Deegan Wins Lucas Oil Challenge Cup
LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. – The 2013 season came to a close on Sunday for the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series, but not before the annual Lucas Oil Challenge Cup races took to the track at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park.
The big draw for the day was the annual battle between the Pro 2 Unlimited and the Pro 4 Unlimiteds. The rules were simple, 12 drivers from each class would start the races with the drivers in the Pro 2 class getting a half a lap head start.
Jeff Geiser got the early lead amongst the Pro 2 drivers ahead of Bryce Menzies, Mike Porter, Robby Woods and Patrick Clark. Eric Barron led the way for the Pro 4 drivers ahead of Kyle LeDuc, Ryan Beat, Brandon Bailey and Rob MacCachren. Menzies got by Geiser on the inside at turn four to take over the lead on lap two, while Woods, Clark, and Brian Deegan had all gotten by Porter to get up to positions three through five.
Amongst the Pro 4 class, Barron was now struggling against a hood that had shredded and was flipped back against the front window opening, blocking his vision, while smoke from LeDuc’s right rear meant he was also experiencing a difficulty. LeDuc spun at turn two on lap four, and with MacCachren also going by the wayside on this lap, it was now Beat, Greg Adler, Bailey and Carl Renezeder running behind Barron in Pro 4.
Geiser had fallen back to fourth amongst the Pro 2 class by then, and on lap five, Clark got by him as well to move into that fourth spot. Renezeder got around Bailey on lap five, and looked to be taking a cool, calculated approach to this race, rather than trying to get all the necessary passes done as quickly as possible.
By lap six, Barron and Beat had entered the top ten outright, as they now ran ninth and tenth, while out front, Menzies was still in the lead and enjoying a comfortable margin over the competition. On lap seven Austin Kimbrell came to a stop in the whoop section, which brought out the Pro 2 Unlimiteds’ dreaded full course yellow, effectively eliminating most of the remaining gap between themselves and the Pro 4 class.
Under yellow Barron dropped to the back of the pack for some reason, leaving Beat to spearhead the Pro 4 assault. Beat now ran in ninth, with the Pro 2 trucks of Menzies, Woods, Deegan, Clark, Porter, Geiser, Rodrigo Ampudia and Matt Cook still in front of him. Beat picked up three spots on the restart la while Renezeder got by Adler, who’d been second of the Pro 4’s, and all the way up to eighth overall, and was really looking like a strong contender for his third Challenge Cup win.
Renezeder had moved up a lot on this lap despite the fact that another driver had landed on the back of his truck off the jump in turn one. The damage must’ve been superficial, as Renezeder’s truck still seemed to be running quite well as he charged hard through the pack. Menzies had again opened up a strong gap at the head of the pack, leaving Woods and Deegan to fight each other for second. All the while, the Pro 4 drivers were now closing right in on them.
Renezeder got a good run out of turn three on lap 13 to get by Beat for fifth, just before a full course caution was thrown to allow safety crews to clear some big chunks of debris from the track. When racing resumed, Woods quickly got alongside Menzies going down the back straight and up the step up jump into turn two, where Menzies suddenly pulled off with what looked like a major rear suspension issue.
This was a bitter blow to the Las Vegas native, who’d been putting in a surprisingly dominant run for a Pro 2 in the race. Still, the race went on, and just as quickly as Menzies had fallen by the wayside, Renezeder was now all the way up to third in his Pro 4. Another full course yellow was thrown at the end of the lap, and when racing resumed, it would now by Woods, Deegan, Renezeder, Clark, and Beat in the top five; that made it two Pro 2’s, one Pro 4, another Pro 2 and another Pro 4 in the top five.