Sparks, NV (July 21, 2018) – One doesn't typically look to the high desert to find rain, but this afternoon, the drivers and teams of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, found themselves drenched by it while attempting to finish qualifying here at Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, NV. A powerful summer thunderstorm moved east from the Lake Tahoe area, drenching the track with a series of intermittent downpours, and cancelling qualifying for a few classes. Rain and surrounding lightning continued into the late afternoon, forcing the start of the Round 6 racing to be postponed two and a half hours, as well as for the schedule to change heavily, in order to allow best usage of the gradually drying track. Once permitted out on track, though, the drivers, as always, put on a great show, and once again brought this fast, exciting track to life under the lights.
Following a substantial rain delay, the first class out on track was Production 1000 UTV, and after lap one, front row starters Brock Heger and Robert Stout ran in the top two spots, ahead of Mickey Thomas in third, Paul O'Brien in fourth, and Keith Brooks in fifth. Despite the slimy conditions, Heger drove boldly over the opening lap, moving well clear of the pack right away, and he continued to grow that lead by leaps and bounds over the first five laps. By the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap five, Heger and his #1 Maxxis Tires/Alexander Ford/Lincoln Yamaha were ahead by nearly the entire long hill between turns three and four; Stout still ran second in the #915 Magic Dry Multi-Purpose Absorbent/SC Fuels Yamaha, with Thomas third in the #944 HANS ADA Racing/AiM Sport Yamaha, O'Brien fourth, and Brooks fifth. On the restart lap, Brooks got a good jump, and dove down the inside at turn one to get by both O'Brien and Thomas, with Jason Weller also moving up and passing O'Brien for fifth. Three corners later, and there was some additional shuffling at and out of turn four, and by the end of the lap, Weller had moved up to third, with Thomas still fourth and Brooks back in fifth once again. Up front, Heger was once again quickly growing his lead, though not quite as quickly as before, as Stout was keeping Heger at least a little more honest. However, Heger was by no means to be denied today, as he took a dominant win to help extend his already sizeable points lead, with Stout scoring an impressive second place, and Weller jumping up terrifically through the field and finishing third after starting tenth in the #948 DragonFire Racing/Team Full Throttle Battery Yamaha; Thomas finished fourth, and fifth was Brooks in the #942 B3 Motorsports/Rugged Radios Yamaha.
Next up was Turbo Production UTV, and like our first race, it was the two front row starters who ran one-two after the first lap. This time, those two were Corry Weller in the #748 DragonFire Racing/Lucas Oil Racing TV Can-Am and Paul O'Brien in the #711 Weller Racing/DWT Can-Am, and they were followed by Trevor Leighton in the #703 Kryptek/Fly Racing Polaris, Eliott Watson, and Myles Cheek, who is filling in for Ronnie Anderson tonight. Andy Ives got by Cheek for fifth on lap two in the #714 California Trailers/GBC Motorsports Polaris, but after that, the top five held their positions through the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap five. Cheek then jumped the gun on the first shot at the restart, forcing the field to be called back for a second try, and on that one, Cheek got back by Ives into turn two, before they both then got past Watson, and up to fourth and fifth, as the trio exited the corner. The top five then held station once again, until the final lap, when Leighton slowed on the long pull up to turn four. Cheek and Ives were both able to get by, but Leighton was able to maintain a top five position. Up front, Weller took a solid, perfectly driven win, ahead of O'Brien, Cheek in the #752 Walker Evans Racing/CMI Precision Machining Polaris, Ives, and Leighton.
