2016 Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series Finishes Strong At Wild Horse PassPosted in Events on December 28, 2016
Kyle LeDuc continued his winning ways by taking the Pro 4 win at Round 15, and that was the result that counted the most as he took the 2016 Pro 4 Championship away from Carl Renezeder with virtually a last lap pass. Renezeder had taken the early lead and was being pushed hard by Rob MacCachren (who finished Third both on the day and for the season), but LeDuc was working his way up through the pack and caught them both with only a few laps to go. A slight mistake by Renezeder allowed LeDuc by and that was it.
Renezeder came in second though he had actually turned the fastest lap. His Fastest Lap came on lap 11 when he beat LeDuc’s best lap time, also put forth on lap 11, by less than half a second. To say the racing was tight and that the best off-road short course drivers in the land were pushing right to the end is an understatement.
While the other classes were going down to the wire, Rob MacCachren had actually already sewn up the Pro 2 Championship at a previous round. That didn’t mean that he was going to rest on his laurels though as he went into Round 15 with one thing in mind, and that was to take the final round win. The rest of the field had something to prove though, and had Rob Mac’s #21 in their sites. That was especially true for RJ Anderson, who although Second in overall points, had yet to actually win a round. Anderson went into White Horse Pass and Round 15 knowing that Re nezeder was a close third in the season standings, and though had a tough season, had won Round 2.
Anderson got out front quick, but Renezeder was all over him. Lap after lap the two wer never more than a truck length apart. But MacCachren, who had worked his way into Third was not going to let the two get away from him. Pushing Renezeder hard took it’s toll, and he bicycled slightly in a turn and that’s all it took for Mac to get by into Second, and to set his sights on Rockstar teammate Anderson. Renezeder had collected himself up and was back in the chase. The final lap saw MacCachren closing, but ran out of time to catch RJ, who came across the line in First Place for his first Pro 2 win of his career.
The finish of Round 15 was great for all who saw it, but Rob MacCachren had been the man to beat throughout the season, and is the 2016 LOORRS Pro 2 Champion. Pro Lites had been a dogfight throughout the 2016 season, as Jerett Brooks, Brandon Aurthur and Ryan Beat kept each other in sight nearly every race. In fact, Beat was a contender early with a string of second places, but a DNF in Round 6 hurt his Championship chances badly. He would finish a disappointing 12th at Round 15, but came in Third Place for the 2016 season.
The two at the top Brooks and Arthur, were running hard as the season came to an end. Round 15 saw them never far from each other, but it was Brandon Arthur who won the Round 15 battle with Brooks Second, but Jerett Brooks won the war as he bested Arthur by a mere 34 points to take the 2016 Pro Lite Championship.
Pro Buggy turned out to be another class where the top two drivers were neck and neck, and Round 15 was shaping up to be a winner take all between Darren Hardesty Jr. and 2015 champ Garrett George. The Pro Buggy final began with Hardesty Jr. running down and passing Eliott Watson for the lead, but where was George? Not having the race he needed, George eventually finished Fourth, but actually tied in points with Hardesty Jr. Due to Hardesty Jr.’s late season charge and four wins compared to George’s 3, Darren Hardesty Jr. was named 2016 Pro Buggy Champion.
Hailie Deegan continued her amazing season in Modified Kart with a win at Round 15 after fighting Trey Gibbs for the lead throughout the final. Gibbs had trouble with a corner with about 3 laps left in the race allowing Deegan by. It turned out to be the deciding factor in the championship dual. Gibbs pushed Deegan hard after a late race yellow, but she held on for the win and the two ended the season with only a two-point spread (48 to 46) with Deegan taking the Championship. Word is they both will be in Pro Lite trucks next year, so their battles will undoubtedly continue. Christopher Polovoorde, who had been in contention for the title DNF’d, and had to settle for Third Place in the championship results. He will also move up to Pro Lites for the 2017 season.
CHALLENGE CUPThe final races of the year were the famed LOORRS Challenge Cup races. No matter how someone’s season went, the Challenge Cup gives everyone a chance to go into the off-season on a high note. With big money, as well as bragging rights, looming large in everyone’s mind, the races got underway.
Modified Kart saw usual contenders Deegan and Gibbs mired in 3 and forth places during the race, while Christopher Polovoorde put his Round 15 DNF behind him to take the Mod Kart Challenge Cup after holding off a charging Nathan Barry the entire last lap. For anyone who thinks that Modified Kart is just kids riding around in a glorified go-kart should watch this race (it’ll be all over the internet, assuredly). These racers were going fast, no doubt about it.
LOORRS has announced that there will be a Production 1000 UTV class at the nationals, so they ran a Challenge Cup for those who will be racing in it, and the racing was great. The presumed challengers for next years crown were all there, and Yamaha’s Dustin Nelson showed that he may be the man to beat as he took the Challenge Cup ahead of Ronnie Anderson, Paul O’Brian and George Hammel. Cory Weller put a late pass on Hailie Deegan to take Fifth Place.
Sterling Cling was one of those racers who put the Challenge Cup to good use by showing he was better than his Seventh Place 2016 Pro Buggy finish as he got out to an early lead and never looked back, taking his first overall win of the season. If he had, he’d have seen Garrett George and Bud Ward filling his rear-view. Racing was spirited as George and Darren Hardesty Jr. tangled early, resulting in Hardesty rolling. After a few more yellows grouped the field, hard racing continued and Ward was black flagged for having nudged Kevin McCullough a little hard making the pass for Third, resulting in McCullough being awarded the Third Place spot overall. The finish saw Cling, George and McCullough taking the Top 3 spots.
That set the stage for the big race of the weekend, the Pro 4 vs. Pro 2 Challenge Cup. With most of the racers competing in both classes, it’s always interesting to see what truck they’ll decide to race. Rob Mac, Pro 2 champion for 2016 decided to race his Pro 4, as did Kyle LeDuc, Carl Renezeder, even though they technically start 15-seconds behind the Pro 2’s on the starting grid. That meant hard charging was the order of the day for both classes.
LeDuc got by MacCachren on lap 2 and set out after Pro 4 leader Eric Barron, who was gaining on the Pro 2 contingent of RJ Anderson, Jeremy McGrath and Brian Deegan, who were battling for the lead. LeDuc soon got by Barron for the Pro 4 lead, but was still way behind the overall leaders. After some rocky starts, the race saw no yellow flags, so LeDuc had a head of steam going for him. He was helped when Deegan pulled off on lap 12 (as did our 2016 Hard Luck winner Renezeder) to put him into 3rd overall. LeDuc passed McGrath on lap 13 and set out after Round 15 Pro 2 winner Anderson. Once the pair were close, some door banging ensued as LeDuc muscled Anderson aside for First overall. That was how the season would end, as LeDuc claimed the Challenge Cup with Anderson Second, McGrath Third and a charging Doug Fortin Fourth Doug Mittag placed Fifth after he literally nosed out Patrick Clark on the finish line jump for the spot.
This season of Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing was one of the best we’ve seen yet. The teams are so evenly matched, and the drivers so talented that as the Cup races showed, any driver can win on any given day. The 2017 season is shaping up to be one wild ride for drivers and fans. The season starts March of 2017 at the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park, so get your tickets now. We know we’ll be there.