San Bernardino, CA (September 21, 2018) – After a four-week break, it was time to get back at it here in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO. The 2018 championship season is really hitting crunch time now, and tonight’s Round 9 marked the first of the final three races of the year. Every position is, for most drivers, of critical importance, as there is so little time left to recover from any mistakes. Glen Helen Raceway, host of this weekend’s races here in southern California, has produced many great races in the past, and tonight, that tradition continued, with more than one surprising incident taking place here under the lights. Some of these surprises were good, while others, well… not so much. Nearly all of the championship battles either stayed where they’d been or tightened up, and a slew of new or returning drivers joined the action here this weekend, making for some very full fields and some extra exciting racing.
In the Modified Kart race, it was Bronsen Chiaramonte leading the way after lap one, ahead of Luke Knupp, Mia Chapman, Mason Prater, and points leader Brody Eggleston, with Ricky Gutierrez then getting past Eggleston for fifth in turn four on lap two. On lap three, Chapman got into Knupp going into turn four, spun herself, and wound up sideways in the apex of the corner. Several drivers had to slow down and sneak by, Prater was caught up for a bit longer, and the two who took the biggest hit were Eggleston and Connor Barry, who wound up hooked together as the rest of the field sped away without officials throwing a full course yellow. Track crews eventually freed the two and both were able to continue, but when the Competition Yellow came out at the end of the next lap, Eggleston was clear back in 17th as the field lined back up for the restart. This was looking like it could be a major blow for the points leader, as his closest rival, former points leader Prater, just 21 points back coming into this evening’s race, was up in sixth, making this a potential 22-point swing as they sat on the track now, which would theoretically hand the points lead back to Prater by a single point if things finished as they were at that moment. On the restart lap, Prater got by Chapman out of turn two to move up to fifth, before a full course yellow fell at the end of the lap thanks to a three-kart stack-up in turn three. Once these drivers had been cleared, racing resumed, but another full course yellow then fell early on lap seven after Maddie Dye and Barry had gone off track out of turn five. As the two were pulled back on track, the field lined back up for another restart, with Chiaramonte in the #574 RTL Traffic Control & Equipment Rentals/Kar Tek kart, Knupp in the #554 Ultra Xtreme Race Wheels/Super Clean truck, Gutierrez in the #578 G Brothers/Lucas Oil machine, Trey Eggleston in the #590 Above All Construction/CSD Racing Products entry, and Prater in the #505 Prater Racing/Mod Kids USA kart occupying the top five spots; points leader Brody Eggleston was now in eighth.
On the restart lap, Barry and Chance Haugen were involved in a double rollover at the exit of turn two, which forced another full course caution to fly at the end of that lap, and as the field made it’s way back to the start/finish line, Brody Eggleston was involved in another incident as well, which did substantial superficial damage to his machine, and dropped him back to 12th in the running order for the ensuing restart. Mia Chapman had gotten by Prater for fifth on that same lap, but Prater got back by her on lap eight, the current restart lap, and further ahead, Gutierrez had passed Knupp for second. Again, however, it would be a full course yellow at the end of this lap too, as poor Barry suffered a solo rollover in turn two, a crash which ended his evening of very bad luck. Brody Eggleston had gotten back up to eighth on that lap, and on the restart lap, a tangle up between Chapman and John Holtger helped Eggleston move up two more spots to sixth as the field began the final lap. In the final corner, Knupp got wide, which allowed Trey Eggleston to move alongside down the inside, and as the pair exited the corner, Prater got alongside of Eggleston, even further down the inside. The trio ran three-wide up to the checkered flag, where Eggleston edged out the first of those three spots to take third, just ahead of Knupp and Prater, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively; the trio were covered by just 0.136 seconds, and Knupp beat out Prater by only two thousandths of a second! Up ahead of all of this excitement, it was Chiaramonte who took his first National Series win in the Modified Kart class- congratulations Bronsen! Second went to Gutierrez, and third through fifth were the aforementioned Trey Eggleston, Knupp, and Prater; Brody Eggleston retained the points lead after finishing sixth, and heads into tomorrow night with a 19-point advantage over Prater.