As the track continued to dry, next up would be Pro 4 Unlimited, and points leader RJ Anderson led the way after lap one in the #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/Polaris RZR truck, ahead of Adrian Cenni, Kyle LeDuc, Doug Mittag, and Scott Douglas. Lap three saw defending champion LeDuc get past Cenni for second as they headed up the long hill to turn four, before LeDuc then slowly started to reel in the leader Anderson over the next two laps. On lap six, though, LeDuc overcooked turn one a bit, and so Anderson still had a slight lead as he led the field past the Competition Yellow flag, which fell at the end of the lap. At this point, LeDuc was still second in the #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, with Cenni third, Mittag fourth, and Douglas fifth, but on the restart, Mittag started to pull up on Cenni, before a major mechanical issue suddenly caused his truck to lurch harshly, with the rear end appearing to lock up. Douglas and Greg Adler slammed on their brakes and tried not to pile in behind, though their was some incidental contact, while up front, LeDuc was looking to make a move on Anderson. At turn three, LeDuc got by on the inside and into the lead, but as the field then barreled down the hill out of turn four shortly afterwards, the track went full course yellow, as Mittag had come to a stop at the bottom of the hill out of turn one. As the field reverted back to the running order from the end of the last completed lap, LeDuc suddenly developed a major water leak, as a sizeable stream of water began shooting out the back of LeDuc's truck. Just ahead, Anderson suddenly peeled off track and into the Hot Pits to change a flat left rear tire, which put him to the back of the pack for the restart. After a short struggle by track crews to get Mittag pulled off the track in these slimy conditions, the field lined back up to take the restart, and after leading the pack around the track under yellow, LeDuc moved aside to let the field go past as the green flag waved, opting to save a $70,000 engine and just roll around the track and salvage as many championship points as possible. On the restart lap, Anderson made quick work of Adler and Douglas, before moving up to pass Cenni for the lead on the inside at turn one on lap eight. Somewhat surprisingly, though, Adler stuck right to Anderson's back bumper for the next couple of laps, before Anderson slowly opened up just a bit of breathing room over the final pair of laps en route to the win. Second was Adler in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/AMP Research Ford, with Cenni third in the #11 pHit Alkaline Drink Mixer/Maxxis Tires truck, Douglas fourth in the #27 AMSOIL/Rusty's Off-Road Products Ford, and LeDuc fifth, one lap down.
In the open wheel ranks, it was Eliott Watson in the #3 Tom Watson, Inc./BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft who ran out front after lap one, ahead of Bud Ward in the #17 Ramona Tire/Horsepower Ranch Funco, defending Champion Darren Hardesty Jr., Trey Gibbs, and Sammy Ehrenberg. On lap three, Hardesty Jr.'s pace slowed after he'd suffered right front suspension damage, which sent him into the Hot Pits briefly at the beginning of lap four. This moved Gibbs up to third, Ehrenberg to fourth, and Chris Nunes to fifth in the #2 Kicker Performance Audio/BFGoodrich Tires Racer. From there, the top five drivers held their positions through the Competition Yellow, which flew after five laps had been completed. On the restart lap, Ehrenberg got past Gibbs around the outside at turn one to move up to third, while Trevor Briska got by Nunes for fifth on the same lap, before he was then himself passed by Brady Whitlock on the long pull up to turn four. Briska was then spun in turn one on the next lap, and was still there, nosed against the inside k rail, late in the lap, which forced a full course caution. On the restart lap, Nunes moved up to third (from fifth), but as the lap closed down, Ehrenberg was spun as the field fired down the hill out of turn four, causing a scary moment as the crowd stood to see whether the rest of the field would get past Ehrenberg, who was a sitting duck in an extremely precarious position. Fortunately, the field was able to do just that, but track officials called a full course yellow nonetheless. On the restart, it would now be Watson, Ward, Nunes, Gibbs, and Raymond Bowers in the #98 Competition Hardwood Floors/Maxxis Tires Alumi Craft in the top five, and at turn two, Gibbs spun all on his own and wound up against the outside k rail, where he sat until officials threw a full course yellow, which gave him the chance to suddenly re-fire and tag back onto the tail end of the field under yellow. Bowers and Briska had now moved up to fourth and fifth for the restart, and on that restart lap, Briska got past Bowers for fourth at turn one. On the final lap, Whitlock was then all over Bowers in the race for fifth, but Bowers was able to keep Whitlock at bay. Up front, Watson's car had hardly a speck of mud on it as Watson pulled into Victory Lane, while Ward's (second), Nunes' (third), Briska's #59 Junior Diabetes Research Foundation Arizona Chapter/Fox Racing Shox Funco (fourth), and Bowers' (fifth) were all considerably dirtier.
