Corona, CA (September 20, 2018) – Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, CA will be the host of this weekend's Rounds 9 and 10 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, and there could hardly be a more fitting place to hold such a pivotal race weekend. As the penultimate race weekend of the year, these two races will be crucial, as they will be highly determinate in the final outcome of the various championship chases here in the 2018 season. Only one round of racing will remain after this weekend, so the results here will not only set the stage for the final act next month in Arizona, but will, in many ways, determine the championships themselves. Historically, few undecided championships have seen anyone other than the pre race championship leader walk away with the title in the final round, and, moreover, there is the distinct possibility that, in at least three of our nine classes, the champion will be mathematically crowned by the end of this weekend. Let's take a closer look at what these championship races look like heading into this legendary track…
In one of the closest title races of the series, RJ Anderson leads the Pro 4 field by a scant four points over Doug Mittag, with defending champion Kyle LeDuc a mere six points further back. Anderson's season has been more consistency oriented, but a couple of devastating breakdowns in the last four races have kept him from growing a larger points lead. By contrast, both Mittag and LeDuc have shown better speed (especially true for Mittag), but consistency has been lacking for both of these guys, as has luck. A crucial win for LeDuc last round moved him up to within striking distance (thanks also to Anderson's mechanical issues), and this weekend will be a dogfight between these three. Anderson will seek to take advantage of this being a hometown track for him, but LeDuc has the same advantage, and Mittag has always been blisteringly fast here, so no driver seems to have a clear-cut advantage. Waiting in the wings is Adrian Cenni, who is 18 points behind LeDuc, and whose surprisingly consistent season has kept him within shouting distance of a title shot; however, with a low truck count, it will be tough for Cenni to bridge the 28-point gap between himself and Anderson with just three races to go.
By contrast, the Pro 2 championship is all but in the bag for Rob MacCachren. With five wins, a second, a fourth, a fifth, and three poles, this has been a stellar season for the most successful off-road driver of all-time, who continues to show the other guys how it's done. With a massive 54-point lead over RJ Anderson, MacCachren merely needs to add to that cushion by two more points over this weekend in order to mathematically lock up this championship. However, the race for second is much closer, with the next six drivers being covered by just 31 points. Anderson leads that charge by 11 points over Rodrigo Ampudia, who is having his best season in years, and is currently besting the likes of Jerett Brooks (four points behind Ampudia), Brian Deegan (nine points behind), defending champion Jeremy McGrath (12 points behind), and Bradley Morris (20 points behind). Anderson, Deegan, and Morris each have a win to their credit so far this year, with Morris' being the most recent (last round in Utah). Morris has done very well here in the past, sweeping the weekend two years in a row in Pro Lite, so watch for the local boy to put in another charge here this weekend.
In Pro Lite, the most dominant driver of the season has certainly been points leader Ryan Beat, and heading into this weekend, Beat holds a 32-point lead over the rest of the competition. Four wins and a worst finish of only third place (which also only happened just once this season) has meant that Beat has been very tough to, well, beat. However, Brandon Arthur, who sits second in points, has also had a very good year, including a win and a total of six podium finishes. Ordinarily, that would likely be enough to keep any driver well in contention for a championship at this point in the year, and should Beat suddenly falter, Arthur could well capitalize. Besides these two, only Christopher Polvoorde has any moderately realistic chance at the championship, but at 58 points off of the lead, Polvoorde will have to narrow that gap by at least two points in order to remain mathematically alive at the end of this weekend. So what should you watch for? The championship race is tough to get excited about, but a win in Utah may have re-ignited pre-season championship favorite Brock Heger's season, so be sure to see how he can follow up at Glen Helen. This young driver is always exciting to watch, and with 101 points between himself and Beat, Heger is likely to go all out for every race win possible between now and the end of the season, as his championship hopes are all but gone at this point.
