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Championship Titles, and Chances,On The Line In Round 14
Championship Titles, and Chances,On The Line In Round 14
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series
Following a very successful first edition of night racing here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last night for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, it was time to do it all again tonight. After a somewhat hot afternoon turned into a terrific balmy autumn night yesterday, today's weather was off to an even better start, with a nice cover of clouds keeping the heat at bay, and in response to the improved conditions, fans packed the stands early to come out and see the top drivers in the sport of short course off-road racing. Tonight marked Round 14 of the 2012 championship, and for some drivers, there was the very real possibility of wrapping up a championship title with a full round of competition left down at Firebird next month. For others, the evening's events would play a pivotal role in keeping them in the thick of one of a few different close championship chases, and for everyone, there was the prospect of having a strong showing in front of a great crowd. In case you missed the evening's proceedings, read on and find out what happened.
Junior 2 Kart
Junior 2 Kart got things started in a great way, with Hailie Deegan grabbing the early lead in her #438 4 Wheel Parts/Lucas Oil kart, followed closely by Dylan Winbury, Darren Hardesty, Parker Steele, and Jeremy Davis. On lap two, Parker Porter moved his #461 Redline Performance/Advantage Boats machine up to fifth in turn one, with Steele then making a nice inside pass on Hardesty at turn six to take over third in his #449 Racer X Motorsports/Martori Farms kart. Early on lap three, points leader Winbury then grabbed the lead from Deegan in his #469 Famous Stars and Straps/Black Rhino entry, with the top three then beginning to pull away from those behind as the race approached the Competition Yellow. As the field bunched up behind the Pace UTV, it was Winbury, Deegan, Steele, Hardesty, and Porter in the top five, with Travis PeCoy then moving his #411 Fox Racing Shox/Hoosier kart past Porter for fifth on the restart lap. On lap eight, Porter got back by PeCoy, just before the two touched side to side coming out of turn two. The two were sent into half spins to either side of the track, as Broc Dickerson came through to take over fifth in his #423 Black Rhino/Racer X Motorsports truck. At the white flag, it was now Winbury, Deegan, Steele, Hardesty in the #456 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Kar Tek Off Road kart, and Dickerson in the top five, and the top three once again had a gap over those behind. In a cruel twist, Winbury then slowed suddenly coming out of turn two, victimized by a mechanical failure within only a handful of corners of the finish line. Deegan took the lead, and after hounding Winbury throughout the race, her consistency paid off as she picked up her first-ever win in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series- congratulations Hailie! Second place went to Steele, with Hardesty taking third, Dickerson fourth, and after an early race collision, it was Jeremy Davis who came back through the field to finish fifth in his #485 Green Army/Hoosier machine
Junior 1 Kart
Next up was Junior 1 Kart, and it was defending points champion Broc Dickerson who took the early lead in his #1 Dickerson Motorsports/Walker Evans Racing kart. Travis PeCoy ran second in the #211 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/Simpson entry, with Barrett Nunley third in his #215 RC10.com/Race-dezert.com machine, Darren Hardesty fourth in the #231 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Kar Tek Off Road truck, and Blaze Nunley fifth in the #230 RC10.com truck. On lap two, Hardesty, Blaze Nunley, McMullen, and Madix Bailey all got by Barrett Nunley as he struggled to stay in control, with McMullen then moving up to fourth in turn one on the next lap.
The top three now ran nose-to-tail, and at the Competition Yellow, the running order in the top five was Dickerson, PeCoy, Hardesty, McMullen, and Blaze Nunley. On the restart lap, McMullen made his way past Hardesty at turn one, and it was now the top four who ran in a close line at the front. On lap eight, luck fell apart a bit for PeCoy, as McMullen passed him on the inside into turn two, before Hardesty then also got by on the inside at turn three. Out front, McMullen was now really hounding Dickerson for the lead, but Dickerson drove terrifically to stay out front and keep the lead all the way to the checkers to pick up his sixth win of the season inside the category. Second went to McMullen, who was oh-so-close to his own sixth win of the season, while Hardesty rounded out the podium. PeCoy finished up in fourth, and fifth went to Blaze Nunley.
Finishing up the weekend's activities on the shorter "kids' track" was Modified Kart, and this one was definitely a struggle of a race. The first start resulted in Isabella Naughton getting crashed just out of turn one, forcing a full restart, and the second start ended in a big pile-up in the first corner, which brought about a third start. The third time seemed to be the charm, as everyone seemed a bit more tentative as they took the green flag again.
