KING of BAJA Estero Beach Shortcourse 2016 LIVE!
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Estero Beach and drivers deliver big again in Round 8After a thrilling first day of racing here in Estero Beach for Round 7 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, the series came right back again today with Round 8. The flat and fast track here on the beach in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico provided the perfect setting for a great afternoon of racing, with the coastal influence quelling the impact of the major heat wave that was rolling through the surrounding area. The fantastic fans again packed the stands full here this afternoon, and the drivers put on a great show, as they proved that good results were possible from almost any position on the starting grid, and that both veterans and young guns alike can stand atop the podium here.
Pro 2 UnlimitedDoug Mittag shot into the early lead in the Pro 2 Unlimited race, as he brought his #81 Maxxis/K&N Ford from first on the grid to first at the end of lap one, ahead of Rodrigo Ampudia, Jeremy McGrath, Carl Renezeder, and Bryce Menzies. RJ Anderson stopped on track early, forcing a full course yellow, but was able to get going just as the yellow came out, and despite a quick trip into the Hot Pits, he remained on the lead lap. After a botched restart, the field got things right on their second try, with both Menzies and Rob MacCachren each picking up three spots to grab second and fifth places, respectively. Ampudia dropped well back, thanks in part to a right front flat tire, so it was now Mittag, Menzies, McGrath, Renezeder, and MacCachren in the top five. Menzies got by Mittag for the lead when Mittag bobbled in turn seven on lap five, and while Menzies quickly pulled away in his #7 Red Bull/Discount Tire Ford, the battle for third was really heating up. Renezeder had the spot briefly after passing McGrath, but when a mechanical gremlin took Renezeder out, Anderson then got by both MacCachren and McGrath on a restart lap following a full course yellow shortly afterwards. MacCachren gave it everything to try and pass Anderson, with the two coming together at turn four on the final lap, but the young gun got the best of the veteran today, and Anderson overcame his lap one issue to pick up a podium finish. At the head of the field, Menzies clearly had the measure of this field, as he picked up the win, ahead of Mittag, Anderson in the #37 Polaris RZR/Rockstar truck, MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar/Makita Ford, and Ampudia in the #36 Monster Energy/Papas & Beer Ford, who charged back up the order after getting a fresh tire under a late race yellow flag.
Pro 4 UnlimitedIn the Pro 4 Unlimited ranks, points leader Carl Renezeder ran up front after the first of 12 racing laps in his #17 Lucas Oil/RC10.com Ford. Kyle LeDuc was the big mover early on; the top qualifier had started on row three after a six-truck inversion, but he was already up to second in his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford. Greg Adler ran third in his #10 4 Wheel Parts/Magnaflow Ford, and after making a pair of passes on laps two and three, it was Doug Fortin who ran fourth in his #96 E3 Spark Plugs/General Tire Toyota, with Bryce Menzies fifth in the #7 Red Bull/Discount Tire Ford. Renezeder and LeDuc quickly broke clear of the rest of the field, with the next four drivers (Rob MacCachren ran sixth) all running very close in the race for the final podium spot. LeDuc really pushed to make a pass on Renezeder before the Competition Yellow, but Renezeder held tough to remain the leader at the halfway mark. However, on the restart lap, Renezeder biked and ran wide at turn five, dropping him back to fourth, and handing the lead to LeDuc, who almost immediately seized a sizeable lead over his pursuers. On the next lap, Adler biked badly exiting the same corner and dropped a spot to third, so the running order behind the leader LeDuc was now Fortin, Adler, Renezeder, and Menzies. Renezeder pulled a daring sliding pass on Adler at turn four on lap 11 to get back into a provisional podium position, and from there, the top five drivers held station. LeDuc scored a dominant win, his second victory of the year, with Fortin taking second, Renezeder third, Adler fourth, and Menzies fifth.
Pro Lite UnlimitedJeff Hoffman started from pole in his #47 Walker Evans Racing/Fox Racing Shox Nissan in the Pro Lite Unlimited race, and he stayed out front through the end of lap one, ahead of Brandon Arthur, Jerett Brooks, Brock Heger, and Ronnie Anderson. Issues for both Arthur and Anderson saw them drop back to tenth and sixth, respectively, as Brooks, Heger, Ryan Beat, and Jeremy Stenberg moved up to fill out the top five behind Hoffman. Anderson and Gavin Harlien both hit Stenberg and helped him around in turn four on lap three, but Anderson was quickly into the Hot Pits to serve a black flag for his actions, so it was now Harlien who ran fifth in his #55 Mickey Thompson/Fiberwerx Ford. A full course yellow fell on lap five after Ray Griffith rolled in turn five, and on the restart, Arthur made a beautiful pass on Harlien to move back into the top five entering turn one. Two laps later, Beat had a big rollover at the end of the whoop section, and while Beat was ok, his truck was not, and yesterday’s winner was out this afternoon. Beat’s crash brought a second full course yellow, and after the restart, Hoffman and Brooks started to get a small gap over their pursuers, which they maintained for the remaining laps. Hoffman held off the points leader Brooks all the way to the checkers to pick up his first career win in a Pro class- congratulations Jeff! Second went to Brooks in the #77 General Tire/Bilstein Nissan, with Arthur third after edging his #6 Competitive Metals/Toyo Tires Chevrolet past Heger by inches at the stripe. Heger took fourth in the #12 Icon Vehicle Dynamics/Maxxis Toyota, and fifth went to Harlien.
