TORC Rounds 1 and 2: Traxxas Drivers
Qualify in the Top 5!
Fort Worth, TX (May 16, 2009): The Traxxas TORC Series got off to an incredible start for the team of Traxxas Short Course Drivers, achieving top 5 qualifying positions and back-to-back podium wins. The nation's premier short-course racing series roared into Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) for the official opening of the 2009 season. Racing under the lights at TMS, the nation's best drivers battled the elements and each other for two full evenings of intense fender-to-fender pro-level competition that only the Traxxas TORC series can deliver. Texas Motor Speedway's half-mile dirt oval was reconfigured as an off-road course with a challenging rhythm section and technical infield bracketed by two wide-open sweepers. At the end of the weekend, Traxxas sponsored Rick Huseman came out on top scoring back-to-back wins in the first two rounds of the TORC season with his Monster Energy/Traxxas Toyota Tundra.
Friday, May 15: ROUND 1
The opening round of the series was treated to beautiful weather all day that made for impressive track conditions on Friday evening and a perfect night of racing excitement for the fans. In Pro 4X4, Mike Jenkins hit the track with a dialed-in set up on his new truck and qualified in the fourth position on the second row. Traxxas sponsored Rick Huseman qualified third in the nine-truck field, with veteran pros Johnny Greaves and Curt LeDuc just ahead in the front row. Off the line, Johnny Greaves quickly opened a gap on the field with his Monster Energy race truck, which closed just as quickly when LeDuc tangled with Mike Jenkins on the second lap. Mike was running a strong race, keeping pace with the field when Leduc's truck flew sideways off the lip of a jump entering turn 1 and landed on the rear fender of Mike Jenkins 47 truck. Mike was already set up for the high speed sweeper in turn one and the push from Leduc sent his no. 47 Traxxas machine into a spectacular cartwheel that brought out a red flag to stop the field. Mike was not injured in the crash and the damage sustained by the truck would be repairable before round 2. Considering the strong qualifying position, the great tune on the truck, and Mike's aggressive, on-pace driving, it was a disappointing start for the season. After the race, Leduc apologized to Mike and Mike responded, "That's racing, Curt unfortunately got a strange kick off that jump and I happened to be in the landing zone. There was not really anything Curt could have done differently. It was definitely a ride, but I would have rather been racing. The crew put an awesome setup on this new truck, and the BFG tires were right on. It's certainly disappointing that I did not have the opportunity to unleash the full potential of this truck on a great track." With Jenkins safely out of his truck, green-flag racing resumed and Greaves again took the lead with LeDuc and Huseman in pursuit. Huseman quickly dispatched LeDuc and waited for his opportunity to make a move on Greaves. Rick's patience paid off when Johnny caught a rut and went off-track, moving back two positions in the process. As the field bunched up behind the TORC pace truck for the mandatory mid-race caution, all eyes were on Rick's Monster Energy/Traxxas truck as he lead out Kyle LeDuc and Johnny Greaves. As the green flag waved and over 7000 horsepower was brought to bear across the eight-car field, Huseman made his lead stick while Greaves got around LeDuc to get back in the hunt. Luck was not on Greaves' side, however, as two more mistakes allowed Rick to extend his lead and moved Greaves to third behind Curt LeDuc. Rick went on to the checkered flag with his Monster Energy/Traxxas, earning not only the first Pro 4X4 win of the 2009 TORC season but also the Oakley Bomb Run award, presented to the driver who posts the fastest lap of the race.
Traxxas' Mark Jenkins is off to a fast start in the TORC series, and qualified fifth in Round 1's Pro 2WD action. As the field of fifteen drivers charged the green flag, Mark was required to fight hard to regain two lost positions as he missed a shift at the start. Unrattled by the action, Mark went to work and regained his fifth-place position shortly into the race. Surrounded by the premier talent of short-course competition, Mark raced the #25 Traxxas Pro 2WD in fifth while contending with Todd LeDuc the entire race for fourth place. Meanwhile, veteran drivers Scott Taylor, Ross Hoek and Evan Evans made their presence felt as they challenged Jenkins for position. However, Mark was set on racing forward and skillfully defended his position while maintaining pace with LeDuc. In his first start of the 2009 season, Mark demonstrated he's prepared to challenge the best in class. Jenkins' fifth-place finish matches his best and last finish from 2008, showing he has quickly become a podium threat in short-course racing.
