Riverside, California - April 22, 2014 - The month that has gone by since the opening rounds of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series has been a fairly quiet time for Stronghold Motorsports. The next five weeks will be the busiest stretch of the year for the team.
It starts this weekend with the second event on the Lucas Oil Off Road schedule, the Southern California Shootout on Friday (April 25) and Saturday (April 26) nights at nearby Lake Elsinore (California) Motorsports Park, where the series' team of the year for the past two seasons will field entries for Brandon Bailey in Pro 4, Larry Job in Pro Buggy and Madix Bailey in Junior 1 Karts.
The Shootout will be followed by a return to the Nevada desert to continue pursuit of a Class 1 championship in the Silver State 300 May 3, a two-vehicle effort for the NORRA Mexican 1000 in Baja California May 10-14, round two of the Lucas Oil Southern California Regional Series at Lake Elsinore May 17 and the resumption of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, Nevada, May 30-31. Just for good measure, crew chief Nick Griner and his wife Carli are expecting their second child, a daughter, in early May.
There's also a test session this week to determine whether Brandon Bailey will debut the team's new Pro 4 truck at Lake Elsinore or do at least one more event in the truck that carried him to Rookie of the Year honors in 2013.
"I want to make sure that it's right when we take it out there," Bailey said. "We're going to put a good day on it (at Glen Helen Raceway in Devore, California) so we'll kind of know where we're sitting, if we're fast or not. It should be good. It's a different (type of) track, definitely, but we'll be able to know if it's there or not."
A new truck will be the next step in Bailey's evolution as a Pro 4 driver. The 32-year-old has been driving only for four years (Super Lites in 2009, Pro Buggy for part of 2010 and 2011, Pro 4 in 2013) so he's still learning many of the intricacies of the job. But after finishing ninth and fifth in the opening rounds at Chandler, Arizona, in March despite problems with a differential one day and a flat tire and brake loss the second, Bailey can see progress.
"I wish we would have been able to capitalize on some of the stuff that happened and been able to get a couple of podiums," he said, "but I feel good. I felt like we worked well together. I know that some of the changes that we did make over the weekend bettered the car, and I'm glad we're able to work together and do that.
"I felt like I drove decent, (but) it's hard sometimes when you're just trying to get around the track and finish the race. These guys always do an awesome job on prepping the cars and all that, so I definitely have a team behind me to be able to go and succeed. A little good luck on our side would be nice, and it's going to happen.
"We can run closer to where we want to start running. Last year we were still a couple of seconds off of where the faster guys were and now we're not that far off. I think with having a new vehicle that's straight and happy we should be able to go run with them."
The team did well at Lake Elsinore last season. In the spring event Bailey finished 3rd in round 5 and 7th in round 6, then was 11th in round 15 and 17th after breaking early in the season-ending Pro versus Pro 4 Challenge Cup race. Job was 10th and 12th in the spring, 4th in round 15 and 3rd in the Cup race and Madix Bailey had a win and a 5th in the spring, an 8th in the final points race and a 4th in the Cup race for the Junior 1 Karts.
"I like Elsinore," Bailey said. "It's always good to race at home. I can sleep in my own bed and race with family and friends being there. I'm excited about it. I like having them there. It helps energize me and gets me going. I feel like it helps, definitely, just knowing that everybody is there and supporting me. I feel like it's not just me that's out in the car, it's everybody that's there for Stronghold Motorsports."
The Shootout will be the first night event of the season. Spectator gates will open at noon both days with practice and qualifying in the afternoon and racing getting under way at 6 p.m. The Junior 1 Karts will race only on Saturday night.
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