The Pro 4 (pictured above) field remains small, but quality, with three championship contenders. Kyle LeDuc had a very rough start to 2018 and never really recovered, finishing third in the championship.
Expect him to bounce back and take the fight to Anderson as he seeks to regain his usual spot at the top of the Pro 4 standings. Doug Mittag had his best season in Pro 4 yet, and finished ahead of LeDuc and equaled him on wins. He may be ready to challenge for the title on a regular basis. And, of course, Anderson enjoyed great consistency, even as he fell short of Mittag and LeDuc on the number of wins, to take his first title since he left Pro Lite. As history has shown, though, with Pro 4, just about anyone can win if they finish, so Adrian Cenni, Greg Adler, Morris and perhaps even newcomer Andrew Carlson could see the top of the podium.
Ryan Beat, as he was wrapping up his first championship in Pro Lite last season, thought he might be headed to Pro 4 for 2019. Instead he has decided to stick with Pro Lite for another year and defend his championship. His toughest challengers in that regard will likely be Brock Heger, Cole Mamer, Mickey Thomas and Christopher Polvoorde, all of whom won races last year and could be in the championship fight if luck goes their way. Ronnie Anderson has been knocking on the door, so a win this season wouldn’t be a surprise. Same for Hailie Deegan, although she will only be seen at select races as her NASCAR Southwest Tour schedule allows.
These Pro Lite veterans will be contending with a lot of newcomers. Trevor Leighton moves from UTVs to Pro Lite. At 14, Jax Redline has already been racing about anything off road he can get his hands on, and now tries his hand at LOORRS Pro Lite. Katie Vernola has been racing Lucas Oil Regional, and Cory McClenathan, who has had a long career at the top levels of drag racing, is trying his hand in short course.
Nobody has been able to stop Darren Hardesty Jr. in Pro Buggy for three years, but Hardesty is moving on, beginning to prepare for a Pro Lite run in 2020. In his absence, expect Elliott Watson, Bud Ward and Trevor Briska to be in the thick of the fight to become the first new Pro Buggy champion since Hardesty won his first in 2016. Look for Matt Brister, Chris Nunes and Trey D. Gibbs to see more podiums this season, perhaps even at the top. Newcomers to the class include Mark Zimmerman, Brandon Blyth and Raymond Bowers.
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series adds a new class for 2019 — RZR 170. The UTV class for young racers has been hugely popular in the regional series, and take the place of Junior 1 Trophy Karts, which had seen declining entries in recent years. The other big news for the series is the first true unification race for LOORRS and the MWSCL, which will happen at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri in June. And, finally, if you can’t muster the funds to go short course racing, iRacing will be offering virtual Lucas Oil Off Road Racing beginning this year.
After this Saturday night’s race at Glen Helen, the series goes to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz.; the Baja International Short Course at Estero Beach near Ensenada, Mexico; Lucas Oil Speedway; Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, Nev.; and then back to Glen Helen before wrapping up at Wild Horse Pass for both the final points race and the Lucas Oil Challenge Cup races. All races will be streamed live at lucasoilracing.tv, and carried on CBS Sports Network and MAVTV. For more information, see lucasoiloffroad.com.