For the first time in nine visits to Utah Motorsports Campus, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series will race under the lights with this weekend’s General Tire Utah Off Road Nationals presented by Optima Batteries. Although not by design, they did the same thing in last month’s action at Wild West Motorsports Park after an extended rain delay, while the season also kicked off with a night race at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in April.
Whether or not running after sunset makes certain drivers better, there’s no doubt that it adds to the spectacle of a LOORRS event to see trucks, UTVs, and more flying under the lights. When the spotlight shines on Friday and Saturday’s podium finishers, keep an eye on these nine drivers to be standing on top of the box:
Kyle LeDuc (Pro 4): LeDuc’s dominance of the Pro 4 class in recent years is under threat this season, as he currently sits 18 points out of the championship lead, behind both RJ Anderson and Doug Mittag. Could a return to Utah, the site of one of his five wins in 2017, help cure what ails him?
Jerett Brooks (Pro 2): Brooks’ decision to focus on Pro 2 this season after winning the 2017 Pro Lite title in a dual-class campaign has paid off so far—he’s second in points to only Rob MacCachren. With both a Pro 2 podium and Pro Lite win here last year, he’ll be a threat to both win and make up points.
Ryan Beat (Pro Lite): With finishes of third and second at Utah in 2017, Beat would be a solid podium pick this weekend no matter what. It just so happens that he’s also the points leader and a four-time 2018 race winner, including the last three in a row. So, you know… he might be a decent pick.
Darren Hardesty (Pro Buggy): Another dominant points leader in a Pro class, Hardesty has four wins in six starts so far this year, each of which have come in the form of doubleheader sweeps. That bodes well for Utah, the third doubleheader of the season, and a track that he conquered in its second 2017 round.
Brock Heger (Production 1000 UTV): Betting against Heger to win at this point just seems foolish. He’s four for six so far this weekend, including wins in the past three main events. That streak has helped the defending class champion to extend a 47-point advantage over Jason Weller.
Corry Weller (Turbo UTV): Weller broke a tie with Paul O’Brien coming into last month’s race in Reno by earning her second victory of the season. She’s finished no worse than fifth all season, also earning 26 of a possible 30 points in qualifying in comparison to O’Brien’s 19 to earn the slim advantage.
Ricky Gutierrez (Modified Kart): With Trey Gibbs up in the Pro Buggy class, Gutierrez is the only driver looking to defend a 2017 Mod Kart win in Utah. He finally put it together last month in Nevada for his first win of the season, and will look to make up some of his 64-point deficit to the leaders this weekend.
Connor Barry (JR2 Kart): Can anyone stop Barry’s bid for a perfect season? So far, a third place qualifying run in the season opener at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is the only blemish on his record. At 27 points back, Ethan Ebert and his three podiums are Barry’s closest competition.
Ayden Ford (JR1 Kart): Within only three points of class leader Jake Bollman, Ford is one of two drivers to podium in all four JR1 Kart rounds this year (the other is Bergen McGrath). While he’s only won once so far this year, the second race at Lucas Oil Speedway, Ford has yet to finish below second in 2018.