Bradley Morris was out front in his #504 Trophy Kart/K&N truck at the end of lap one, with Gavin Harlien second in the #555 Simpson/Team Associated kart, Sheldon Creed third in the #574 Trophy Kart/Kar Tek Off Road entry, Myles Cheek fourth in the #557 Rockstar/ThyssenKrupp Materials NA machine, and Cole Mamer fifth in the #535 Simpson/Full Tilt Trophy Karts entry. The top five held their running order for the first four laps, with a full course caution then coming at the end of lap four following a rollover up in turn one. Race officials decided that this caution period would also serve as the Competition Yellow, and when racing resumed, it was Jeff Hoffman in the #547 Kar Tek Off Road/BRT Signs truck who moved up to fifth with a nice run around the outside line in turn one. On the next lap, though, Mamer got his fifth place back in the same corner, while up front, gaps were opening between the leader Morris and second-placed Harlien, as well as between Harlien and the next group of four drivers, all of whom were engaged in a close race for third position. Despite a lot of bumping and banging between these four (Creed, Cheek, Mamer, and Hoffman), everyone held their positions for several laps, until Mamer finally broke up the order by getting around Cheek at turn one and moving into fourth. From there, the top five maintained their running order, despite a strong last-minute surge for third by Mamer, and at the stripe, it was Morris with the win, ahead of Harlien, Creed, Mamer, and Cheek. After the race, Mamer was docked two positions for rough driving, which moved Cheek to fourth and Hoffman to fifth.
Just before Opening Ceremonies, the first race of the night on the full-length track was Limited Buggy, and it was points leader John Fitzgerald who was out front early in this one. Behind Fitzgerald, it was the #334 Speed Energy/Bowden Development Inc. Alumi Craft of Zac Hunt, the #302 Race Fuel Energy Drink/General Tire buggy of Kenny Freeman, the #304 Lucas Oil/K&N Penhall of Bradley Morris, and the #398 Gear One/BFGoodrich Tires Lothringer of Dylan Ayers. On lap two, Ayers' teammate Kevin McCullough got inside of Ayers at turn three, and finally sealed the pass as the two headed into turn five, as McCullough moved up to fifth spot.
McCullough then continued a quick charge forward, as he moved past Morris for fourth late in the same lap, before getting by Freeman for third early on the next lap, and then taking over second from Hunt on the outside at turn two on lap four. McCullough was really cutting through the field, but now had the most formidable competitor in the class, Fitzgerald, to try and contend with for the lead. Further back, Ayers got by Freeman coming out of turn four and heading into turn five, moving him back into the top five, and at the Competition Yellow, it was Fitzgerald, McCullough, Hunt, Morris, and Ayers in the top five. On the restart lap, Ayers picked up another spot to fourth after passing Morris, before a full course caution at the end of lap eight (brought out following a rollover by Jim Price in turn two) bunched everyone back up again. On the restart lap, Hunt's race came to a disappointing end when his car came to a stop in turn seven, ending what had been one of his strongest run of the season. This moved Ayers to third, Morris to fourth, and Jordan Poole up to fifth spot, as Poole continued a nice recovery after his truck had come to a stop in turn one on the opening lap, where he lost nearly half a lap before he could get re-fired. The top five held their positions on the final lap, with Fitzgerald picking up his sixth win of the season, ahead of McCullough, Ayers, Morris, and Poole. With another strong run this evening, Fitzgerald has put himself out of reach of his competitors in this year's championship, as he has wrapped up the 2012 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Limited Buggy Championship in his #314 BFGoodrich Tires/Livestrong/Weddle Racing Gears/Wiks Racing Engines/Simpson buggy- congratulations John! Fitzgerald is the first driver of the season to wrap up a championship in the series this weekend, and with six wins, eleven podiums, and thirteen top fives from fourteen races so far this season, is anyone really surprised that Fitzgerald, one of the all-time greats in this class, got another championship in the category? The real question is, will anyone else wrap up a title tonight?
Pro 4 Unlimited
After the brief break of Opening Ceremonies, it was time for some Pro class racing, and as usual, things got started with the fastest vehicles in the series: the Pro 4 Unlimiteds. The sun had gone down now, and the lights around the track were starting to become the predominant source of illumination as the trucks hit the track. Kyle LeDuc, trying to bounce back after a tough race last night, grabbed the lead early in his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, with Carl Renezeder running second in the #1 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, Eric Barron third in the #32 Rancho Differentials & Drivetrains/California Metals Toyota, Curt LeDuc fourth in the #43 KCHiLites/Truxxx Lift and Level Kits Ford, and Corry Weller fifth in the #18 Tilted Kilt/Maxxis Ford. On lap two, Weller got in to Curt LeDuc a bit as LeDuc came across her nose heading for turn three, and LeDuc was sent off track and down the order several positions. Todd LeDuc took advantage of a bit of confusion here, and got by them both as he moved up to fourth, with Weller still running fifth. Two laps later, while running strong in a bid to challenge Kyle LeDuc for the lead, Renezeder lost his right front tire and wheel as he landed off the jump out of turn six, ending his charge in a flash. This moved Barron to second, Todd LeDuc to third, Weller to fourth, and Carey Hart up to fifth in his #46 eBay Motors/Hart and Huntington Ford, with Curt LeDuc then getting by Hart on the outside at turn three on lap six, moving him back into the top five as a result. The race was then red flagged following a small fire onboard Travis Coyne's truck, and the ensuing full course caution also served as the Competition Yellow.
