San Bernardino, CA (October 2, 2018) – It was a fantastic night of racing here at Glen Helen Raceway last night for Round 9 of the 2018 championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, as the fans enjoyed a perfect balmy night under the lights, all while being treated to some fantastic racing action. There were some big moments, including a frightening crash for Rob MacCachren in Pro 2, the end of Brock Heger's season-long podium streak in Production 1000 UTV, and a breakdown while leading for defending Pro 4 champion Kyle LeDuc, which may have cost him any last chance at retaining the title this year. However, there were also some moments of triumph, including double first wins for Mickey Thomas in both Production 1000 UTV and Pro Lite, and a first National Series win in Modified Kart for Bronsen Chiaramonte. All in all, it would be a tough act to follow here in Round 10 tonight, but the show here in this one was spectacular as well. There were further championship shakeups, and more big moments, both good and bad, all packaged with another gorgeous night under the lights here at this off-road Mecca in southern California- this was certainly a night to remember!
In the Modified Kart race, the kids would be driving a different track this evening, with race officials moving turn four closer to both turns three and five, cutting the distance down to the original turn four down to about half, and taking roughly 0.2 miles out of this 0.8-mile track. This gave the kids a tighter turn four, and was more reminiscent of the types of tracks that this class has raced on more often in the past.
Points leader Brody Eggleston and last night's winner Bronsen Chiaramonte started up front in this one, and at the end of lap one, Eggleston led the way, ahead of Mason Prater, Bronsen Chiaramonte, Ricky Gutierrez, and Braden Chiaramonte. Entering this race, the top three in points were Eggleston, Bronsen Chiaramonte, and Prater, with the three sitting at 356, 336, and 335 points, respectively, so it was great to see the top three in points battling it out as the top three on the track. Prater got down the inside of Eggleston through turn one on the second lap, before getting by in turn two to grab the lead. However, Eggleston then got back by with a nice over-under pass in and out of turn three. Prater was back by once again in turn two on the next lap, but Eggleston quickly re-gained the lead, while just behind, Gutierrez had moved up to third. On lap four, Eggleston was then suddenly slow in turn three, his kart nearly coming to a complete stop. Bronsen Chiaramonte had nowhere to go and was held up significantly as he tried not to hit Eggleston and, also, find a way by. Other drivers, including Prater, were slowed somewhat by the incident, and Gutierrez capitalized, getting by Prater down the inside in the next corner to take the lead in the #578 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/Lucas Oil machine. By the end of the lap, Prater now ran second in the #505 Prater Racing/Mod Kids USA kart, with Braden Chiaramonte third, Bronsen Chiaramonte fourth, and John Holtger fifth. On lap five, Bronsen Chiaramonte then slowed and came to a stop in turn five, just shy of the Competition Yellow. As the field lined back up for the restart, it was now Gutierrez, Prater, Braden Chiaramonte, Holtger, and Trey Eggleston in the top five, and for Prater, opportunity was truly knocking, as both of his title rivals were now sitting on the sidelines, giving him a chance to possibly make up some significant ground in terms of points.
Prater was all over Gutierrez on the restart lap, as was Holtger on Braden Chiaramonte in the battle for third. Holtger got by late on the restart lap to grab that third spot, just before a full course caution, which came out thanks to a rollover by Hayley Perez. Racing quickly resumed once Perez had been righted, and on the restart lap, Braden Chiaramonte got back past Holtger out of turn three to get back up to third in his #573 A.M. Ortega General Engineering Contractor Inc./Kar Tek truck. Holtger was back alongside of Braden Chiaramonte twice on the next lap, but then biked twice in turn five, which gave Chiaramonte a bit of breathing room. Trey Eggleston then passed Holtger in turn two on the next lap, as Holtger seemed to be struggling somewhat to get settled back into a good groove. Anthony Santos had also closed right in, and got by Holtger on the same lap, and despite getting very close to passing Santos back on the next and final lap (Holtger was alongside), Holtger couldn't quite get there, as Santos held on by a nose (0.018 seconds) to keep fifth in the #565 American Wrap Shop/Tim Guzzy Services entry. Up front, it was Gutierrez who picked up the win, his second of the season, ahead of Prater, Braden Chiaramonte, Trey Eggleston in the #590 Above All Construction/CST Racing Products kart, and Santos. In the points battle, tonight's race was a major turning point, with the top two in points, Brody Eggleston and Bronsen Chiaramonte, finishing 16th and 14th, respectively, while third in points, Prater, finished second. Prater's good run tonight has put him back on top in the title fight, and he'll head to Arizona with a seven-point lead over Eggleston, with Chiaramonte a further 16 points back.