The penultimate Pro class of the evening was Pro Lite Unlimited, and points leader Ryan Beat ran in first position in his #51 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/General Tire Chevrolet at the end of the opening lap, ahead of Mickey Thomas in the #44 Maxxis Tires/Walker Evans Racing Chevrolet, Brandon Arthur in the #6 MAVTV/Toyo Tires Chevrolet, Christopher Polvoorde in the #94 Steel-It/TIS Wheels Nissan, and Brock Heger in the #12 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics Ram. These five held their positions in the running order through the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap five. On the restart lap, though, Thomas was spun, with help from multiple drivers, as the field powered out of turn one, and amazingly, nobody hit Thomas, who was left stranded in a very precarious spot off the blind side of the ski jump out of the corner. Officials called for a restart, and put the order back to what it'd been at the Competition Yellow, and once again, Beat stayed clear of the chaos behind as the field took to green flag racing once again. Heger moved up on the restart, though, passing both Polvoorde and Arthur to take over third spot, while Cole Mamer was now up to fifth as the field exited turn one. Mamer then crashed at turn two, but was able to continue, as was Mason Cullen, who then rolled in turn three. By the end of the lap, it was now Beat, Thomas, Heger, Arthur, and Polvoorde in the top five, with Ronnie Anderson then passing Polvoorde for fifth at turn one on lap seven. Polvoorde got back by Anderson, though, before the end of the lap, and from there, the top five once again maintained their positions. Beat got the win, his fourth of the year out of six races thus far, extending his points lead in the process. Second went to Thomas, third to Heger, fourth to Arthur, and fifth to Polvoorde.
In Pro 2 Unlimited, it was front row starters Brian Deegan and Bradley Morris who sat in the first two spots after the first lap, with Rodrigo Ampudia, Rob MacCachren, and Jerett Brooks filling out the early top five. These five stayed in that order over the first four laps, but on lap five, Morris really started piling the pressure on the leader Deegan. All over Deegan's tail into turn one on that lap, Morris started was starting to look for a way past, as the track continued to get quicker and quicker. Deegan is no easy mark, though, and held Morris at bay through the Competition Yellow at the end of lap six, with the running order within the top five still unchanged as well. However, Morris seemed to have played something of a psychological card after he and Deegan had passed the start/finish line to take that Competition Yellow, as he dove down the inside and made a mock pass on Deegan as the two charged up the hill, still nearly at full race pace; perhaps Morris was showing his plan for the second half...
On the restart lap, Brooks got by both MacCachren and Ampudia around the outside at turn one; MacCachren had passed Ampudia going into the corner, and he and Ampudia now ran fourth and fifth. On the next lap, Morris pulled the trigger on his earlier move, diving down the inside of Deegan into turn one, before coming out ahead over the ski jump at the turn's exit. Morris then pulled another truck length or more up the hill to turn four, and was looking very strong with just a handful of laps remaining. Ampudia then passed MacCachren for fourth out of turn one on lap ten, but after that, the top five held station. Deegan did at least keep Morris honest over the final lap, but couldn't get close enough to challenge the leader, and so it was Morris who took the win in the #24 K&N Filters/Kicker Performance Audio Ford. Deegan was second in the #38 Monster Energy/Mickey Thompson Toyota, with Brooks third in the #77 Rigid Industries LED Lighting/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Ford, Ampudia fourth in the #36 Lucas Oil/Papas & Beer Ford, and MacCachren fifth in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford.
