San Bernardino, CA (September 15, 2017) – After an extended absence, night racing made its triumphant return in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, here this weekend at Glen Helen Raceway. A mecca of off-road racing on any day of the week, southern California’s Glen Helen seems to take on a whole different character once the sun goes down, and the atmosphere at any of our night races is definitely a unique and exciting one. Despite the unusually chilly temperatures, the drivers put on some fantastic performances here tonight, with driving that almost seems to defy imagination. The 2017 championship is winding down now, and with just three rounds of racing remaining, this weekend’s Rounds 11 and 12 are two of the most important of the entire season, and you can be sure that these drivers left it all out there on the track tonight.
Kyle LeDuc led the way by just a nose over Bryce Menzies at the end of lap one in Pro 4 Unlimited, with Carl Renezeder, RJ Anderson, and Doug Mittag filling out the early top five. Menzies had nearly gotten the lead away from LeDuc on lap one, and he continued to battle hard on lap two, before getting by at turn four to move up to the top spot. On lap five, Eric Barron was all over Mittag in the battle for fifth, and while trying to make a pass at turn five, Barron spun and was piled into by several other drivers, all of whom had nowhere to go. Most of those involved managed to get away quickly, but both Barron and Greg Adler were slow to get moving, so a full course yellow came out. When racing resumed, smoke was seen coming out the back of LeDuc’s truck, and that may have been the reason that LeDuc slowed out of turn four on lap six. Renezeder got by for second, and as these two and Anderson went over the big tabletop jump that followed, LeDuc drifted wide right (perhaps with just a little touch from Renezeder and/or Anderson; it was hard to tell), before he landed into the k rail and spun around. Most of the field managed to sneak past, but MacCachren ran into LeDuc, though he did manage to scrub some speed before doing so. The incident brought out a full course yellow, and while LeDuc was unable to continue, MacCachren was, and the running order up front was now Menzies, Renezeder, Anderson Mittag, and Doug Fortin for the return to green flag racing. On the restart lap, Mittag got by Anderson down the inside at turn three to move up to third, but then caught a rut down in turn two on the next lap (he may have also had just a small touch from Anderson), which sent him into a major double barrel roll, bringing out the full course yellow once again. Menzies, Renezeder, Anderson, Fortin, and Bradley Morris now ran up front as racing resumed, with MacCachren then sneaking by Morris at turn four as Morris was trying to make a pass on Fortin; MacCachren jumped up from sixth to fourth here. MacCachren then spun out at turn one on the next lap, and it soon became apparent that all was not well onboard his machine. MacCachren’s spin, and Fortin’s coming to a stop in turn two just afterwards, brought out another full course caution, and after the restart lap, MacCachren got by Adrian Cenni for fifth coming out of turn three on lap 11. The next lap saw Renezeder suddenly slow and pull off coming out of turn four, and just behind, Morris started to slow slightly with a deflating right rear tire. MacCachren got by Morris at turn four to move up to third on lap 13, but then spun in turn three on the next lap, which allowed Morris back past. Up front, Anderson tried hard to close the gap on Menzies over the final couple of laps, and Anderson did manage to make some headway, but it was still Menzies who scored the convincing win in the #7 Red Bull/KMC Wheels Ford. Anderson finished second in the #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/Polaris RZR truck, with Morris third in the #24 K&N Filters/NTN Bearings Ford, MacCachren fourth in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford, and Cenni fifth in the #11 Atrium Payroll/Maxxis Tires Ford.
In the final race of the night, Bradley Morris shot out to the early lead in Pro 2 Unlimited in his #24 K&N Filters/Kicker Audio Ford, with Rob MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford, Jeremy McGrath in the #2 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics truck, Rodrigo Ampudia, and Brian Deegan close behind. MacCachren put big pressure on Morris in the first couple of laps, sticking his nose in at every opportunity, but Morris kept cool and remained in the lead as the top five all held their positions through the opening seven laps. A full course caution fell at the end of lap seven after Patrick Clark lost a front tire and wheel, and when racing resumed, Deegan got by Ampudia into turn two on the restart lap to take over fourth in the #38 Monster Energy/Mickey Thompson Ford. On the next lap, Jerett Brooks tried to pull a slide job inside pass on Ampudia at turn three, and while he was most of the way ahead as the two exited the turn, Brooks still drove his left rear corner up and over Ampudia’s right front corner, causing Ampudia to spin. Right behind Ampudia came Bryce Menzies, and with nowhere to go, Menzies drilled Ampudia in the right side door, ending Menzies’ night, and causing another full course yellow. On the restart lap, Brooks got by Deegan for fourth at turn four, but in turn one on the next lap, Brooks spun all on his own, dropping him back to sixth, and moving Deegan and Ampudia up to fourth and fifth. Lap 12 then saw Morris just over-rotate a bit as he exited turn two, and when MacCachren just caught Morris on the back bumper, the two briefly lost control, and that allowed McGrath to sweep around them both on the outside and into the lead. As Morris and MacCachren tried to get straightened back out, Deegan dropped into place between the two, with Ampudia also filing in right behind MacCachren. Morris was clear of those behind him, but Deegan, MacCachren, and Ampudia all then had a fantastic scrap for third spot on lap 14. Unfortunately, Ampudia fell by the wayside on lap 15, but on the same lap, MacCachren got by Deegan on the inside at turn one to move up to third. Brooks also fell off and into the Hot Pits briefly, but after all the carnage up and down the order, he still managed to re-emerge in fifth, albeit a lap down. Up front, McGrath got the win, his fourth of the season, extending his points lead with just two races to go. Morris finished a strong second, with MacCachren third, Deegan fourth, and Brooks fifth in the #77 General Tire/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Ford.