A strange race weekend in Utah last month has really shaken up the points battle in Pro Buggy, and while championship leader Darren Hardesty Jr. still holds the lead, a rough weekend for Trevor Briska saw the young driver fall from second to fourth in the title race, and drop from just four points off the lead to a massive 33 points out. Meanwhile, Hardesty Jr.'s good friend Eliott Watson had a better showing, and moved up to second in the championship chase, putting himself to within 10 points of the lead with three rounds to go. Bud Ward is just a further five points out, so the championship is still well and truly on here. Expect all three of these drivers to push each other hard over these next two races, and for young Trey Gibbs to also put himself up in the mix, as he has been showing good progress over the last couple of race weekends.
Production 1000 UTV has been, more or less, all about two drivers: Brock Heger and Myles Cheek. Each has four wins on the year, each has one second place finish, and Heger has two pole positions to Cheek's one. However, the big difference has been the three third place finishes that Heger has (meaning he has yet to finish off the podium this year), while Cheek has had an eighth place and two 15th place finishes. Those three tough races have made all the difference, as Heger now comes into this weekend with a huge 63-point advantage over Cheek, who in turn is now having to hold off Jason Weller, who sits just four points behind him in third. A sweep of the weekend in Utah has helped Cheek to actually leapfrog Weller into second place, and improving performance from the Polaris camp could mean another strong showing from Cheek at Glen Helen. However, don't expect Heger to give anything away, as he will likely want to put his stamp on this championship, which has every chance of getting wrapped up by the end of this weekend.
While the Production 1000 UTV championship is almost guaranteed to go Brock Heger's way, it's still a virtual dead heat between Corry Weller and Paul O'Brien for the championship lead in Turbo Production UTV. Both drivers have 411 points, with Weller holding the tie breaker of three wins to O'Brien's two. There is very little to separate these two; Weller has just one second place finish to O'Brien's four, but she has two third places to his one. O'Brien has one more pole (four to her three), but Weller's worst finish is a fifth (twice) to O'Brien's sixth. There should be two more exciting battles between these two this weekend, as they continue to be the class of this developing field; next in line is Trevor Leighton, who sits 61 points behind at this juncture.
The race for the Modified Kart title had been one of the closest in the series heading into Round 8 in Utah, but a tough outing for then championship leader Mason Prater dropped him well out of the lead, and moved Brody Eggleston to the top contender's position heading into Glen Helen. Eggleston now leads Prater by a noticeable 16 points, and Prater will have to hope for a misstep from Eggleston in order to try and get back on level terms. Behind these two, Bronsen Chiaramonte is the only other driver with a somewhat realistic shot at the title, but at 30 points off the lead, he will not only have to score some wins (which he has yet to do), but also have to hope for some poor performances from both Eggleston and Prater. Prater is a big fan of Glen Helen, so watch for the class young gun to put in some strong drives, as should Ricky Gutierrez, whose outright speed has been hampered by very poor luck for most of this season.
Aside from Production 1000 UTV and Pro 2, the Junior 2 Kart race is the other class with a driver who is most likely to seal the championship by the end of this Glen Helen weekend. Connor Barry has won every race this year in this class, and has also taken the pole position in five of those six races, all of which have helped the young man to build up a 55-point lead over his nearest rival, Ethan Ebert. Considering that Barry has done this in the space of just six races, it's worth noting that Barry has averaged 9.1 points per race more than his nearest title rival; with Brock Heger's figure being 7.8, that makes Barry the most dominant driver in the series right now. Expect nothing less than two more wins for Barry at Glen Helen, as the championship leader has every chance of becoming the first driver to go undefeated for an entire race season in this series.
With only four drivers having competed in all six races so far this season, Junior 1 Kart has had a tough time helping any one driver to emerge as the dominant force in the class so far this year. However, Jake Bollman is your championship leader at this juncture, and with three wins from those six races, as well as extra experience (Bollman also competes in Junior 2 Kart), Bollman could be the one to bet on for this championship chase. However, neither Ayden Ford (14 points out) nor Lake Adler (20 points out) are out of the running just yet, though both will have to hope for much larger field counts in order to try and close the gap on Bollman. Bollman seems to have shown the best speed in the class this year, with five pole positions, as well as some races in which issues have cost him some better finishes, so expect this young driver to shine once again at Glen Helen this weekend.
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