As the 2017 Season Nears End, Drivers Lay Foundations for Bigger Things in 2018
In order to contend for a class championship in TORC: The Off-Road Championship Series, teams must be fully prepared to start the season strong. As the 2017 season nears its finale at ERX Motor Park, several teams and drivers are already in full testing mode for their 2018 programs in order to hit the ground running next season. Though it may seem early, drivers know there’s no substitution for time behind the wheel. Though much is subject to change and an entire off-season of opportunity awaits, this weekend’s Kenda Final Rounds will offer something of a sneak peak at 2018 fields. Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on that could very well be in the hunt for a new championship in 2018.
Zach Martin: A familiar name for TORC fans, Zach Martin has been one of the fastest competitors in the PRO Stock UTV division all season long, and currently sits in second place in the championship points standings. Martin has always had the ambition to join the truck ranks, and when the opportunity arose to purchase a PRO Light the week before Crandon, he kicked things into high gear.
“We flew out to Arizona and drove back in a semi with a PRO Light!” said Martin. “I stopped to pick up my crew chief in Minneapolis, we threw a wrap on the truck real quick, and pulled it to the track.”
The weekend went relatively well for the brand-new PRO Light owner, as Martin kept the truck on all fours and laid down some solid lap times during practice rounds and races at Crandon, even outrunning several established competitors in Sunday’s main event. Expect Martin to take some big steps forward at the Kenda Final Rounds in his second ever PRO Light appearance.
Daely Pentico: 18-year-old Arizona native Daely Pentico burst onto the TORC racing scene in 2017, entering competition in the PRO Stock UTV class as well as Super Buggy. Daely began his off-road racing career at just eight years of age, and has risen rapidly through several classes on the West Coast since, racking up over 60 podiums, two class championships, and five different class rookie of the year awards – earning the nickname “The Rookie” along the way.
Heading into RedBud, Pentico was right in the thick of the Stock UTV chase and leading the Super Buggy points. But an opportunity arose that put his racing pursuits in both classes on hold. After picking up some engine support for the upcoming 2018 season, Pentico sold his Super Buggy and UTV and purchased Andy Zipperer’s PRO 2.
“The PRO 2 is happening and it’s going to be awesome! [sic. We are] moving forward a little sooner than we expected. I’m super excited to be partnering with Ron Sharp at Roush Ford Racing and to be on the team with Patrick Clark, Brad Lovell, and Keegan Kincaid. Roush is building motors for us right now for our 2018 season.”
The team got some valuable laps in at Crandon with the old engine, and are hoping to have the truck ready for TORC competition in time for the Kenda Final Rounds. If the number 36 truck is on the track, keep an eye on it—you may see it out front a lot in 2018.
Andrew Carlson: It’s safe to say that Andrew Carlson has taken a testing season to a whole new level. The Elk River, MN native purchased Keegan Kincaid’s PRO 2 in the offseason and debuted it at Bark River in Round 7 with low expectations, looking to lay the foundations for a 2018 run. But the debut could not have gone any better, as Carlson led the race from the drop of the green flag and sped on to the win in his first career PRO 2 start.
Carlson’s success since has been well-documented. He instantly became one of the top competitors in the class, and has won three out of five races so far. Expect him to run extremely strong at his home track ERX Motor Park, and make his case to be considered the favorite to win the PRO 2 class championship in 2018.
The Kenda Final Rounds at ERX Motor Park kicks off bright and early at 10:30AM on Friday, September 22nd.
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Andrew Pfluger is a longtime race fan and writer for the TORC Series. To offer feedback or make suggestions for future content, please email email@example.com.