VT Construction Battleground Wrap-up
The VT Construction Battleground event proved to be just that, the Battleground for Class championships to be decided. Kicking off the event was qualifying on Thursday with Class 6100 and 6200 going head-to-head for the Diamondback Materials fastest time. Conner McMullen in his newly built #6240 car took the top spot, earning 1st off the line in Heat 4 followed by #6177 Travis Williams and #6146 Brent Fox
Next was The Unlimited Trucks and Class 1’s competing in the Strobel Companies Pole Position. Eric Hustead in his #38 Unlimited Truck would take the fastest time followed by #29 Madix Bailey and #94 Steve Strobel. With this win, Hustead swept all three qualifying‘s for the year in the unlimited class, taking home three beautiful trophies and $3,000 cash.
For Saturday and Sunday Heat races there was a twist that added a new dimension to the short course style format called the Joker Lane. The Joker Lane allowed the racers to bypass a 1 mile section of the course to gain an advantage on another competitor. The Joker Lane could be used only once per day on any lap the racer chose except for Lap 1. As expected, Joker Lane created some interesting racing throughout both days as teams and racers strategized on the best time to get the advance with some teams using it in the very beginning, others saving it to the end of the race and some using it to pass another competitor once they had caught them.
With the first green light starting just after sunrise Saturday morning, 1st of the line was the Naturally Aspirated UTV points leader #1908 Maddie Wedeking, followed by 2nd, #1957 Austin Bolton, and 3rd #1951 Mike Podratz. #1908 would have some minor mechanical problems in the early laps allowing #1957 and #1951 to pass by. However they wouldn’t be able to hold off the hard charging #1995 Kaden Wells as he would overtake the physical lead and never look back. Holding onto the lead on Day 1 and starting 1st on Day 2, Wells held off the challenge from Bolton and Wedeking on Sunday to take home the win in N/A UTV Class.
Heat 1 racing also got very tight in the Stock UTV Class between the #U994 of Christian Strobel and the #U927 of Jack Olliges. For nearly 8 laps, both UTV’s were nose to tail until just 3 miles before the finish line where the #U994 Strobel ran out of fuel. #U927 would go on to win both Saturday and Sunday races, taking home the win for the weekend and gaining a big points lead going into the Dirt Rebelution event where the 2021 Championships will be decided for UTVs. Not only was their battle on course exciting to watch but seeing their fathers’ Steve Oillges (Jack) and Steve Strobel (Christian) “bench racing” from nearby made the competition even more entertaining as they too would battle in the Unlimited Class in Heat 5 later in the day.
Photos courtesy of Dirt Nation
In class 1/2 1600 #1618 Zack Sizelove and #1614 Maverick Gaunt had a great battle over the two days. Ultimately Gaunt would have the Fastest time on Day 1 but succumb to motor problems on Day 2 giving Sizelove the win for the weekend.
Our Sportsman UTV #S915 Craig MacIntosh with Desert Vets Racing and his co-driver military veteran Adam Poppenhouse were having the time of their life. “ We skipped the Joker Lane on Day 1 because Adam was giggling the entire time we were on the short course track” stated MacIntosh at the finish line. They had a flawless weekend and never got out of the car to take home the Sportsman UTV Win.
Desert Vets Racing provides adrenaline therapy through off-road racing for US military veterans and active duty personnel. Their team is made up of veterans with brand ambassadors. Typically, the driver does not meet their co-driver until the day before the race.Thank you Craig and your entire Desert Vets Racing team for this amazing program and for giving Legacy the opportunity to be a part of it.
Heat 2 featured the Turbo and Unlimited UTV’s with points leader #T910 Dan Fisher and second in points #T815 Ryan Piplic going 1st and 2nd, off the line Saturday morning. This Duo would race each other hard but clean with Piplic getting around Fisher mid race to gain 1st of the line on Sunday.
Sunday saw these top factory drivers, #T815 Piplic in his Polaris RZR and #T910 Fisher in his Can-Am X3, push their machines and test each other's skills to the max. Piplic would be the 1st to take the Joker Lane to try and gain some distance on Fisher. However, Fisher was keeping a close eye on his competition and kept the pressure on by taking the Joker Lane the very next lap. Both would have a flawless day with Piplic edging out the Turbo points leader Fisher to take the win and close the points gap, getting it down to only 4 points going into the Final round at the Dirt Rebelution.
Heat 3 saw Class 10 points leader #1035 Mike Coulter needing to just start the race to win the class championship. However, Coulter set a blistering pace all weekend to take not only the 2021 championship but also the class win.
