Nissan’s Roger Mears puts it together at Denver

Roger Mears captured the Sport Truck main event at Denver’s Mile High Stadium. The win for Mears quenches a long thirst for victory in the Mickey Thompson Off-Road Championship Gran Prix events. Mears, a consistent driver, put together two second-place finishes for the evening and then came back to run away with the main event. The current points leader Robby Gordon was in the battle in all three races but couldn’t put it together at Denver.
The Denver event was round eight for the 10-race series and at the end of eight rounds of racing the points leaders are: Robby Gordon leads Walker Evans 428 to 368 in the Grand National Sport Trucks. Mitch Mustard has Frank Arciero Jr 336 to 276 in the Super 1600 division. In the UltraStock class, Lloyd Castle has a slight edge over Jeff Elrod with 290 to 279. Marty Hart has Donny Banks to worry about as he leads the 4-Wheel ATV class with 294 to Banks’ 264. Rennie Awana is the SuperLite points leader (253) with Terry Peterson trailing with 229. Jim Holly has earned 400 points in the UltraCross Pro Motorcycle division and Brian Manley has 332 for second place.
Looks like Team Toyota will again win the Manufacturers Cup. They lead Team Jeep 813 to 635. Nissan has earned top honors in the UltraStock class. Kawasaki is dominating the UltraCross series with Yamaha trailing by 354 points. For Honda to not win the 4-Wheel ATV event they would have to ask all the Honda riders to stay home as they lead Yamaha 702 to 278.
Looks like Yokohama will capture the Sport Truck tire points, and BF Goodrich has a commanding lead in the Super 1600 tire wars. General Tire has a respectful lead in the UltraStock class but has Goodyear in contention.
Denver racing fans were treated to a Super 1600 Trophy Dash as an opening act to this year’s stadium event. Two hometown favorites. Mitch Mustard and Danny Rice, were fast enough qualifiers to be entered into the event. However, as the green flag came out it was Californian Brad Castle that jumped his Raceco out in front of the field dominated by Chenowths. Even with all the fan support, Mustard had to settle for second place and no trophy. Brad Castle took home the trophy with third place going to Frank Arciero Jr. Danny Rice ended up in fifth.
At the beginning of the first Grand National Sport Trucks heat race, it was Rob MacCachren and Ivan Stewart that fought over who would lead the pack. As the two swapped paint going into turn one they managed to get hung up with one another and the pack left them behind. Walker Evans (last year’s event winner) took the lead in his Jeep with Roger Mears settling into second. Mears let Evans know right from the start that he came to Denver to race. Behind Mears was another heated battle between Danny Thompson and points leader Robby Gordon.
Things remained in this order until lap four when Gordon found a vacant spot next to Thompson. Up front, Mears decided he had followed Evans long enough. He was able to give a serious threat on the sixth and seventh lap but was not able to get around.
At the checkered flag, it was Walker Evans followed by a very close Roger Mears. Third-place points went to Robby Gordon and fourth was Danny Thompson.
The following event was the 4-Wheel ATVs. A total of 20 riders were in this first heat. Off the starting line, Niclas Granlund jumped his Honda into turn one first. followed by Gary McNeil. But clearing his way through the pack like Hurricane Hugo was Marty Hart. On the fourth lap, Hart slipped into second place and set his sights on Granlund. On the following lap, Hart had his momentum rolling and took the lead.
Marty Hart went on for the win with early leader Niclas Granlund holding onto second place. Third place went to Donny Banks.
Heat two of the 4-Wheel ATVs consisted of 19 riders. Off the line, Derek Hamilton took command of the event. Kenneth Delk however was charging through the pack and on lap two took second place from Mike Olmsted. It took Delk another three laps before reeling in on Hamilton and taking the lead. At the finish, Kenneth Delk was first with Hamilton and Olmsted trailing.
The first heat of SuperLites drew 11 contestants. Former class champ Rennie Awana jumped out front with Ron Pierce in tow. John Gerjes grabbed third with Don Archibald in fourth. The front four positions didn’t change throughout the race. The most action came from Rory Holliday as he moved through the pack only to end up in sixth place.
In the second SuperLite heat, 18 drivers came out to battle. Among the field was Jeff Huber, last year’s Team Mazda driver, driving for Team Briggsbuilt. Huber debuted the new Briggsbuilt at the LA Coliseum but new car blues kept him from the battle.
At the start it was veteran SuperLite racer Allen Yaros out front followed by Chuck Parker and Frank Chavez. Two laps later the entire field changed positions. Chavez took the lead from Yaros. Yaros then found Jeff Huber looking for a way around him, and then on the following lap, Huber slipped into second. Frank Chavez was able to keep Huber at bay. Third place went to early leader Allen Yaros and fourth was Holgeir Oksnevad ahead of Mary Sullivan. Gerry Koop spun out before the finish line and was listed in ninth.
UltraStock racing was next. Only eight of the funny cars of off-road racing came out to compete. At the green, it was Tim Lewis jumping out front in his Porsche. In close second place was Lloyd Castle. Castle was able to take the lead once during the race but Lewis quickly regained it and went on for the win. Lloyd Castle took second and third place was Jeff Elrod.
In the UltraCross Pro Motorcycle heat, Tallon Vohland put his Kawasaki out front early and went on for the win. Second place was Gilbert Murray with Denny Stephenson third. Ryan Huges finished fourth and fifth place, in a field of 23, was Stacey Cook.
