Carl Renezeder takes his first Pro-4 championship; Kincaid once again edges out Huseman in Pro-Lite
New Berlin, NY (September 14, 2003)-With championships to be decided in the Pro-4 and Pro-Lite divisions, the racing, and tensions among the drivers, became furious in the final two rounds of the 2003 CORR Lucas Oil Series at the Unadilla Valley Sports Center in New Berlin, New York.
With 22 points separating the top-four drivers in the division, it was almost as if the competitors had an 'all or nothing' mentality heading into the final two rounds. Carl Renezeder entered the weekend with a ten-point lead over Curt LeDuc. Johnny Greaves and Scott Douglas were within striking distance of Renezeder with 40 points up for grabs.
In Round 13, Johnny Greaves recovered from spinning out on the first lap to win for the fourth time in 2003. Greaves was able to catch the leaders when Josh Baldwin, Curt LeDuc, Scott Douglas, and Carl Renezeder piled into each other around the second turn on the sixth lap. With the top four drivers delayed by the accident, that opened the door for Greaves to slip by. Renezeder was able to recover and finish second, and had a comfortable 188 to 171 lead with one round left to claim his first championship in the CORR Lucas Oil Series.
In Round 14, it was a showdown between two of the most popular trucks in the division, the RANCHO Ford of Scott Douglas and the Skyjacker Ford of Curt LeDuc.
It did not matter that Renezeder clinched the Pro-4 championship when he completed one lap. With a long history of success for Douglas and LeDuc in off-road racing, the competitors were at it again, ferociously battling for the final win of the 2003 season. LeDuc took the lead on the sixth lap, with Douglas two truck-lengths behind him. Douglas made several attempts to pass LeDuc, and he did on the final turn, but Douglas was assessed a black-flag penalty, giving LeDuc his second win in 2003, and sole possession of second place.
Douglas finished the 2003 season in third place. Renezeder finished Round 14 in 5th place and 199 points. LeDuc had 191 points, and Douglas had 180. 2002 Pro-4 champion Johnny Greaves finished 4th in the division with 171 points. Renezeder finished the season with 4 wins and 12 top-five finishes in 14 starts.
With Scott Taylor wrapping up his 5th straight Pro-2 title after Round 12, pride was on the line for the Pro-2 drivers, who were eager to prove they could take their best shot against the 2003 Pro-2 champion. Taylor did not back off in his Mobil1 Ford, winning the final round of the year, and placing second in Round 13. Carl Renezeder passed Evan Evans for the lead with one and a half laps to go in Round 13 to win, his third Pro-2 win of the year. Evan Evans finished third.
With Taylor building an insurmountable lead from the start in Round 14, the battle was for second. Dan Vanden Heuvel took over second place to claim that spot over Evans. Renezeder finished third, and finished the Pro-2 season in second-place behind Taylor, 222 to 176. Evan Evans finished third with 161 points, and Vanden Heuvel's Kumho Tire Chevrolet finished the year in fourth with 146 points. Taylor's year included 6 victories and 13 top-four finishes in 13 rounds.
After a miserable weekend of racing in Rounds 11 and 12, Rick Huseman fell back to fourth place, 20 points behind leader Jeff Kincaid heading into Round 13. Art Schmitt and Chad Hord were tied for second. To keep their championship hopes alive, Schmitt, Hord and Huseman would need two great rounds of racing to catch the defending champion.
Huseman did all he could do to catch Kincaid by sweeping Rounds 13 and 14. Although he swept both rounds, Kincaid's Forest County Potawatomi Toyota placed third (Round 13) and fourth (Round 14) to win the Pro-Lite title for the fourth time in a row, 173 to 167 over Huseman. This is the third season in a row in which Huseman (4 wins and 9 top-five finishes) placed second behind Kincaid (4 wins and 9 top-four finishes).
In Round 13, Huseman was behind Kyle LeDuc and Mark Krueger at the start. After LeDuc went off the course, Krueger took the lead, and maintained it until Huseman passed him at the half-way point. Krueger held on to second- place, while Kincaid placed third and Schmitt fourth.
In Round 14, LeDuc once again took the lead at the start and held it for nearly ten laps, before Huseman passed his Skyjacker Ford with two laps to go. LeDuc finished second in Round 14, while Krueger placed third and Kincaid fourth.
Chad Hord (150 points) finished the Pro-Lite season in third-place, and Art Schmitt (142 points) placed fourth. Steven Federico (136), Joe Wutke III (115) rounded out the top-six in the highly competitive division. Mark Krueger and Kyle LeDuc tied for seventh-place in the final Pro-Lite point standings with 114 points.
In the 2003 Manufacturer Championship, Chevrolet edged Ford in Pro-2 236 to 226. In Pro-Lite, Toyota (220) beat Ford (218) and Nissan (188). In Pro- 4, Ford finished the year with 224 points, Chevrolet had 207 points, and Toyota had 171.
Even though the competition is finished in the 2003 CORR Lucas Oil Series, the competitors will meet again Saturday November 1, 2003 in Green Bay, WI for the Champion's Banquet and award ceremony.