Tooele, UT (August 24, 2018) – Set between two beautiful green mountains in an equally beautiful green valley, the Utah Motorsports Campus is a very special place to go racing. Luckily for the drivers and fans of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, this is one of our longest-standing stops in the championship, with this being the ninth consecutive year that we’ve had the good fortune to be able to race here. The tight, 0.8-mile track presents a unique challenge within the series, as the track is often slippery, and also deceptively quick, despite the track’s relatively small confines. Mastery of this track comes to few, and quite often, new winners emerge to take their first steps into victory lane right here. This afternoon and evening, we had the pleasure to see both continuing mastery and newer successes here in Round 7 of the 2018 championship, and it was certainly a fun and exciting way to kick off the second half of this racing season.
It was an action-packed race in Production 1000 UTV, and things had gotten interesting before this one even got started. Mickey Thomas had timed in second at the end of qualifying, but after having mistakenly used teammate Jacob Rosales’ transponder, Thomas was put back to the 11th spot on the starting grid, with Rosales initially being put alongside top qualifier Nathan Barry on the front row. However, Rosales was then moved to the rear of the field just before the start, so it would be Barry all alone on the front row as the field took the green flag.
Having that front row to himself wasn’t enough to keep Barry in the lead, though, as the class' two fastest shoes, points leader Brock Heger and Round 1 and Round 3 winner Myles Cheek ran in first and second after the opening lap, ahead of Barry, Trevor Leighton, and Dallas Nord. A rollover by Chris Deshon on the opening lap forced a full course caution at the end of that lap, but after racing had resumed, the running order in the top five stayed the same for the next three laps. On lap five, however, Cheek got alongside of Heger in the whoops leading up to turn five, before going past Heger and into the lead out of that corner. Jason Weller then moved up and past Nord on the next lap, and so it would be Cheek, Heger, Barry, Leighton, and Weller in the top five as the Competition Yellow fell at the end of that lap. On the restart lap, Both Weller and Ronnie Anderson then got by Leighton, with Anderson then passing Weller for fourth going into turn one on lap eight. However, contact between Weller and Anderson (it was purely a racing incident) then sent Anderson into a rollover in turn three, and as another driver had also rolled in that same corner, a full course caution was called for. After both drivers and their vehicles had been cleared from the track, it was now Thomas who’d moved all the way up to fourth, with Nord in fifth, behind the same top three: Cheek, Heger, and Barry. These five held their positions over the next two laps, but on lap ten, a rollover by Nord in turn three, as well as a stoppage on course by Leighton (who’d lost a motor and parked it right away at the exit of turn five) led to another full course yellow. Weller moved up to fill Nord’s spot in the top five, and with the race’s time limit approaching, officials called for a green-white-checkers, two-lap sprint to the finish. The top five held position on the first of those two laps, but when Barry biked in the final corner of the final lap while trying to keep pace with Heger, Thomas seized the opportunity and got down the inside on Barry, making it a great drag race to the finish for the final podium spot. Thomas got that spot by a nose at the wire in the #944 Hans ADA/AiM Sport Yamaha, behind the winner Cheek in the #957 Walker Evans Racing/CMI Precision Machining Polaris and second-placed Heger in the #1 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics Yamaha, and ahead of Barry in fourth in the #928 CBR Performance Products Yamaha and Weller in fifth in the #948 DragonFire Racing/Lucas Oil Racing TV Yamaha.
The Turbo Production UTV race was a relatively quiet affair, though all eyes would be on the battle between points leader Corry Weller and her main championship rival, Paul O’Brien, who came into this race separated by just three points. O’Brien led the way after lap one in the #711 Weller Racing/DWT Can-Am, ahead of Trevor Leighton in the #703 Kryptek/Fly Racing Polaris, Weller in the #748 DragonFire Racing/Lucas Oil Racing TV Can-Am, Dan Kelly in the #704 Can-Am, and Andy Ives. Weller got past Leighton for second in the early going, but the top three then settled in to a very close race for the lead over much of the rest of the race. The top five were still in their original positions at the Competition Yellow, and continued to hold station well into the second half as well, with the top three still running very close in an exciting battle for the top spot. Lap 10 saw Leighton lose some ground to Weller, but then Weller started losing significant ground to O’Brien on the next lap with some kind of issue, which also allowed Leighton to get by Weller and up to second just at the start of the final lap. O’Brien continued on without issue, though, grabbing the win and re-taking the points lead by just two points heading into tomorrow. Leighton finished in second, with Weller third, Kelly fourth, and class newcomer Myles Cheek fifth in the #757 Walker Evans Racing/CMI Precision Machining Polaris.
