WHEATLAND, Mo. – Jeremy McGrath appeared down and out after an early spin dropped him to the rear of the field at Sunday’s Pro 2 finale during the GEICO Off Road Shootout at Lucas Oil Speedway.
But the veteran kept plugging away and his persistence paid off with a Pro 2 victory to wrap up the inaugural weekend of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at the new 1.3-mile off-road track.
McGrath made a last-lap pass for the win before a big crowd that roared its approval as the Motocross legend and former X Games star took the checkered flag.
“We had some great racing and this is a great facility – by far the best one we have,” McGrath said. “We’ll be all smiles when we get back here next year.”
In the co-headliner, Doug Mittag captured the Pro 4 feature as many of the contenders were eliminated in a race full of mayhem.
Other feature winners in the second half of the weekend doubleheader saw Brandon Arthur double up, winning both the Pro Lite and Production 1000 UTV classes, Darren Hardesty won Pro Buggy and Trey D. Gibbs captured Mod Karts.
Those who stuck around for the weekend finale in the Pro 2 class saw McGrath, after early misfortune, drive from last to first. It was the second win of the season for the series points leader.
Rob MacCachren started on the pole and was eliminated early due to mechanical problems. McGrath, spun on the opening lap and dropped back to ninth place among the nine remaining trucks.
Saturday’s feature winner Brian Deegan appeared to be on his way to a sweep. Patrick Clark and R.J. Anderson were giving chase when a caution came out on lap seven as Rodrigo Ampudia rolled his truck in the final turn.
Anderson was racing for position in the S curve after the restart when he was clipped by Bradley Morris and wound up on his top. Anderson crawled out, but his chance for victory was dashed. That left a two-lap shootout for the win, with Deegan leading Clark and Jerett Brooks – and McGrath lurking in fourth.
As the race restarted, Deegan slowed suddenly after the table top jump on the backstretch, and pulled off the track. Clark assumed the lead and appeared in position for his first win of the season as he took the white flag.
But Clark slowed in turn three of the final lap with mechanical issues of his own. McGrath, of Encinitis, Calif., got past Brooks who has to slow for a lapped truck, and found himself in front and went on to grab his third Pro 2 win of the season.
Brooks finished second and Kyle Hart was third.
“The first half of the race I felt liked Stevie Wonder out there; I couldn’t drive it that good,” McGrath said. “We were having a tough time. But we set up the truck today for late in the race.
“The track is tough on the trucks. It’s hot. My guys provided me a great truck at the end. When Jerett got unlucky and ran up behind a lapped car, the timing was right.”
Brooks was nearly as happy after his best finish of the season.
“We’re super pumped,” Brooks said. “A big thanks to the whole team. They worked their butts off.”