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Championship races heat up in Round 8

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Tooele, UT (August 25, 2018) – After an exciting first night of racing here at the Utah Motorsports Campus last night, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, returned for a second night, Round 8, here tonight. This track can certainly be a challenging one, and tonight, it really helped to fuel some championship excitement, as the end results made some of our title races even closer than ever. By the end of this weekend, drivers would be heading home with a lot to push for in our next race weekend, but for now, let's see how this evening unfolded.

Modified Kart

Modified Kart

The opening lap of this afternoon's Modified Kart race was a scary one, as Connor Barry went for a wild rollover in turn one, which, despite how it may have looked initially, seemed to have been mostly self-induced. As drivers scrambled to miss Barry, Barry and five other drivers would wind up in a six-kart pile-up, forcing a complete restart of the race. All drivers involved were alright, though Barry's kart was unable to make the restart. On the second go around, points leader Mason Prater led the way, ahead of Bronsen Chiaramonte, Brody Eggleston, Trey Eggleston, and Luke Knupp. Brody Eggleston got by Chiaramonte and up to second early on lap three, before slowly getting past Prater for the lead down the inside through turns one and two on the next lap. Prater got back past in turn four, but it was a rough pass, and with both drivers having already been warned about rough driving, Prater was given the black flag. The Competition Yellow flew at the end of the next lap, and as the field stacked back up, it was to be Brody Eggleston, Chiaramonte, Trey Eggleston, John Holtger, and Knupp in the top five for the return to green flag racing.

Lorenzo Bonacci was sent for a big rollover after clipping the inside burm in turn one on the restart, which forced a full course caution, and under yellow, Knupp was sent to the back of the field for rough driving, as he had somewhat forced Bonacci, via contact seconds before, down to the burm that he wound up hitting. Brook Jensen would move up to fifth for the restart, and on that restart lap, there would be another full course caution, as Karaston Hernandez had come to a stop in turn five. On the restart lap, Jensen then rolled hard between turns one and two, which forced yet another full course caution, and as the time limit for this race was now being reached, officials began talks of cutting the race short. However, just as the green flag waved again, officials decided to let the race go the distance, and low and behold, Prater was now back up to fifth for the restart. Prater got past Holtger out of turn one on the restart lap, before then passing Trey Eggleston at turn three to move up to third. Ricky Gutierrez and Holtger then both passed Trey Eggleston before the end of that lap to move up to fourth and fifth, and on the next lap, disaster struck for Prater, as he biked and then spun in turn three, before stalling, which forced another full course caution on the next lap. It looked like Prater was trying to get a yellow thrown so as not to go down one lap, but Prater was actually unable to get re-fired, and had to be towed off. It's been an extremely close points race between championship leader Prater and second-placed Brody Eggleston this season in Modified Kart, with neither driver really having any kind of serious misstep so far this year; this was the first major blow to either driver. Brody Eggleston led the way, ahead of Chiaramonte, Holtger, Gutierrez, and Trey Eggleston for the restart, and on the final lap, Trey Eggleston got by Gutierrez to move up to fourth. At the stripe, it was Brody Eggleston who picked up a very important win, as well as the points lead, in the #514 Above All Construction/Walker Evans Racing kart. Second was Chiaramonte in the #574 RTL Traffic Control & Equipment Rentals/Kar Tek Off Road truck, with Holtger third in the #544 HBI machine, Trey Eggleston fourth in the #590 Solaris/CST Racing Products entry, and Gutierrez fifth in the #578 G Brothers/Lucas Oil machine.

Turbo Production UTV

Turbo Production UTV

In the final race before Opening Ceremonies, Trevor Leighton and Eliott Watson were your front row starters in Turbo Production UTV. However, it was Corry Weller who fought her way to the front by the end of lap one in the #748 DragonFire Racing/Team Full Throttle Battery Can-Am, and Weller was followed by Watson, points leader Paul O'Brien, Myles Cheek, and Chance Haugen. Weller had shoved Watson wide in turn two on the opening lap in order to get to the front, and that seemed to have lit a fire under Watson, who now hounded Weller for the lead over the next three laps, and all the while, O'Brien was waiting patiently to capitalize from just behind these two. However, on lap five, Cheek then closed right in on O'Brien, which forced O'Brien in turn to close down on Watson, and now, the top four cars on track were running very closely. On the next lap, Cheek then made contact with O'Brien in turn three, which caused O'Brien to spin and drop one spot to fourth. The Competition Yellow then fell at the end of this lap, and at this point, the running order was Weller, Watson in the #713 Tom Watson Inc./Method Race Wheels Can-Am, Cheek, O'Brien, and Haugen in the top five. A rollover by David Phillips in turn four on lap six caused a brief fire, which red flagged the race momentarily after the Competition Yellow had come out, and once the field began circulating under yellow again, officials gave Cheek a black flag for his earlier contact with O'Brien, which had seemed to be fairly accidental; Cheek was visibly upset, but served his penalty at the end of the restart lap, just as he was supposed to.

