Bathed in glorious sunshine and with magnificent mountains nearly encompassing it, Miller Motorsports Park is without a doubt one of the finest motorsports facilities on the planet. Lucky enough for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, we are afforded an eager welcome by the Utah locals each summer, and this weekend, we’re back at one of the most popular tracks in the series. Rounds 7 and 8 will take place at this terrific venue, about half an hour from Salt Lake City in the town of Tooele, and getting things started this weekend was the very important Friday afternoon qualifying session. A large number of people turned out just to see qualifying, evidence indeed that the local fans have really embraced this series in just the few short years we’ve been coming here.
Points leader Sheldon Creed got the early jump on the competition in Super Lite, knocking in a 49.925 to top the time sheets early in his #74 Racer X Motorsports/Trench Shoring machine. Creed’s most consistent challenger, Drew Britt, then grabbed the top spot away on lap two, as he turned in a 49.603 in his #7 Source Refrigeration & HVAC/Mickey Thompson truck. Creed answered back on the next lap with a 48.856, which held up until lap six, when Garrett Poelman threw his hat in the ring after posting a 48.754 in his #62 Supercross.com/Loctite entry. On the seventh and final lap, though, Britt narrowly re-gained the top spot with a 48.732, good enough to earn him the pole and the one championship point that goes with it. Poelman’s time held up for second, as did Creed’s for third, with Ryan Hagy taking fourth with a 49.011 in the #5 Valli Construction/Metal Mulisha machine. Jessie Johnson rounded out the top five in his #15 SoCal Super Trucks/Speed Energy entry, with a best lap of 49.217.
Today’s Limited Buggy qualifying session was more or less a one-sided affair, as the #310 Riot Racing/Yokohama Fraley of Jordan Poole went quickest of all on the opening lap, setting the early benchmark at 49.779. Poole then improved to 49.569 on lap two, and then to 48.952 on lap four, a time which held up for the remainder of the session to gain Poole what would have been his first pole. The pole wasn’t so surprising; Poole has been very competitive all season. However, the pole seemed even less surprising when it was revealed that Poole apparently has a stand-in driver for the weekend, none other than last year’s class champion, Curt Geer, who is competing in the Pro Lite Unlimited ranks this year. Not too shabby for his first race back in the class since December of last year… Second went to Dillon Ayers in the #398 Gear One/BFGoodrich Tires Lothringer, whose best lap was a 49.281, while rounding out the top three was John Fitzgerald, who posted a personal best of 49.804 in his #314 Simpson/Livestrong buggy. Fourth place went to Kevin McCullough in the #389 Gear One/Broken Cartel Geiser (49.980), and fifth was Bradley Morris in the #304 Lucas Oil/K&N Penhall (50. 183).
Pro Buggy Unlimited
Next up was Pro Buggy Unlimited, and a very competitive field meant that no fewer than five drivers would hold the top spot in the space of just six laps. Garrett George was on top early in the #71 Anenberg/Yokohama Funco, with laps of 50.599 and 49.921 on laps one and two. Jerry Whelchel then moved up with a 48.753 on lap three in his #5 ProAm/General Tire Foddrill, before losing the top spot to Geoffrey Cooley on the next lap, as Cooley blasted a 48.087 in his #22 Competitive Metals/MasterCraft Safety Alumi Craft. On lap five, Doug Fortin grabbed the top spot momentarily, turning a 47.836 in his #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./Fox Racing Shox Racer. Lap six saw the lead change for the final time, though, as Mike Porter moved to the top of the time sheets in his #8 Mickey Thompson/Redline Performance Alumi Craft, blitzing the field with an incredible 46.168! Porter’s time held up on the final lap, and he picked up his first pole of the season. Fortin improved to a 46.643 on the last lap to hang on to second, while Steven Greinke took third with a 46.718 in his #23 SC Fuels/Concourse Racer. In fourth, it was Eric Fitch in the #97 General Tire Foddrill; Fitch’s quick lap was a 47.311. Cooley improved on his mid-session time by posting a 47.426 on the last lap, good enough to put him fifth at session’s end.