Pro Buggy UnlimitedTop qualifier this morning, Arizona’s Kevin McCullough was out front after lap one of Pro Buggy Unlimited in his #62 Stapleton Roofing/Rigid Industries Foddrill. Eliott Watson sat in second, with Darren Hardesty Jr. third, Garret George fourth, and Mike Valentine fifth. The field gradually spread out over the first four laps, if only slightly, but on lap five, Watson used a good charge through the whoops to build momentum for the rest of the lap, and by the end of the lap, he had closed in considerably on the leader McCullough. However, the Competition Yellow fell at the end of that lap, briefly interrupting Watson’s charge. On the restart, Valentine got away quickly to pass George for fourth before turn one, but by the end of the lap, George had caught back up. George came into turn seven hot, and slid into Valentine side to side, though the hit didn’t appear very hard. George came away in fourth, with Valentine losing momentum and falling back to seventh; Brady Whitlock moved up to fifth. Valentine briefly hit the Hot Pits at the end of the next lap, but came right back out, though his chances for a good result in this race were now over. On lap nine, Bud Ward got by Whitlock down the inside going into turn one to take over fifth in his #17 Ramona Tire/King Off-Road Racing Shocks Funco, but after that, no further passes were made within the top five. Out front, McCullough picked up a very well-driven win, ahead of Watson in the #3 Fox Racing Shox/Tekno RC Alumi Craft, Hardesty Jr. in the #99 Bilstein/Mickey Thompson Alumi Craft, George in the #1 Redline Performance/FK Rod Ends Funco, and Ward.
That wraps up the action from here at Estero Beach!
Estero Beach thrills packed house in Round 7For the second year in succession, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, brought the action south of the border to Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, and into the beautiful confines of the Estero Beach Resort, right at the beach at the south end of this fantastic port city.
This short-course track is like no other in this series, as its relatively flat layout and extremely speedy nature harkens back to short course of old, and the drivers love to compete here. Saturday's racing saw Round 7 of the 2016 championship unfold, and the extremely passionate local fans, whose enthusiasm for the sport is unrivaled, filled the stands to the brim here this afternoon, as they enjoyed great weather and even better racing.
Pro 4 UnlimitedKicking things off in spectacular fashion were the Pro 4 Unlimiteds, and it was top qualifier Bryce Menzies who led the way early after starting from pole in his #7 Red Bull/Pennzoil Ford. Greg Adler headed the chasing pack in his #10 4 Wheel Parts/AMP Research Ford, with Rob MacCachren third, Carl Renezeder fourth, and Doug Mittag fifth. MacCachren moved right up to Adler’s back bumper early on lap three, but Adler held steady and opened the gap between himself and MacCachren back out slightly to maintain his second place. Mittag then bicycled big time and ran off track at turn two on the next lap, handing fifth to Doug Fortin in the #96 E3 Spark Plugs/General Tire Toyota. Just behind Fortin was Kyle LeDuc, who’d spun himself out in turn two on the opening lap, but who was also charging back through the field. Lap five saw LeDuc give Fortin a good race for fifth, and with a sweeping pass around the outside at turn four, he moved past to pick up the position. LeDuc then quickly caught fourth-placed Renezeder, but could not get past before the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap six. On the restart lap, MacCachren ran down the inside of Adler in turn two, then swept past him around the outside in turn three to move into second in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford. Fortin moved back past LeDuc to re-take fifth on the same lap, and on the next lap, Adler over-rotated in turn two, but jumped back across the inside of the corner (it was his only real option) to hold his third place. However, Renezeder, Fortin, and LeDuc had now closed right in on Adler, and the group closed up even further when Adler ran wide in turn four. At the start of the next lap, LeDuc passed Fortin back in turn one, before then passing Renezeder in the whoops and into turn four, and then backing his truck inside of Adler at turn four to grab third place in his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford. The group then charged into turn five, where Renezeder was run wide, which dropped him back to seventh. Up front, MacCachren was closing rather quickly on Menzies, and over the final lap, he gave Menzies a good run, remaining a close threat throughout the lap. However, Menzies was just too quick, as he brought home the win for his crew, who’d gone back north of the border for a new wiring loom and then spent all night getting his truck back together after a fire in yesterday’s practice burned up his first loom. Second was MacCachren, while third was LeDuc, fourth was Fortin, and fifth was Renezeder, who got his #17 Lucas Oil/KMC Wheels Ford past Adler on the final lap.
