2017 Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series Round 1 & 2
Yamaha vs Polaris Battle Heats Up
With the popularity of UTV’s over the past few years it was only a matter of time before the Lucas Oil Offroad Racing Series would have to bring them back to the national series, and that time is now. For the 2017 season LOORRS brought the Production 1000 class to the full circuit and judging by the number of entires it was the right decision. 24 drivers would hit the green flag for Round 1 making it the largest field of the series.
The tone for the beginning of the year is a factory war. Of the 24 UTV’s entered this weekend only two manufactures are represented. Yamaha with its YXZ1000R and Polaris with its popular RZR 1000. Split down the middle with half the entries on either side its going to be an interesting year in the division.
This weekends drivers were a mix of different driving backgrounds and experience levels. Some drivers like Rylie Pierce, Branden Sorensen, Nathan Barry and Trisha Wright are current or former Mod Kart drivers. A few racers such as Brandon Arthur, Ronnie Anderson and Brock Heger run Prolites in the national series but are also pulling double duty in a UTV. The majority of the drivers however are coming over from the Lucas Oil Regional Series, so it will be a fun and interesting mix to see how everyone stacks up.
Also worth noting is that Bucky Lasek made an appearance this weekend racing a Polaris RZR 1000 teaming up with the Rockstar Energy UTV Wolfpack team. Lasek is a 10x X-Games gold medalist who a few years ago made the switch over to racing in the Global Rallycross Series.
Saturday morning drivers would line up for qualifying to set the starting grid for the race later in the day and after the inversion George Hammel and Myles Cheek would lead the pack at the green flag. Hammel led after the first turn with a pack of UTV’s looking to hunt him down led by Cheek, Mitch Guthrie, Brandon Arthur and 20 more UTV’s all trying to take the top spot. Hammel’s lead would be short lived however as Arthur finessed his way past him to steal the lead.
From there Arthur never looked back in his YXZ1000R running his own race and laying down constantly fast laps. Cheek kept the pressure on Arthur trying everything he could to get past Brandon but he just wasn’t having it. The real battle towards the second half of the race was for third. Hammel, after dropping the lead fell back to third place with Ronnie Anderson, Dustin Nelson, Jason Weller right on his bumper but would eventually have to pull off course with a mechanical issue.
Anderson, RJ Anderson’s younger brother, took the advantage in his Safecraft sponsored RZR and held on to third place but only for a while as Dustin Nelson, a Yamaha sponsored driver moved by him. After a slight hiccup Anderson got pushed back into the field giving Nelson the final podium spot. Arthur would go on to win the race as well as grab the first ever UTVUnderground Fast Lap award laying down a fast lap of 39.836 seconds.
Cheek would be the lone Polaris on the podium finishing second with Nelson taking third place.
Round 1 Top 10
With the momentum of winning the day before, Brandon Arthur looked to use that motivation to lay down the fastest lap in qualifying Sunday morning but would fall short to Paul O’Brien who hails from the regional series. The two started side by side on the front row and it would be O’Brien would would take the hole shot.
O’Brien would show why he qualified first by holding off the field for the first part of the race but eventually Arthur found his way around him in turn one. Not to be out done Brock Heger made his push for the top spot just inches away from O’Briens rear bumper. When the checkered flag flew in the air Brandon Arthur would sweep the weekend in the UTV class followed by O’Brien and Heger, giving Yamaha the complete podium.
Round 2 Top 10
It’s going to be an interesting year for the Production 1000 UTV class and the number of entires will only continue to grow as the season progresses. Up next for the series is a trip down south to Baja California to race Rounds 3 & 4 at the famous Estero Beach Short Course track.
UTVUnderground.com is very excited to return to the LUCAS OIL OFF-ROAD RACING SERIES for 2017 and we couldn’t do it without the help from Safecraft Safety Equipment who is acting as our Coverage Sponsor for the 2017 season. Because of them we will be at every round bringing you non-stop coverage!
Photos by: Jason Zindroski // UTVUnderground.com