Pro Lite Unlimited
At the halfway point in this season, we are still enjoying a substantial enough field of Pro Lite Unlimiteds that we need to split the runners into two separate qualifying sessions. Session one saw Chris Brandt take the early advantage in his #82 BFGoodrich Tires/Simpson Toyota, as he opened with a chart-topping 46.770, before improving to 46.671 and then 45.915 on laps two and four. Brandt was looking strong out front, but as has so often been the case for him this season, his afternoon was spoiled by RJ Anderson and his #37 Monster Energy/Walker Evans Racing Dodge. Anderson turned in a 45.724 to move ahead on lap five, and he stayed ahead with a 45.673 on lap seven. That time was the best of the session, with Noah Fouch taking second at 45.838 in his #52 BFGoodrich Tires/K&N Ford, and Ryan Beat third in his #51 Premiere Motorsports Group/Hart and Huntington Ford; Beat’s best lap was a 45.858.
In session two, Sheldon Creed was out to make it two poles in two classes, as he took the early lead at 47.108 in his #74 A.M. Ortega/Maxxis Ford. The rest of the field wouldn’t be a pushover, though, and Matt Cook quickly got the top time for himself with a 47.089 in his #55 Supercross.com/Loctite Toyota. Justin Smith briefly got ahead of Cook with a 46.719 in his #19 Competitive Metals/Metal Mulisha Ford, but Cook got the spot back on the next lap with a 46.636. Creed then snagged the top position back by just six thousandths on lap six, before clinching the session with a 46.399 on the last lap. Second went to Brian Deegan in the #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford (46.554), while Cook’s time held up for third.
The results of the two sessions were then combined, and for the first time this year, the time of one session completely dominated those of the other. Creed’s time, though tops in Session 2, was only good enough for sixth overall, and thus the top five from Session 1 were also the top five overall. Pole went to Anderson, second to Fouch, third to Beat, fourth to Brandt, and fifth to Bradley Morris in the #24 GoldStar Asphalt!/Lucas Oil Ford (45.972).
Pro 4 Unlimited
The penultimate session of the day was Pro 4 Unlimited, and a very quick field had its collective sights on Kyle LeDuc, winner of all six rounds of the season thus far. Carl Renezeder, who in spite of a poor finishing record, has actually been the quickest driver other than LeDuc this season, came out guns blazing in this afternoon’s session. Renezeder and his #1 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan pounded in laps of 43.733, 42.992, and 42.556 in the opening three laps, all of which kept him atop the time sheets. Then, however, LeDuc did his usual thing, and started laying down some quick times himself. A 42.404 put him in the lead on lap four, and with a 42.248 and then a 42.228 on laps seven and eight, up front was where he stayed, en route to his fourth pole of the year. Barring any unbelievably fast laps in any of last year’s practice sessions at this track, LeDuc’s 42.228 is also the new lap record here! Renezeder’s early time kept him in second, with Todd LeDuc finishing third at 42.929 in his #7 Rockstar/Makita Ford. Rob MacCachren is driving Greg Adler’s #10 4 Wheel Parts/BFGoodrich Tires Ford this weekend, and one of the most successful drivers in the history on this class was quick once again today, turning the fourth fastest time at 43.195. Josh Merrell rounded out the top five in his #22 MavTV/Hart and Huntington Ford; his best lap was a 43.495.
Pro 2 Unlimited
Pro 2 Unlimited was the final qualifying session of the day, and Jeff Geiser had the fastest opening lap, a 43.806 in his #44 Tap It Brewing Co./Canidae Chevrolet. Brian Deegan then snapped that spot up, posting a 43.574 in his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford on lap three. Carl Renezeder, fresh off a strong run in Pro 4 Unlimited, then moved to the head of the pack here, as he turned in a 43.565 in his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan. Renezeder had been beaten in the last session, but this time, nobody could catch him, as he improved on the next lap (43.444) to take the lead for good; strong stuff from the 97-time race winner. Second went to Deegan, third to Rob MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar/Makita Ford (43.619), fourth to Geiser (who improved to 43.706), and fifth to Marty Hart in the #15 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/GearUp2Go.com Ford (44.021).
With that, this afternoon’s events have come to a close. This weekend, however, is just getting started, as we’ve still got two full rounds of racing yet to come. If you’ve not yet experienced this place for yourself, got here and see it for yourselves, because you’ve just got to be here to understand how special it is. Gates open to the public at 9:00am, with racers first hitting the track for practice and kart class qualifying at 9:20. The first race of the day will be at 12:00 noon, there are covered grandstands down the main straight, as well as a brand new 1500-seat set of bleachers in turns one and two to help accommodate the crowds, which were standing room only last year, so don’t be late!
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.
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