by Brett Carpenter
The first four rounds of racing in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series for the Jerett Brooks Racing team have had their ups and downs. With four straight podiums in Pro Lite keeping Jerett right in the hunt for the points championship and a big season-opening win in Pro 2, his confidence remains high and the team knows they have the speed needed to win, despite some bad luck along the way. Utah proved no different.
In Round 5, after qualifying 2nd in the Rigid Industries #77 Pro Lite, Jerett would start on the second row after the inversion. Championship contenders Brandon Arthur, Christopher Polvoorde, and Brock Heger each had a starting position in the first two rows and it was clear that winning round 5 would be no easy task on the tight Utah Motorsports Campus short-course track. As the green flag waved, Jerett made quick work of the guys on the front row and dove to the bottom of turn one. Now 3-wide through turns 2 and 3, Jerett would have the line and by turn 4 he’d hold sole possession of 1st place. As the action intensified behind him, Jerett maintained his pace and manage to hold off several pass attempts by Polvoorde who ran in 2nd. After an early first-lap push to the front, Jerett held the lead for all 14 laps taking home his first Pro Lite win of the season, making it 5 straight podiums.
“This win feels amazing. My crew has been working their butts off, I’ve been working my butt off, and it’s finally paying off. I thought we were losing a motor about half way through the race but we were able to get her to the finish line for my first win of the season. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going into round 6!” said Jerett after the race.
In Pro 2, Jerett would qualify 7th and start in the fourth row. After an early pass, he’d settle into 6th place and follow the lead pack for the first few laps. After some early contact because of a crash in turn 5 by Bradley Morris, Brooks would suffer a flat front right tire. Under caution, Jerett would head to the hot-pit where his team would perform a 32-second tire change and get Jerett back on the track under the lead-lap. This would prove to be major factor in the final results.
On lap 6, a crash by Rob MacCachren brought out another caution and Jerett moved up to 4th place. He’d battle with Bradley Morris and Jeremy McGrath for a handful of laps before McGrath would move into 4th position. With 5 to go, Jerett would have a front row seat behind an intense battle between McGrath and Rodrigo Ampudia for 3rd place and eventually the two would collect each other in the rhythm section and spin out. This allowed Jerett to make his move into podium position behind Brian Deegan and RJ Anderson. He’d finish the last 4 laps comfortably in 3rd place and would take his second podium finish of his Pro 2 rookie campaign. Jerett credited the quick tire-change by his team keeping him on the lead lap and allowing him to finish in podium position.
After qualifying 1st and earning a bonus point in the championship standings, Jerett would start in the 3rd row due to a 6-truck inversion. The unlucky starting position seemed to set a trend throughout the race as Jerett would find himself in a number of unlucky situations. But he’d battle regardless. On lap 1, Jerett would lose a spot and fall into 7th place. With a handful of championship contenders up front, Jerett knew he’d need to find his way through the pack quickly.
However, on lap 3 Christopher Polvoorde would over-rotate and get into the side of the #77 Rigid Industries Pro Lite coming out of turn 5 allowing Ray Griffith to get back. Still in 7th place, Jerett would regain composure and re-focus on moving up to the front. Only a couple of laps later, Jerett would again suffer from a turn-5 incident as he and Cole Mamer exchanged fiberglass as Mamer attempted to enter the hot-pit. Now in 6th place, Jerett would battle with Ray Griffith and with 6 to go, he’d make the pass to crack the top 5. It is there where he’d finish behind championship contenders Brandon Arthur, Ryan Beat, and Brock Heger in the top 3 and Ronnie Anderson in 4th.
After entering the weekend after the first 4 rounds of racing, Jerett sat 11 points behind Brock Heger for the Pro Lite points championship. After a 1st and 5th, Jerett would leave Utah with a 13 point lead over Heger and a little breathing room heading into Wheatland for rounds 7 and 8.
In Pro 2, Jerett would again start in row 4. He’d make quick work getting back Jeremy McGrath to move up to 6th position. With championship leaders Jeremy McGrath and Rob MacCachren bringing up the rear, and a couple unfamiliar faces towards the front, Jerett would need to get aggressive early to take advantage of the situation. On lap 3, Jerett would do just that. He managed to get by Patrick Clark to move into 5th and he’d have McGrath right on his back bumper. Only a few laps later, Jerett would pick up another spot after Rodrigo Ampudia made a slight mistake. Rob MacCachren would attempt to follow Jerett by but it was Ampudia who would hold his position in 5th, right behind the #77 General Tire, Bilstein Shocks Pro 2. Now on lap 9, a mandatory caution would fly. Jerett would restart the race in 4th place behind Bradley Morris, Brian Deegan, and RJ Anderson. With the track drying out, Jerett felt his traction improving and his truck getting faster. He’d remain on the verge of making a pass into the top 3 for the next couple of laps. However, with 4 laps to go, and Deegan now in 3rd, Jerett would make a run at him coming out of turn 1 but clipped the right-rear tire of Deegan sending Jerett into the wall between turns 1 and 2. His race would end shortly after in the hot-pit, where his crew would diagnose a broken upper arm to go along with a flat front right.
“It’s an unfortunate way to end a race when I know I had a truck capable of bringing home a podium. My crew did an awesome job as always and we know we have what it takes to win. I just wish we could have finished this one.. we were right there,” said a disappointed Brooks.
Jerett now sits tied for 5th in the Pro 2 championship standings. At 29 points back, and only 14 separating 2nd through 6th in the standings, Jerett is making a statement in his rookie Pro 2 season. He’ll continue to battle with the best in the business next month in Wheatland, MO for rounds 7 and 8 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. For more information, visit www.lucasoiloffroad.com.
Jerett Brooks Sponsors include include General Tire, Rigid Industries, Bilstein Shocks, KMC Wheels, Maxima Racing Oils, Optima Batteries, FK Rod Ends, K2 Coolers, Black Rhino Performance, Magnaflow Exhaust, Factory Canopies, Fortin Racing, Casper’s Concrete Busters, Eibach Springs, Howe Performance, Kroyer Racing Engines, Jones Racing Performance, Camburg, NoGrady Racing Engines, Adidas Motorsport, and Impact Safety.
Follow Jerett Brooks on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @Jerettbrooks77. Photos by Jerett Brooks Racing. For additional photos, please contact Brett Carpenter at email@example.com.