When racing resumed, it was Kyle LeDuc, Barron, Todd LeDuc, Weller, and Curt LeDuc in the top five, with Kyle LeDuc quickly opening up a gap over those behind. LeDuc got out to a decent lead, then seemed to settle in and maintain that lead, before a rollover by Hart up in turn five brought out a full course caution. As the field bunched up behind the Toyota Tundra Pace Truck once again, a green-white-checkers finish was called for by race officials. On the restart lap, Barron suddenly slowed heavily in turn one, causing much of the field to bunch up behind him. Todd LeDuc had already gotten by Barron, and Weller was also able to squeak by on the inside, while the rest of the field scrambled to find a way past Barron. Up front, mechanical gremlins then struck Kyle LeDuc for the second night in a row, as a sudden four wheel drive issue slowed him briefly down the back straight, and it was LeDuc's brother Todd who shot into the lead with just a lap and a half to go. Kyle was able to recover and hold second, but on the final lap, he spun up in turn three, allowing Weller to get by as well. Up front, Todd LeDuc sped home with the spoils, as he picked up his first win inside the category- congratulations Todd. In second, Weller had a right front suspension issue of her own, but managed to keep the truck together to the checkers, as she picked up her best finish in this class, ahead of Kyle LeDuc in third. Jerry Daugherty, who'd been running fourth, pulled off just before turn five on the last lap, which meant that Josh Merrell would pick up that position in his #22 MavTV/Hart and Huntington Ford, with the top five being rounded out by Curt LeDuc.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
Tonight's Pro Buggy Unlimited race was one of the most dramatic in recent memory, and it all got underway with local Las Vegas driver Cody Freeman taking the early lead in his #2 Race Fuel Energy Drink/Wiks Racing Engines Racer. Geoffrey Cooley ran second in the #22 Romney/Ryan 2012/BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft, followed by Cameron Steele in the #16 Monster Energy/Horizon Hobby Alumi Craft in third, Doug Fortin in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./Fox Racing Shox Racer in fourth, and Dave Mason in the #65 Romney/Ryan 2012/SR Performance Alumi Craft in fifth. Fortin got inside of Steele to make a pass at turn five on lap three, moving himself up to third in the process, before he then got by Cooley for second on lap four. Cooley dropped back several positions to ninth on this lap, and Mason moved up to third, with Steele holding fourth and Greinke taking over fifth in his #23 SC Fuels/Redline Performance Racer. At the Competition Yellow, Freeman was putting together a terrific race as he continued to lead, ahead of Fortin, Mason, Steele, and Greinke. The restart was then re-called after two cars (Ken Stout and Eddie Tafoya) rolled in turn one, and on the second restart, Steele got around Mason to move into third spot. On the same lap, Cooley rolled coming out of turn three, and with smoke starting to come from his car, some drivers at the head of the field slowed in what must have been anticipation of a red flag, which is always s thrown when a car catches fire.
The red flag didn't come, though, and the other racers did what the flag tower indicated, which was continue to race, until they reached the start/finish line, where a full course caution yellow flag awaited them. In the process, both Fortin and Mason lost several positions, and as the field circulated under yellow, these two drove alongside the lineup, next to the positions they felt they should have gotten back. Officials held their ground, though, and Mason and Fortin had to fall back in line in fifth and sixth, the positions they'd been in at the stripe when they passed the yellow flag. Meanwhile, Cooley got out of his car and was ok, and with his car quickly being extinguished and righted, and with the lineup now sorted, racing soon resumed. A green-white-checkers finish had been called for, and as the field returned to green flag racing, the running order up front was Freeman, Steele, Greinke, George, and Mason. On the restart lap, a fired-up Mason charged past George and into fourth coming out of turn two, with Fortin following suit and moving into fifth on the same lap. The white flag then came out, and as Steele tried to make a move on Freeman in turn two, Freeman spun out slightly, and the two got collected up. Both drivers spun, and as those behind scrambled to avoid further contact, Greinke surged into the lead, with Fortin following in second and Mason just behind in third. Four corners later, with two drivers already having suffered last lap woes, it was then Fortin whose luck turned for the worse, as Mason dive-bombed into turn six behind him, rear-ended him, and sent him out of control, allowing several drivers to get past before he could re-join the action. Meanwhile, Greinke kept clear of all the chaos, and after re-taking the points lead last night, he padded his own lead with a big win here tonight. As they crossed the line, it was Mason in second, George third, Steele fourth, and Robb Harvey fifth in the #18 Interstate Batteries/CMI Alumi Craft. However, Mason was punished after the race, as race officials moved him to the back of the lead lap for not serving a black flag, as well as for rough driving. Harvey was also moved to the back of the lead lap, just ahead of Mason, for not serving a black flag, and these two changes meant that the final top five was Greinke, George, Steele, Tafoya in the #51 Specialty Fasteners Lothringer, and Lonny Hart in the #77 Alexander Ford/Lincoln buggy.