After rain had postponed the start of this evening's events for two and a half hours, it was finally time for the three kart classes. First up was Modified Kart, and in this one, Mia Chapman led the way at the end of lap one after starting on pole. Ricky Gutierrez ran second, with Connor Barry in third, Brody Eggleston fourth, and points leader Mason Prater fifth. Two karts had gotten stuck together just off the track between turns one and two on the opening lap, which forced a full course yellow at the end of that lap, and once track crews had finally cleared these two, racing resumed. Lap two then saw a rollover by Bryanna Fisher in turn six, which forced a second full course caution, but once her kart had been righted, racing resumed once again. This time, as was the case in each of the two previous starts, Chapman shot off as if fired from a cannon, quickly opening up a gap over the rest of the pack. Lap three was the first full lap that went off without a major incident, but on lap four, a bicycle in turn seven by Barry allowed Prater to move up to third in the #505 Rokblokz Rally Mud Flaps/Grizzly Coolers kart, Bronsen Chiaramonte to fourth in the #574 RTL Traffic Control & Equipment Rentals/Kar Tek Off Road truck, and also put Eggleston back to fifth in the #514 Above All Construction, Inc./Mod Kids USA machine. The field then ran swiftly and smoothly for the next three and a half laps, until the eighth and final lap, when a breakdown for John Holtger between turns five and six on the previous lap meant a full course yellow when the field got close to the scene on the next and final lap. As the field slowed, Chapman's kart suddenly quit, and despite track crews' attempts to push start her, Chapman's kart simply wouldn't get going again. It was a heartbreaker to watch track crews push Chapman off to the Hot Pits, but as the field took the green flag once again, it was now Gutierrez in the #578 Lucas Oil/King Off-Road Racing Shocks entry, Prater, Chiaramonte, Brody Eggleston, and Trey Eggleston in the top five. These five held their positions over the final lap, and so it was Gutierrez who got the win, ahead of Prater (who'd started 12th after an abbreviated qualifying session earlier today), Chiaramonte, Brody Eggleston, and Trey Eggleston in the #590 Solaris/CSD Racing Products kart.
In Junior 2 Kart, points leader Connor Barry once again led the way at the end of the opening lap in the #428 K&N/CBR Performance Products machine, ahead of Ethan Ebert in the #477 Vision X Global Lighting Systems/Element 7 Graphics kart, Holden Heitritter, Jake Bollman, and Rhowan McGrath. These five held station over the first three laps, which brought them to the Competition Yellow, and by this point, Barry was already up by 3.43 seconds over the rest of the pack. On the restart lap, Heitritter ran well wide at turn five, which cost him several positions, and allowed Bollman, McGrath, and Broedy Graham to move up to third, fourth, and fifth. After that point, the top five again went unchanged, and so it was Barry who got the win, his fourth from four starts so far this year, ahead of Ebert, Bollman in the #471 JB Racing/Slime kart, McGrath in the #492 Traxxas/JM2 kart, and Graham in the #466 entry.
The final race of the night was Junior 1 Kart, and at the end of the first lap, it was Lake Adler leading the way in the #299 4 Wheel Parts/Fiberwerx machine, ahead of Bergen McGrath in the #202 Traxxas/JM2 kart, Jake Bollman in the #271 Hoosier/Walker Evans Racing truck, and Ayden Ford in the #207 Racer X Motorsports/Action Sports Canopies entry. Bollman and Ford were already a long ways behind the two leaders, as Bollman had been spun in turn six by Ford on the opening lap, and a black flag for Ford put the young driver even further behind. However, the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap three, brought the field back together. On the restart lap, an attempted pass by Bollman went terribly wrong, resulting in a broken left front tie rod and flattened left front tire, which put him out of the race at the beginning of the next lap. This helped give Adler a sizeable lead at the head of the pack, while further back, Ford then made a pass on McGrath as the two exited turn seven on lap five, and that put Ford up to second. From there, the remaining trio held their positions over the final lap, with Adler taking the win, ahead of Ford and McGrath.
It was an exciting night of racing here in Reno, but now our drivers and teams will turn their attention towards our next stop: the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, UT, about half an hour west of Salt Lake City. August 24-25 will host two nights of racing for Rounds 7 and 8 of the 2018 championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, and these will be our first-ever night races here at this fantastic facility. The setting, a giant green valley surrounded by snow-capped peaks on both sides, with one of the world's nicest motorsports venues right in the middle of it, makes for a great place to enjoy an evening of racing, so join us then, and check out this tight, technical, dynamic track- the racing is sure to be good!
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