Pro 2 shakeup, historic Pro Buggy sweep in Wheatland LOORRS

Images by Richard S. James

Pro 2 shakeup, historic Pro Buggy sweep in Wheatland LOORRS

Off Road

Pro 2 shakeup, historic Pro Buggy sweep in Wheatland LOORRS


Opposite ends of the competition spectrum presented themselves at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series held its first tripleheader event at the longest and most technical track on the schedule.

From Eliott Watson’s historic sweep of Pro Buggy to three different winners in Pro 2, there were some clear signs of domination in some classes – even if luck played a role in the manifestation of that control – and indications that some of the classes are going to be knock-down, drag-out fights all the way to the end of the season.

Spectators filled the grandstands – newly rebuilt after massive storm damage scrubbed the 2019 event at the track – for likely the only time this season. The fans on site and those watching on Lucas Oil Racing TV were treated to some stellar action and, at roughly the halfway point of the season with five rounds complete, close championship battles have started to emerge.

In Pro 2, the championship picture might have had just one face in it had Jerett Brooks not suffered some bad luck. Jerett, who won both opening rounds at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif., had the speed to sweep the weekend, debuting the freshly finished K&N Filters/Bilstein Pro 2 he’s nicknamed “El Diablo”. He started on the front row of Friday’s Round 3 contest outside of Doug Mittag and quickly asserted himself into the lead, which would become a common theme for the weekend. Leading RJ Anderson and Mittag, Brooks looked ready to claim a win in the truck’s debut, but a flat tire put play to that idea. Instead it was Anderson who claimed the victory in his South Point/Polaris RZR Pro 2, followed by Mittag, Ryan Beat and Brooks.

A trio of action-packed P2 races at Lucas Oil Speedway kept fans on their feet.

“I started back there in fourth and [Brooks] got to the lead right away; those guys have a fast truck and he’s a great driver,” said Anderson on the podium. “I knew once we had that yellow, I could just tuck in and learn some of his lines, learn where he’s faster than me.

“He got away from me in the beginning,” Anderson continued, “so I couldn’t really see. I felt like I was keeping pace with him though. He made a mistake right on the restart going into Turn 6 and I was able to keep my cool and slide right inside.

“This one feels good. At the beginning of the day, if you told me I was going to walk away with a first and a fast lap, that would be like winning the lottery.”

Starting outside the front row again on Saturday, Brooks immediately put his truck in front of Mickey Thomas, a former Pro Lite contender from Georgia making likely his only appearance in LOORRS this year as he concentrates on racing in the Midwest in Pro 2. Brooks put on a clinic, seemingly putting a gap on the field at will. Even when Mittag got around Thomas, he could only make small inroads into Brooks’ lead, and had to settle for second with Thomas third.

“This is a brand new truck; we just finished building it,” explained Brooks. “We didn’t copy anything, this is a straight out-of-the-box truck built in my shop (over) the past seven or eight months. Yesterday I had a bit of contact, got a flat while leading; but today came out here and backed it up. The amount of people that told me this truck wouldn’t win, that stuff wasn’t going to make races – we pretty much just proved all those guys wrong. We’re a small team and we put so much work into this truck, it’s like our baby. To come out here and be quick in qualifying and races, it’s so awesome.”

Brooks looked like he was going to do it again on Sunday, as he once again stole the lead from polesitter Mittag and began gapping the field for the first half of the race. After the competition caution, though, Mittag stayed on Brooks’ bumper, got a good run through the rhythm section and made his move in Turn 6. He could have just waited, however, as Brooks parked El Diablo a short time later with a mechanical problem.

Doug Mittag: Another Pro 2 winner debuting a new truck in Wheatland.

Mittag then had no trouble from Anderson and Thomas behind him as he took his Pinnacle Nutrition Group/Hostile Off Road Wheels Pro 2 – a re-worked chassis also making its debut in Wheatland – to the win.

Between Mittag’s consistency and Brooks’ bad luck, this season’s Pro 2 championship will be anything but a runaway.

“I’ve been saying it all week, but thank you to my team. This truck is bad to the bone,” said Mittag. “We took an old truck, cut it apart, and we made it a good truck – and we did it in 20 days with the best team in the world. You can spend all the money you want and have all these people, but if you don’t have a team that cares as much as these guys, you’re not going anywhere. Huge thanks to them; we’re already setting fast laps and winning races.

“I am so stoked … we had high expectations, but this overtakes them for sure.”

In Pro Lite, Brock Heger made the case that this is his year to win the championship, winning two of the three Lucas Oil Speedway contests and finishing third in the other.

