LUCAS OIL OFF ROAD: Title battles shape up in Reno

LUCAS OIL OFF ROAD: Title battles shape up in Reno

Lucas Oil Off Road

LUCAS OIL OFF ROAD: Title battles shape up in Reno

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The long straights and big hills of Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, Nev., is quickly becoming a favorite of drivers in its second year as a stop on the series. The track underwent a few changes for its sophomore season, including a new tabletop that replaced a couple of small kickers at the bottom of the ski jump between Turns 1 and 2 and some new fingers in Turns 2 and 3. The LOORRS crew also added a couple of little jumps to slow the trucks down entering the fast Turn 4.

Drivers and teams had to contend with less-than-ideal conditions, as smoke from the fires near Yosemite National Park in California had settled over the Reno/Sparks area. By Sunday, the air quality had improved, although the wind that pushed the smoke out became a factor.

Much like last year, the track played a pivotal role in the championships thanks in large part to its position on the calendar. With only three races left after the Reno rounds, there are few chances for competitors to do much to improve their positions in the points, but plenty of opportunities to throw it away. If you listen to Brian Deegan, the points just happen.

“I go out and have fun and the points follow,” he said on the podium on Saturday. “If I think about the points too much, it gets in your head. So I went out and had fun and it all worked out.”

Of course, he said that after winning the Pro 2 race in his Rockstar Energy/Metal Mulisha Ford, while his chief rivals for that title finished seventh and fifth. It was not a good day for Rob MacCachren and Carl Renezeder, who both expected to do better in Reno’s wide-open spaces. Deegan made it look almost too easy, taking the lead from outside of the first row at the start of the race and never giving it up.

He followed that up with a second-place finish in Pro 2 on Sunday behind Bryce Menzies and the Loctite truck, who similarly led every lap despite Deegan’s best efforts. Rob MacCachren salvaged some points by finishing third, but that outcome was in question for much of the race and well afterward. MacCachren got caught up in the first-corner chaos and fell to last place. But he sliced his way through the field without the help of many yellows and made it onto the podium.

Afterward, his third place was in jeopardy due to the wheelbase measurements being out of spec on his slightly bent and banged-up truck. But once the truck cooled and he drove it around the tech area once, the LOORRS tech crew measured again and found it within specs.

At the close of the weekend, MacCachren rolled out of Wild West Motorsports Park with about the same points margin he had before. Only instead of him having that margin over Renezeder, with Deegan another 14 points back, Renezeder and Deegan are now in a dead heat for second in Pro 2.

“Deegan closed quite a bit this weekend; he’s hungry,” said MacCachren. “Everyone is hungry. It’s time. Time to get it done and that’s what’s happening.”

MacCachren is well aware of what could go wrong in the remaining three rounds, despite the fact that two of them are at his hometown track of Las Vegas where he usually does well.

“Having a lead doesn’t matter. It’s four guys every time I go out on trackit’s any one of those three guys that I’ve got to watch out for,” he says. Throwing Marty Hart into the mix as well. “Any time anything happens, they’ve been right there. I’ve been down and I’ve been up. We didn’t have a good first weekend; we were a long way down in the points and we battled our way back and got the lead. You can’t have failures, and with all the bumping and banging and crashing, somebody gets into you, they break your truck and that’s it.”

Kyle LeDuc/P4 (Richard S. James)

In Pro 4, MacCachren didn’t need someone else to break his truck; it did that all by itself  alternator on Saturday and a valve spring on Sunday. So Carl Renezeder, despite not winning either Pro 4 race, pulled out a sizeable lead in the points on MacCachren. But now he has a new challenger to keep an eye out for Kyle LeDuc, who won both Pro 4 races on the fast Reno track that seems to suit his style.

LeDuc started fifth on Saturday. At the start, his brother Todd took the point from outside the front row, followed by Greg Adler, Kyle and Renezeder. But Kyle spun and dropped to the back, while Renezeder took the lead from Todd. Renezeder went up on two wheels in Turn 2, barely saving it, and in the ensuing chaos, Kyle came from fourth to first in a blink. Renezeder managed to salvage a second behind Kyle LeDuc’s Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford.

Sunday’s result was similar. LeDuc started fifth and Renezeder sixth, with Todd LeDuc on the pole. Renezeder got by Todd on lap 10, but held the lead only briefly before Kyle took over and ran away. But with his second second-place finish in Pro 4 for the weekend, Renezeder now has a solid lead in the championship not a bad result for a guy who started the weekend sick and barely had his voice back on Sunday.

“It’s a pretty good lead. There are only three races left, so I could just go conservative and clinch it for sure. But I still want to win a couple more of those last races,” Renezeder said. “It’s starting to matter now. Points are in play here. Coming into this weekend, I wasn’t thinking about it too much, but it was in the back of my mind. Now I’m thinking about it.”

In addition to shrinking his gap in Pro 2, Deegan extended his lead in Pro Lite with a pair of second-place finishes, while his closest challenger, defending champion RJ Anderson, had a fourth and a third. Both days Deegan fell short to a couple of young guns.

Deegan looked headed to victory on Saturday until the next-to-last lap when Sheldon Creed used the faster, but longer, outside line in Turn 3 to get a run on him heading up the big hill toward Turn 4. Creed held on to win his third race of the season in his Traxxas truck. On Sunday, Deegan threw everything he had at Bradley Morris’s K&N machine to no avail, and Morris took his third victory in two weekends.

Steven Greinke hammered home his intent to defend his Pro Buggy championship, winning both races in his SC Fuels buggy. Neither time was it easy. He had to come from third on Saturday and fourth on Sunday. John Fitzgerald looked ready to take the victory on Sunday, but he and Greinke touched and Fitzgerald dropped back. Doug Fortin finished second both days in a rare 2013 appearance in Eric Fitch’s buggy.

The series moves to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the final double-race weekend of the season. The races will be night affairs on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21.

Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series winners
Wild West Motorsports Park
Reno, Nev.

Round 11, Aug. 24
Pro 4    Kyle LeDuc
Pro 2    Brian Deegan
Pro Lite    Sheldon Creed
Pro Buggy    Steven Greinke
Mod Kart    Gavin Harlien

Round 12, Aug. 25
Pro 4    Kyle LeDuc
Pro 2    Bryce Menzies
Pro Lite    Bradley Morris
Pro Buggy    Steven Greinke
Mod Kart    Cole Mamer

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