as well. Lap 14 saw Mittag continue to close in on the leader, and out of turn three, Mittag shot into the lead. Further back, Cenni got by McGrath out of turn two to take over fifth spot, and with two laps to go, it was now Mittag, LeDuc, Deegan, MacCachren, and Cenni in the top five. LeDuc then half spun and shot into the infield at turn three on the penultimate lap, which put him back to fourth. On what then would've been the final lap, Cenni was stopped in turn three, which forced a full course caution. Mittag, Deegan, MacCachren, LeDuc, and McGrath were your top five as the field lined back up for one last (now rolling) restart and a one-lap shootout. On that final lap, Adler got into LeDuc coming out of turn three, and drove up and over part of LeDuc's hood, causing Adler to roll wildly. Then, in the final corner, Mittag suddenly lost power and rolled to a stop, mere seconds from the finish line in a horribly cruel twist. With the entire rest of the field barreling in from behind, Mittag was lucky not to be hit, and both Deegan and MacCachren swept past, each driver now sensing his chance to steal the win away at the last second. MacCachren closed to within half a length of Deegan, and sent it over the final jump, landing his right front tire on Deegan's left bedside. However, Deegan escaped unscathed, mechanically, and crossed the line first to take the win in the most exciting finish in Challenge Cup history, as well as a huge $30,000 check to boot. Second, and $15,000, went to MacCachren, and Minnier wound up third, taking home $7,500 for his efforts in the #59 Milwaukee Tools/Kohler Generators Ford. Fourth place was Douglas in the #27 AMSOIL/KC HiLites Ford, and fifth was Ampudia in the #36 Lucas Oil/Papas & Beer Ford.
With that, our 2018 season has come to a close here in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO. Tonight, our drivers will receive their championship trophies at the Awards Banquet, and will then head home, and along with their teams and families, ready themselves once again for another season of racing in 2019, which will be here before they know it. To all of our drivers, their families, the team members, our staff and sponsors, and most importantly, you the fans, thank you for making this, our tenth season, our best yet, and please join us again next year for another great season of short course off road racing. Enjoy the off season, and during that time, keep up with all the latest series news by checking out lucasoiloffroad.com.
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