Turbo Production UTV
In Turbo Production UTV, Corry Weller and Paul O’Brien entered this weekend locked evenly at 411 points apiece, with Weller’s three wins to O’Brien’s two setting her ahead in the championship chase. Weller took the pole in this afternoon’s qualifying session, while O’Brien could only manage fourth, which gave Weller a three-point advantage as they began tonight’s main event, but thanks to a four-position inversion, it would be O’Brien starting on the front row. O’Brien held the lead after lap one, but it was Weller in second, with Eliott Watson sitting third, Ronnie Anderson fourth, and Andy Ives in fifth. On lap two, Weller got up on the bike badly through turn five, and as she tried to ride it out, she ran wide and forced O’Brien, then on her outside, wider, before contact then helped him spin halfway around and run into the wall, which broke O’Brien’s left front tie rod. O’Brien was quickly towed clear and the track stayed green, but unfortunately, his race had been run, and his misfortune allowed Watson, Myles Cheek, and Robert Vanbeekum to take over spots two through four, with Ives still in fifth. Van Beekum then got by Cheek for third on lap six, with the Competition Yellow then falling at the end of that lap. Cheek then fell by the wayside on the restart lap, which put Ives up to fourth and Dan Kelly to fifth, while up front, Watson was now all over Weller in a great race for the lead. After a couple of laps of very good challenging by Watson, contact between the two resulted in broken power steering for Watson, which allowed Weller to slowly gap away from he and the rest of the pack, en route to her fourth victory of the year in her #748 DragonFire Racing/Team Full Throttle Battery Can-Am. Second went to Watson in the #703 Tom Watson, Inc./Method Race Wheels Can-Am, third was Van Beekum in the #764 Muzzys/R-N-R Steel Racing Polaris, fourth was Ives in the #714 California Trailers/GBC Motorsports Polaris, and fifth was Kelly in the #704 Can-Am. O’Brien’s unlucky early exit from this race, coupled with a maximum possible points haul for Weller from this round (five points for the pole in qualifying, one point for leading the race at halfway, and fifty points for the win) have helped Weller open up the championship lead by 20 points over O’Brien heading into tomorrow night’s Round 10.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The first race of the evening following Opening Ceremonies was Pro 2, and it was a surprise at the end of qualifying, with young Brandon Arthur returning to the class this weekend and taking the pole this afternoon. Unfortunately for Arthur, a six-truck inversion put him well back on the starting grid, and put Bradley Morris and Bryce Menzies up on the front row. Morris led the field in the #24 K&N Filters/Kicker Performance Audio Ford at the end of the first lap, but Arthur charged up to second in the #6 MAVTV/Toyo Tires Chevrolet, ahead of Menzies in third, defending champion Jeremy McGrath in fourth, and Brian Deegan in fifth. A full course caution fell at the end of the first lap after Danny Ebberts had suffered left front suspension failure heading into turn three on the opening lap. This sent Ebberts up atop the outside k rail at the entrance to the turn, hence the caution flag, and after Ebberts’ truck had been cleared, it was back to business. The top five held their positions on the restart lap, but when Morris ran a bit too wide at turn three on the next lap, both Arthur and Menzies were able to capitalize and make the passes for first and second. Two corners later, Deegan then got past McGrath for fourth, but McGrath got right back by two corners later, at turn two on lap four. Later on lap four, Rodrigo Ampudia then passed Deegan for fifth, but was then passed himself on the inside at turn five on lap seven by a charging RJ Anderson, who’d started dead last on the grid. The Competition Yellow then fell at the end of the next lap, and the running order in the top five was now Arthur, Menzies, Morris, McGrath, and Anderson in the #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/Polaris RZR truck.