“We’ve always been trying to go for this championship and it seems like in the past few years, we’ve struggled in the beginning and I’ve had to try to catch up,” said Heger. “This year we went into Glen Helen and I had a sixth; in the past few years, I don’t think I finished my first race or weekend. It was definitely a lot better and we’ve had some pretty good results from there on out.

“This championship is going to be a lot of consistency and these guys are going to make it challenge.”

Heger won two of the three Pro Lite contests in Wheatland.

Heger started his Maxxis/Method Race Wheels Ford on pole for Friday’s race, and never saw anything but the front. He was helped by Christopher Polvoorde and Ronnie Anderson battling early for second, until Polvoorde bulled past and Anderson started falling back.

Polvoorde held second, and Madix Bailey was third, while Cole Mamer, who won Round 2 at Glen Helen, had a rough day with a couple of over-rotations and eventually a roll.

Mamer redeemed himself on Saturday, though, starting up front, then falling in behind Heger. But when the race restarted after the first caution, Mamer seized the lead. Heger would challenge occasionally, but could never again claim the point.

Polvoorde and Bailey had a good battle for third, and once Polvoorde claimed the position, he began challenging Heger for second. Heger held him off, though, while Mamer took his second victory of the season in the Falken Tire Pro Lite.

Bailey, a rookie who had made the podium in three of the four Rounds so far, started on pole in Race 3 and looked like he might be able to capitalize on that for his first win. But Heger was on him even before the competition yellow. On the first lap after the restart, Heger ducked inside at Turn 6 to take the lead. Bailey held on for second, while Mamer, who had battled back from a brush with the wall in Turn 4 on the first lap, finished third on the track. However, he received a posthumous black flag for contact on the last lap, and Polvoorde was awarded the position.

Eliott Watson made the latter two of his Pro Buggy victories look easy, as his Tom Watson Inc. Alumi Craft was at the front and pulling away. The first one, though, took a bit more work. Brady Whitlock led much of the race, and Watson was considering a way through when Trey D. Gibbs found a hole and pushed his way to the front. Darren Hardesty also got by Watson before the competition yellow.

Eliott Watson’s Tom Watson Inc. Alumi Craft claimed a historic Pro Buggy sweep.

“I was just trying not to get into trouble the first half of the race,” said Watson. “After that, I got around Whitlock and the battle was on. Another caution came out and we filed in behind Gibbs and Hardesty. Hardesty is aggressive, he’s fun to race and he’s not scared to throw it in there.

“At first I was letting them do their deal, and kind of hung back,” Watson continued. “But as the laps were winding down, I caught up and had to force the issue a little bit. There was a big hole forming in the bowl turn [Turn 3], and Darren kept hitting it. I had to capitalize on that. We came out on top of each other in the bowl turn, [Gibbs and Hardesty] both hooked the same rut and I got underneath them both at the same time … squeezed in there, rubbed tires a little bit. After that it was just smooth sailing.”

Myles Cheek and Heger had a pair of great battles for the Production 1000 wins on Friday and Saturday, with Friday’s contest going to Cheek and Saturday to Heger in the Maxxis Tires/Weller Racing Yamaha YXZ. Heger wasn’t really in the fight for the win on Sunday, though. Dallas Nord commanded most of the race, but Cheek worked his way up and around to claim his third victory of the season in his Polaris RZR.

Kyle Chaney, a longtime UTV racer making his first appearance in the series, took two of the Turbo UTV contests, with defending champion Corry Weller winning the other.

The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is scheduled to head next to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., next month.

Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series
Rounds 3, 4 and 5
Lucas Oil Speedway, Wheatland, Mo.
Aug. 21-23, 2020

Friday Winners

  • Pro 2: RJ Anderson
Pro Lite: Brock Heger
  • Pro Buggy: Eliott Watson
  • Production 1000 UTV: Myles Cheek
  • Turbo UTV: Kyle Chaney
  • Mod Kart: Trey Eggleston
  • Junior 2 Kart: Brodie Martin
  • RZR 170: TJ Siewers

Saturday Winners

  • Pro 2: Jerett Brooks
  • Pro Lite: Cole Mamer
  • Pro Buggy: Eliott Watson
  • Production 1000 UTV: Brock Heger
  • Turbo UTV: Corry Weller
Mod Kart: Connor Barry
Junior 2 Kart: Lake Adler
  • RZR 170: TJ Siewers

Sunday Winners

  • Pro 2: Doug Mittag
  • Pro Lite: Brock Heger
  • Pro Buggy: Eliott Watson
  • Production 1000 UTV: Myles Cheek
Turbo UTV: Kyle Chaney
  • Mod Kart: Braden Chiaramonte
Junior 2 Kart: Logan Leggitt
RZR 170: George Llamosas