The final race of the night was Pro 4 Unlimited, and at the end of lap one, it was Greg Adler leading the way in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/Odyssey Battery truck, ahead of Adrian Cenni in the #11 pHit Alkaline Drink Mixer/Maxxis Tires Ford, Doug Mittag in the #81 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/AMSOIL Ford, points leader RJ Anderson in the #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/Polaris RZR truck, and Kyle LeDuc in the #99 Monster Energy/WD-40 Ford. Both Mittag and Anderson managed to squeeze down the inside of Cenni at turn three to take over second and third spots on lap two, with LeDuc then getting by Cenni for fourth out of turn five. On lap three, Anderson biked in turn three, which almost let LeDuc past, while a bike by Cenni in the same corner did allow Scott Douglas to move up to fifth. Anderson then biked badly in the same corner on the next lap, which did allow LeDuc to get by briefly, before Anderson then got back past and into third once again in the next corner. Meanwhile, up ahead, Mittag had suddenly taken the lead from Adler, though Adler then kept a close leash on Mittag all the way to the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap eight. Just before that Competition Yellow, Anderson biked in turn three once again, and this time, he also stalled, which finally let LeDuc by and up to third, where he sat at the Competition Yellow, behind Mittag and Adler, and ahead of Anderson and Douglas.
A few laps after the restart, LeDuc, Anderson, and Cenni (who was fifth on the track but running one lap down) were stacking up behind Adler as Mittag started to pull clear in the lead. Out of turn four, LeDuc then got a little wild, losing ground to Adler in the process, before then running Anderson wide and out to the left side k rail in order to keep Anderson at bay. A full course caution then fell on lap 15 after Adler suffered an issue in turn four. The issue had caused Adler to stop, and while trying to get re-fired, sizeable flames were seen in the mid-section of Adler’s truck. Adler did finally manage to get his engine back under power, but the yellow flag was already out by this point, and while it was out, third-placed Douglas pulled into the Hot Pits with an issue. This meant that the running order would be Mittag, Cenni (one lap down), Anderson, Adler, and LeDuc for the restart (Douglas was still in the Hot Pits). Anderson half spun in turn four on the restart lap, and LeDuc collected in, but neither driver lost more than some physical ground and some cosmetic bodywork. Cenni then seemed to let Adler past in the whoop section on the final lap, though why is not exactly clear. Up front, meanwhile, it was a fairly clear run to victory for Mittag, who helped his championship hopes as well by winning and leading the race at halfway. Adler finished in second place, with Anderson third, LeDuc fourth, and Cenni fifth (third across the line, but still one lap down).
Up next were the open-wheeled Pro Buggies, and after the first lap, it was points leader Darren Hardesty Jr. at the head of the field in the #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Steel-It Alumi Craft, ahead of Bud Ward in the #17 Horsepower Ranch/Ramona Tire Funco, Broc Dickerson, Eliott Watson, and Chris Nunes. Lap two saw Hardesty Jr. make an uncharacteristic mistake, as he half spun in turn four, which handed the lead to Ward; Hardesty Jr. dropped to second. Trey Gibbs then got by Nunes for fifth midway through the next lap, and just ahead, Watson was now fighting broken left front suspension. Watson had clipped the inside k rail at turn five early in the race, and now his left front tire was laid over diagonally. However, Watson continued to charge, and was doing very well and maintaining his position in the running order. The top five held station through the end of lap seven, when the Competition Yellow fell, and when racing resumed on lap eight, it was Ward, Hardesty Jr., Dickerson, Watson, and Gibbs in those first five positions. Over the next several laps, Watson’s issue became more of a hindrance, as he gradually dropped back to sixth, with both Gibbs and Nunes getting by and up to fourth and fifth. Dickerson then dropped to fifth on lap 12, before then getting passed by Matthew Brister, who was running the #59 tonight after Trevor Briska’s car, normally the #59, hadn’t passed pre-race tech (Briska was second in points coming into this race, just four points out of the championship lead, so this was a huge favor by Brister). Hardesty Jr. hounded Ward over the final lap, but could only tap his left front tire on Ward’s right rear in the final corner. Ward held Hardesty Jr. at bay, and grabbed the win, his first of the season, just ahead of Hardesty Jr. Third went to Gibbs in the #15 KB Engineering/Temecula Motorsports Alumi Craft, fourth was Nunes in the #2 Kicker Performance Audio/BFGoodrich Tires Racer, and fifth was Brister in the #59 Redline Performance/King Off-Road Racing Shocks Funco.
