BACK-TO-BACK WINS FOR THE RED BULL OFF-ROAD RACING BARLOW MOTORSPORTS TEAM IN CALIFORNIA Perris, California-Ricky Johnson isn't off to a perfect start in the 2009 TORC Series presented by AMSOIL, but he's about as close as you can get. With four...
BACK-TO-BACK WINS FOR THE RED BULL OFF-ROAD RACING BARLOW MOTORSPORTS TEAM IN CALIFORNIA
Perris, California-Ricky Johnson isn't off to a perfect start in the 2009 TORC Series presented by AMSOIL, but he's about as close as you can get. With four rounds of racing complete, Johnson has won three times and he was second in the other. Clearly, the Barlow Motorsports team has the number 48 Red Bull Off-Road Racing Bosch Power Tool Ford F-150 in winning form and Johnson knows his way to the top of the podium.
TORC inverts the top six trucks by order of points standings, so Johnson was on the outside of row three of the two-wide starting grid for both rounds three and four. The Perris Auto Speedway short course off-road circuit was constructed within the confines of a dirt track oval. While relatively small, the design had a great variety of speed, tricky turns, and technical sections that were not kind to driver error. Johnson steered clear of trouble in the opening laps, settling into fifth before making a charge.
By lap three, he was in second behind Supercross protégé Jeremy McGrath and the two battled until Johnson could make a pass stick on the front straight in front of the grandstands. At the mandatory yellow flag on lap eleven, the PRO 2WD field bunched up behind the number 48 for the restart and Rob MacCachren capitalized on a McGrath spin to move into second. Ricky Johnson drove hard and smart all the way to the checkered flag at lap twenty for the win.
Round four was a similar scenario with Johnson starting sixth, moving to fourth by the time the pack made it back around to the start finish line, then letting things sort out before picking off trucks for the lead. On lap five, Johnson passed Scott Taylor moving into second and the crowd went wild sensing the ensuing battle between McGrath and Johnson. McGrath held the lead to the mandatory yellow on lap eleven, but Johnson got the jump at the green flag and held McGrath off to the finish line nine laps latter. Ricky Johnson also won the Oakley Bomb Award for the fastest lap in both rounds three and four. Johnson stretched his lead in PRO 2WD to 22 points after four rounds of racing.
PRO 4X4 pilot Steve Barlow had everyone's attention with some blistering fast laps in practice on Friday. The number 2 Red Bull Bosch Power Tool F- 150 was hooked up and seemed extremely fast off the corners. The switch to a Roush Yates engine program this year makes both trucks very difficult to pass when it comes down to a raw horsepower war.
In Friday night's round 3 action, Barlow was very impressive in the opening laps of the race. As the trucks crossed the start/finish line on lap one, Barlow was in third, passing Curt LeDuc to take over second on lap two. Barlow held second behind Johnny Greaves for the first seven laps and looked to be on his way to a strong podium finish. But the brutal pounding over the infield rhythm section and the larger jumps were taking their toll on the Red Bull F-150's suspension.
Shortly after the mandatory yellow on lap eleven, Barlow's suspension failed and the truck was difficult to drive at speed. Steve nursed the truck around to finish sixth and gain valuable PRO 4x4 championship points. "We missed the suspension setup today," commented Barlow after the race. "By the start of the PRO 4x4 race (the last of the day) the infield section was very rough and our truck was simply too soft through the bumps at race speed. We had plenty of speed, but you can't use it when the suspension is going away in the bumps."
After running up front on the opening laps, round 4 of PRO 4x4 action was shorted for Barlow by a push in the slick mud into the outside wall where the track turns hard left back onto the oval. Unfortunately, the resulting damage to the right front wheel assembly made the truck undriveable and Steve's only choice was to park it in the pits.
The Perris, California race is scheduled to air on Sunday June 7th at 5:00 pm on ABC. The Traxxas TORC Series heads to the wide-open spaces of Crandon International Raceway in Crandon, Wisconsin next. If you can't catch it in person June 20th and 21st, be sure to watch the ESPN2 coverage when it airs on June 28th at 12:30 pm. Crandon's long high-speed circuit should be a good match for the powerful Barlow Motorsports Red Bull trucks.
-credit: barlow motorsports