Heat one of the Super 1600 drew 13 starters. Hometown boy Mitch Mustard gave the crowd something to cheer at as he jumped out front the early leader. Things got tense on the second lap as seven cars piled into one another causing a delay in the heat. Once underway Mustard again held the lead. The event then turned into following the leader as Mustard went on to win. Roger Mears Jr. brought his Chenowth across second and third went to Texan Billy Beck. David Adams actually crossed over in third place but the Rough Driving Committee ruled he was pushing excessively causing him to be listed in fourth place. Frank Arciero Jr. finished fifth.
The second heat race of Super 1600 cars had 12 entries. Albert Arciero and Kent Castle shared the front row. Castle caught Arciero napping and jumped out the leader. Arciero’s trouble didn’t end there; soon after Jerry Whelchel and he tangled causing both to stop on the track. Both were able to continue. This allowed Brad Castle a chance at brother Kent with Larry Noel settling into third. Brad Castle however was suffering from a flat tire. Brad was able to hold off Noel until lap four. Soon after Ron Carter, and Al Arciero both found their way around the crippled Raceco of Castle.
Kent Castle was able to make a clean win of the event. Second place went to Larry Noel and Ron Carter took third. Brad Castle appeared to have finished fourth but the Rough Driving Committee ruled against him dropping position. Bob Gordon was also ruled against.
In the second Grand National heat, the Jeep of Rob MacCachren sat next to Ivan Stewart’s Toyota on row one. Danny Thompson and Walker Evans made up row two. When the race got underway MacCachren flipped his Jeep when he and Thompson tangled on the first lap. This caused a complete restart and this time MacCachren was able to grab the lead. The MacCachren and Thompson continued until MacCachren suffered mechanical woes and pulled off, giving the lead to Thompson.
Roger Mears moved into second place and third was being fought over by the boys from Toyota. By the fourth lap, Robby Gordon had settled the argument over who should be in third place but then grew tired of that position and went after Mears. Gordon was able to make a couple of serious threats on Mears but Mears kept the Nissan out front.
Danny Thompson won the event but suffered a serious puff of engine smoke as he crossed the finish line. Mears held second and Gordon was third. Ivan Stewart finished ahead of Walker Evans. Evans also had the committee drop three points against him.
MAIN EVENTS: The 4-Wheel ATVs were the first main event runners. A total of 24 riders came out to race. Todd David jumped out front and didn’t look back. His win was rather uneventful. However, the battle for second went on throughout the race. Niclas Granlund was the first to settle into second place. Then came along Kenneth Delk. Delk ended up with second while Granlund finished fourth after Derek Hamilton stole third.
The UltraStock main event was won by David Kreisler in a Porsche. Kreisler took the lead when Jeff Elrod, who was sharing the front row, ran into the wall and was unable to continue. Tim Lewis, also driving a Porsche, managed to get second place and add four passing points to his total. Lloyd Castle tried for the win a little to hard and had the rough driving watchers set him back one position into third place. Chris Neil was fourth and fifth place went to Vincent Tjelmeland.
In the SuperLite main event, 24 cars lined up to race. At the end of the race, only 16 cars were still running. At the front of the pack was former champ Rennie Awana who also added 6 passing points to his season total. Coming in a close second was Rory Holliday. Frank Chavez lost third due to a Rough Driving Committee ruling. Allen Yaros managed fourth and fifth went to Don Archibald.
Super 1600 main event was stuffed full. A total of 25 cars lined up with five of those being from Colorado. However, even with the odds stacked against him, Mitch Mustard pulled it together for the Denver fans. While moving through the pack to take the win Mustard also added 6 points for passing to his season total. Roger Mears, Jr kept his Chenowth out of the traffic and took second place. Third place went to Billy Beck and fourth was Jerry Whelchel. Kent Castle managed fifth.
Denny Stephenson brought his Kawasaki from Omaha, Nebraska to compete at the Mile High event. After the main event, Denny felt the trip was well worth it. The event winner edged out Jim Holley on a Yamaha and Lowell Thomson took third. Jeremy Middaugh was the first Coloradian and fourth overall. Gilbert Murray took fifth.
When they lined up the main event of Grand National Sport Trucks, it was Robby Gordon on the pole with Roger Mears alongside. The second row consisted of Walker Evans and Ivan Stewart. The third row had Rob MacCachren and Danny Thompson who was in his backup truck.
At the start, Mears came out swinging. He pulled Gordon’s Toyota off the line and came out of turn one first. Gordon held onto second and his teammate Stewart filled the third spot. In his fever to get around Mears, Gordon clipped the hydro barrier allowing Stewart and Evans to get by. This gave Mears plenty of breathing room.
On lap five Evans and Stewart tangled which gave Gordon back his second-place spot. Meanwhile, Evans was able to get in front of Stewart for third place. Evans was not through. He came back on the ninth lap and took second place from Gordon. Gordon had been placed in the penalty box for consistently driving two wheels off the course, an infraction that he had been warned about in the heats.
Roger Mears won the event, which is his first Mickey Thompson Gran Prix main event win since 1987. Walker Evans brought his Jeep in second and Robby Gordon was third. Ivan Stewart finished fourth.

Popular Post