Leighton had moved up to fifth on that same restart lap, and when Cheek pulled in to serve his penalty, O'Brien, Leighton, and Haugen moved up to spots three through five. Lap nine then saw Dan Kelly move by Haugen into turn one to take over fifth in the #704 Can-Am, while up ahead, Weller was starting to pull clear of Watson in the race for the lead. O'Brien, meanwhile, was closing on Watson, and made a nice outside pass for second around the outside at turn four on the next lap. In the next corner, Leighton spun, and while it didn't cost him any positions, it did cause him to lose touch with O'Brien and Watson, with whom he'd been running closely. Kelly then got by Leighton on the inside at turn three on the next lap, but Leighton passed Kelly back in the next corner, before then slowing out of turn five. A full course yellow quickly came out, before Leighton had even come to a stop in fact, and when the yellow was out, Leighton was suddenly able to re-fire and continue. The restart would now have Weller, O'Brien in the #711 Weller Racing/DWT Can-Am, Watson, Kelly, and Haugen in the top five, and it would be a one-lap sprint to the checkers. Kelly biked in turn two on that final lap, which allowed Leighton by, and as Leighton had already passed Haugen on the restart, that meant he was now up to fourth in the #703 Kryptek/Fly Racing Polaris. From there, the top five held their positions, and it was Weller who got the win, ahead of O'Brien, Watson, Leighton, and Kelly. O'Brien went into today with a two-point lead in the championship over Weller, and added another point to that lead by beating her by one spot in qualifying this morning. However, Weller got that point back by leading this race at the halfway point, and picked up another two points on O'Brien by beating him by one spot in this race. That puts the two level in points, with the tie-breaker currently going to Weller, who has three wins to O'Brien's two- this should be a very exciting championship battle with three rounds remaining!

Pro 2 Unlimited

Pro 2 Unlimited

Following Opening Ceremonies, it was time for the first Pro class of the night: Pro 2. Points leader Rob MacCachren, winner here last night, was out front once again here in the early going tonight, as he and the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford were leading the pack after lap one, ahead of Brian Deegan, Jerett Brooks, RJ Anderson, and Bradley Morris. Brooks forced his way past Deegan with a little side contact in turn four on lap three to move up to second, and before the end of that same lap, both Morris and defending champion Jeremy McGrath had gotten past Anderson to move into spots four and five. Three laps later, Brooks then biked badly in turn three, and after trying to ride it out, he finally laid over gently, skidding to a pretty soft stop on his right side. This forced a full course caution, and although the accident itself didn't seem very bad, Brooks was unable to get his engine re-fired once he'd been righted by track workers, and so he was towed off the track, race over.

With Brooks out, it would now be MacCachren, Deegan in the #38 Monster Energy/Mickey Thompson Toyota, Morris, McGrath, and Rodrigo Ampudia in the top five for the return to green flag racing. These five held their positions on the restart lap, but on lap eight, McGrath pulled a nice slide job pass down the inside of Morris at turn three. Morris kept calm and smooth, though, and passed McGrath right back off of the corner to hold third. However, both McGrath and Ampudia were clearly stacked behind Morris now, and McGrath made another inside slide pass on Morris at turn five on the next lap, this time making it stick, with Ampudia then getting by as well through turns one and two on the next lap. Meanwhile, at the head of the pack, MacCachren suddenly slowed with a right rear flat, and was just turning into the Hot Pits when Morris lost his entire right front tire and wheel, which forced a second full course caution. That caution helped MacCachren's pit crew to be able to change his tire in time for MacCachren to re-join the tail end of the field without losing a lap; alas, Morris was unable to continue in the race. When racing resumed, it was now Deegan in the lead, with McGrath, Ampudia, Danny Ebberts, and Adam Daffner in the top five. After the restart lap, MacCachren got past Daffner out of turn two to move up to sixth on lap 12, and on lap 13, McGrath then slowed coming out of turn three with what looked to be an overheating issue, and within a few corners, he'd already dropped to fifth. Daffner then got by McGrath to re-enter the top five on the next lap, while further up the order, a slight over-rotation out of turn three by Ebberts allowed MacCachren to sweep by on the inside for third spot on lap 15. MacCachren then got by Ampudia out of turn five, and had just one lap to try and catch the leader Deegan. Deegan, however, was too far in front, and picked up his first win of the season here tonight, ahead of MacCachren, Ampudia in the #36 Lucas Oil/Monster Energy Ford, Ebberts in the #41 Honeydew Racing/Ebbco Ford, and Jeff Shelton in the #72 Rolling Big Power/Mickey Thompson Ford.

