Familiarity was the theme of Lucas Oil Off road Racing Series Rounds 7 and 8 at Miller Motorsports Park near Tooele, Utah, where the fans showed their appreciation for off road by packing the grandstands. No one who stood on top of the box hadn’t been there already this season and those who had the points lead going in either extended that lead or kept about even. However, that doesn’t mean the time between green flag and the podium were any less interesting.
Saturday’s races were all about the early lead. In both Pro 2 and Pro Lite, Brian Deegan got the jump in his Rockstar Energy/Makita Fords and led flag to flag. Kyle LeDuc didn’t get up front immediately in Pro 4, but he did plant himself right behind Ricky Johnson. When Johnson rolled, LeDuc inherited the lead and began to pull it out on his way to his sixth victory of the season.
Only in Pro Buggy was the battle for victory a race-long affair. While Eric Fitch jumped out to the lead, the dominant factor in 2014, Chad George (LEFT), started ninth. He was fourth by the end of the first lap, but his march to the front was slowed there. First he had to dispatch his cousin Garrett, then Steven Greinke. Fitch was not so easy, and the two touched wheels as George edged by in Turn 5. Along with his momentum, Fitch lost two more spots to fall back to fourth behind George – taking his fourth win of the season in his King Off-Road Racing Shocks/ASL Builders Inc. Funco – Greinke and Dave Mason Jr.
George had to work a little harder than most of the Saturday winners, but few had an easy time of it in Round 8 on Sunday. While Pro Lite winner Sheldon Creed and his Traxxas/Maxima Racing Oils Dodge (ABOVE) ran flag to flag and Pro Buggy winner Kevin McCullough in the Fox Racing Shox/BFGoodrich Tires Foddrill inherited the lead when Eric Fitch spun and then Dave Mason Jr. had an engine go sour, the Pro 2 and Pro 4 winners had to work for it. Even Bryce Menzies, who didn’t win, had to drive through the field twice to get onto the Pro 2 podium.
“It just seemed to be one of those days,” he said. “We qualified second and tried to take it easy in the beginning. We got a flat tire and went to the back, we charged back to fifth, and I just made a mistake and fell back again. We just put our head down and kept fighting. I finally got a yellow to help me out. I had a good battle with Deegan there for a while.”
Up front, Rob MacCachren and RJ Anderson were waging an epic battle (LEFT) after they both passed polesitter Carl Renezeder. Anderson, who had earned his first Pro 2 podium finish the day before, was holding off every charge MacCachren made until the second restart after caution. Anderson didn’t quite get his truck rotated in Turn 2, allowing MacCachren a better run down the back straight that he used to get into the lead. Then the whole thing went off the rails.
First Anderson got a flat tire, ruining his chance of taking back the lead. Then, as a yellow for debris came out, Myan Spacarelli had a big tumble over the tabletop between Turns 3 and 4. After the restart, Patrick Clark came into Turn 5 too hot and bounced off a couple of trucks, putting Renezeder out with a broken rear suspension, just as Greg Adler was rolling off the same tabletop that took out Spacarelli.
On the final restart it was MacCachren, Deegan and Menzies. Deegan pulled out the second the green waved in a move for first and ran side by side with MacCachren for the first two turns, but couldn’t get it done. Fighting with MacCachren meant he opened the door for Menzies, and he took second through the rhythm section. Deegan’s first and third for the weekend meant he kept a good hold on the Pro 2 points.
Although Kyle LeDuc (LEFT) ran relatively unhampered after Johnson rolled, the Saturday finish was exciting as a late-race charge by MacCachren meant they went side by side under the checkers. On Sunday, LeDuc would have to get by MacCachren, Doug Fortin and Renezeder to keep his streak alive.
Fortin was running particularly strong, and MacCachren had no easy time getting by him. When he did, though, it opened the door for LeDuc as well. Renezeder was pulling out a lead until the first lap after a caution, when he bicycled big time in Turn 3 and dropped well back. Then Fortin found his way back around LeDuc. The next lap, MacCachren rolled in the same spot Renezeder biked, bringing out a caution.
While LeDuc had gone back by Fortin on that circuit, he was put back because he was behind Fortin on the last complete green lap. On the restart, it was Fortin’s turn to have a problem in Turn 3, and his two-wheel-ride let LeDuc back through. Still, Fortin earned his first podium finish in Pro 4 with a third, behind Ricky Johnson and Kyle LeDuc, who’s only loss this year came to Johnson in Round 2.
“I hope that was exciting for you guys, because it was gnarly in the race,” LeDuc said on the podium. “A lot of ruts and a lot of guys gave up positions. I was a little bit timid where I should have been more aggressive like we were yesterday. But I just paced myself, we had a couple of lead changes, and Ricky [Johnson] was battling there at the end. Fortin was fast and he bicycled…man, some of the top drivers rolled their cars today. It tells you this was a gnarly racetrack.”
Naturally, LeDuc’s seventh win of the season helped push his points lead even further out, while Deegan (Pro 2), Creed (Pro Lite) and Chad George (Pro Buggy) came out close to even. The next chance their competitors will have to cut into the points lead is Aug. 1-2 at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif.
Round 7 Winners
Pro 4: Kyle LeDuc
Pro 2: Brian Deegan
Pro Lite: Brian Deegan
Pro Buggy: Chad George
Modified Kart: Cole Mamer
Round 8 Winners
Pro 4: Kyle LeDuc
Pro 2: Rob MacCachren
Pro Lite: Sheldon Creed
Pro Buggy: Kevin McCullough
Modified Kart: Brock Heger
Junior 2 Kart: Dylan Plemons
Junior 1 Kart: Bryan Morriss