Lucas Oil Off Road Racing’s return to Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, the series’s longest track with the most variety of features, had some familiar names at the top and some surprises in its second year at the track. This weekend one of those features was mud, as a long rain shower between qualifying and racing on Sunday brought an extra element into the contest. The challenging conditions played right into the hands of a few racers.
Because of the rain, the schedule was rearranged, with the karts moving to the end of the day and both classes of UTVs — which are four-wheel-drive — starting the proceedings. The conditions were sloppy enough that most of the competitors were completely unrecognizable a few laps in, and the vehicles were heavy with mud at the end. Pro 4 on Sunday was moved to be the first of the Pro classes, instead of last, so that that two-wheel-drive classes would hit the track under hopefully better conditions
One of those able to take advantage of the conditions was Scott Douglas (pictured, top). The California racer has been running the Midwest-based TORC series for the last several years and had seen similar conditions at tracks like Crandon International Raceway. After making occasional forays into LOORRS competition in the past – including winning at Las Vegas in his first attempt – he joined the series full time this year as TORC folded.
Douglas started fifth, but was up toward the front quickly as he made quick work of Adrian Cenni and RJ Anderson. He was helped in moving to second behind Kyle LeDuc when initial leader Doug Mittag spun in Turn 3. LeDuc — who came out on top of a race-long battle with Anderson on Saturday for his first win of the season in the Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Pro 4 — had the lead, but Douglas was on his tail.
Anderson ceased to be a factor when he broke his suspension after contacting the wall in the crossover tunnel. After the caution for Anderson’s disabled truck, LeDuc looked like he could pull steadily away from Douglas, but then LeDuc’s truck started smoking and then slowing, allowing Douglas to reel him in and pass. Douglas became the fifth different Pro 4 winner in as many races, bringing the Amsoil/Rusty’s Off Road/Mickey Thompson Tires truck home in first.
“I got some mud in my face, but once we got a few tear-offs off and got got a little bit used to this track, it was all about being smooth not making mistakes,” Douglas said. “I told myself if I don’t make one mistake in the whole race I’m gonna win this thing — I did make one but it was just a little bobble. But that’s what these mud races are all about — it’s all about driving. I’ve won a lot of races in the rain and in the mud and so I’ve got a good idea what it takes. I haven’t raced one in a long time so I played a lot of races in the back of my head, about different scenarios, about passing people, about getting mudded out, about staying tight, about people spinning in front of me. All these scenarios I ran in my head in staging, going over and over and over again just to have them there. I think it paid off. I guess I’ve still got it in the mud.”