Production 1000 UTV

Production 1000 UTV

Next up was Production 1000 UTV, and this stacked field saw last night's winner Myles Cheek leading the pack once again at the end of lap one here tonight in the #957 Walker Evans Racing/CMI Precision Machining Polaris, with Nathan Barry running second, points leader and defending champion Brock Heger third, Mickey Thomas fourth, and Trevor Leighton fifth. Heger got right up on Barry's back bumper on lap two, but then lost ground to Barry on the next lap, as Barry, in turn, moved right up to pressure Cheek for the lead. Heger then began to see some pressure from the back, as Thomas began following Heger's lines almost perfectly, and began to hound the young hotshoe for that final podium spot. Further back, Robert Stout made an easy pass on Leighton down the inside at turn three on lap five to move up to fifth, while just ahead, the great races for first and third spots continued all the way to the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap six. On the restart lap, Leighton re-took fifth from Stout early on the lap, but Stout managed to get back by before the lap's end. Up front, Cheek was now starting to pull away from Barry, who in turn was now starting to hold both Heger and Thomas up somewhat, though neither Heger nor Thomas could seem to find a way to make a move on Barry to challenge for that second spot. On lap eight, Ronnie Anderson then passed both Stout and Leighton to move up to fifth in the #952 Walker Evans Racing/Holz Racing Products Polaris. A full course caution then fell on lap ten after Ryan Lindsay lost his entire right rear tire and wheel, and when officials didn't like the restart that the field made once Lindsay's car had been cleared, the drivers had to re-group to give it a second try. The field got it right on the second go around, and the top five held their positions over the final three laps and through to the checkered flag, with Cheek taking the win and the sweep of the weekend, ahead of Barry, who scored a career best finish in the class with second place tonight in the #928 CBR Performance Products Yamaha. Third was Heger in the #1 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics Yamaha, fourth was Thomas in the #944 Hans ADA/Crash Addict Yamaha, and fifth was Anderson.

Pro Buggy Unlimited

Pro Buggy Unlimited

After a suspension issue ended an otherwise promising run last night, Eliott Watson was out charging hard once again here tonight in Utah, and had the lead in the #3 Tom Watson Inc./BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft at the end of lap one; Trey Gibbs, points leader and defending champion Darren Hardesty Jr., last night's winner Bud Ward, and Garret George (filling in for Trevor Briska tonight) rounded out the early top five. Hardesty Jr. got past Gibbs from turn one to turn two on lap two, which moved Hardesty Jr. up to second in the #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Off Road Warehouse Alumi Craft, before a full course caution fell on lap three after Sammy Ehrenberg had come to a stop in the whoop section. Strangely, Ehrenberg got right back underway as soon as the yellow flag came out, and as the field then resumed green flag racing, the top five drivers were still in their same positions. These drivers continued to hold station clear up to the Competition Yellow, which flew at the end of lap seven, but on the restart lap, some major shuffling went on. Gibbs dropped clear down to seventh from third, and Ward also fell back one spot to fifth, as George and Chris Nunes moved up to third and fourth. Four laps later, Nunes and George then got caught up with each other in turn four, and Nunes wound up spinning out, all of which put Ward up to third in the #17 Horsepower Ranch/Ramona Tire Funco, with Gibbs now fourth in the #15 KB Engineering/Temecula Motorsports Alumi Craft, and Broc Dickerson in the ex-Kyle Aarup, now-#23 Dickerson Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft fifth. Dickerson then passed Gibbs for fourth on lap 13, and on the final lap, Ward dropped two spots to fifth, which put Dickerson and Gibbs up to third and fourth. At the head of the pack, Watson and Hardesty Jr. were well clear, and the good friends finished first and second, with Dickerson rounding out the podium in third, Gibbs fourth, and Ward fifth. Last night's issues hurt Watson in the title race, but a win tonight kept him in striking distance, and he now sits second, 13 points behind Hardesty Jr. Ward still holds third, but is another three points behind, and a very tough weekend for Briska has dropped him from second to fourth, and from four points back to 33 points out.