In Turbo Production UTV, it would be Paul O'Brien and Trevor Leighton starting from the first row, with O'Brien leading points leader Corry Weller, Eliott Watson, Leighton, and Robert Van Beekum after the opening lap. Leighton then came to a stop between turns one and two on the second lap, which forced a full course caution before the end of the lap, and also moved Andy Ives up to fifth for the restart. Nearly as quickly as the restart then began, the full course caution came right back out after Chance Haugen suffered a major right front suspension failure near the entrance to turn one. As the field re-grouped once again, Leighton was able to tack back onto the tail end of the pack, and after the restart lap, he passed Ives for fifth in turn two on lap three. Up front, Weller then passed O'Brien coming out of turn four to take the lead in her #748 DragonFire Racing/Team Full Throttle Battery Can-Am. Over the next lap, Weller then quickly began to gap away from O'Brien and Watson, and further down the order, Leighton slowed once again, thus allowing Ives back by for fifth. By lap five, it was becoming apparent that O'Brien was fighting a left rear flat, and that allowed Watson to get by for second, with Van Beekum then moving by O'Brien for third on the next lap, just ahead of the Competition Yellow. For some reason, O'Brien opted to stay out on track under yellow, rather than go into the Hot Pits for a tire change, though with the rapidly-dwindling car count in the field (thanks to attrition), it might have been a pretty savvy decision on O'Brien's part. After the restart lap, Ives stopped on the track on lap eight, forcing another full course caution, and as Leighton once again tacked himself back onto the tail end of the running order, he now found himself in fifth place once again in the #703 Kryptek/Fly Racing Polaris. However, Leighton then pulled off at turn three on the restart lap, as something was clearly not working right with his machine. At the end of lap 10, Van Beekum then suddenly moved up alongside of Watson out of turn five, and breezed by down the front straight, before moving ahead and into second just after the start/finish line. Meanwhile, Weller had built up a huge lead by the white flag, which flew at the end of lap 11, and she grew that lead even further over the final lap, before taking the win and the sweep of the weekend, padding her points lead in the process. Second went to Van Beekum in the #764 R-N-R Steel Racing/Xtreme Machine & Fabrication Polaris, third was Watson in the #713 Tom Watson, Inc./BFGoodrich Tires Can-Am, and after closing right in on Van Beekum and Watson over the final lap, O'Brien fell just shy of catching those two, and wound up fourth in the #711 Weller Racing/DWT Can-Am; fifth would be Leighton. As for the points chase, only Weller and O'Brien have a chance at the championship now, with Weller taking a 24-point lead into the final round in Arizona next month.
