Weller and Cheek Take UTV Wins; Barry, Martin, and Llamosas Win Junior Classes
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (July 29, 2020) – It was long overdue, but the 2020 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Presented by GEICO is officially underway, and it was worth the wait. Saturday afternoon kicked off a doubleheader weekend from Southern California’s Glen Helen Raceway, where the OPTIMA Batteries SoCal Shootout Presented by K&N Filters was limited to participants only.
All eyes were on the Pro 2 field when the trucks rolled onto the track for the first time in 2020, where reigning champion Jerett Brooks would begin his title defense. Brooks rolled off the line in fourth and would need to do some work to get around polesitter Ricky Gutierrez, former champion Brian Deegan, and perennial contender RJ Anderson. When the field roared to life at the drop of the green Gutierrez was able to maintain his position at the front of the field, leaving his rivals to duke it out for track position.
Gutierrez had a comfortable gap in the early laps but a slight bobble allowed Deegan and Brooks to close in, from which Brooks snuck under Deegan to take over second. The champ’s persistence carried him to the rear fender of Gutierrez, where he fought his way into the lead a few laps before the halfway point.
When they returned to action for the second half of the race, Brooks put the hammer down and quickly established a cushion over the field. He never looked back and carried on to take an emphatic opening round victory by nearly six seconds over Gutierrez, who captured his first podium result. Deegan completed the podium in third.
With a vacant title up for grabs, the Pro Lite class is expected to be one of the most competitive divisions in Lucas Oil Off Road, and it lived up to that billing in Glen Helen. On Saturday, a fierce battle at the front of the field saw rookie Mason Prater go door to door with title hopefuls Christopher Polvoorde and Ronnie Anderson. Prater started from the pole and controlled the early laps, but soon both Polvoorde and Anderson applied heavy pressure for the top spot, with Polvoorde pushing his way to the front of the field just before the halfway point.
When the second half of the race got underway, Polvoorde was able to put a firm grasp on his hold of the lead, while Prater suffered his first miscue while running second, causing both he and Brock Heger to drop to the tail end of the field. With the field slowed up, Polvoorde proceeded to check out behind the wheel of his new Ford backed truck, cruising to an easy opening round victory more than two seconds ahead of Anderson, while Madix Bailey rounded out the podium in his first start driving a Lucas Oil backed Pro Lite.
After a wild end to the 2019 season, reigning Pro Buggy champion Eliott Watson came into Glen Helen with a target on his back as a lot of challengers were prepared to make a statement during the opening weekend. The first race of the year saw Matthew Brister start on pole alongside Darren Hardesty Jr., with Watson lining up fourth. When the race got underway, Brister was able to take advantage of his track position to grab hold of the early lead. As the field jockeyed for position behind him, Watson was forced to take evasive action and went off course, leaving the No. 1 to fight his way from the back. Out front, Brister continued to build on his lead through the halfway point of the race.
When the second half of the race got underway, Brister continued to control the pace out front and went unchallenged through to the checkered flag. He took his first career Pro Buggy win just under a second ahead of Hardesty, who prevailed in an intense battle for the runner-up spot. Watson recovered well from his early excursion to follow in third.
Turbo UTV & Production 1000 UTV
With back-to-back Turbo UTV titles under her belt, Corry Weller has been the standard bearer for the division and she found herself in a familiar spot to start the opening race of the season from pole position. As the green flagged dropped she put the pedal to the floor and opened up a comfortable lead over Ronnie Anderson in second, which Weller easily maintained through the halfway point. When the racing resumed, Anderson did well to keep his Polaris RZR on the rear fender of Weller’s Can-Am, which allowed the lead duo to pull away. While Anderson kept Weller honest, the champ was dialed in and she stormed to a Round 1 victory over 10 seconds ahead of Anderson. Chance Haugen finished in third.
In Production 1000 UTV, defending champion Robert Stout was unable to compete in Glen Helen, which meant one of his many challengers would have the chance to make the first statement of the 2020 season. In Stout’s absence, Robby Hornsby put himself on pole alongside Myles Cheek. When racing got underway, Cheek jumped into the top spot to open a gap on the field in the early laps. He continued to build on that lead as the battle for second ensued behind him, and was in firm control as the race reached the halfway point. A series of cautions slowed the pace of the race over its second half, but Cheek successfully withstood heavy pressure from former champion Brock Heger on each restart, eventually holding on for a wire-to-wire victory over Heger in second and Hornsby in third.
Turbo UTV Results
Production 1000 UTV Results
Mod Kart, JR2 Kart & RZR 170
As the stepping stone into full size vehicles, all eyes are usually on Mod Kart to find the sport’s future stars. Based on the performance put forth by Connor Barry at the opening round, there could be another bright career in the making. Barry had the perfect setup on his kart for the first race of the season and simply dominated Saturday’s race, leading every lap en route to his first win.
JR2 Kart has also emerged as a proving ground for up-and-coming young drivers, and that was on full display during Saturday’s race. After starting from the pole, Dane Culver looked to be the driver to beat as he successfully maintained a hold on the top spot despite constant pressure from both Brodie Martin and Rhyan Denney. However, on the final lap Culver pushed wide in a corner and it gave his rivals the opening to pounce. Martin moved into the front late and led the only lap that matters to take the first checkered flag of the season.
After an exciting debut season one year ago, the RZR 170 class is already known for its incredibly tight and intense competition. Reigning champion George Llamosas came into Glen Helen in search of more success, but he got a stiff challenge from TJ Siewers in the opening round, where these two budding rivals duked it out over the entirety of the race. Llamosas found a way to rebound from some adversity in the closing laps to make a late pass on Siewers and capture the win.
Mod Kart Results
JR2 Kart Results
RZR 170 Results
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