These five drivers held their positions over the restart lap, as well as the lap after that, but on lap 11, after bumping side to side in turn four (both drivers were giving and getting), Anderson got past McGrath in turn five to move up to fourth. On lap 13, the leader Arthur then over-rotated in turn two, and as Menzies collected into the situation, Morris swept by them both around the outside and into the lead. Three corners later, and almost certainly still trying to gather himself back up, Arthur was then passed by both Anderson and McGrath, which moved those two up to third and fourth, and put Arthur back to fifth. The new leader Morris then spun out in turn four on the next lap, which caught Menzies and several other drivers out, and allowed Anderson to sweep by on the outside and into the lead; Anderson had now completed the run from last to first! By the end of the lap, following all the chaos that had ensued as drivers scrambled around Menzies (Morris actually got away fairly quickly), it was now Anderson, Morris, Arthur, McGrath, and Ampudia in the #36 Lucas Oil/Monster Energy Ford in the top five. A strange hop into turn three then sent Morris for a second half spin on the next lap, which dropped him back a few spots, and McGrath also hit trouble, as a possible tire rub was causing major smoke from his truck’s left front. McGrath fell outside the top five as he slowed, and at the white flag, which fell at the end of lap 15, it was now Anderson, Arthur, Ampudia, points leader Rob MacCachren, and Morris in the top five. A rollover by Yuichi Takahashi between turns three and four forced a full course caution as the field started what would’ve been the final lap, and once Takahashi’s truck had been cleared, it would now be a green/white-checkers, one-lap run to the finish. On that final lap, MacCachren got down the inside of Ampudia through turn four, and as he tried to sail past over the big tabletop into the final corner, he went very nose-high, and came down hard on the back bumper, sending him into a scary rollover. MacCachren was fine and Ampudia got away unscathed, but the damage to MacCachren’s truck was significant, and that was certainly not the outcome that the veteran MacCachren was either hoping for or expecting. Up front, it was Anderson who picked up his second win of the season, ahead of Arthur, Ampudia, Morris, and Jeff Shelton in the #72 Rolling Big Power/B&M Racing Performance Ford. MacCachren’s crash may have been ugly, but thanks to his taking pole in qualifying earlier this afternoon, as well as the high attrition rate in this race, MacCachren actually only gave up seven points to Anderson in the championship chase, leaving the gap between the top two in points at 47 points after tonight.
Production 1000 UTV
Next up were the Production 1000 UTVs, and at the end of the opening lap, it was Robby Hornsby who held the lead, ahead of Mickey Thomas, defending champion and points leader Brock Heger, Nathan Barry, and Myles Cheek. Heger got past Thomas for second with a nice mid-air pass over the tabletop into turn five on lap two, and quickly, the top five drivers were already separating themselves from the rest of the field. On lap three, Heger then slid by Hornsby through turn five to move up into the lead, while on the same lap, Cheek got past Barry for fourth spot in the #957 Walker Evans Racing/Holz Racing Products Polaris. On the next lap, Cheek then made the same pass on Thomas that Heger had done on lap two, flying past over the tabletop to move into the top three. The Competition Yellow then fell at the end of lap six, and at this point, it was still Heger out front, with Hornsby second, Cheek third, Thomas fourth in the #944 HANS ADA Racing/Crash Addict Yamaha, and Barry fifth in the #928 CBR Performance Products Yamaha. Cheek got by Hornsby out of turn three on the restart lap after running alongside of Hornsby around the outside through the corner, and just before the end of the lap, Barry then passed Thomas for fourth place. A full course caution then fell on the next lap after Johnny Spar had come to a stop on the takeoff side of the tabletop jump leading to turn five. On the restart lap, Barry got by Hornsby for third, while up at the head of the field, Cheek was now all over Heger in the fight for the lead. A second full course yellow fell late on lap nine after Hornsby had gotten spun out in turn four and had come to a stop. Hornsby’s misfortune moved Thomas up to fourth and Robert Stout to fifth for the restart, while Hornsby, unfortunately, pulled off the track under yellow.
Officials needed a lengthy yellow flag period in order to properly sort out the running order, but eventually, things were set right, and it was time for action once again. While the field had been circulating under yellow, it suddenly became very obvious that Heger’s left rear suspension had collapsed, and that there was simply no longer a coil spring present on that corner of his car. When the field got the green flag, Heger made the smart move and pulled wide right, allowing the rest of the field to streak past, rather than risk further damage when, with such a sizeable championship lead, he doesn’t really need to be fighting for every last possible point. Stout hit the Hot Pits on the restart lap, and in combination with Heger’s dropping back, it was now Cheek out front, ahead of Barry, Thomas, Ronnie Anderson in the #952 Walker Evans Racing/BFGoodrich Tires Polaris, and Blade Hildebrand in the top five. On lap 10, Thomas passed Barry back for second between turns three and four, and when Barry then got a little squirrelly out of turn four, Anderson got by for third before turn five. Up front, Cheek had seemed to have lost a little pace just earlier, and was now suddenly down in second, as Thomas had gotten by to take the lead. Barry had gotten back by Anderson, and now he was going by Cheek as well early on lap 11. Cheek seemed to be fighting a possible right rear flat tire, and in so doing, lost another spot, this one to Anderson in turn five. On the next and final lap, Hildebrand suddenly slowed near turn two, which put Trevor Leighton up to fifth, while up front, Thomas had a clean final lap and brought home the win, his first in a points race (he won the Challenge Cup race last year) in the Production 1000 UTV class- congratulations Mickey! Second place went to Barry, third to Anderson, fourth to Cheek, and fifth to Leighton in the #983 Kryptek/Walker Evans Racing Polaris. Heger’s misfortune took a major chunk out of his championship lead, knocking it down to 35 points from the 63 points he’d had going into tonight; however, Cheek will still need some major luck to close down the rest of that gap with just two races remaining.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
