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Q&A with Renezeder About the 100-Win Milestone
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series
This past race weekend, short course off-road legend Carl Renezeder reached a historic milestone: his 100th career short course off-road victory! Renezeder has been close to the century mark throughout the year, as he came into the 2012 season just three wins away shy of triple digits. However, a very frustrating season has seen the Lucas Oil/General Tire driver and his newly re-powered Nissan Titan Pro 2 Unlimited and Pro 4 Unlimited struggle, and despite his ever-present speed, the results just weren’t coming like they so often had been. The Round 13 and 14 race weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway changed all that, though, as Renezeder stormed to wins in three out his four races, the first of which brought him up to the much-talked-about number 100. After a few days to reflect on his remarkable accomplishment, we chatted with Carl to get some of his thoughts following his incredible run in Las Vegas.
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: In the early part of the season, you really seemed to be struggling with what looked like a new truck. Was there a major learning curve that you had to go through? What issues were you and the team experiencing?
Carl Renezeder: We actually didn’t have new truck, but we’d made suspension setup changes and changes in some other areas. We really struggled with the carburetion in our engines in the first half of the season, but now we’ve got that right. Mainly, we’ve just never had this much bad luck in one season. Seriously, we’ve had more bad luck this year than we’ve had in all other seasons combined. Some of this stuff doesn’t even seem real. At one point, I was sitting on the starting line, and my truck wouldn’t even turn on- how does that happen?
LOORRS: Well, it seemed like the momentum of the season changed for you in Reno…
CR: Actually, if you look at qualifying from this season, even at the beginning, we always did well, usually first or second. We always had the speed, just some crazy stuff happening in the races. Some of it was parts breaking, and even that happened this last weekend when we broke a front hub. We probably would’ve won that race too, and you never break front hubs. We’ve also been taken out, there have been weird calls on the track, just lots of bad luck.
LOORRS: So, was number 100 a meaningful milestone before you got there?
CR: Yeah, of course, it was a big deal, because it means a lot of things to me. One: it’s a lot of races to win; there’s a lot of guys who haven’t even won one. Two: it shows what a good team we have. Three: I got to win ALL of them with the red, white, and blue of Lucas Oil, all the way back to number one. Four: I won all those races in Pro 2 and Pro 4, the top two pro classes out there.
LOORRS: Leading up to number 100, you seemed to be pushing harder than you ever had, almost more than you might have needed to. Did you feel any pressure about getting to number 100 before you actually got there?
CR: I wasn’t pushing harder because of 100, just pushing the truck to the limit because that is how we tune it and also the way I like to drive it.
LOORRS: Do you feel any sense of relief or relaxation now that you've gotten to number 100? If so, do you think that's allowed you to drive more naturally and smoothly, like your usual style?
CR: I don't really think my style has changed, it’s just the way this season’s set up on the trucks has evolved.
LOORRS: Now that you’ve won number 100, what’s your next goal?
CR: Well, I’ve got eight championships now, so I’d like to win two more to make it an even ten. And I just want to keep winning more races and enjoying the journey. You know, to be a part of a growing sport that, when it started, had no traction as far as marketing goes, and to see what it has become today… it’s pretty special.
LOORRS: For you, what were your three most significant wins?
CR: Whew, wow, ummm… I guess I’d have to say my first, my 100th, and the Cup races I’ve won.
LOORRS: Where do you think this momentum you have going will take you for the rest of the season and into next year? Do you think you’ve got a shot at another Lucas Oil Challenge Cup win?
CR: When you look at the last five races, we’ve won four of them, so for sure I think we can win the Challenge Cup. If things go right, and we stay out of trouble, yeah, we can win it.
LOORRS: Which do you think you’ll run in that race, the Pro 2 Unlimited or the Pro 4 Unlimited?
CR: The Pro 4 is my first choice, but last year I honestly thought I could win it in my Pro 2, until I got spun out, and then everything pretty much went downhill from there.
LOORRS: Is there anyone in particular who is making a big difference on your team this season?
CR: Not really, no. It’s more of an overall effort from everybody combined, which together makes a successful team.
LOORRS: The competition level today versus when you started in short course: how do you think they compare?