Pro Lite Unlimited
Another strong field of Pro Lite Unlimiteds emerged on track next, and it was heavy championship favorite RJ Anderson who led early, ahead of Ryan Beat, Casey Currie, Justin "Bean" Smith, and Noah Fouch. As Anderson quickly started to pull out a lead, Currie was really working on Beat for second, eventually making the pass at turn five on lap three. Further back, Bradley Morris got by Fouch on the inside at turn three to take over fifth in his #24 GoldStar Asphalt!/Lucas Oil Ford on lap four. Smith then pulled off the track on lap five, and a crash and ensuing flash fire onboard the Austin Kimbrell machine forced a red flag of the race. Kimbrell's crash landed his truck with the driver's window in the dirt, which was a bit scary, but safety crews were there in a hurry to put out the fire, and with Kimbrell emerging to safety and his truck quickly cleared, racing soon resumed, with the yellow flag period also serving as the Competition Yellow.
When racing resumed, it was now Anderson, Currie, Beat, Morris, and Fouch in the top five, with Fouch getting back by Morris for fourth on the restart lap. Fouch and his #52 Fouch Racing/BFGoodrich Tires Ford then blew by Beat for third in turn seven on lap eight, while up front, Anderson had again opened a small gap back to second-placed Currie. Currie also had a gap of his own back to Fouch, who was now just ahead of Morris, who'd also gotten by Beat and taken over fourth. A full course caution then came out at the end of lap eleven because of a rollover in turn two by Chad George, and as the field again bunched up under yellow, it was Anderson, Currie, Fouch, Morris, and Beat in the top five. A green-white-checkers finish was called for by race officials, and on the restart lap, Fouch and Morris tangled in turn one, dropping both drivers back several spots. This moved Jimmy Stephensen into fourth in the #33 No Fear Energy/Yokohama Nissan, and Todd Cunningham up to fifth in the #6 1888Baghouse.com / Mickey Thompson Chevrolet. From there, the top five drivers held their positions, and it was Anderson who got his fifth win of the season, and his first since clear back in Round 6. Currie came across the stripe in second, with Beat third, Stephensen a season-best fourth after switching to a V8 power plant for this weekend, and Cunningham a far and away season-best in fifth.
Anderson came into tonight's race with a monstrous lead over second place Ryan Beat in the championship, and with a dominant drive tonight, which included the N-Fab Fast Lap award, he did more than enough to secure this year's 2012 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Pro Lite Unlimited Championship. This was RJ's first full season in the class, and with the move over to the Stronghold Motorsports camp, he and his #37 Monster Energy/Walker Evans Racing/South Point Hotel & Casino/Polaris/Goodyear Dodge have had the backing and the manpower needed to run at the front in this ultra-competitive class. However, when it comes right down to it, RJ's fantastic driving was the true key to his success, and this young man is proving why is no longer a "star of the future," but rather, a star right now- congratulations RJ!
Super Lite Unlimited
Super Lites were up next, and it was last night's winner and championship leader Sheldon Creed who was out front at the end of the first lap in his #74 A.M. Ortega/BFGoodrich Tires truck. Cody Rahders ran second in the #16 SuperChips/Toyo Tires entry, with birthday boy Drew Britt in third in his #7 UTI/Mickey Thompson machine, Ryan Hagy fourth in the #27 General Tire/Metal Mulisha truck, and Dawson Kirchner fifth in the #18 Speed Technologies/Method Race Wheels entry. As the early laps clicked off, Creed started to pull away a bit by lap four, at which time Britt, having worked on Rahders for the entire race thus far, finally got by and into second place. Hagy then got around Rahders and up to third on the next lap, and at the Competition Yellow, it was Creed, Britt, Hagy, Rahders, and Kirchner in the top five. A botched restart forced officials to get the drivers to try it again, and under yellow, Britt pulled into the hot pits to have his hood removed (he'd rear-ended Creed on the restart, and the fiberglass was now flapping up and blocking his view). His crews weren't able to get the piece removed, and Britt came back out at the tail end of the field, with a running order of Creed, Hagy, Rahders, Kirchner, and Jessie Johnson in the #15 SoCal Super Trucks/Speed Energy truck in the top five.
The second restart was botched as well, and ended even worse than the first one, with Dustin Jones getting caught up in a mid-air collision off the jump out of turn one, which sent him into a hard crash that ended his race. Jones was ok, but was obviously furious with what happened, as he peeled off his helmet and pitched it against his wrecked truck. As safety crews worked to clear Jones' wreck, race officials called for a green-white-checkers finish, and at the restart, the flagmen had both a green flag and a black flag in their respective hands. Officials had decided that Creed had jumped two of the earlier restarts, and as the field returned to green flag racing, it was he who got the black flag. Creed had until the end of the race to serve his black flag, and he waited until the last lap to do so. On that last lap, Johnson rolled coming out of turn two, with Rahders then missing a shift and dropping two spots at turn five. Creed then served his black flag, at which point Hagy moved into the lead with just a handful of corners left to run. From there, Hagy sped home to victory, his first win ever in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series- congratulations Ryan! Second went to Kirchner, who was followed across the line by Britt. However, Britt was then dropped to the end of the lead lap by race officials for rough driving, which meant that Rahders would end up third. Poelman finished fourth, and rounding out the top five was Brent Fouch in the #21 Fouch Racing/General Tire truck.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the weekend was Pro 2 Unlimited, and what a race it was! Rob Naughton got the lead early after getting shot from the proverbial cannon in his #54 Lunarpages Web Hosting/Hart and Huntington Ford. Brian Deegan ran second in his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford, with Greg Adler third in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/Airaid Ford, Rodrigo Ampudia fourth in the #36 Papas & Beer/Lucas Oil Ford, and Patrick Clark fifth in the #52 Exotic Engine/K&N Chevrolet. On lap two, as Rob MacCachren tried to get by Clark on the inside at turn two, he bicycled and went wide, forcing Clark to run even wider. This gave Carl Renezeder room to go by and move up to fifth in his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, just before a fire onboard Ryan Hancock's truck forced a red flag of the race. Hancock was out quickly and ok, and with the flames soon out as well, racing resumed, with Adler dropping back to sixth on the restart lap. This moved Ampudia up to third, Renezeder to fourth, and Robby Woods to fifth in the #99 Lucas Slick Mist/General Tire Chevrolet. Renezeder then got by Ampudia and up to third coming out of turn five on lap six, just before Woods then pulled suddenly into the hot pits and out of the race. The Competition Yellow came out at the end of the next lap, and at this point, the running order was Naughton, Deegan, Renezeder, Ampudia, and Jeff Geiser in the #44 Tap It Brewing Co./Canidae Chevrolet in the top five.
