Lucas Oil Off Road Glen Helen: Tough weekend for championship leaders

Images by Richard S. James

Lucas Oil Off Road Glen Helen: Tough weekend for championship leaders

Off Road

Lucas Oil Off Road Glen Helen: Tough weekend for championship leaders

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As good a weekend as he had in Pro 2, Anderson had an even better one in Pro 4. Anderson jumped out to an early points lead from the beginning of the season, but as the year went on, that gap was eaten away by Doug Mittag and Kyle LeDuc. By the start of Saturday’s final race, his margin to Mittag was a measly three points; but that race would prove pivotal in the championship.

Anderson started on pole in the Friday Pro 4 contest, with LeDuc starting alongside, and Mittag behind. Anderson held off a dogged pursuit by LeDuc for the first eight laps until the halfway caution. Then, on the restart, a small error by Anderson gave LeDuc the opening he was looking for. It was now Anderson’s turn to chase LeDuc.

On lap 12, LeDuc spun and stopped, a mechanical problem ending his day and possibly killing his chances for a fifth consecutive Pro 4 title. But Mittag, who had had his own difficulties with the Johnlin Racing Team/Amsoil truck in the race and was at the tail end of the field at one point, was still in it, and was right there when the race restarted after LeDuc’s truck was cleared off the track. He pounced in Turn 4, making a bit of contact with Anderson, to take the lead and keep his chance for the Pro 4 championship alive.

“I saw Doug pull off,” said Anderson. “I didn’t even know he was still on the track. Then he comes flying into Turn 4, and I was like, ‘Oh, I guess Doug’s still here!’ It was a good time and we had a fun last couple of laps.”

Mittag won, but didn’t get a victory lap; his truck lost a wheel immediately after the finish, the result of some earlier contact.

“After the start, Kyle and RJ were leaving me,” said Mittag. “After the restart, I said, ‘OK, let’s go get it.’ We went into Turn 2 and I overjumped, came in, locked up the brakes and stalled. Bryce [Menzies] had no place to go and hit me in the front left. I started going again and the truck was super loose in the front end. I was cruising around for a while, and I ended up going into Turn 3 and it locked up and stalled the motor. I got it going again, and the truck was on rails after that. The last race in Utah, I wrecked the truck and set fast lap after. Maybe I just need to leave it broken. I literally drove the wheels off it. I don’t know how I got that lucky. I got past the checkered flag and my wheel literally ripped off the truck.”

Saturday, though, wasn’t Mittag’s day. With LeDuc starting on pole and jumping into the lead, Mittag and Anderson chased. Mittag made a half spin in Turn 5 and shot to the inside, allowing Anderson to take the lead. A couple of corners later, it was clear why – Mittag spun in Turn 2, collecting Adrian Cenni and Greg Adler. Mittag had no front differential, and would struggle for the remainder of the race. Still, LeDuc was leading, which would tighten up the points race considerably, until lap 10 when LeDuc had a mechanical problem of his own and stopped the truck on course. Now Anderson only had to cruise to victory in his Rockstar Energy/Mickey Thompson Pro 4, followed by Adler and Cenni. Anderson now heads into the finale with an 11-point lead over Mittag and, for the first time in four years, LeDuc will not be Pro 4 champ.

One racer on a championship streak had a fantastic weekend, though. Darren Hardesty (pictured) took both Pro Buggy victories in his Bilstein/Off Road Warehouse Alumi Craft. On Friday, he had to follow Eliott Watson for a while until Watson mad a small error in Turn 2. Watson and Hardesty were side by side for the next couple of corners, but Hardesty eventually made the pass and cruised to the win. On Saturday, Hardesty started on pole and that was it. Hardesty Jr. leads Watson by 13 points heading to the finale.

One note of interest in Pro Buggy: Trevor Briska had an incident on his pit bike and was sidelined. Sheldon Creed, the 2014 Pro Lite champion and current points leader in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, happened to be on hand and filled in for him, finishing fourth in his first outing in a Pro Buggy.

There is a single points-paying round left in the 2018 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series season, on Oct. 20 at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Every championship is still up for grabs, although some are almost a lock. The finale will be followed the next day by the Lucas Oil Challenge Cup races, including the always-exciting Pro 4 vs. Pro 2 battle.

Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series
Glen Helen Raceway Park
San Bernardino, Calif., Sept. 21-22, 2018

Sept. 21 results
Pro 4: Doug Mittag
Pro 2: RJ Anderson
Pro Lite: Mickey Thomas
Pro Buggy: Darren Hardesty Jr.
Production 1000 UTV: Mickey Thomas
Turbo UTV: Corry Weller
Mod Kart: Bronsen Chiaramonte
Junior 2 Kart: Connor Barry
Junior 1 Kart: Maverick Openshaw

Sept. 22 results
Pro 4: RJ Anderson
Pro 2: Brian Deegan
Pro Lite: Cole Mamer
Pro Buggy: Darren Hardesty Jr.
Production 1000 UTV: Myles Cheek
Turbo UTV: Corry Weller
Mod Kart: Ricky Gutierrez
Junior 2 Kart: Ethan Ebert
Junior 1 Kart: Talan Martin

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