The swarming Pro Buggies took to the track next, and it would be Eliott Watson and Bud Ward on the front row for the start of this one, with Watson taking the early lead ahead of 2-time defending champion and points leader Darren Hardesty Jr., Ward, Trey Gibbs, and Matt Brister. On lap two, Brister came firing into turn three a little too hot, and caught Gibbs’ right rear tire with his own left rear tire, and with Gibbs already being fully loaded onto his outside tires, Gibbs instantly went into a violent rollover, which forced a full course yellow at the end of the lap. Officials reviewed the incident and ruled it a no call, and fortunately, Gibbs was quickly righted and able to re-fire and re-join the fray, though now at the back of the pack. Watson and his #3 Tom Watson Inc./Method Race Wheels Alumi Craft now led Hardesty Jr. and the #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Off Road Warehouse Alumi Craft, Ward and the #17 Horsepower Ranch/BFGoodrich Tires Funco, Brister and the #5 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/Redline Performance Funco, and Chris Nunes and the #2 Kicker Performance Audio/Tekno RC Racer in the top five for the restart, and these five held their positions for the next five laps, all the way to the Competition Yellow. Watson, who’d already gained one point on Hardesty Jr. in qualifying this afternoon, now had another to add thanks to leading at the halfway mark, so now there were just nine points between the two close friends as they ran on track. On the restart lap, Nunes got past Brister through the whoops between turns two and three to move into fourth, while up front, Hardesty Jr. was now starting to put some more serious pressure on Watson. On lap ten, Watson was a bit slow out of turn two, and of course, Hardesty Jr. was right there. When Watson then faltered just slightly in turn four, Hardesty Jr. pounced and grabbed the lead, with Nunes also moving past Ward and up to third on the same lap. Watson regrouped quickly, but now seemed to be over-driving the car, and couldn’t quite get it through the corners as well as he had been before. On the final lap, Watson tried very hard to make something happen coming into turn three after getting a good run through the whoops, but couldn’t make a pass, as Hardesty Jr. was just too strong. Hardesty Jr. went on take the win, his fifth of the season, and also gained two points back over Watson to return their championship gap to 11 points in favor of Hardesty Jr. Watson finished second, with Nunes taking a very well-driven third (almost certainly his best performance of the season so far), Ward fourth, and Brister fifth.
Pro Lite Unlimited
In the penultimate race of the evening, Mickey Thomas shot straight into the early lead in Pro Lite in his #44 Maxxis Tires/Walker Evans Racing Chevrolet, ahead of Cory Winner, Brock Heger, Cole Mamer, and Ryan Beat after lap one. Heger got past Winner for second early on lap two, and as Winner then fell back into a battle with Mamer over third spot, by lap four, Heger was starting to pull away from those two, and Beat was now closing in from behind. Up front, Thomas was already opening up a solid lead, but that was reeled back in after a rollover in turn four for Sarah Burgess forced a full course caution. Once Burgess’ truck had been cleared from the track, the racing was back on in earnest, and on the restart, Winner ran wide in turn two and dropped back several spots, before Mamer then hooked a rut going into turn three, rolled, and pirouetted up onto his nose before coming back down on his wheels. The restart lap had certainly shaken up the top five, and it was now Thomas, Heger, Beat, Hailie Deegan, and Brandon Arthur in those first five positions. Deegan and Arthur then started to have a great battle for fourth spot, and somehow, the pair also managed to suddenly close in on Beat early on lap eight. Just after doing so, Arthur then passed Deegan for fourth in turn three, while up front, Thomas was running incredibly strong, and looking as though nobody could catch him tonight. On lap 11, Arthur closed right in on Beat midway through the lap, but was unable to challenge the points leader, who kept his cool and ran the best line to hold Arthur at bay. The top five held their positions over the final six laps (after Arthur had passed Deegan), and at the stripe, it was Thomas who picked up his first-ever Pro Lite win in the National Series, and on the same night as his first-ever points race win in the National Series in the Production 1000 UTVs- well-done Mickey! Second went to Heger in the #12 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics Ford, third to Beat in the #51 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/General Tire Chevrolet, fourth to Arthur in the #6 MAVTV/Pro Traffic Services Chevrolet, and fifth to Deegan in the #38 Monster Energy/Odyssey Battery Toyota. Beat maintained his streak of all podium finishes this season, and thanks to his pole position in qualifying this afternoon, widened his points lead from 32 to 39 over Arthur, and is now just 17 points shy of locking out this year’s championship, which would be Beat’s first in a Pro class.