Following Opening Ceremonies, it was time to return to racing action, now with the Pro 2 class. Bradley Morris was your top qualifier, but thanks to a four-truck inversion, it would be last night's winner RJ Anderson starting on pole in the #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/Walker Evans Racing truck. Anderson took off as if fired from a cannon, and held the lead through the end of the first lap, ahead of Brandon Arthur, defending champion Jeremy McGrath, Jerett Brooks, and Morris. On lap two, McGrath suddenly lost power as he and the rest of the field piled into turn two, leaving Morris with nowhere to go and no option but to hit McGrath. Fortunately for McGrath, the Morris managed to scrub a lot of speed and the hit was a light one, but Morris lost a few spots, while McGrath coasted to a stop at the exit of the corner, before getting towed into the Hot Pits under a full course yellow. The new top five was Anderson, Arthur, Brooks, Brian Deegan, and points leader Rob MacCachren as the field then returned to green flag racing, and on the restart lap, Brooks ran wide in turn four and dropped back to fourth after trying to make a pass on Arthur for second. On the next lap, Deegan then moved up and put his own pressure on Arthur, and unlike Brooks, Deegan got it done, making the pass as he and Arthur exited turn four. Brooks then got past Arthur in the same corner on the next lap to move back up to third in the #77 Rigid Industries LED Lighting/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Ford, and in that very same turn four, MacCachren then got by Arthur for fourth on lap six. However, Arthur managed to get back by MacCachren in the run over to turn five, and half a lap later, Deegan made a nice move past Anderson on the inside at turn three to grab the lead in the #38 Monster Energy/Odyssey Battery Toyota. The Competition Yellow then fell at the end of the next lap, and as the field circulated under yellow, both Arthur and MacCachren dove into the Hot Pits, which put Morris and Danny Ebberts up to fourth and fifth for the restart. On the restart lap, Morris then lost power in turn four, which moved Ebberts to fourth in the #41 Honeydew Racing/Ebbco Ford, and Rodrigo Ampudia to fifth in the #36 Lucas Oil/Papas & Beer Ford. On lap 10, Ebberts struggled to get through turn four cleanly, and that allowed Ampudia to get by off the corner to move up to fourth. Up front, Deegan was building a big lead, and he continued to grow that lead all the way to the checkered flag, where he picked up his second win of the season. Second place went to Anderson, who took another big chunk out of MacCachren's championship lead tonight, though the gap still stands at 27 points (after MacCachren finished 11th here tonight) with just one race to go. Brooks rounded out the podium in third, fourth was Ampudia, and fifth was Ebberts.
Next up were the Production 1000 UTVs, and with no inversion from qualifying, it would be Myles Cheek on the pole, with points leader and defending champion Brock Heger alongside. Cheek led the way in the #957 Walker Evans Racing/CMI Precision Machining Polaris after the first lap, ahead of Heger in the #1 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics Yamaha, last night's winner Mickey Thomas in the #944 HANS ADA Racing/Crash Addict Yamaha, Nathan Barry in the #928 CBR Performance Products/DASA Yamaha, and Jason Weller. These five held position on lap two, with Blade Hildebrand then coming up to challenge Weller for fifth in the second half of lap three. Hildebrand then got past Weller down the inside at turn two on the next lap, and things only got worse for Weller, as he then rolled in turn five and broke a tie rod, ending his race. This brought out a full course caution, and when racing resumed, Heger was all over Cheek on the restart lap. However, Cheek then began to gap away from Heger and the rest of the pack by lap seven, and on lap eight, Thomas then got up and was all over Heger in a new race for second. Further back, Hildebrand was also providing pressure on the driver ahead of him, who, in this case, was Barry. On the next lap, Heger then biked wildly in turn two, which allowed Thomas to get by on the inside and move into second. Two laps later, Heger then dove down the inside of Thomas in turn one, and although Thomas stayed alongside of Heger all the way to turn four, it was there that Heger finally sealed the pass to move back up to second. Further back, Hildebrand was still hanging onto the back of Barry and having lots of looks, and he pushed very hard to make a pass on the final lap, but to no avail. Up front, it was Cheek who took the win, his fifth of the season, ahead of Heger, Thomas, Barry, and Hildebrand in the #968 Empire Racing/Lucas Oil Yamaha. Despite Heger's misfortune last night, he still holds the championship lead, and will go into next month's final round with 32 points in hand over Cheek, who is the only other driver with a mathematical shot at the championship.
