The first round of qualifying in Boulder City, NV brought with it a few surprises. With the fastest three consecutive laps from yesterday’s final practice round used to seed drivers of similar speeds together for qualifying, and the fastest heats per class running at the end of the round, the times dropped with each race and created an exciting on-the-clock battle for TQ when the ‘A’ qualifiers hit the track.
Team Durango’s Ryan Lutz had flashes of brilliance in yesterday’s timed practice and proved they weren’t a fluke with his DNX408T. Despite having one of the slowest hot laps of the top ten drivers, Lutz finished round one with nearly a 1.5 second advantage over the field after a mistake-free drive. The Midwest-to-CA transplant was all smiles (as usual) after kicking off his weekend in top fashion, and we caught up with him in the pits to talk about his run, the challenges of running four classes this weekend, and what he believes are his biggest advantages over his competitors on this layout.
A Main Hobbies’ team driver and Las Vegas local Dylan Rodriguez, who qualified 2nd overall in Pro Buggy at this race last year, drove his Kyosho ST-RR EVO to a strong runner-up finish for the round. Opting to sleep in his family’s motorhome here at the track rather than drive back and forth from his home all weekend, Dylan looks to repeat his performance from last year that saw him make the A-Main in every class he raced.
Behind Rodriguez were the TLR teammates of Adam Drake and Mike Truhe. After a couple of bobbles on laps 3 and 4, Drake turned the fastest lap of the round (32.121) on the penultimate circuit to come up just seven-hundredths of a second short of Rodriguez when time expired. Though just a second and a half separated the top three, Truhe was 2.3 seconds back from Drake as the biggest gap among the top ten drivers – with less than nine seconds separating first from tenth.
Other top ten notes:
– XRAY frontman Josh Wheeler placed 5th, the lone XT8 backed by a team with significantly fewer drivers here than at Nitro Challenge.
– Former winners Cody King, Jared Tebo (fastest in yesterday’s practice), and Ryan Cavalieri were in the bottom half of the top ten.
– Drew Moller, who qualified for his first Pro main at a national-level event by securing a spot in the Buggy class final at The Dirt Nitro Challenge, got off to a good start with a 7th-place finish for the round.
Pro Truck – Round One
1. Ryan Lutz – 13/7:07.651
2. Dylan Rodriguez – 13/7:09.137
3. Adam Drake – 13/7:09.206
4. Mike Truhe – 13/7:11.509
5. Josh Wheeler – 13/7:12.548
6. Cody King – 13/7:12.724
7. Drew Moller – 13/7:13.797
8. Billy Fischer – 13/7:14.054
9. Jared Tebo – 13/7:15.251
10. Ryan Cavalieri – 13/7:16.170
Though Pro Truck produced a few interesting stories on Friday morning, no one was shocked to see how the Pro Buggy drivers fared their first time on the clock. Kyosho’s Jared Tebo, a multi-time former winner at Silver State, overcame a couple of small bobbles and even a tangle with a broken car to top the charts in round one. Using his first big race entry in the Electric Buggy class to test some tire and suspension changes that he later made to his nitro-powered MP9 TKI3, Tebo was the fastest buggy by 1.7 seconds and plans further changes for round two.
Tebo’s Team Orion and AKA teammate Ryan Cavalieri was second fastest, having missed out on the opportunities to take advantage of Tebo’s mishaps. Ryan plans on changing engines for this evening’s run, looking for more bottom end power to clear the track’s tricky rhythm sections that have become even more difficult as the ruts continue to develop. Without the support of Team Associated cohort Ryan Maifield, who is at the JConcepts Spring Indoor Nationals in Texas, Cavalieri was the only RC8.2 FT to make the top ten.
Just as they did in Truck, Team Losi Racing’s nitro duo of Adam Drake and Mike Truhe finished together on the clock and slotted into third and fourth for the round, joined this time by Billy Fischer in fifth. Running the 8IGHT 3.0 for the first time at Silver State, the teammates look to improve each time they hit the track with suspension adjustments planned for tonight’s round of racing. Drake’s run was a huge improvement after a five second wreck on lap one, from which he had to recover with some of the fastest laps of the race.
With the top seven drivers all running 13 laps, Agama Racing’s Jeremy Kortz grabbed ninth-place points in round one by winning the B-heat by one second over Cody Smith who rounded out the top ten. When asked about changes for the second round, Kortz laughed and noted that there’s really no change you can make the cars cope with holes that are large enough to swallow them whole. “There’s not much you can do – clean the body, put new tires on, and hope the car works.”
Pro Buggy – Round One
1. Jared Tebo – 13/7:19.966
2. Ryan Cavalieri – 13/7:21.633
3. Adam Drake – 13/7:27.201
4. Mike Truhe – 13/7:28.103
5. Billy Fischer – 13/7:29.589
6. Josh Wheeler – 13/7:29.883
7. Drew Moller – 13/7:33.892
8. Cody King – 12/7:02.383
9. Jeremy Kortz – 12/7:03.062
10. Cody Smith – 12/7:04.124