Despite taking second tonight, Greinke still holds sizeable points lead over Morris, as he sits at a series best 624 points on the year to Morris’ 579. If Greinke is able to score eight or more points better than Morris tomorrow night, he’ll make it back-to-back championships in the class. Mason Jr. sits third in this race, now at 570, with John Fitzgerald at 557 in fourth and Cooley on 529 in fifth.
Pro Lite Unlimited
In what could easily be called the most incident-filled race of the year, Pro Lite Unlimited saw no fewer than six full course cautions, two of which started as red flags thanks to serious-looking fires, and the race was ultimately shortened after, in effect, timing out. Brian Deegan got out front right away in his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford, but had his mirrors full of Bradley Morris, RJ Anderson, Sheldon Creed, and Noah Fouch. Fouch was challenging Creed early on lap two, and held on to his fifth place despite a near spin at turn one, but then lost a few spots at turn two as those behind caught up following his mistake in the previous corner. Coming out of the final corner, Anderson then caught the outside wall and rolled, and what followed was a big fire, which looked very scary, but which Anderson quickly subdued with the onboard fire-suppression system. A red flag came out, and while Anderson stayed in the truck with hopes of getting righted and re-fired, the crash ultimately ended his night, and effectively, his chances of repeating as class champion this season. When racing resumed on lap five, it was now Deegan, Morris in the #24 K&N/Kicker Ford, Creed in the #74 Traxxas/BFGoodrich Tires Dodge, Kyle Hart in the #41 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/Southwest Ground Control Dodge, and Casey Currie in the #2 Monster Energy/General Tire Jeep in the top five. Fouch got by both Currie and Hart on the restart lap to move up to fourth, but after getting into the back of Creed a few times, race officials gave him the black flag for excessive contact after being warned. Before he could serve that black flag, though, a rollover and subsequent fire in turn one by Cody Rahders brought out the second red flag of the night on lap seven. Rahders climbed out safely and the fire was quickly put out by safety crews, and when racing resumed on the next lap, Fouch pulled in to serve his black flag. Chris Brandt had now moved up to fourth, and Hart was back up to fifth. Morris then bicycled at turn two on lap 10, which allowed Creed to get by as Morris dropped to third. Creed, who’d looked like he was being held up slightly by Morris, was now starting to slowly reel in Deegan, and Morris was going with him, before a rollover by Mike Lawrence at turn one on lap 11 brought out another full course yellow. On the restart lap, Creed bicycled at turn two and dropped two spots to fourth, before another full course caution hit following another rollover, this one by Jimmy Fishback.
On the restart lap, Hart spun on the inside at turn two, and with much of the field streaking by while he had nowhere to go, it was now Currie who was up to fifth once again. Currie then got by Creed for fourth on the same lap, but Creed got him back on the inside at turn one on the next lap. Currie passed back on the next corner, and Creed got him again at turn three, making the move for good this time. A rollover by Jeff Geiser (filling in for Jacob Person this weekend) on the same lap brought out another full course yellow, and as the field grouped up under yellow, Brandt’s best run of the season came to an end as he headed for the hot pits to change a flat tire. The excessive number of cautions forced race officials to call for a green-white-checkers finish to avoid timing out (and likely having many drivers run out of fuel), and when racing resumed, it was now Deegan, Morris, Creed, Fouch (who’d charged back up the order after his black flag), and Doug Mittag (who is driving Mike Johnson’s truck this weekend, but for his own points) in the top five. On the restart, Fouch got into the back of Morris and spun him at turn one, which caused race officials to ask Fouch to park his truck for the rest of the night following so many on-track infractions. Morris recovered relatively quickly, and was up to fifth after Mittag and Hart collected in a crash in turn four, which forced yet another full course yellow. It was now a one lap race to the checkers, and after being challenged by so many drivers, yellow and red flags, and all their subsequent restarts, “The General” Deegan showed the young kids how it’s done, as he led the most difficult race of the season wire to wire to take his third win of the season. Creed picked up second, Currie third, Morris fourth, and Fishback fifth in the #48 General Tire/Sparco Nissan.