Brock Heger ran up front at the end of lap one in Pro Lite Unlimited, ahead of points leader Jerett Brooks, Ryan Beat, Ronnie Anderson, and Mickey Thomas. These five held their positions over the first five laps, but on lap six, Christopher Polvoorde got by Thomas over the big tabletop jump between turns four and five to move into fifth in the #94 The Palms River Resort/King Off-Road Racing Shocks Nissan. The Competition Yellow fell at the end of the next lap, and after racing resumed, the top five drivers continued to hold station. On lap 11, things finally began to heat up, as Brooks suddenly fired past Heger through the whoops to move into the lead. As it turned out, Heger’s right rear tire was starting to go down, and as the issue worsened, the sharks behind him started to smell blood in the water. In the next corner, Beat over-rotated and dropped from third to fifth, with both Anderson and Polvoorde moving past Beat and into third and fourth. Anderson then got by Heger between turns four and five to take over second, and when Beat then spun coming out of turn five, it caused Beat to drop back to thirteenth, and allowed Ray Griffith to move up to fourth after Griffith had also passed Heger. Several more drivers got by Heger on the final lap (he would wind up a gut-wrenching eleventh, after moving to within one provisional point of Brooks at the halfway point tonight), and first among them was Cole Mamer, which was enough to put Mamer fifth. At the stripe, Brooks got the win and a huge boost to his points lead in the #77 Rigid Industries LED Lighting/General Tire Nissan, with Anderson finishing second in the #52 Walker Evans Racing/Polaris RZR Chevrolet, and Polvoorde rounding out the podium in third. Fourth went to Griffith in the #53 General Tire/Gear 49 Motorsports Nutrition Ford, and fifth was Mamer in the #35 Atturo Tires/Mad Graphix Nissan.
As the green flag dropped for the Pro Buggy Unlimited race, polesitter Eliott Watson’s car suddenly refused to fire, and only his momentum from the roll up to the start/finish line propelled him forward. As the field swamped around Watson, Matthew Brister wound up jumping into the back of Watson’s car (with nowhere to go); fortunately, the damage to the two cars looked relatively light. The entire race wound up being restarted (Watson was unable to get re-fired and never made the restart), and at the end of lap one, it was Bud Ward out front in the #17 Ramona Tire/Horsepower Ranch Funco, ahead of Darren Hardesty Jr. in the #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Impact Safety Alumi Craft, Sterling Cling, Trevor Briska, and Kyle Aarup. These five held their running order through to lap six, when Sterling Cling lost a right front shock, making the suspension on that corner of his car essentially useless. Cling struggled valiantly to hold as much of his normal pace as possible, but early on the next lap, Briska closed in, and actually had to dive off to the inside of the track between turns one and two to avoid hitting Cling after closing too quickly. Briska had to cut turn two, but re-joined in fifth, now behind Aarup. Briska managed to get back by Aarup, and then past Cling, before the end of the lap, though, moving him up to third just before the Competition Yellow. Hardesty Jr. had appeared to slow a bit just before this point, and on the restart lap, Briska blasted past him and up to second in the whoops, and it was now apparent that Hardesty Jr. was definitely suffering from some kind of intermittent issue, possibly electrical. On lap nine, Aarup and Cling made contact at turn four, which sent Cling well wide, allowing both Mike Valentine and Sammy Ehrenberg to get by for fourth and fifth, with Aarup now in third. On the next lap, though, Aarup was suddenly slow over the tabletop between turns four and five, which dropped him to fifth, as both Valentine and Ehrenberg got by for third and fourth. On the next lap, it became quite obvious that Aarup’s issue was broken left front suspension, which soon put him out of the race, and allowed Brady Whitlock to move up to fifth after a brief battle with Cling. A full course yellow fell early on what would’ve been the final lap after Brister came to a stop in turn three with broken right rear suspension, and when racing resumed, Hardesty Jr.’s car suddenly seemed to come back to life, as he battled past both Whitlock and Ehrenberg to move from sixth to fourth. Up front, Ward got the big win, with Briska scoring a career-best finish (in this class) of second in the #59 MTRV8/Prolong Super Lubricants Funco. Valentine rounded out the podium in his first race of the season back in this class in his #78 Foddrill Motorsports car; Hardesty Jr. was fourth, and Ehrenberg was fifth in the #4 Alumi Craft.
