Just as the sun dipped below the mountains in the west, the drivers of Pro 4 Unlimited fired up their engines and headed out on their parade lap.
The lights around the track began to become the dominant source of illumination, and as the field took the green flag, it was polesitter Kyle LeDuc who shot into the early lead in his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford. Behind LeDuc, Rob MacCachren ran second in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford, with Carl Renezeder third in the #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, Todd LeDuc fourth in the #7 Rockstar Energy Drink/Maxxis Ford, and Brandon Bailey fifth in the #77 Loctite/Moapa Energy Ford. Over the opening five laps, the front four runners began to open up a gap over the rest of the field, and at the head of the pack, Kyle LeDuc looked to be too quick to catch. Things continued this way on lap six, but on lap seven, MacCachren suddenly slowed with a serious mechanical issue, and with wisps of smoke coming out the back of his truck, he pulled off the track and out of the race just after the start of lap eight. This moved Bailey up to fourth, with Eric Barron now running fifth after charging back up the order following a lap one, turn one incident that dropped him to the back of the pack. Barron quickly began to put big pressure on Bailey, and on lap ten, he dove deep into turn three to make a pass by forcing Bailey to run wide and give him room down the inside. On lap twelve, Greg Adler pulled off the track and came to a stop, facing the wrong way and sitting perilously close to the entrance to turn two; this caused track officials to throw a full course yellow so they could tow him to safety. When racing resumed, Kyle LeDuc now had his mirrors full of a rejuvenated Renezeder, who was pushing him hard in a great race for the lead. Just behind, an equally brilliant race was going on between Todd LeDuc and Barron, as the two fought hard for the final spot on the podium. After doing his best to put pressure on Kyle for almost two laps, Renezeder made a very ambitious late dive down the inside into turn six, where he hit Kyle hard door to door, and muscled his way by and into first place just before the white flag. Kyle did all he could to re-gain the lead over the final lap, and even threw in a huge last-ditch effort by way over-jumping the final jump to the checkers, but Renezeder just managed to eek out the win by a nose. A gutted Kyle LeDuc was an oh-so-close second, with his brother Todd rounding out the podium. Barron was just behind in fourth, and Ryan Beat picked up fifth in his #51 Lunarpages/MavTV Ford after Bailey slowed substantially on the restart lap.
In the points chase, Renezeder holds a daunting 45 points lead over Kyle LeDuc, and if he’s able to out-score LeDuc by eight points or more tomorrow night, he’ll wrap up his ninth short course off-road title. MacCachren sits third in points, 26 points behind LeDuc, while Barron has jumped from fifth to fourth, and is now just seven points behind MacCachren. Greg Adler sits fifth now, eight points adrift of Barron.
Next on the slate, and enjoying their most prominent position on a race schedule yet, it was the little killers of Modified Kart. Points leader Myles Cheek jumped out to an early lead in his #1 Metal Mulisha/CMI kart, with Scotty Steele second in the #548 Northland Motorsports/Martori Farms machine, Cole Mamer third in the #535 Simpson/T.I.S.I. Racing entry, Jeff Hoffman fourth in the #547 Kevin McMullen Fabrication & Transaxles/BRT Signs truck, and Gavin Harlien fifth in the #555 Team Associated/Ironclad kart. On lap two, Harlien got by Hoffman for fourth down the inside at turn two, but after that, the top five raced hard yet held their positions through the Competition Yellow at the end of lap six. After the return to green flag racing, two drivers ended up nosed against the inside rail at turn one, and without a reverse gear to free themselves, another full course caution came out so that track officials could get the two kids going again. On the restart, Hoffman dropped two spots in turn one and fell to seventh, and with Harlien then running wide at turn three and dropping back as well, it was now Brock Heger who ran fourth and Preston Roben in fifth. Over the final lap, Hoffman did his best to get back by Roben, yet despite some mistakes on his part, Roben managed to drive a great defensive line through the final corner to keep Hoffman at bay. Up front, it was Cheek who picked up the win and extended his points lead, with Steele equaling his best finish of the season in second. Mamer rounded out the podium in third, despite losing all communication with his crew on the parade lap; Heger was fourth in the #511 Legacy Motorsports/ZLT machine, and Roben was fifth in the #514 Duggins Construction, Inc./Fox Racing Shox entry.
Cheek’s win, as well as the bonus point he earned for leading at the Competition Yellow, have helped him open his lead in the points from 13 to 22 over Roben. Mamer has closed right down on Roben tonight, narrowing that gap from nine to four, while Hoffman sits fourth, nine points behind Mamer; Heger rounds out the top five, another eight points behind Hoffman.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
Starting from pole in the #65 Loan Mart/Rockwell Alumi Craft, Dave Mason Jr. grabbed the early lead in tonight’s Pro Buggy Unlimited race. Bradley Morris ran second in his new-look chrome-colored #24 K&N/Maxxis Alumi Craft, with Geoffrey Cooley third in the #22 BFGoodrich Tires/Impact Safety Alumi Craft, John Fitzgerald fourth in the #14 Napa Auto Parts/Simpson Alumi Craft, and Steven Greinke fifth in the #1 SC Fuels/Redline Performance Racer. Points leader Greinke picked off both Fitzgerald and Cooley to take over third on lap two, with Fitzgerald then passing Cooley for fourth on lap three. Up front, Morris was really putting the pressure on Mason Jr. for the lead, and on lap four, he used a great run out of turn three to get a nice dive down the inside into turn four, where he took the lead. Further back, Cooley got back around Fitzgerald for fourth, and on the following lap, Mason Jr. spun at turn four, which put him back to sixth spot. Greinke, Cooley, Fitzgerald, and Garrett George (who returned to action for the first time this season in an all-new car) each moved up a spot behind Morris in the top five as a result, with Mason Jr. then passing George after bumping him wheel to wheel at turn two on lap six. Up front, Greinke closed quickly on Morris, setting up a great race for the lead, and behind them, a strong pack of drivers held positions four through eight, as they battled close and fast as well. Amidst this group, Mason Jr. had a near-stall coming out of turn two on lap eight, which left George with nowhere to go, and the two were eaten up by Eric Fitch and Kevin McCullough (who is making his debut in the class after a strong season last year in Limited Buggy).
Fitch then fall back with an incident at turn one on the next lap, which allowed McCullough to take over fifth (despite his being driven off the track briefly by that same incident). Up front, Morris and Greinke’s battle began to wane, as a brake issue forced Greinke to be smart and think about the points, rather than tonight’s win. Morris battled his own issues as well, though, as rocks in his throttle linkage left him with what amounted to an on/off switch for a gas pedal. The young man kept his cool, though, and stayed out front to take his fifth win of the season, with Greinke second, Cooley third, Mason Jr. fourth, and McCullough fifth in the #62 ProAm/Broken Cartel Foddrill.