On the restart lap, Marty Hart continued a monstrous charge as he moved up to fifth in his #15 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/GearUp2Go.com Ford. Hart had started in the back, and then received a black flag for jumping the early restart, and was now driving out of his skin to keep his championship hopes alive. On the next lap, Renezeder made a bold pass on Deegan, as he out-jumped Deegan over the tabletop on the back straight, before diving inside into turn six to nose ahead and into second place. Hart then moved up again, passing Ampudia for fourth, while up front, Renezeder was now all over the back of Naughton's truck as he challenged for the lead. Just behind, Hart moved up again, as he passed Deegan in turn one and moved up to third on lap twelve, with Renezeder then getting the move done on Naughton in turn five, after Naughton had bicycled twice earlier in the lap. In the next corner, Hart also charged past Naughton and into second, while further back, Ampudia then crashed in turn seven when a ball joint broke, allowing Justin Davis to move up to fifth in his #85 General Tire/Rigid Industries L.E.D. Lighting Ford. On the final lap, Clark got back inside the top five after getting past Davis, and at the stripe, it was Renezeder with the win to make it three out of four this weekend, ahead of Hart, Naughton, Deegan, and Clark. The drive of the weekend, and perhaps the entire season, had to go to Hart tonight, and the emotion of the moment got to him a bit as he was interviewed on the podium. Choking back tears, Hart said he "just wanted my driving to do the talking." Obviously his heart is in this title fight, and whether he takes the championship or not in five weeks' time, he put in a champion's drive here tonight, no question about it.
The penultimate race weekend of the 2012 season has now come to a close. With just one regular season round of racing left to run, there's everything to play for in most of our classes, and with the big money Lucas Oil Off Road Challenge Cup taking place the next day, everyone's gloves will be out in these once-a-year, all-out brawls that pit class against class. Better yet, all of this is just five weeks away, as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, returns to where it all began this year: Firebird International Raceway, in the south Phoenix suburb of Chandler, AZ. Round 15, the final round of the championship season, takes place October 27th, followed by the Challenge Cup races on the 28th. Get your tickets now, as the last races of the year are often some of the best!
Brakes and Exhausts Alightfor Round 13 in Vegas
After a short four-week break, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, is back in action this weekend, with the LoanMart Fight Under The Lights. Yes, night racing is back, and for the first time in series history, it's happening in Vegas, as the terrific Las Vegas Motor Speedway once again hosts the series. This weekend marks Rounds 13 and 14 of the 2012 championship, and with only three rounds remaining this year, the strain for every precious point will only intensify from here on out. It was a beautiful night to be at the races this evening, with perfect balmy temperatures and just the faintest hint of a pleasant desert breeze, and fans flocked to the stands in droves to see some great racing. In case you couldn't be there, here's what you missed.
Junior 2 Kart
First up on the evening's schedule was Junior 2 Kart, and a strong field of young drivers took to the track, headed by Travis PeCoy in the #411 Fox Racing Shox/Hoosier kart at the end of lap one. Dylan Winbury ran second in his #469 Black Rhino/Magnum Off-Road truck, with Parker Porter third in the #461 Redline Performance/Advantage Boats entry, Darren Hardesty fourth in the #456 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/RC10.com machine, and Shelby Anderson fifth in the #405 Walker Evans Racing/Bud's Tire and Wheel kart. On lap two, Winbury got a good run on PeCoy into and through turn one, and came out in the lead as the two exited the corner. Two laps later, Porter got a bit wide as he came to the exit of turn one, where a dirt bank juts into the corner from the outside to make a slight chicane. Porter had to check up to keep on the track, dropping him from third to seventh in the process. Those around him also did a bit of jostling, and the running order was now Winbury, PeCoy, Hardesty, Parker Steele in the #449 Steele Racing/Simpson truck, and Anderson, with the Competition Yellow then coming out at the end of the next lap. After the return to green, the order up front was still the same, but on lap eight, Steele made the same mistake that Porter had earlier, dropping him to sixth as Anderson and Trevor Briska got by and into fourth and fifth. On the next lap, Briska went way wide at turn three, dropping him four spots back to ninth, and with the white flag now waving, it was Broc Dickerson who'd taken over Briska's fifth spot. On the final lap, the top five drivers held their positions, as Winbury picked up his eighth win of the season. Winbury did a great job of holding his lines and keeping PeCoy at bay throughout the race, and PeCoy had to settle for second on this occasion. Third place went to Hardesty, with Anderson fourth and Dickerson fifth in the #423 Black Rhino/Racer X Motorsports kart.