In Pro Lite, this track’s most recent winner, Brandon Arthur (who won here in Round 6 last year) was out front once again here in the early going, running at the head of the pack in the #6 MAVTV/Toyo Tires Chevrolet. Ronnie Anderson ran second in the #52 Rockstar Energy Drink/BFGoodrich Tires Chevrolet, with points leader Ryan Beat third in the #51 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/KMC Wheels Chevrolet, Cole Mamer fourth in the #35 Falken Tires/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Nissan, and Christopher Polvoorde fifth. By the end of lap two, Arthur had already opened up a sizeable lead, thanks in part to the fact that Brock Heger, who’d been running second for much of the first lap, had spun in the whoop section, slowing the rest of the field behind momentarily. On lap three, Polvoorde got by Mamer for fourth as the two came out of turn three, and on lap four, Beat got by Anderson for second going into turn one. Nearly four laps later, and the top five were still in the same positions as the Competition Yellow dropped at the end of lap seven, with Arthur holding the lead ahead of Beat, Anderson, Polvoorde, and Mamer. On the restart lap, Polvoorde then suddenly slowed in the whoop section, causing a huge gaggle of drivers to stack up behind, and to then continue to swarm wildly as they tried to jockey for position while moving past Polvoorde’s stricken truck. Out of the swarm came Sarah Burgess, who charged up to fifth in the #97 Gear Alloy Wheels/Bubba Burgers Chevrolet, and Burgess held that position all the way to the checkered flag to take her first top five finish of the season. Ahead of Burgess, Arthur got the win, his first of the year, ahead of Beat, Anderson, and Mamer.
First up following Opening Ceremonies was Pro 2, and starting up front were current points leader Rob MacCachren and defending points champion Jeremy McGrath. This pair ran one-two after the opening lap, with Jerett Brooks, RJ Anderson, and Bradley Morris filling out the early top five. MacCachren was already starting to get a little gap after just one lap, while both Brooks and Anderson were all over McGrath on lap two. Then, at the end of lap two, a full course caution came out after Morris had come to a stop exiting turn two on that same lap. After a few laps under yellow, during which time Brooks also hit the Hot Pits for a right rear tire change, racing resumed, and it was now MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford, McGrath, Anderson, Brian Deegan, and Adam Daffner in the top five. After the restart lap, Rodrigo Ampudia then moved his #36 Lucas Oil/Papas & Beer Ford past Daffner and up into fifth place down the inside at turn three on lap four. The next lap, Deegan then made a mistake and lost several spots in that same corner, and further up the order, McGrath then pulled into the Hot Pits and parked for the remainder of the race. With a substantial amount of shuffling having taken place in the last few laps, it was now MacCachren, Anderson in the #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/Polaris RZR truck, Ampudia, Danny Ebberts, and Brooks in the top five. MacCachren held a sizeable lead, which he carried up to the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap eight. Further back, both Brooks and Deegan had gotten by Ebberts before that Competition Yellow, and when the field resumed racing on lap nine, it would be MacCachren, Anderson, Ampudia, Brooks in the #77 Rigid Industries LED Lighting/Toyo Tires Ford, and Deegan in the #38 Monster Energy/Mickey Thompson Toyota in the top five. On lap 11, Deegan dive-bombed into turn two to make a pass down the inside on Brooks, which put Deegan up to fourth. Further forward, Anderson was now keeping pace with MacCachren, and even started looking down the inside in more than one corner on lap 14. However, MacCachren kept smooth and cool, and held off the young hard charger to take the win, his fifth of the season. Anderson was a close second, and after surviving two last lap dives by Deegan, as well as a final drag race to the finish, Ampudia just held off Deegan at the line to round out the podium in third; Deegan took a very close fourth, and fifth was Brooks.
With that, Round 7 is now in the books. Up next, the series will be right back at it here again tomorrow night, as Round 8 finishes up the weekend here at the Utah Motorsports Campus. Gates will open to the public at 1:00 pm, just ahead of afternoon qualifying, which starts at 1:30 pm. Junior 2 Kart will be the first race of the day, and that will go at 4:30 pm, with Opening Ceremonies at 7:00 pm, just ahead of the first Pro race of the evening, which will be Pro 2. Be sure to enjoy an evening of races at this truly one-of-a-kind facility; you certainly won’t regret it!
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. Our events can be seen on CBS, CBS Sports Network, MAVTV, and Live all season long on LucasOilRacing.TV. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course! For more information, please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter in our Newsletter Signup section of the home page.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series