Chandler, AZ (October 17, 2018) – While many of our more seasoned drivers are battling it out for the championships in their respective classes this season, many other drivers began this year with another goal in mind: to be the best rookie driver in their class. Rookie of the Year honors are a big deal here in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, and many drivers who've taken that title in the past have gone on to achieve great things in the short course off-road racing world. This season, the battle for the top rookie spot is still alive in five of our nine classes, and is actually very close in three of those five, so let's take a look at who's still got a shot at emerging as the top rookie in our series' classes this year.
Randy Minnier is the only rookie competing in the Pro 4 class this year, so despite missing multiple rounds after a serious accident caused major damage to his truck back in Missouri, Minnier will still walk away as the Pro 4 Rookie of the Year in 2018. Currently, Minnier sits seventh in the points, but at 293 points behind championship leader RJ Anderson, is well out of the running for the class championship.
Only two drivers are still in with a chance at top rookie honors in Pro 2: Kipp Mickels and Danny Ebberts. Ebberts missed the opening round at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park back in April, and that has hurt his chances of taking Rookie of the Year, as he currently sits 48 points behind Mickels, and will need Mickels to have a DNS on Saturday in order to snag the award away. By contrast, Mickels needs only to cross the start line in order to take this year's honors.
In a case of "the little team that could," Jimmy Weitzel has already clinched this year's Pro Lite Rookie of the Year honors, and Weitzel currently sits seventh in the championship standings, behind only the likes of heavy hitters Ryan Beat, Brandon Arthur, Christopher Polvoorde, Mickey Thomas, Brock Heger, and Cole Mamer, each of whom has won at least one race this year. Weitzel's closest rookie challenger, Mason Cullen, currently sits 60 points behind Weitzel, and has thus already been mathematically eliminated from Rookie of the Year contention, as each round is worth only a maximum of 56 points.
In Production 1000 UTV, Robert Stout leads the way in the Rookie race, and is currently 48 points up on Jacob Rosales, the only other rookie contender still mathematically in the hunt. Production 1000 UTV has had some big class turnouts this year, but even so, Rosales will essentially need to hope for Stout to be unable to make the start line on Saturday in order to take the top rookie spot, and if Stout is able to finish 23rd or better, he will take the Rookie of the Year award no matter what.
As this is a new class this season, there will be no Rookie of the Year award for Turbo Production UTV in 2018.
In all three kart classes, there is at least one Rookie of the Year contender who is also still in the running to take the outright class championship as well. In Modified Kart, that driver is Bronsen Chiaramonte, who is just 23 points off the championship lead, and Chiaramonte sits third in that race, behind only Mason Prater and Brody Eggleston. Chiaramonte has already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year award in this class; his closest rookie rival, John Holtger, is 67 points back, 11 more than the 56 point minimum gap needed in order to remain mathematically viable with just one round to go.
Ethan Ebert is also still in the running to take a class championship, the Junior 2 Kart title in this case, but will need a DNS (did not start) from Connor Barry in order to make that happen. However, Ebert does lead Holden Heitritter, his closest rookie rival, by 24 points, meaning that Ebert needs only to finish 10th or better in order to take the Rookie of the Year honors. By contrast, Heitritter would need to beat Ebert by at least 10 positions, with all other possible points also locked in (five in qualifying for Heitritter versus none for Ebert, plus one point to Heitritter for leading at the halfway point), in order to grab the rookie honors away.
With Junior 1 Kart having not been a class in this series last year, all of our current championship contenders are also Rookie of the Year contenders. Should championship leader Jake Bollman finish fifth or better, he will lock down both awards, and his closest rival, Ayden Ford, will need at least six or more starters, which only happened twice this year (though these two rounds were our most recent, back at Glen Helen), in order to have any shot at toppling Bollman. Lake Adler and Bergen McGrath are our other two championship and rookie contenders, but both will need Bollman and Ford to score a DNS in order to get back into the realistic mathematical realm of possibility.
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