Junior 1 Kart
The youngest drivers in our series, those of Junior 1 Kart, were next out on track, and it was points leader Conner McMullen who led the field past the stripe after lap one in his #288 Monster Energy/Foddrill Motorsports machine. Darren Hardesty, fresh off of a podium finish in Junior 2 Kart, was second in the #231 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Racer X Motorsports kart, with Broc Dickerson third in the #1 Dickerson Motorsports/Black Rhino truck, Travis PeCoy fourth in the #211 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/CMI entry, and Blaze Nunley fifth in the #230 RC10.com kart. On lap three, Hardesty got inside of McMullen coming into turn one, and came out ahead and in the lead at the exit of the corner. Up front, the top four drivers were starting to pull away from the pack, with Hardesty just managing to get a length or two worth of lead by the Competition Yellow. At this point, the running order was still Hardesty, McMullen, Dickerson, PeCoy, and Nunley, and that order stayed the same through the restart. On the restart lap, McMullen had an uncharacteristic slide in turn one, which allowed Dickerson to get by and into second. However, McMullen got the position back on lap nine, and at the white flag, it was still Hardesty, McMullen, Dickerson, PeCoy and Nunley in the top five. McMullen's and Dickerson's battling had given Hardesty just a bit more breathing room, and he brought it home for the win and back-to-back podium finishes in the first two races of the evening. Second went to McMullen, third to Dickerson, fourth to PeCoy, and fifth to Nunley.
The young hotshoes of Modified Kart came out on track next, and riding a hot streak of three wins in the last four races, Cole Mamer was again out front early in his #535 Simpson/T.I.S.I. Racing truck. Jeff Hoffman ran second in the #547 Kar Tek Off Road/BRT Signs kart, with Sheldon Creed third in the #574 Trophy Kart/KarTek Off-Road, Myles Cheek fourth in the #557 Rockstar/Metal Mulisha entry, and Bradley Morris fifth in the #504 Trophy Kart/Lucas Oil kart. Scotty Steele moved his #548 Steele Racing/Martori Farms machine into fifth coming out of turn one on lap two, while Creed took over second after getting by Hoffman coming out of turn two on the same lap. The top five then got into something of a single file line, if you could call it that, and despite everyone pushing to the limit, these top five held their positions through the Competition Yellow. At the return to green flag racing, it was still Mamer out front, followed by Creed, Hoffman, Cheek, and Steele, and after a botched first attempt at the restart, the second attempt went right. On the restart lap, Morris had a mighty battle with Steele for fifth, and after multiple touches between the two, as well as Morris' being forced off the track between turns five and six, Morris managed to re-join ahead of Steele, re-taking his first lap fifth spot in the process. A crash involving Sterling Cling and Brock Heger then brought out a full course caution on lap eight; Cling received a black flag for his involvement in the incident. On the restart lap, there was a lot of shuffling throughout the field in the first few corners, with Morris then getting crashed coming out of turn two. As the field scrambled out of Morris' way, it was more than a little chaotic to watch. The leaders came around to pick up the checkered flag, with Mamer staying clear out front to get his third straight victory. Second went to Creed, and after all the mixing behind these two, it was Gavin Harlien who took third in the #555 Full Tilt Trophy Karts/Team Associated truck, with Brooke Kawell fourth in the #508 Off-Road Vixens Racing/SoCal Super Trucks entry, and Isabella Naughton fifth in the #554 4 Wheel Parts/Duncan Racing kart. Steele had crossed the line in fourth, but was put to the back of the lead lap by race officials for rough driving.
Next up on track were the Limited Buggies. This was the first class out on the full-length track, and it was local Las Vegas driver Jordan Poole who had the early lead in the #310 Riot Racing/Yokohama Fraley, with Bradley Morris running second in the #304 Lucas Oil/K&N Penhall. Dillon Ayers sat in third in his #398 Fat Performance/Gear One Lothringer, with teammate Kevin McCullough fourth in the #389 Broken Cartel/General Tire Geiser, and Lindsay Geiser fifth in the #395 Canidae/Mickey Thompson Geiser. The top five stayed in line for the first three laps, with Zac Hunt then getting alongside Geiser at the end of lap four in his #334 Speed Energy/Bowden Development, Inc. Alumi Craft. Hunt moved ahead of Geiser into turn one on the next lap, with the Competition Yellow then coming out at the end of that lap.