Also in Heat 3, TrophyLite points leader #6025 Ty Fall would have his hands full with #6066 Josh Cobb and #6012 Greg Bragg starting right behind him. As the light turned Green on Saturday morning #6025 Fall would pull over early with mechanical issues but the race was on between #6066 Cobb and #6012 Bragg. Physically crossing the Finish Line 1st was Cobb stating “the old man (Bragg) was on it today and I couldn’t shake him”. Cobb was right with Bragg having the fastest time on Saturday.
Bragg started 1st Sunday morning with Cobb just 30 seconds behind him. The racing was intense until a late race mechanical issue for Bragg would turn the lead over to Cobb who would take the win for the weekend. Although Cobb took the win this weekend, Ty Fall had a large enough points gap over Cobb to win the TrophyLite Championship in the Legacy Racing Series.
In Heat 4, the 6100 & 6200 Classes was one for the books. With #6240 Conner McMullen winning the Diamondback Materials fastest qualifier on Thursday, he was 1st off the line. But #6177 Travis Williams and #6146 Brent Fox were hot on his tail. Conner took off and laid down some incredibly fast laps, taking top spot on Day 1. Behind him, #6177 Williams was trying to hold off the #6146 Fox who was also in a battle with #6154 Levinson. Williams was able to hold off both trucks but Levinston snuck past Fox on corrected time to gain 3rd starting position for the following day.
With all this racing going on in front of him, series points leader #6195 Travis Chase was locked into his own battle with second in points #6173 Jordan Brenthel. Brenthel was in front of Chase throughout the race on Day 1 but #6195 would end up closing the gap to surpass #6173 on corrected time to start 4th going into Day 2.
Day 2 saw the lightning fast #6240 McMullen put in some astonishing lap times, laying down the fastest time in Heat 4 and also the Overall for the weekend. #6146 Fox grabbed onto the lightning rod and was able to hold off the charge from #6195 Chase for the 6100 win. #6195 Chase held onto the 2nd spot for the weekend, which gave him enough to capture the competitive 6100 Class Championship for 2021.
Heat 5 was the last race of the day but would not disappoint. These teams were anxious to battle as a class championship was on the line. Going into this event there was only a 15 point difference between first place and fifth place. #94 Steve Strobel was first in points and managed to secure third off the line on Day 1. Pole winner #38 Eric Hustead, who was second in points, would get the advantage of clean air starting first off the line. Third in points #29 Madix Bailey would start second, setting the pace for a strong battle. Unfortunately, on the start of lap 5 #29 Bailey would be forced to pull off course for a mechanical malfunction and have to call it a day. This gave #94 Strobel and #27 Olliges a chance at Hustead.
Hustead went on to win Day 1 which gave him a second day of clean air and set the stage for a potential tie in year end points for the Unlimited Truck Class with Strobel. If Hustead won the weekend and Strobel finished second, the points would be tied for the Class Championship.
Day 2 was sure to be a battle to the end. Just like their sons in Heat 1, fathers’ #94 Steve Strobel (Christian) and #27 Steve Olliges (Jack) battled throughout the weekend. All three top Unlimited trucks had a smooth run Sunday with #38 Hustead taking first, #94 Strobel taking second and #27 Olliges taking third. This resulted in Hustead and Strobel being tied at 431 points.
To break the tie, their elapsed time from each race was combined and the lowest time won. With just over 1,000 miles of desert racing spread across 3 events this season, only 21 minutes separated the Top 2 Unlimited Truck teams. #38 Hustead would have the least amount of time winning the 2021 Championship with #94 Strobel coming in second.
Title sponsor VT Construction’s #1562 Ladd & Sean Gilbert set a great pace Saturday and snagged 2nd overall in Heat 5 giving them second off the line Sunday. Madix was able to convince his dad Brandon Bailey to let him take over the driver’s seat in the #1529 for Sunday. #1529 Bailey was able catch up and battle against #1562 of Gilbert but Sean was on a mission to take the win. Unfortunately a broken water pump belt on #1562 caused issues and they were unable to push through. #1529 Madix would go on to take the win in Class 1 and secure the Class championship for his dad
The final winner of the weekend, Joker Lane. The Joker Lane created a lot of buzz at staging, with racers discussing when they might take it. Some used it to strategically pass their competitors, some to catch their competitors and one may have skipped it on day 1 because they were having too much fun. This was the most anticipated section of the course. The Joker Lane threw in a different element with some exciting strategy. Having never been done in an off-road race before, it was exciting to bring something new to the Event. And the results were highly favorable. With everyone raving at the finish line, the Joker Lane will definitely make another appearance.