Part of it may be the the fact that there but 11 points-paying rounds for 2018, but the titles in every pro class of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series have come down to the final race at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park on Saturday.
With the season ending in the same place it began and a single points-paying race left, there is no room for error among the title contenders. While in a couple of the classes the leaders have a pretty solid advantage over the field, there are a few classes where one miscue could cost the favorite the title in the blink of an eye.
Pro 2 is one of those that will require everything to go wrong for the points leader, and everything to go right for chaser. Rob MacCachren has a 27-point gap over R.J. Anderson. Considering that even if Anderson is the fastest qualifier, earning him five points, and gets the point for leading halfway, MacCachren still has to finish seven positions behind him for Anderson to win the championship, it will require a major amount of luck for Anderson to prevail. Although since it appeared that MacCachren was on track to seal the title before the finale, it’s almost a miracle that Anderson still has a shot.
In Pro 4, the title is Anderson’s to lose. Defending champion Kyle LeDuc is essentially out of it for the first time in many years, and it comes down to Anderson, Doug Mittag and an 11-point gap. Anderson’s big problem could be that Mittag has been fast in qualifying often this year, although Anderson was quickest in the series’ last visit to the track in April. But with six or seven trucks, the typical count for 2018, Anderson will almost have to miss the start completely to lose this one.
Ryan Beat has been near unstoppable this season in Pro Lite, never missing the podium until a disastrous Round 10 at Glen Helen last month. That nearly-last-place finish thanks to contact and a mechanical left him vulnerable, but only just. He has a 13-point lead for the championship. If he regains his season-long form, the title will be his. Brandon Arthur, his only rival for the title, finished second to Beat at Wild Horse Pass in April.
Pro Buggy was looking like it was going to be a tough battle between two-time defending champ Darren Hardesty and Michael “Bud” Ward. But then both faltered a bit mid-season while Eliott Watson was coming on strong. Ward is out of the title fight, but Watson still has a chance to wrest the championship away from Hardesty with a 13-point deficit. Watson will need Hardesty to have some misfortune, or just get mired back in the field. Even earning the points for fast qualifier won’t help him much if the pair are racing head-to-head, because when that happens, Hardesty more often than not comes out ahead.
Brock Heger looks to be on track to repeat as Production 1000 UTV champion, although Myles Cheek has the slimmest of chances to erase the 31-point deficit, depending on entries. Turbo UTV has been a year-long battle between Corry Weller and Paul O’Brian – only one other racer has taken a victory in 2018. Weller sits pretty securely in control with a 25-point lead, but a big field and some bad luck could let O’Brien squeak through.
Mason Prater leads Mod Kart, but Brody Eggleston and Bronsen Chiaramonte are breathing down his neck. Connor Barry has won every Junior 2 Kart race but one, so his only chance of losing the championship is to not show up. In Junior 1, though, there’s still technically a race between Jake Bollman and Ayden Ford, but really Bollman’s 14-point lead should be sufficient.
The final points paying race of the 2018 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz. The finale will be followed on Sunday by the Lucas Oil Challenge Cup races, including the always popular and brutal Pro2 vs. Pro 4 battle.