Alumi Craft racers in the Pro Buggy class had an exceptional weekend of racing at the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, UT. During rounds 5 and 6 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, they took 5 out of the possible 6 podium finishing positions. The track in Utah has a heavy clay content that wreaks havoc on competitors. Slick when wet, and tacky after it dries, it develops deep ruts that harden after a few laps. You can imagine the punishment to the cars and the challenge faced by the drivers. If you hit a rut sideways, it can tear a tire right off the rim. Defending Pro Buggy class champion Darren Hardesty Jr. was fighting for the lead in round 5 when he suffered that fate. Having to pit for a new tire during green flag racing, Hardesty fell to 9th place at the finish. Alumi Craft racers Sterling Cling, and Eliott Watson had solid runs finishing 2nd and 3rd on the podium.
“After practice on Friday, we made some shock adjustments that paid off with a number one qualifying time on Saturday morning,” said Hardesty, “We were feeling great heading into the race. On lap 11, I got a little too sideways off a jump and landed in some ruts. The tire got peeled right off the rim. It was not the finish we were looking for; I told the crew we would have to come out swinging in round 6.”
Sterling Cling was fighting his own battles after losing an engine in practice. “We have been having engine gremlins, and it bit us on Friday,” said Cling, “The first real laps that we got on the track were during qualifying on Saturday. The dirt in Utah is not like any other track we race on. A single groove track, it’s tight, which makes it hard to pass. We started 4th in round 5 and made our way to the front. The race went by fast; if we had more laps, we could have had a shot for the win.” After round 5, Hardesty, Cling, and Watson had a better grasp on the conditions, and made adjustments for round 6.
During qualifying for round 6 on Sunday morning, Sterling Cling ran the fastest time followed by Watson. Hardesty was 4th fastest. “We tried some adjustments that just didn’t work,” said Hardesty, “We went back to what we knew worked. Because of the track conditions, I was not able to drive my normal style. Usually I slide the back end around in the corners to stay off the brakes, and keep my momentum up. Because of the hard packed ruts, and how tacky the surface was, I had to drive around the corners and not slide them.
It was not what I’m used to but I was able to get out front and maintain a nice rhythm. Cling came up and stuck his nose in a little bit but I was in my groove; I wasn’t going to let him around me. If you are hitting your marks and running the fastest line, it makes it pretty tough to get passed. It was fun out there but we worked hard to have the fastest car.”
Hardesty took the win with Cling and Watson finishing in their same order as in round 5. Cling was 2nd and Watson 3rd for a perfect sweep for Alumi Craft. “I tried to pass Hardesty a couple times but he always races me clean so I treat him the same,” said Cling, “There are other guys that will bang you around but I’d rather have a solid finish, and a good car at the end of the race. It was so tight; it made it hard to pass.” Sterling Cling started the weekend with engine problems but battled back to have a solid weekend with back to back 2nd place finishes. Eliott Watson did the same, finishing in 3rd place in both rounds.
Alumi Craft racers showed their versatility and the wide range of adjustability their cars possess to overcome a tough track in Utah. Whether racing in the desert, prerunning, or competing on the track, Alumi Craft racers prove every weekend the superior performance provided by their meticulously crafted cars. Alumi Craft leads the way in innovation, and is committed to providing you with a competitive, safe and reliable vehicle that exceeds your expectations. If you demand the best, give Alumi Craft a call at 619-596-9841 to find out more about our race products and services.