With the second round of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., in the books, the title fights are beginning to take shape. While it’s a long way from time to be picking true championship contenders, there are a few drivers making a case that they have what it takes as the series moves from a pair of single, nighttime events to the stretch where two daytime races over the course of a weekend can make or break a championship run.
Kyle LeDuc is off to his best start in years. After a tough season with his latest truck in 2018, things are certainly looking up for the five-time Pro 4 champion who isn’t defending that title for the first time since 2015. After a dramatic, come-from-the-back victory at Glen Helen in March, LeDuc was looking for another. He was edged out by Doug Mittag at the start, but he pounced when Mittag bobbled, and then LeDuc started to pull out a gap to the rest of the field.
There was a moment of drama after the final restart when LeDuc’s Monster Energy/Toyo Tires truck started smoking, but he stayed ahead of Mittag and 2018 champion RJ Anderson to take the victory, and, as a result, has a 12-point lead in the championship standings over a virtual tie between Mittag and Anderson, only a point apart.
Wild Horse Pass was the second race where the spec-engine Pro 2 trucks were incorporated into the Unlimited field. But while the spec trucks looked like the gap might be enough to win at Glen Helen, at Chandler the gap closed much more quickly, and Troy Cox and Daely Pentico were quickly tailed by Glen Helen winner Jerett Brooks, Anderson and Brian Deegan.
When the halfway caution flew and bunched everyone up, it was time to move. Deegan quickly moved into third, the first of the Unlimited trucks, at the restart. Then he and Brooks got by Cox shortly after.
Pentico had been near flawless, but on the final lap, with Deegan aggressively trying to find a way around, the two had heavy side-to-side contact. Pentico spun, and Deegan sailed his Monster Energy/Mickey Thompson Toyota on to the win. A post-race black flag for Pentico left Rodrigo Ampudia in second and Anderson in third.
A rough finish for Brooks left Deegan with a slim four-point lead in the championship over Ampudia and Anderson, tied for second with 94 points.
Ryan Beat was near untouchable in Pro Lite in 2018. With a win at Glen Helen, his intentions to claim another title this season were made clear. Although he didn’t win again at Chandler, he still leads the championship. But an equally interesting storyline is the one where Mickey Thomas declares himself a frontrunner and a championship contender.
In Chandler, Christopher Polvoorde, Brock Heger and Thomas were running up front; but Heger dropped out with smoke pouring from his truck, then Polvoorde got a flat and was no longer a factor. That left Thomas alone out front in the Stovall Pro Lite, while Beat, who had not qualified particularly well, moved through the field and, with the problems suffered by some of the frontrunners, ended up second.
Beat now leads the championship with 100 points, a scant two points over Thomas, with Ronnie Anderson third at 92 points.
With three-time defending Pro Buggy champion Darren Hardesty Jr. sitting out the season, the fight in this class is intense as a bunch of young guns duke it out to be the first new champ in years. Trevor Briska won the battle in Chandler easily, leading flag to flag in his JDRF Funco. Despite, that, he sits fourth in the championship at 93 points. Leading the points are Glen Helen winner Chris Nunes, and Eliott Watson, tied at 100. Matthew Brister, second at Wild Horse Pass, is third with 97.
Defending Production 1000 UTV champion and Glen Helen winner Brock Heger wasn’t much of a factor at Wild Horse Pass, although he pulled off a third-place finish to continue leading the points. Instead, Robert Stout qualified first and started fourth, with no intention of letting this one slip away. Newcomer Dallas Nord led the early stages, but fell back into the field. Myles Cheek took over the lead, but he soon lost that lead to Stout. Cheek kept the pressure on, but Stout withstood the heat to take the victory.
Stout is now four points behind Heger, 106 to 102, with Cheek third at 96.
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series heads south of the border for a pair of daytime races at Estero Beach Resort in Ensenada. That event always brings out big crowds of passionate off road fans, and is often the event where clear championship pictures emerge. The races at the Baja International Short Course take place May 18-19.
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
Chandler, Ariz.; April 13, 2019
Pro 4: Kyle LeDuc
Pro 2: Brian Deegan
Pro Lite: Mickey Thomas
Pro Buggy: Trevor Briska
Production 1000 UTV: Robert Stout
Production Turbo UTV: Corry Weller
Mod Kart: Mason Prater
Junior 2 Kart: Karaston Hernandez
RZR 170: Ryder Chapman