After a trying opening weekend in Arizona resulted in Doug Fortin lying tenth in points, a better, yet still difficult weekend saw Fortin pick up a fifth and a fourth, bumping him up three spots in the standings to seventh. As the 2016 season of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series entered its third weekend of completion, Fortin was hoping for still more improvement from himself and his #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./General Tire/E3 Spark Plugs Pro-4, and that’s just what he got.
The Utah Motorsports Campus has been a track of mixed fortunes for Fortin in his previous two visits, and while Fortin feels his truck handles the tight confines well, grip is also at a premium, and the talent level in the Pro 4 Unlimited field this season meant that Fortin had to be realistic. Consistency and podium finishes were his primary objectives, and after Friday practice, Fortin was very pleased with the feel of his truck. “The truck was good, the best the truck’s felt all year,” Fortin said. “The changes we made were good, and the truck was faster than it’s ever been here. The motor felt strong, and I knew we could race well.”
Overnight rain resulted in a track that was mostly covered in standing water on Saturday morning, which forced the cancellation of Round 5 qualifying. Fortin realized that it was still a long race, though, and took the cancellation in stride; no qualifying meant that the drivers would start according to their championship position, and so Fortin would line up seventh.
Fortin moved up a spot to sixth in the early running, and on a mid-race restart, he flew past both Eric Barron and Rob MacCachren to take over fourth place. Unfortunately, officials determined that Fortin had jumped the restart, and so he was given the black flag. “I’m sure I probably jumped,” Fortin said afterwards, “but I only went because the guy in front of me went, and when your spotter is at the other end of the track, that’s what you gotta do.” Unbowed, Fortin bounced right back, sailing past Doug Mittag over the huge tabletop on the back straight to take over fifth on lap 14. Sticking to his consistency plan, Fortin moved up as others faltered, including championship leader Carl Renezeder, and at the finish, Fortin found himself third, his best result of the season so far. “I felt really good about it (the race),” Fortin said, “considering the black flag and still finishing third, having to pass people twice. The truck felt good and I felt confident in it.”
Rain again threatened on Sunday, but Round 6 qualifying was still able to be held. Fortin ended up sixth, saying he felt good about his effort, as everyone ahead of him was within just over one second. Fortin himself was just over two tenths of a second out of fourth spot, and while he felt he never put together the one good, clean lap he needed, he was still feeling good about his race prospects.
The Round 6 race itself was fairly uneventful for Fortin. Aside from a good, albeit short, scrap with Mittag mid-race (which Fortin won out), lack of grip was Fortin’s main hindrance. When race leader Bryce Menzies went out due to an accident on a restart, Fortin moved up to fourth, where he stayed for the rest of the race, unable to match the pace of the trio of drivers ahead of him, but also safely clear of those behind him. Fortin again stuck with his consistency approach, and with a third and a fourth place here this weekend, Fortin bounced up two more places in the standings, as he now sits fifth after moving ahead of Greg Adler and Mittag.
Fortin and his team now look ahead to Rounds 7 and 8 of this year’s championship, which will be held south of the border in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. “That place was not good for us last year,” Fortin stated. “We lost two motors, but supposedly they have brought in some fresh dirt and changed things up a bit, so I hope we can go down there and kick butt!”
Doug would like to thank all of his sponsors for their valued and continued support:
Fortin Racing, Inc.
E3 Spark Plugs
Toyota of Escondido Action Sports
Maxima Racing Oils
Fox Racing Shox
Method Race Wheels
Toyota Racing Development
Automotive Racing Products
McGrath Fiberglass Products
Gibson Performance Exhaust
Cool It Thermo-Tec
For more information, please visit www.fortinracing.com