Two spots were inverted from qualifying in Pro Buggy, but all the same, it would be the class' top two points contenders, points leader and 2-time defending champion Darren Hardesty Jr., and Eliott Watson, starting on the front row in Pro Buggy. Hardesty Jr. ran first after lap one in the #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Steel-It Alumi Craft, with Watson second in the #3 Tom Watson, Inc./BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft, Bud Ward third, Matthew Brister fourth, and Trey Gibbs fifth. Watson moved up and put pressure on Hardesty Jr. on lap three, and on the next lap, an awkward landing into turn one for Ward may have been the result or the cause of a right rear suspension failure, but either way, the issue ended Ward's run tonight, and, sadly, his realistic chances at a title this year. A full course caution then fell at the end of that lap, but not for Ward; Gibbs had come to a stop in turn two, and needed to be towed off. Ward's and Gibbs' misfortunes put Brister, Brandon Blyth, and Sammy Ehrenberg up to spots three, four, and five for the restart, and on that restart lap, Sheldon Creed, who returned to the series to drive for Trevor Briska tonight, got by Ehrenberg in turn two. However, Creed then cut too tightly down the inside at turn three and fell back to sixth, before passing Ehrenberg again on lap eight to move back into the top five in the #59 Junior Diabetes Research Foundation/Mickey Thompson Funco. Up front, Hardesty Jr. was continuing to maintain a 3-4 car length gap between himself and his good friend Watson, but on lap ten, Watson suddenly closed right in. However, Watson then cut too tight at turn three, biked, and lost ground once again. Meanwhile, Creed got by Blyth into turn one on lap 12 after a little side-to-side contact down the front straight, and that put Creed up to fourth. As the field then began the final lap, lap 14, it's worth noting that Brister was pretty close behind Watson, definitely earning his provisional spot on the podium, in what may be his strongest outing so far in this class. Hardesty Jr. charged hard over the final lap to keep Watson at bay, and indeed, Hardesty Jr. managed just that, and took home his sixth win of the season, putting himself 12 points up on Watson in the championship race with just one round to go. Watson finished second, keeping his championship hopes alive as well, while third was Brister in the #5 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/Roush Competition Engines Funco, fourth was Creed, and fifth was Blyth in the #93 Funco; Ward is also still in the mathematical title picture, but at 39 points back, has only a distant outside chance.
Cole Mamer, still in search of his first Pro Lite win in the National Series, led the way after the first lap in the #35 Falken Tires/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Nissan, with last night's winner Mickey Thomas, points leader Ryan Beat, Brock Heger, and Christopher Polvoorde running close behind. Heger got by Beat down the inside at turn three to move into second on lap two in the #12 Maxxis Tires/Method Race Wheels Ford, and soon after, Heger closed right down on Mamer and Thomas to make it a very close three-way race for the lead early on lap four. Thomas was then slow out of turn four, which allowed Heger to get by off the corner and up to second, before a full course caution was thrown at the end of the lap, thanks to a rollover by Jonathan Brenthel. On the ensuing restart lap, Polvoorde tried to dive down the inside of Beat into turn three, and as Beat came off the last whoop into the turn, he got loose and started to spin, possibly with a bit of help from behind. Polvoorde checked up, but Hailie Deegan piled into Polvoorde, which sent Polvoorde sideways into Beat. Beat picked up a flat tire, and he quickly pulled into the Hot Pits, where his crew had a failing jack, which, sadly, ended Beat's run tonight, as well as his streak of podium finishes in every race this year. As the whole incident was still in progress, much of the field was forced to jostle and find alternate ways around the stricken trucks. Before the field had even gotten back to the start/finish line, Heger then spun in turn four, causing further havoc around him, and by the time the field got to the end of the lap, it was now Mamer, Thomas, Brandon Arthur, Cory Winner, and Polvoorde in the top five.
Polvoorde then got into Winner at turn four on the next lap, slowed himself as a result, and was then passed by Heger off the corner for fifth. Heger was on the move, then getting all over Winner early on lap seven before going by out of turn three to take over fourth. Less than three laps later, Heger then pulled right up on Arthur, and breezed by in the whoops to grab third spot. Winner biked in turn five on the next lap, which let Polvoorde by for fifth in the #94 Steel-It/TIS Wheels Nissan, while further forward, Heger continued his march towards the front. Heger quickly closed on Thomas early on lap 12, before getting into Thomas as the two entered turn three. This started to over-rotate Thomas, who was quick to save himself, but not before losing the spot to Heger, or picking up a right rear tire rub from the contact. Thomas then over-rotated, this time on his own, at turn four, which let Arthur by for third in the #6 MAVTV/Pro Traffic Services Chevrolet, but after that, no further passes were made within the top five. Mamer, whose truck was the only clean one in the field, picked up a well-deserved first Pro Lite win here tonight- congratulations Cole! Second was Heger, third was Arthur, fourth was Thomas in the #44 Maxxis Tires/Walker Evans Racing Chevrolet, and fifth was Polvoorde. In terms of the points race, Beat's early exit tonight drastically cut his points lead from 39 to 13, but he will still be the championship favorite heading into Arizona. Arthur sits second, and mathematically, Polvoorde is also still in the mix at 48 points back.