Thanks to Anderson’s misfortune, Deegan now owns a series-best 49-point advantage in the points chase, and only needs to out-score Creed by four points or more tomorrow night to take his third Pro Lite Unlimited championship. Anderson has fallen to third, now nine points behind Creed, with Morris another five points back in fourth, and Currie a further 11 points adrift in fifth.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the night was Pro 2 Unlimited, and in this one, it was “The Cowboy” Marty Hart in his #15 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/Maxxis Ford who got out to the early lead. Robby Woods ran second in the #99 Lucas Slick Mist/General Tire Chevrolet, with Brian Deegan third in the #38 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford, Rodrigo Ampudia fourth in the #36 Lucas Oil/Tecate Ford, and Patrick Clark fifth in the #25 Maxxis/Amsoil Chevrolet. On lap two, Woods dove deep into turn six from a long way back (much as Renezeder did in the Pro 4 Unlimited race earlier tonight), and hit Hart hard door to door. Hart managed to hold the lead, though, and for the next three laps, the running order in the top five went unchanged. On lap six, excessive debris on the track forced a full course yellow, and with the debris cleared quickly, racing resumed on the next lap. On the restart, Deegan got by Woods for second at turn one, the same place where Rob MacCachren got by Clark for fifth. MacCachren then picked off Ampudia on the outside at turn two on the next lap, before a second full course yellow came out when Drew Britt came to a stop up in turn three. On the ensuing restart lap, Deegan made a daring dive deep into turn four as he tried to get past Hart, but again Hart came out ahead. Two corners later, Woods over-rotated and dropped back to fourth as MacCachren went past, but a determined Woods quickly got by MacCachren again at turn two on the next lap. At the end of that lap, Deegan’s night ended in huge flash of fire and smoke, as his engine expired in spectacular fashion. An immediate red flag was thrown, and although Deegan was able to quickly get the truck stopped and climb out to safety, the disgust and immediate realization of the gravity of the incident was more than evident on his face and in his body language. Indeed, after consistently clawing himself up to the points leader MacCachren over the last three races, Deegan’s bid for a third straight championship have taken a big hit here tonight.
When racing resumed, it was now Hart, Woods, MacCachren, Ampudia, and Bryce Menzies running in the top five. Menzies got spun and dropped to the tail end of the field in turn one on the restart, and that put Carl Renezeder up into fifth spot. Further forward, Woods got by Hart at turn three to take the lead, but almost as quickly, he then over-rotated again at turn six, and dropped back to fourth. Woods got by Ampudia at turn one on the next lap, and further back, Ryan Beat got by Renezeder at turn four after Renezeder and Ampudia touched in mid-air going into the corner, causing both to lose some momentum. Renezeder got back by Beat at turn three on the next lap, lap 15, and on lap 16, MacCachren got a bit too aggressive coming through the chicane, and spun going into turn six, which dropped him back to fifth. On the following lap, Renezeder and Ampudia again hit in mid-air, this time coming out of turn four, and the two both spun out, with Ampudia then pulling off the track going into turn six, race over. Woods had suffered a sudden mechanical issue, and had just pulled off there as well, and now MacCachren was back up to second, only a lap after dropping three spots. The whole melee brought out a full course caution, and when racing resumed with only two laps to go, it was MacCachren’s last shot to go after Hart for the win. Hart was too strong, though, as he often is in times when he’s out front, and he picked up the win, his third of the season. MacCachren picked up second in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford, with Renezeder third in the #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, Beat fourth in the #51 Lunarpages/MavTV Ford, and Larry Minor fifth in the #23 O-Mega/Justice Brothers Chevrolet.
MacCachren now has a little breathing room in the title race thanks to Deegan’s misfortune tonight, but he by no means has it locked up. Now at 585 points on the season, MacCachren leads by 20 over Renezeder, who has leapfrogged Deegan into second. Deegan now sits at 551 in third, and is just one point up on fourth placed Hart. Local driver Clark continues a successful second season in the class, and now sits fifth with 457 points on the year.
That brings tonight’s action to a close. There have been some big shake-ups here tonight, and who knows what lies in store here tomorrow night. The schedule will be the same here tomorrow, with gates opening to the public at 4:00 pm, the Pro Lite LCQ at 5:00 pm, Opening Ceremonies at 6:15 pm, and the first main event of the night, Pro 4 Unlimited, slated for 6:30 pm. Get out here and enjoy a beautiful, warm evening under the lights, and watch these drivers do battle as this season comes down to the wire.