The running order was now Poole, Morris, Ayers, McCullough, and Hunt, and on the restart lap, Hunt got inside of McCullough at turn one. With a little bit of unavoidable bumping side to side, Hunt got past McCullough and into fourth, but on the next lap, McCullough pulled off the exact same move in the same spot, only much more cleanly, as he took fourth place right back. Just ahead, Ayers got around Morris and into second coming into turn three, and at the head of the field, Poole had a decent gap back to those behind. At the end of lap nine, John Fitzgerald got up alongside Hunt, before pulling ahead and into fifth spot at the exit of turn one on the next (and final) lap. Up ahead, McCullough moved up to get by Morris at turn five, putting himself in position to finish on the podium along with his teammate, while out front, Poole was simply hooked up. In front of team boss Mark Ewing, who was watching Poole race for the first time, Poole picked up his second straight win, ahead of Ayers, McCullough, Morris, and Fitzgerald in the #314 BFGoodrich Tires/Weddle Racing Gears buggy.
Pro 4 Unlimited
Following Opening Ceremonies, it was time to return to racing. With the sun just having set over the hills to the west, the lights around the track were taking over, and in the dirt, it was Kyle LeDuc in the #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford who had the lead. Carl Renezeder ran second in his #1 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, followed by Eric Barron in the #32 Maxxis/RC10.com Toyota in third, Corry Weller in the #18 Tilted Kilt/N-Fab Ford in fourth, and Todd LeDuc fifth in the #7 Rockstar/Makita Ford. On lap three, Kyle LeDuc hit some kind of issue, as he suddenly slowed coming out of turn three, before getting back on the pace after a few seconds.
LeDuc's truck was obviously not 100% anymore, and with four drivers having gotten by him, he was doing his best just to hang on to the tail end of the top five. Out front, it was now Renezeder, who was now staring straight in the face of a very strong shot at his 100th career short course off-road win. On lap four, Greg Adler out-jumped Kyle LeDuc into turn six, taking over fifth in his #10 4 Wheel Parts/BFGoodrich Tires Ford. Adler then spun in turn one on the next lap, and with some kind of mechanical issue, he pulled off the track. On lap six, bad luck then struck Weller, who while running her strongest race of the season, became the sudden victim of apparent engine failure. On the next lap, the Competition Yellow came out, and it was Renezeder, Barron, Todd LeDuc, Kyle LeDuc, and Curt LeDuc in the #43 KCHiLites/Toyo Tires Ford in the top five. Kyle LeDuc was slow to getaway on the restart, leaving his dad Curt a perfect opening to by for fourth spot. Out front, Renezeder was looking utterly dominant, and with few other drivers running at full tilt (only Barron and Curt LeDuc seemed to be issue-free), Renezeder opened up a comfortable gap en route to a historic centennial win- a huge congratulations to you, Carl! Second went to Barron, third to Todd LeDuc, fourth to Curt LeDuc (who held off a strong charge from his son Kyle on the final lap), and fifth to Kyle LeDuc.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
After a nice long string of (mostly) clean races, the Pro Buggy Unlimited race was one that struggled to find the finish line. Cameron Steele started from pole in the #16 Monster Energy/Yokohama Alumi Craft, and led Geoffrey Cooley, Doug Fortin, Garrett George, and Steven Greinke at the end of lap one. Lap two saw the first of several full course cautions, as Eric Fitch ended up stacked on top of Robb Harvey in turn eight, with Eddie Tafoya also coming to a stop in the same corner. After the cars were cleared (both Fitch and Harvey were able to continue), racing resumed at the end of lap three, with Greinke moving his #23 SC Fuels/Concourse Racer up to fourth early on lap four. For the next couple of laps, the top five maintained their positions, and at the Competition Yellow, it was Steele who still led, followed by Cooley in the #22 Romney/Ryan 2012/Impact Safety Alumi Craft, Fortin in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./Fox Racing Shox Racer, Greinke, and George in the #71 Anenberg/Abu Dhabi Funco.
After the restart, the second full course caution was thrown following a two-car incident up in turn five. Racing resumed shortly afterwards, but a badly-botched restart forced a second restart, with a green-white-checkers finish being called for by race officials. Fortin was slow on the getaway, and a left rear puncture slowed him substantially, allowing several drivers to get by him. The drivers were now set to take the white flag, but a rollover by Larry Job in turn six forced yet another full course caution. Job was able to get turned upright and continue, and now it was a white-checkers finish that was called for, with Steele, Cooley, Greinke, George, and Dave Mason in the #65 Romney/Ryan 2012/B&R Buggies Alumi Craft in the top five. On the last lap, Mason got cut off in turn three, which allowed Jerry Whelchel to go by on the outside. Up front, Steele led the race wire to wire, and after doing a nice job of holding off a hard-charging Cooley throughout the race, he picked up the win for the second time this season. Cooley got a hard-fought second place, with Greinke third, George fourth, and Whelchel fifth in the #5 Camburg/General Tire Foddrill.
Pro Lite Unlimited
The Pro Lite Unlimited race was nothing short of a dog fight, and thrown into the middle of it was Stronghold Motorsports lead mechanic Nick Griner, who got the chance of a lifetime as he was given the team's #16 truck to drive for the night. Griner was living the dream of every mechanic who has worked on racecars their entire career without ever getting the chance to drive one themselves.