The final race before Opening Ceremonies was Production 1000 UTV, and as usual, there was a swarm of these racers on hand here tonight. Leading the charge at the end of lap was Brock Heger in the #921 Icon Vehicle Dynamics/3M Yamaha, while Jason Weller ran second in the #948 DragonFire/Airaid Yamaha, Myles Cheek third, Ronnie Anderson fourth, and Brandon Arthur fifth. Anderson got by Cheek down the inside at turn two on lap two, but Cheek got back by on the inside in the very next corner. Arthur then sailed past Anderson in mid-air going into turn five on lap three, which put him up to fourth in the #906 Steel-It/Toyo Tires Yamaha; seconds later, Dustin Nelson passed Anderson in turn five to take over fifth spot. A rollover by Tommy Scranton in turn five then forced a full course caution on lap five, and on the return to green flag racing, Shelby Anderson and Austin Weiland collected before even reaching the start/finish line. This, combined with a rollover by James Jaramillo just behind these two, forced the full course yellow to come right back out, and on the restart lap, Nelson suffered a big end-for-end crash into turn four, with RJ Anderson also crashing (possibly to avoid hitting Nelson?), which brought the yellow out once again. Ray Griffith moved up to fill Nelson’s former spot in the top five when racing resumed, and after a few clean laps, a full course caution fell at the end of lap eight after someone had come to a stop on the track. On the restart lap, Cheek was a little slow coming out of turn four after getting balked slightly by Weller, and that allowed Arthur to use his greater momentum to fly past Cheek in mid-air and up to third into turn five. Cheek then suddenly came to a stop just out of turn two on the next lap, and when the back of Griffith’s car suddenly went up in big flames going into turn four, there was definitely cause to bring the full course caution back out. Once order had been restored, it would now be Heger, Weller, Arthur, Keith Brooks, and Paul O’Brien in the top five spots as the green flag dropped for one final one-lap dash to the checkers. These five all held their positions on that final lap, as Heger got the win, just ahead of Weller, Arthur, Brooks in the #942 Chaparral Motorsports/Eibach Springs Yamaha, and O’Brien in the #911 Specialty Coatings/Cylex Signs Yamaha.
Mason Prater led the way at the end of lap one in the Modified Kart race, ahead of Chris Nunes, Ricky Gutierrez, Trey Gibbs, and Cole Keatts. Keatts got past both Gibbs and Gutierrez to move from fifth to third on lap two, and Gibbs then got by Gutierrez as well to move up to fourth on lap four. Gibbs then dropped back to ninth on lap five, and that allowed Gutierrez back up to fourth, and moved Connor Barry to fifth. Up front, Nunes had been closing on Prater, and managed to get by and into the lead on that same lap. At the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap five, it was now Nunes out in the lead in the #502 California Kid/Ultra Xtreme Race Wheels machine, ahead of Prater, Keatts, Gutierrez, and Barry in the top five. On the restart lap, Keatts was forced off track between turns one and two, and the incident forced a full course yellow. The running order was re-set and the green flag waved again, with Nunes, Prater, Keatts, Gutierrez, and now Brody Eggleston occupying the top five spots. Mia Chapman moved up to fifth at the end of the lap after Eggleston and Koen Crawford collected in turn seven, which resulted in a rollover for Crawford, and again, the full course yellow rolled out. Once the two karts had been cleared and racing resumed, Keatts appeared to be the quickest kart on the track, and he made quick work of Prater, with a pass at turn one putting Keatts up to second on lap eight. Gutierrez quickly followed suit to move up to third, and on the next lap, Keatts then powered ahead of Nunes into turn two to grab the lead. From there, Keatts was just too fast to be caught, and he sped home to grab the win in the #553 Peters & Keatts Equipment Inc./Xtreme Machine & Fabrication kart, ahead of Nunes, Gutierrez in the #578 G Brothers/King Off-Road Racing Shocks machine, Prater in the #505 Mod Kids USA/Tomar truck, and Chapman in the #537 MTRV8/K1 Race Gear entry.
That wraps up the action from the first of our two nights of racing here at Glen Helen this weekend. Join us again tomorrow when we’ll get the action underway once again for Round 12 of the 2017 championship. Gates will open to the public at 1:00 PM, ahead of the afternoon’s first qualifying session, which is slated to kick off at 1:30 PM. Racing will begin at 5:00 PM, with Opening Ceremonies at 7:30 PM, just ahead of the first Pro class race of the evening: Pro 4 Unlimited. Tell your friends and family and get your tickets now; it’s sure to be great night at the races!
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. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series