Pro Lite UnlimitedNext up were the Pro Lite Unlimiteds, and it was Ryan Beat heading the pack after the opening lap in his #51 Rockstar Energy Drink/Lunarpages Chevrolet, ahead of Brandon Arthur, Jerett Brooks, Brock Heger, and Ronnie Anderson. Jeff Hoffman came to a stop at a dangerous spot just off track on the second lap, which forced a full course yellow at the end of the lap. On the restart lap, Anderson hooked a rut in turn four and rolled immediately, which brought the full course yellow right back out, and handed fifth place to Jeremy Stenberg in the #88 MavTV/Toyo Tires Ford. The field was allowed to race back to the start/finish line, and in that short amount of time, Brooks got past Arthur to take over second place in his #77 General Tire/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Nissan. On the restart lap following Anderson’s rollover, Stenberg passed Heger to snag fourth place, but with a nice inside pass at turn five a few laps later, Heger got the position back in his #12 Icon Vehicle Dynamics/Maxxis Tires Toyota. The top five drivers then remained relatively quiet, as they all maintained their positions through the checkered flag. Up front, it was Beat who brought home his first win of the season, ahead of Brooks, Arthur in the #6 Competitive Metals/Toyo Tires Chevrolet, Heger, and Stenberg.
Pro Buggy UnlimitedIn the open wheel ranks, pole starter Eliott Watson ran up front after lap one in his #3 Fox Racing Shox/BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft, ahead of Kevin McCullough, Darren Hardesty Jr., Mike Valentine, and Garret George. On lap two, Valentine lost control going through the whoop section between turns three and four, and slid off the track coming into turn four, dropping him back to seventh. George moved up to take over fourth in his #1 Redline Performance/Anenberg Funco as a result, with Bud Ward moving into the top five in his #17 Ramona Tire/King Off-Road Racing Shocks Funco. The top five drivers held their positions through the Competition Yellow at the end of lap five, but on the restart lap, George got by Hardesty Jr. going into turn one to take over third spot. Two laps later, McCullough charged up alongside Watson in the whoops (Watson had developed a left rear flat tire), but just as he was trying to complete the pass for the lead through turn four, McCullough broke an axle, ending his run in an instant. George then moved up to challenge for the lead on the next lap, and he made the pass on Watson coming out of turn four. Hardesty Jr. was next in line, and after coming past the white flag alongside Watson, he moved ahead and into second place early on the final lap. Ward also got close, but despite sitting right on Watson’s back bumper entering turn five, some great driving by Watson allowed him to not only hold onto his third place, but to also open up a few lengths over Ward once again. At the stripe, an ecstatic George was the winner, ahead of Hardesty Jr. in the #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Impact Safety Alumi Craft, Watson, Ward, and Valentine in the #78 Del Taco Barstow/Mickey Thompson Funco.
Pro 2 UnlimitedThe final race of the afternoon was Pro 2 Unlimited, and in this one, it was Patrick Clark who led the way after lap one, ahead of Doug Mittag, Jeremy McGrath, Rob MacCachren, and RJ Anderson. On lap two, Mittag’s entire right front tire and wheel suddenly came off through the whoop section, and as he drug his wounded truck off the track, the tire rolled clear out to turn seven and off track, allowing the racing action to continue uninterrupted. On the next lap, Clark lost his power steering coming into the whoops, ending his charge prematurely, and that handed the lead to McGrath in the #2 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics truck. At almost the same moment, Anderson picked up a right rear flat tire, which sent him into the Hot Pits at the end of the lap, and dropped him off of the lead lap in the process. The top five was now McGrath, MacCachren, Carl Renezeder, Rodrigo Ampudia, and Bryce Menzies, with Ampudia then passing Renezeder on the inside at turn three to take over third on lap four. MacCachren then closed right in on the leader McGrath early on the next lap, and the whole top five closed up before the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap six. On the restart lap, Menzies got by Renezeder around the outside through turns one and two to move up to fourth, but the two then came together in turn four on the next lap, and that dropped Renezeder to fifth and Menzies to sixth. Up front, MacCachren was running very close to McGrath in the battle for the lead, but by lap 11, McGrath was starting to find some spots where he could pull a few lengths on MacCachren as often as not. The in-fighting between these two wasn’t hurting Ampudia’s case, as he closed in on the leading duo, but he couldn’t quite get close enough to offer them a serious challenge. On the final lap, MacCachren gave it his all to try and make something happen, but with the track rutting up badly, there was simply nowhere for MacCachren to go to try and make a move. McGrath was also driving quite well, and he crossed the stripe first to pick up his second consecutive win, making this his first multi-win season since starting into this sport. MacCachren was just behind in second in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford, with Ampudia thrilling his hometown fans by taking third in his #36 Monster Energy/Lucas Oil Racing TV Ford. Fourth was Eric Fitch in the #97 General Tire/Fortin Racing, Inc. Chevrolet, and fifth was Renezeder in the #17 Lucas Oil/BFGoodrich Tires Ford.
That closes out the action from the first of two days of racing here at Estero Beach. Today, we’ll do it all again for Round 8 of the 2016 championship, with all four Pro classes taking to the track to do battle once again. Opening Ceremonies starting things off properly at 2:00 PM.
Todays weather is absolutely gorgeous, and we are expecting nothing less than perfect conditions for racing- it’s sure to thrill!
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