CR: You know, that’s really hard to compare. Back when I started, you had guys like Jamie Flannery and Scott Taylor running, and they were dialed in. When I started, the speed was a lot greater than I’d anticipated. Things have gotten faster and better, but it’s always been very difficult. There have always been fast guys, that’s never changed.
As mentioned earlier, Renezeder not only picked up number 100 this past weekend, but backed that up with numbers 101 and 102 in the very same weekend. In doing so, he also got his long-awaited first win of the season in Pro 2 Unlimited, and with things within all aspects of his program really starting to click again, Renezeder is sure to be on a tear through the balance of this season and into 2013. Keep your eyes on Carl at Firebird, he’ll definitely be one to watch!
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series:
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is the evolution of the long standing support of short course racing by Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil Products. Steeped in the Midwest tradition of short course off road racing infused with a West Coast influence, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing brings intense four wheel door to door action to challenging, fan friendly tracks. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course. For more information please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com.
LAKE FOREST, CA (September 24, 2012) - In just under 14 complete seasons of racing, Carl Renezeder has been building a short-course off-road racing legacy that will highlight the history books forever. This past weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he brought his win record full circle by earning his 100th win in the same place he earned his first one back in 1999. And in classic Renezeder fashion, he went on to win numbers 101 and 102 before the weekend was over.
"Outstanding! He's back." Those words were an email response from Ron Stukenberg of Nissan North America, and there couldn't have been a more accurate reaction to the weekend. The Renezeder of old seemed to have slipped into the shadows in the first half of the 2012 season, where he experienced some of the worst results of his short-course career. The 100-win milestone appeared to be a jinx on the season, but in the true fashion of an eight-time champion, Renezeder found the magic and emerged into the spotlight in Vegas.
"I did not want that race to end," commented Renezeder over the radio after career win number 101, which was the Friday night Pro-2 race. The truck was flawless and the track suited the set up perfectly. Renezeder started the race from the third spot after qualifying second with a four-truck invert. By the time he hit the tabletop jump out of turn one on lap one he took the lead and never looked back. After the race he continued, "I was kind of hoping that someone would catch me and make it a battle, but it's so much fun driving a truck like that, it doesn't matter if you're battling ten trucks or out there on your own. There's no other feeling like it."
The 100th win was just as uneventful as the 101st - he grabbed the lead on lap three and drove a flawless race to the checkered flag. It was actually win number 102 that left fans, drivers, crew, sponsors - just about everyone in attendance - shaking their heads in admiration of an amazing drive put together by an amazing driver.
It was the last race on the docket for the weekend, and Renezeder was lined up in seventh place with the eight-truck inversion. He had a lot of work ahead of him on a track that hadn't proven to have a lot of places to pass. Renezeder seemed to prove the laws of physics wrong on several occasions, working his way around four trucks in four different places before the halfway point of the race. At the restart of the mandatory yellow, he had just Brian Deegan and Robert Naughton between him and another mark in the win column. Again, he made it look like a driving clinic, passing both drivers in four laps, leading the final two laps of the race for a well-deserved victory.
"The truck was flawless. You guys are awesome," commented Renezeder, with a distinct mark of awe in his voice, on his way to victory lane for the third and final time of the weekend. He wasn't able to make the clean sweep when the right front hub on the Pro-4 sheered off on lap three of Saturday night's race. But that didn't dampen any spirits.
A milestone was accomplished, celebrated and then quickly surpassed, which is exactly how anyone who knows Renezeder would expect it to happen. While a 100th win is a rare and amazing accomplishment, it's simply a marker on the timeline of an incredibly prolific career, one that is far from over. Renezeder is hungrier than ever for more wins, more battles, more innovation and more championships. The date and place were written on the bottom of the trophy, and some time was taken to reminisce about the 99 wins that proceeded that incredible moment, then the line was drawn in the dirt and the team went back to work. It's the formula of a champion - one that the off-road industry is so incredibly lucky to call its own.
Summary of results for Carl Renezeder at Las Vegas Motor Speedway - N Las Vegas, Nevada - September 21-22, 2012:
Pro-2: Rnd 13 - Qualifying: 2nd, Race: 1st; Rnd 14 - Qualifying; 2nd, Race: 1st
Pro-4: Rnd 13 - Qualifying: 1st, Race: 1st; Rnd 14 - Qualifying: 1st, Race: 11th (broke)