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  1. John Stewart
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  3. Tuesday, September 20 2016, 10:31 AM
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Lucas Oil Racing TV to stream live  

CORONA, California (September 20, 2016) - Darren Hardesty Jr. may have a date with history and he's planning to do everything he can to make that a reality this weekend.

The 16-year-old, known to his friends and fans as"Hot Sauce" will be at Lake Elsinore (California) Motorsports Park September 23-24 to try to take a giant step toward a Pro Buggy title and a place in the record book as the youngest Pro class champion in Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series history.

Hardesty will go into the Lucas Oil Fight Under

the Lights presented by Optima Batteries in third place in the Pro Buggy standings with three rounds remaining in the season. Reigning champion Garrett George is the leader, Mike Valentine is 9 points behind in second and Hardesty is 12 points behind. A fourth contender, Kevin McCullough, is 19 points behind, and the battle among that quartet should be one of the highlights of an event that includes Pro 2, Pro 4, Pro Lite, Pro Buggy and Modified Kart competition.

Spectator gates will open at 2 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Qualifying by class will begin at 3 p.m. each day, the Mod Kart main event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the Pro class races will get under way at 7:30 p.m. following opening ceremonies.

General admission tickets are $25 per day or $50 for the weekend if purchased in advance at www.lucasoiloffroad.com. The tickets are $30 per day or $60 for the weekend if purchased at the event.

Rockstar Energry/BFGoodrich Ford driver Rob MacCachren is in control of the Pro 2 class and apparently on his way to a second straight and fourth overall title, but Jerett Brooks, Brandon Arthur, Ryan Beat and Brock Heger are blanketed by 47 points in Pro Lite and there are just 23 points separating Hailie Deegan, Trey Gibbs and Christopher Polvoorde in Modified Karts.

Then, as usual, there's the Pro 4 battle between three-time champions Carl Renezeder and Kyle LeDuc, who has won the crown the past two seasons. LeDuc has won five of the past seven races to trim Renezeder's lead to 6 points going into the two nights of racing on the fast, high-flying Lake Elsinore track. 

Hardesty started the year with a technical disqualification in the opening race in Arizona and said he thought his season was ruined at that point "but after a lot of hard work and determination I've made my way back up there and it doesn't seem like a big deal any more.

"About midway through the year the car really started coming to me. I found out I can drive it harder than have in past. It's the same car (an Alumi Craft chassis with a GM Ecotec motor), but during the winter we gave it to Alumi Craft to make changes and it didn't get done until a couple of weeks before the season started. I had to get used to it the first couple of races. It's a totally different driving style compared to last year. Last year I had to drive it hard into the corners. This year I can just point it and it goes."

Since his unfortunate start to the season Hardesty has two wins among seven podium finishes and has not been worse than sixth. Now he's pointing at what could be his place in history.

Hardesty was 16 on August 31 and that would make him the youngest-ever Pro class champion should he claim the title. Sheldon Creed was 17 when he was crowned the Pro Lite champion in 2014 and RJ Anderson was 19 when he got the first of his two Pro Lite titles in 2012.

"That definitely motivates me a lot more," he said.

John Stewart Managing Editor - 4x4Voice - 4x4Wire - MUIRNet.net Natural Resources Consultant - California Four Wheel Drive Association - http://www.cal4wheel.com Board of Directors - BlueRibbon Coalition http://www.sharetrails.org

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