Six-time Pro Light champion Jeff Kincaid came to the TORC series opener looking for a good run at his seventh title, and got off to an excellent start with a second-place finish in Round 1. Kincaid qualified his Traxxas-sponsored, Toyota-powered Pro Light truck to a second-place starting position. Kincaid tangled with two other trucks at the start, giving Marty Hart an opportunity to charge ahead with the lead. As the field closed up after the mandatory caution, Hart and Kincaid stretched out a lead over Chad Hord and the rest of the field. Jeff was glued to the Hart truck as the two battled relentlessly around the tight course creating intense racing action for the fans. As the checkered flag flew, Kincaid captured the podium, a second-place finish and thousands of new fans in Texas! Always hell-bent to win, Jeff Kincaid also set the fastest race lap awarding him the Oakley Bomb Run trophy for his TORC Pro Light hot lap.
Saturday, May 16: ROUND 2
Heavy rains battered Texas Motor Speedway Friday night through Saturday afternoon which brought out the worst in the track and the best in TORC, USAC, and Texas Motor Speedway personnel. With a late afternoon break in the weather and the determined efforts of the track crew, race fans crowded the stands where they were rewarded for their attendance with blue skies and the extreme racing action that defines TORC.
Mike Jenkins would start the race at the back of the field due to his crash in Round 1 the night before. The odds were stacked against Mike since the muddy track conditions made passing even more difficult. He would need to wait for mistakes in front of him to open up opportunities. Traxxas Sponsored Rick Huseman once again took the win in Pro 4X4 with his Monster Energy/Traxxas ride, in an epic battle that saw Huseman gain and lose the lead twice and Johnny Greaves' Monster Energy Toyota leave the track on a wrecker. After Johnny rolled his truck in a bad jump landing on the front straight, Kyle LeDuc, Scott Douglas and Huseman took over as the front runners. With little opportunity to pass, Huseman capitalized on mistakes made by the front runners in order to take the lead. In the final laps of the race, the track speeds kept increasing and Rick was able to keep veterans Scott Douglas and Kyle LeDuc behind him to score another victory for Traxxas, as well as his second Oakley Bomb Run trophy of the series. Mike finished sixth in the No. 47 truck after gaining valuable seat time hitting his marks around the track.
After a strong fifth-place finish in Round 1, The Round 2 inversion put Mark Jenkins' no. 25 Traxxas truck on the outside of the front row, but the first-turn shake out closed the door on the inside line and pushed Mark back to fourth. Mark ran on pace and was maintaining his position until loose conditions in the infield caused his truck to push hard to the outside, costing him three more positions. Just a few laps later, The No. 25 had to come to a full stop to avoid a head-on collision as Evan Evans had spun-out costing Mark four more positions. With little time left in the race to advance, Mark finished Round 2 in twelfth place. Mark said, "We had a good run Friday night. King shocks worked closely with us in testing on our set-up as did BFGoodrich Tires. The truck worked well and the tires looked great post race. We made some small adjustments Saturday to optimize an already good set-up. The truck actually performed better on Saturday than Friday but the challenges found racing in heavy mud and some unfortunate incidents around me shuffled me backwards tonight," Smiling, Mark quipped "I really CAN turn right and just got 100% more seat time than I have had before in these muddy conditions. I certainly won't be prepared for the same conditions in the future." Scott Taylor, who started on the inside front row, jumped out to an early lead and went on to win the top spot on the podium Saturday night.
Everyone was looking forward to another fender-to-fender fight for the win in Pro Light as Traxxas driver Jeff Kincaid hit the track ready to improve his second-place finish in Round 1 with a win in Round 2. Engine trouble just a few laps in kept the 6-time champ from fulfilling his mission. Out of the battle but not the war for the TORC series, Jeff kept his truck on the track to collect series points. Look for Jeff to have his Pro Light machine in peak form for the next stop on the TORC circuit, California's Perris Raceway.