Leading early was pole starter Noah Fouch in the #52 Fouch Racing/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, followed by Brian Deegan in the #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Casey Currie in the #2 Monster Energy/General Tire Nissan, Bradley Morris in the #24 GoldStar Asphalt!/Lucas Oil Ford, and RJ Anderson in the #37 Monster Energy/South Point Hotel & Casino Dodge. On lap two, Anderson got alongside Morris coming out of turn two, and after the two raced side by side for most of the lap, Anderson finally nosed ahead into turn eight. Meanwhile, Morris fell back through the field several positions, which moved Chris Brandt up to fifth in his #82 BFGoodrich Tires/National Concrete Cutting Toyota, and at the Competition Yellow, he still sat in fifth, behind Fouch, Deegan, Currie, and Anderson. As the field re-grouped under yellow, a fire broke out on Bubba Gray's truck, forcing a red flag of the race. Gray was out and ok, and with the fire quickly put out by the safety crew, racing was soon able to resume.
On the restart, Fouch's strongest shot at a win to date went away in a flash, as he rolled in turn five, handing the lead to Currie. Currie held the lead for a few corners, before Deegan made a big move into turn eight. Deegan drove really deep into the corner, forcing Currie way wide as he took the lead, with Anderson also getting by Currie and into second. Fouch was righted by the safety crew and was able to continue, but on the restart lap, another crash, this one by Jimmy Stephensen, forced another full course caution.
As Stephensen's truck was pulled from atop the k-rail on the outside of turn two (he was able to continue), race officials called for a green-white-checkers finish, and once racing resumed, it was now Deegan, Anderson, Currie, Ryan Beat in the #51 Lunarpages Web Hosting/Black Rhino Ford, and Chad George in the #42 Discount Tire/Traxxas Ford who ran in the top five. This running order was the same at the white flag, but on the final lap, Fouch crashed again, this time over in turn six. This forced yet another full course caution, and race officials now called for a white-checkers finish: a one-lap dash for the line. Currie had passed gotten by Anderson out of turn one on the first white flag lap, and now must've been gunning for a shot at Deegan after the way he'd been passed earlier on. On the last lap, Currie's luck took a huge upswing, as Deegan bicycled and spun in turn one, dropping him ten places back to eleventh. Currie shot into the lead, and rocketed away to the checkers, taking what was obviously a very meaningful win. Anderson came home in second, with Beat third, George fourth, and Morris fifth after coming back through the field following his early race misfortune.
Super Lite Unlimited
The penultimate race of the night was Super Lite, and has been the case so many times this season, this race was all about Sheldon Creed. For such a young driver, Creed has a great ability to put together perfect drives, and tonight's race was one such drive. Creed got the lead on lap two, and as those behind him battled for positions, Creed was left all alone up front in the #74 A.M. Ortega/BFGoodrich Tires truck. In the second half of the race, Creed opened up a comfortable gap to his pursuers, before then settling in to a quick and consistent pace that maintained his gap as he hurried home to his seventh win of the season. Behind Creed, another driver who put in a strong performance was Drew Britt in the #7 Universal Technical Institute/Quick Lane machine, who moved steadily through the field, before making an ambitious last lap place on then-second-placed Ryan Hagy to take the position away in the closing seconds of the race. Hagy had to settle for third by just a nose in his #27 General Tire/Valli Construction entry, with Jessie Johnson taking fourth in the #15 SoCal Super Trucks/Speed Energy truck, and Dawson Kirchner finishing fifth in his #18 Speed Technologies/General Tire machine.
Pro 2 Unlimited
On the restart lap, MacCachren suddenly pulled off at the exit of turn six with a loss of power, ending his strong run for the evening (he was later able to re-fire and continue, albeit a lap down). This moved Naughton to second, Geiser to third, Clark to fourth, and Greg Adler to fifth in his #10 4 Wheels Parts/Magnaflow Performance Exhaust Ford. From there, the running order in the top five stayed the same, with Renezeder steaming away from the field, well out in front in a performance reminiscent of the Renezeder who has seven championships and 101 short course off-road wins to his name. It appears that with the pressure of getting number 100 now taken off his shoulders, Renezeder is driving like his old self again, and the competition should probably keep a closer eye on him as the season winds down. Naughton took a season-best second place, while Geiser equaled his best result of the year in third. Fourth went to Clark, and rounding out the top five was Adler.
It's been a very successful and enjoyable first night under the lights here in Las Vegas, and better still, we've got it all to do again tomorrow. Gates will once again open to the public at 4:00 pm, just in time for the first race of the afternoon: Junior 2 Kart. Opening Ceremonies will kick off a great evening of Pro class racing at 6:00 pm, followed by the first Pro class of the night, Pro 4 Unlimited, at 6:30 pm. Tonight was a great night with perfect weather for watching great short course off-road action with your family and friends, and tomorrow night promises more of the same, so call somebody and share an evening under the lights with Lucas Oil Off Road here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; you won't regret it!Follow @Lucas_Oil