Pro Lite Unlimited

Pro Lite Unlimited

It's been a miserable season in Pro Lite for Brock Heger this year, but tonight, he got out in front right from the drop of the green flag, and led the field past the start/finish line at the end of lap one in his #12 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics Ford. Mickey Thomas ran in second in the #44 Maxxis Tires/Walker Evans Racing Chevrolet, with points leader Ryan Beat third in the #51 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Competitive Metals Chevrolet, Ronnie Anderson fourth, and Mason Cullen fifth. Last night's winner Brandon Arthur then got by Cullen out of turn two to grab fifth in the #6 MAVTV/Pro Traffic Services Chevrolet on lap two, and a few laps later, got by Anderson for fourth, just ahead of a rollover by Jonathan Brenthel, which forced a full course caution. After the restart, Arthur chopped off an advance by Anderson as the two came out of turn four, and when Christopher Polvoorde tried to capitalize around the left side, Anderson then swung across the track to try and cut Polvoorde off at the pass. Anderson put Polvoorde into the k rail, but Polvoorde kept his foot in it, and managed to squeeze past Anderson and up to fifth in the #94 Steel-It/TIS Wheels Nissan. On the next lap, the leader Heger ran wide at turn three, briefly allowing Thomas to move ahead by a nose as a result. However, Heger fought back past to re-gain the lead, and about a lap and a half later, a similar situation happened between Beat and Arthur. Arthur nosed ahead of Beat by 0.045 seconds at the beginning of lap eight, which seemed to wake Beat up, as Beat then put the hammer down and moved back ahead of Arthur as they shot through turns one and two. The top four continued to run pretty close in a nice train over the next six laps, but on the final lap, a right rear flat struck Thomas early on the lap, dropping him quickly from second to fourth, and then down to fifth before the end of the race; a sad end to a very promising run from this talented young driver. Up front, Heger got the win, his (surprisingly) first of the season, ahead of Beat, Arthur, Polvoorde, and Thomas.

Pro 4 Unlimited

Pro 4 Unlimited

The final race of the weekend would be Pro 4, and on the opening lap, last night's winner Doug Mittag turned a bit sideways in the air over the big tabletop jump between turns two and three. Despite fighting to get straightened out upon landing, Mittag skidded, nose against the right side k rail, then dug in and rolled nearly three times. It was certainly a scary incident, but the crash could've been a lot worse, and while a full course caution was rightfully called for, Mittag was quickly righted by safety crews, and despite some heavy cosmetic damage, Mittag was able to continue. The running order in the top five was four-time defending champion Kyle LeDuc, points leader RJ Anderson, Scott Douglas, Adrian Cenni, and Greg Adler in the top five for the return to green flag racing, with Cenni getting by Douglas for third on the restart lap. Adler then got by Douglas as well as the two headed into turn one on the next lap, and out of the next corner, Anderson was then suddenly very slow, and the next four trucks in line (Cenni, Adler, Douglas, and Mittag) all got by in a hurry. Mittag then passed Douglas in turn one on the next lap, moving up to fourth in the #81 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Maxxis Tires Ford. Four laps later, Adler then suddenly shot alongside Cenni coming out of turn five, and managed to nose just ahead before the start/finish line to move up to third before the Competition Yellow- savvy driving by the veteran Adler in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/Odyssey Battery truck. After the restart, Mittag pulled into the Hot Pits at the end of lap nine to change a left rear flat tire, which put Mittag down one lap, so that he was now running on the same lap as fourth-placed Douglas. On lap 11, Cenni rolled in turn five, but landed on his wheels and was able to continue. It was an attrition-filled race, and as LeDuc began the final lap in the lead in his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, it was still Adler in second, Cenni third in the #11 pHit Alkaline Drink Mixer/Maxxis Tires Ford, Douglas fourth in the #27 AMSOIL/Mickey Thompson Ford, and Mittag fifth. Both Cenni and Mittag were shown the black flag as they crossed the start/finish line to begin the final lap, but all five held their positions, physically, through the end of the lap. LeDuc scored his second win of the season, ahead of Adler in second, Cenni in third, Douglas in fourth, and Mittag in fifth. LeDuc's win, coupled with some trouble for Mittag and even worse luck for Anderson, have really helped to tighten things up, championship-wise. Anderson now leads by a scant four points over Mittag, who in turn has just six points over LeDuc- with three races remaining, this should be very fun to watch!

That brings our race weekend here in Utah to a close. Up next, we return to one of the original homes of off-road racing: Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, CA. We'll be back in action, under the lights, in just four weeks, as Glen Helen will host Rounds 9 and 10 of the 2018 championship. This will also be the site and weekend for the first Lucas Oil Camp Out. The Camp Out will be a very fun way to enjoy the races, and a lot of additional fun activities, either by yourself or with your whole family, so be sure to check out lucasoiloffroad.com for more details on this exciting event, and of course, be sure to get yourself to Glen Helen for two exciting nights of racing- this place always packs the house and makes for some amazing racing!

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