Pro 4 Unlimited
In the final race of the evening, it was points leader RJ Anderson who had the lead after lap one in the #37 Rockstar Energy Drink/Polaris RZR truck, ahead of 4-time defending champion Kyle LeDuc, Doug Mittag, Adrian Cenni, and Bryce Menzies. Menzies got past Cenni down the inside into and through turn four on lap two to take over fourth, and from laps three through seven, Anderson and LeDuc then battled very cleanly for the lead, with LeDuc carefully looking for any way to get past Anderson before the halfway mark, in order to gain that all-important championship point that comes with leading at the Competition Yellow. On lap eight of 16, LeDuc sprang to life, and made a charge into turn one, which didn’t work, before trying hard again in turn four, but again, to no avail. Anderson held the lead at the Competition Yellow, and the one point LeDuc had gained back on Anderson during this afternoon’s qualifying session had now been lost once again, and their championship difference returned to 10 points in favor of Anderson.
On the restart lap, Cenni biked in turn three and dropped out of the top five, while up front, a bit of an error in turn five by Anderson allowed LeDuc to move alongside and then into the lead just before the start/finish line. As the pair sped into turn one, Mittag was just behind and coming in hot. Mittag had to check up to avoid hitting Anderson, and in turn, Mittag somewhat stalled himself out, which left Menzies, next in line, with no option but to hit Mittag hard door to door. Mittag seemed to have some sort of mechanical issue as he slowly pulled away, and Menzies went straight to the Hot Pits, but the race continued. Mittag continued to struggle, but on lap 13, he got a bit of luck in a strange way, as LeDuc suddenly over-rotated into turn one, and wound up atop the inside burm, forcing a full course yellow at the end of the lap. LeDuc wasn’t trying to stay put and force the yellow; instead, he was actually towed off, race over, and in many ways, the same may be true for his championship aspirations this season. Mittag, meanwhile, managed to stay moving enough to remain on the lead lap, and was actually in second spot when the field lined back up to re-take the green flag, behind Anderson, and ahead of Greg Adler, Scott Douglas, and Cenni in the top five. On the restart lap, Mittag dive-bombed Anderson into turn four, and with a bit of door-to-door contact, Mittag got by on the inside and took the lead. Anderson tried to battle back in the next corner, but was unable to make a significant move. From there, Mittag held the lead to the end in his #81 Jhonlin Racing Team/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Ford, and after losing one point to Anderson in qualifying and another at the halfway point in this race, Mittag gained those two points back by finishing one spot ahead of Anderson, and so their championship chase remains as close as ever, with just four points between them going into tomorrow afternoon’s qualifying session. Anderson finished a strong second to maintain the points lead, with Adler taking third in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/Magnaflow Performance Exhaust Ford, Douglas fourth in the #27 AMSOIL/Mickey Thompson Ford, and Cenni fifth in the #11 pHit Alkaline Drink Mixer/Maxxis Tires truck.
That wraps up the action from Round 9 here at Glen Helen; tomorrow night, we’ll do it all over again. Round 10 will be right back here under the lights, and if tonight was any indication, it will be another gorgeous evening with perfect temperatures- a great time to spend the night at the races. Gates will open to the public at 1:00 pm, just ahead of the afternoon’s first qualifying session, which starts at 1:30 pm. Junior 2 Kart will be the first race of the day, which is set to kick off at 4:30 pm, and Opening Ceremonies is slated for 7:00 pm, just ahead of the first Pro class of the evening, Pro 2. Be sure to get out here and enjoy the Lucas Oil Pre-Party, which runs from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm, bring your RV or tent and join the fun of the Lucas Oil Camp Out, and of course, check out the thrilling racing excitement on the track- Glen Helen always makes for great racing!
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