In the final race of the weekend, it would be hungry points contenders Kyle LeDuc and Doug Mittag starting on the front row in Pro 4. The 4-time defending champ LeDuc was first back across the start/finish line, ahead of Mittag, points leader RJ Anderson, Adrian Cenni, and Greg Adler. Mittag was giving LeDuc a good run for the lead, and on lap three, got alongside through turn five, just before a full course yellow fell at the end of the lap after Randy Minnier had come to a stop over in turn two. On the restart lap, Scott Douglas then suffered sudden broken rear suspension as he entered turn three, which left his rear end tracking a bit crab-like, and also forced another full course yellow. On the restart lap, Adler got past Cenni for fourth at turn four, and on the next lap, Anderson got past Mittag for second between turns one and two, before Mittag then spun in turn two after suffering a loss of front wheel drive. As Adler and Cenni then piled into Mittag, the trio created enough of a stoppage to force a third full course yellow, although all three were soon able to get moving again. The whole incident did some re-arranging of the running order behind LeDuc and Anderson, who still ran one-two, as it was now Minnier in the #59 Milwaukee Tools/Kohler Generators Ford in third, Adler in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/Odyssey Battery Ford in fourth, and Cenni in the #11 pHit Alkaline Drink Mixer/Maxxis Tires Ford in fifth. Adler quickly got past Minnier for third on the restart, and Cenni was also able to pass Minnier on that restart lap, putting Cenni up to fourth.
Three laps later, and Anderson had suddenly closed right in on LeDuc. On the very next lap, smoke from LeDuc's right front corner signaled a major issue, as LeDuc slowed coming out of turn three, before pulling off track soon afterwards; this was almost certainly the final straw in terms of LeDuc's championship chances this year. Anderson moved into the lead in the #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/Polaris RZR truck, now with Adler, Cenni, Minnier, and Mittag in the #81 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/AMSOIL Ford in tow. On laps 13 and 14, it looked like Adler was then starting to catch Anderson, but it was unclear whether or not Anderson might've been backing off slightly, now that his championship chances were looking far more secure. Either way, Adler was unable to get past Anderson, who led all the way to the checkered flag to collect his second win of the season, and in the process, put himself that much closer to sealing his first-ever Pro 4 championship; indeed, although it's mathematically possible for Mittag, LeDuc, Cenni, and Adler to all steal the title away should Anderson be unable to make the start of the final round next month in Arizona, those four will need some big time luck on their side in order to snag the title away- all but Mittag will need a larger field than we've seen all year in this class in order to have any chance at the championship. Second tonight was Adler, third was Cenni, fourth was Minnier, and despite pulling off on the penultimate lap, Mittag was still fifth. Mittag sits 11 points behind Anderson going into Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, and should he score the pole and Anderson get nothing in that race's qualifying session, Mittag would then only need to beat Anderson by three positions in order to snag the championship away, so there are still possibilities…
Now, the 2018 season has just one final points round to go: Round 11, four weeks from today, out in Arizona, at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, a southwestern suburb of Phoenix. All nine of our class championships are still up for grabs, with some of them being very close indeed (think Pro 4, Modified Kart, Pro Buggy, and Pro Lite), so you certainly won't want to miss how those title races play out. And as if that weren't enough, the following day will be the annual season-ending Lucas Oil Challenge Cup races, which put points aside and focus solely on prize money and bragging rights. These races will culminate in the ever-popular Pro 2 versus Pro 4 yearly showdown, and you'll wanna be in the stands for that one, without question. Get your tickets now, and join us for the final weekend of racing this year!
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