No driver proved capable of completely conquering the new short course off road track in Wheatland, Mo., as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series hits the midpoint of the season.
Big. Bigger. Biggest. When Lucas Oil Speedway in the tiny burg of Wheatland, Mo., set out to add a short course off road track to its dirt oval and drag boat lake, that was the aim. And it appears to be the result. A massive banked turn that the drivers referred to as “Daytona” or “Talladega” leads into the biggest tabletop on the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series circuit – 150 feet from lip to downslope that sends the big trucks of Pro 4 and Pro 2 flying 200 feet or more. Those that sent it too hard discovered how tricky the ensuing left-hander was. Then they went into the crossover jump, a tricky rhythm section and some tight turns before entering the tunnel of the crossover.
Some drivers referred to the tight S-section as single-line, yet that’s where some of the best action occurred. The track proved not only entertaining for the Missouri fans who hadn’t had the chance to see local short course action for 10 years, it was an opportunity for drivers to showcase their skills.
“It definitely fits the bill of a technical track,” said Carl Renezeder, who not only was the last person to win a short course race in Wheatland, a World Series of Off Road Racing event held on a course built from the nearby dirt oval, but the first LOORRS pro driver to win on the new course when he took the Pro 4 win on Saturday (pictured above). “There are a lot of big track elements out there, there are tight track elements, there are different types of dirt. There’s clay, there’s black dirt, there’s dirt in between. There are a lot of different surfaces and a lot of areas where you can make mistakes. The track is long, it has nine turns vs. our typical four, so there’s a lot more maneuvering, a lot more ability to make things happen and pass.”
That’s what Renezeder did in Saturday’s Pro 4 contest. Points leader Kyle LeDuc appeared to have the measure of the field, leading the first half of the race without drama. But when the yellow came out for Eric Barron who hit the wall in Turn 4 and was collected by Adler, the re-gathered field changed the race dramatically. Rob MacCachren, running second, started attacking LeDuc, and when MacCachren started showing his nose, LeDuc went wide in Turn 6, allowing MacCachren to get inside for Turn 7, the first of the S-turns, where they made contact. Renezeder in third, was able to capitalize in the No. 17 Lucas Oil/#DirtMovie Ford.
“Kyle missed his turn, the left-hand turn coming out of the rhythm section, and as we went over the tabletop, Rob got on the inside of Kyle, and those two went into the tight chicane together. I made a quick move to the outside to be in position, because I knew those guys were going to have contact, and I squirted to the inside to take advantage of their mistakes and got into the lead,” Renezeder explained. He was followed home by MacCachren and Bradley Morris after LeDuc crashed on the crossover.
Sunday did not go Renezeder’s way, although he did battle with LeDuc early. But Renezeder’s truck stumbled and LeDuc had a flat, perhaps resulting from contact with RJ Anderson, leaving the battle to Doug Mittag (pictured above) and Anderson. Renezeder charged back through the field until a late-race yellow for Doug Fortin’s rollover left a one-lap race to the finish. Mittag was untouchable in the No. 81 Maxxis Tires/Amsoil Ford for his first Pro 4 win, but behind him things got crazy. Renezeder hit Anderson to force a pass in Turn 7, and MacCachren, who had suffered a flat and had to race from the back, also got by. Renezeder, MacCachren and Chad Hord, in a one-off appearance, crossed the line abreast for second. Renezeder was black-flagged post-race for the contact with Anderson, and MacCachren and Hord completed the podium.
“It’s been a long time coming for this Pro 4,” said Mittag. “Luckily we got a good truck under us and a good team, and to finally get the win feels amazing.”
As dramatic as the first Pro 4 race of the weekend was, the finale, Sunday’s Pro 2 contest, was perhaps even more so. Jeremy McGrath (pictured above) was leading the Pro 2 points coming into the weekend, so a win would be no surprise. But when he got tagged and spun by Jerett Brooks in the second turn of the race, it looked unlikely. Saturday winner Brian Deegan was out front early, but his No. 38 Monster Energy/Mickey Thompson Ford slowed after the big tabletop, handing the lead to Patrick Clark. Clark would soon suffer a similar fate in the big, high-banked Turn 3, and Brooks got bottled up behind him. That allowed a resurgent McGrath to sail by in the No. 2 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics truck and into the lead on the final lap.
“We set the truck up for late in the race, because yesterday we were terrible late in the race,” McGrath said. “Guys started having problems and we came though. My truck was working killer in the bottom of Talladega, and I made a couple of passes there. I had a plan in my head that I was going to pass them there. They both committed to the outside, and I went bottom, and right as I went to the bottom, [Clark] broke, and [Brooks] got into him. I’m confident I would have gotten Brooks for sure. I don’t know about Clark, but he gave us a little gift.”
Brooks finished second, and former Pro Lite regular Kyle Hart, making a one-off appearance, was third after a massive crash off the big tabletop in Saturday qualifying.
Christopher Polvoorde and Brandon Arthur (pictured above) waged a hard battle for the first half of Sunday’s Pro Lite race, Polvoorde leading until he caught a rut. He came back to attack Arthur, but over-rotated and spun in Turn 4. Arthur’s No. 6 MavTV/Toyo Tires Chevrolet was alone in the lead, chased by Hailie Deegan. Deegan’s truck expired right at the finish, belching flames out the side as she took the checkered flag in second. Ryan Beat was third. It was Arthur’s second victory of the day, as he had already taken victory in the Pro 1000 UTV class.
On Saturday, the two drivers at the top of the Pro Lite points battled for victory, with Brooks taking the win in his No. 77 Rigid Industries/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Nissan over Brock Heger.
Eliott Watson dominated Saturday’s Pro Buggy race in the No. 3 Fox Racing Shox/BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft, and looked like he was going to do the same thing on Sunday, although with Darren Hardesty Jr. in much closer pursuit. Hardesty made his move in the closing laps, passing in Turn 6, but Watson hit him hard in Turn 2 on the final lap to get back by. Watson, however, was black flagged for the rough pass, leaving Hardesty with the victory in the NO. 99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Racer X Motorsports Alumi Craft.
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series heads next to a track nearly as dramatic as Lucas Oil Speedway, Wild West Motorsports Park. The track built into a former quarry outside Reno/Sparks Nev., features big elevation changes and big ski jump-style drops. Rounds 9 and 10 take place on Aug. 26-27.
Round 7 winners
Pro 4: Carl Renezeder
Pro 2: Brian Deegan
Pro Lite: Jerett Brooks
Pro Buggy: Eliott Watson
Pro 1000 UTV: Brock Heger
Mod Kart: Trey D. Gibbs
Round 8 winners
Pro 4: Doug Mittag
Pro 2: Jeremy McGrath
Pro Lite: Brandon Arthur
Pro Buggy: Darren Hardesty Jr.
Pro 1000 UTV: Brandon Arthur
Mod Kart: Trey D. Gibbs