TORC: Barlow Motorsports preview

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TORC: Barlow Motorsports preview

RICKY JOHNSON AND THE BARLOW MOTORSPORTS RED BULL OFF-ROAD RACING TEAM WIN THE 2009 FCP CHAIRMAN'S CUP Crandon, Wisconsin-Ricky Johnson jumped out to an early lead in the 2009 Forest County Potawatomi Chairman's Cup race driving to an...

RICKY JOHNSON AND THE BARLOW MOTORSPORTS RED BULL OFF-ROAD RACING TEAM WIN THE 2009 FCP CHAIRMAN'S CUP

Crandon, Wisconsin-Ricky Johnson jumped out to an early lead in the 2009 Forest County Potawatomi Chairman's Cup race driving to an impressive flag- to-flag victory. Johnson, driving the Barlow Motorsports Red Bull Off-Road Racing Ford F-150 AMSOIL PRO 2WD truck was able to find clean air after a first turn tangle and stayed on the gas to fend off the entire 17-truck field. The race featured many of the biggest names in off-road racing, nearly half of which were driving PRO 4x4 trucks capable of faster lap times.

Johnson's FCP Chairman's Cup win was well deserved. Currently leading points in the PRO 2WD division of the Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL with three wins and five podium finishes in just six rounds of racing, Ricky Johnson is proving to be as fast and consistent in the world of off-road short course truck racing as he was as a Supercross star. Those are the qualities that win championships and the entire Barlow Motorsports Red Bull Off-Road Racing team is focused toward that goal in TORC's inaugural year.

The 2009 FCP Chairman's Cup and TORC Series races were a great kick-off to Crandon International Raceway's historic 40th Anniversary year. TORC's mission to deliver a professional short course series with a national scope made the decision to highlight Crandon as an anchor race a logical one. This is the heartland and no place understands this short course of off-road racing like Crandon, Wisconsin.

Johnson wasn't the only Red Bull Ford on the Crandon track that had people talking. Steve Barlow, in the Number 2 Red Bull PRO 4X4 Ford F-150, showed both speed and the savvy of a veteran driver in both rounds five and six. In Sunday's race, Barlow was first into turn one and held off a hard charging Kyle LeDuc in the opening laps before opening up an impressive lead. Barlow looked untouchable but fell off the pace at the halfway point with mechanical problems. On lap two, Barlow's alternator failed and Steve powered down everything that wasn't absolutely essential. The voltage drop reduced engine power, but you couldn't tell by the commanding lead Steve had on the field early in the race.

Even with the alternator problem, it appeared Barlow had a good shot at a podium finish. But it was not to be - the front differential self- destructed in catastrophic fashion, sidelining the Red Bull Bosch Power Tools F-150 with just two laps to go. There's no way to tell if the differential was damaged by early race contact and fluid loss spraying on the engine led to the alternator failure, but that is a likely chain of events given the meticulous race prep these trucks receive.

Both trucks were very fast at Crandon as evidenced by their ability to get through Turn One at the front of the pack. PRO 4x4 and PRO 2WD starts on Sunday looked like an instant replay of each other with the Barlow Motorsports Red Bull Off-Road Road Racing Ford F-150s pulling hole shots and leading through Turn One. Crandon features s a long, fast land-rush start with the trucks lined up fender to fender from a stop. At the end of the starting line straight is Crandon's infamous Turn One. With trucks pitched sideways at speeds nearing 100 mph, getting through Turn One first can make or break your day. Barlow Motorsports' decision to go with Roush Yates power this year is delivering impressive results.

Ricky Johnson took some hard hits in Saturday's round five race, stating that he felt like a "pinball" at times getting bunted in every direction. Rather than retaliate, Johnson kept his head in the game and drove on the ragged edge working his way back through the field to keep his podium streak alive with a third place finish. Johnson's white flag lap was 126.4 seconds-six-tenths faster than any other Pro 2WD to earn the Oakley Bomb Run Award for the quickest lap.

On Sunday, Ricky Johnson's great start and lead placed the number 48 Red Bull F-150 in a two-way battle with Crandon veteran Scott Taylor. Taylor also benefits from Roush Yates power and he knows his way around the Crandon's natural terrain circuit as well as anyone. Johnson led through the restart after the mandatory yellow and was successfully holding off Taylor with just two to go. Then, at the end of the high speed back straight Johnson slowed for a yellow flag and Taylor, running in his dust didn't see the yellow in time and got into the back of the number 48. The resulting contact cut the tire on the left rear of Johnson's truck. Thanks to the tough construction of the Kumho tires, even with the flat, Ricky was able to complete the final two laps and finish fourth to gain valuable championship points.

Due to the way the frontend housing is mounted in the chassis of Barlow's truck, there simply wasn't time to change it between Sunday's points race and the Cup race. The Barlow Motorsports Red Bull Off-Road Race Team is on a roll and that momentum should serve the team well at the upcoming Bark River, Michigan races and when the TORC Series returns to Crandon Labor Day Weekend. The team's goal is to repeat at Crandon and win the BorgWarner Cup. Steve Barlow is well overdue to win the big one.

The Crandon race is scheduled to air Sunday June 28th at 12:30 pm on ESPN2. The Traxxas TORC Series continues the Midwestern swing when race action resumes July 11th and 12th at Bark River International Raceway in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Be sure to mark Labor Day weekend on your calendar for the TORC Series Crandon rematch-the 40th Anniversary celebration should make it one for the history books. If you can't make it, don't miss the race action when it airs LIVE September 6th at 5:00 pm on ABC.

-credit: barlow

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Series OFFROAD