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CORR 2006: Bark River brings some of the most exciting races.

Rounds 5 and 6 of the CORR Lucas Oil Racing Series got under way Saturday at the U.P. Off Road 100 in Bark River, Michigan (USA). Thousands of fans witnessed some of the most thrilling races yet in the 2006 Championship Off Road Racing season.

A major motor problem on Friday kept rookie Pro 2 driver Jerry Whelchel from getting a single lap of practice. Instead he was looking for an engine. Scott Taylor, who sold his old championship truck to Whelchel in the off-season, offered his spare motor to his competitor. Whelchel’s crew worked overnight to mount the engine in time for Saturday’s race.

When the green flag waved for Round 5, Whelchel hit the holeshot in his first lap ever on Bark River’s track. Behind the veteran desert racer, Dan Vanden Heuvel and Todd LeDuc battled for second. Even while being sprayed with the rooster tail from Vanden Heuvel’s truck, LeDuc was able to make the pass for second place. Meanwhile, current Pro 2 champ Carl Renezeder worked his way through the field, eventually passing Whelchel for the lead. A broken back suspension slowed Whelchel for the last couple of laps, but he was able to hold on for a third place finish behind Renezeder and LeDuc. Renezeder, who got his first win in his new Lucas Oil Nissan Pro 2, thanked his crew, family and fans. He said, "There was great talent and everyone (raced) clean."

Sunday’s Pro 2 race took place on a dry, dusty track. Evan Evans, who battled a stomach illness all day, was first into turn one. He took a sizable lead before being forced in the pits to change a tire. With Evans out of the race, Steve Barlow became the leader with Scott Douglas and Scott Taylor both gaining on him. As Douglas made the pass for the lead, Taylor stuck right with him. The two CORR veterans swapped places a couple of times before Taylor rolled his truck trying to regain the lead. Even with almost no tread left on his rear right tire, Douglas held on for the win, with Barlow in second. Whelchel grabbed the last spot on the podium, for the third straight race. "I love the podium, but I want a second or first," said Whelchel. "These guys have a couple years on me doing this, but I’ll catch them."

Todd LeDuc now leads the Pro 2 points standings, followed by Whelchel and Barlow.

Steady rain left the track wet and slippery for the Pro Lite race on Saturday. Kyle LeDuc quickly grabbed the lead, while CORR newcomers battled the slick conditions. 2005 Pro Lite champ Jeff Kincaid raced his way into the second spot, with Chad Hord close behind. The three broke away from the rest of the pack, and LeDuc looked for his second win of the season. Kincaid slowly closed the gap on LeDuc, who was slowed by lap traffic. On the last turn of the race Kincaid got inside of the 2004 Pro Lite champ to take the checkered flag. Hord, who has finished in second place every other race this season, closed out the podium.

Sunday’s race put the same three drivers in the winners circle. Rookie Robert Naughton took the holeshot this time, and led until a flat tire forced him to pit. Then it was the familiar trucks of Kincaid and Hord battling for first, with LeDuc trailing in third. Hord got inside Kincaid a couple of times but was unable to make the pass. "Jeff’s about the cleanest guy out there. He doesn’t touch me and I don’t touch him, that’s what makes it so great," said Hord. Kincaid has now won five of the six races this season.

The bright orange truck of Adrian "Wildman" Cenni took an early lead in Saturday’s Pro 4 race, but it didn’t take long for Johnny Greaves to get in front. Carl Renezeder picked his way around a couple trucks and was running in third, behind Cenni. Renezeder had his spot on the podium secured until he lost his rear wheel suspension on the last lap and was out of the race. Scott Douglas, who had worked his way up from the middle of the pack, was in position to make his first podium appearance in his new Pro 4 truck. Greaves, who’s won three in a row (including the Chairman’s Cup) set the pace until the checkered flag, with Cenni in second and Douglas in third.

Rick Huseman took full advantage of his pole position on Sunday, hitting the holeshot and getting out in front. Renezeder and Greaves were both quick to get into position to battle for the lead. Shortly after the start, water was spotted leaking from Greaves truck - a sign that he had little time left in the race. Renezeder made a move to get inside of Huseman and into first place. Greaves ran in third as long as he could, but when smoke poured out from under the hood, he pulled off the track. This left Josh Baldwin in a distant third. With only a couple of laps to go, Huseman blew a rear tire, which quickly broke away and enabled Huseman to continue racing. Riding on three tires, Huseman lost a lot of speed, allowing Baldwin to close the gap. Just before the final turn to the finish line, Huseman and Baldwin, who were nearly side-by-side, had to work around lap traffic. In the final turn Huseman stayed on the inside, barely holding on for a second place finish, while Baldwin came in third.

The sportsman also put on an eventful show at Bark River. Ross Hoek had a good weekend schooling the Sportsman 2 competition on both days. On Saturday Hoek finished over 8 seconds in front of Mike Savage and on Sunday over 44 seconds in front of second place winner Ken Hallgren. In third, on Saturday was Don Williams, with Jace Shubert closing out the podium on Sunday.

Stock division drivers showed some speed driving full force over the EMP Power hill. On Saturday, Bark River hometown favorite Scott Beauchamp took first with a clean lead. 2005’s second place Stock division finisher Keith Steele placed second with Don Demeny in third. On Sunday, Dave Waldvogel made a comeback from the previous day and took home a first in a close race with Scott Beauchamp, who once again took the podium with Don Demeny.

In the Light Buggy division Chad Dewall took first on Saturday and fourth on Sunday for his best races this season. Also on the podium were Steve Schuch and Greg Stingle. On Sunday Jaime Kleikemp, who won a first in 2005 at Bark River, came back into the running after a rough Saturday race. Jaime took first and was followed by Greg Stingle and Todd Lemke in a tight finish.

Mark Steinhardt continues his points lead in the Single Buggy division, taking first on both days at Bark River. Nine points behind him is Brad Erickson, who also podiumed on both Saturday and Sunday. In third with 87 points is Michael Seefeldt who took third on Sunday.

In the Super Buggy division Scott Schwalbe remains the point leader, leading with 87 points after taking a second and a first this weekend. Corry Heynen had his first win of the season on Saturday, but ran into some trouble on Sunday. Gary Nierop (76 points total) and Adam Guberud (53 points total) both took thirds during the weekend.

Racers will have another chance at Bark River in August. The Nissan Off Road Rumble at the Ranch is next in Chula Vista, California on July 22nd and 23rd. For more information and detailed race results visit [ ].

2006/07/13 I 14:13 CET I Editor:

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