Following a tough race weekend for Doug Fortin at the most recent race down in Ensenada, México, Fortin turned to the ever-motivated and dedicated members of his Dream Team, who pulled out all the stops to get the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./General Tire/Toyota of Escondido Action Sports/Fox Racing Shox/Maxima Racing Oils Toyota back in shape for Rounds 13 and 14 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. It was another short turnaround period for the crew, who had just 15 days to have truck race ready, and with both of Fortin’s engines having sustained damage at Estero Beach, it would be a tall order to get the truck finished up in time.
Undeterred, the crew set to work, repairing and upgrading the front end of the truck after the crash Fortin had in Round 11, and after some frantic thrashing, everything was back together and better than ever for the weekend’s two races at Wild West Motorsports Park, just outside Reno, NV. Fortin came into the weekend with high hopes; having shown good speed at multiple events this year, and having scored his first career Pro 4 win here last season, Fortin felt that this was a track that suited him very well, and that quality results were well within reach.
In the first practice sessions, Fortin carried over some of the setup specifications that he and the team had used here last year, but he also knew that some of the changes he’s made this year would likely carry over as improvements for this track this year. Using the practice sessions as a test bed, this proved to be the case, and going into the weekend’s first qualifying session, Fortin felt very optimistic. Times were very close amongst the frontrunners, and while he was a bit disappointed to only come away in fifth, being within just a few tenths of those ahead of him gave Fortin even more hope for the race.
“I let the race come to me,” Fortin said, as he got by both Rob MacCachren and then Carl Renezeder in the early going, before he fell in right behind second-placed Bryce Menzies. “I felt confident that I was gonna get him,” Fortin said. “I worked on him until we lost the brakes around lap 12.” That loss of brakes came in the form of a lost master cylinder, which cut Fortin to the use of only his rear brakes. Ever the adaptive driver, Fortin was able to pump the brakes in mid-air before some of the corners, in order to get some of his braking power back, and was also able to downshift his Fortin FRST-5 transmission and rely on his Triad engine’s braking to get the truck slowed down in the hardest braking zone. Fortin held his own for the remainder of the race, and came away with a very solid podium finish of third place, as well as the Fast Lap of the race, his second Fast Lap of the season so far.
Having shown good pace on Saturday, Fortin was looking forward to Round 14 on Sunday, and despite making no setup changes, his confidence was well-based, as he qualified a season-best second. A six-position inversion of the qualifying results put Fortin back to fifth on the starting grid, but he made the best of it, and came out of turn two in second place, right behind Carl Renezeder. Fortin chased Renezeder hard for several laps, before points leader Kyle LeDuc caught up and tacked onto Fortin’s rear bumper, turning their group into a three-truck train race for the lead. The fans were on their feet as the trio charged hard for several laps, each driver running right on the absolute limit. Caught between trying to pass Renezeder without exposing himself too much to a move from LeDuc, Fortin was really looking for a pass up into turn one, where he felt he could use Renezeder’s truck to block LeDuc from passing him. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the chance to try his strategy, as an errant rock got into his engine’s oil pump belt, cutting the belt in two and ending his race in a flash.
“We definitely had a truck to win,” Fortin lamented. “Coming away from the race, it’s all good. We hurt the motor and lost the belt, but we had fast lap, too. It sucks, but what are you gonna do? Other than that, the truck came out in good shape.” Fortin now looks forward to the next event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the other track where Fortin scored a win last season. Siting the fact that his General Tires have worked very well there in the past, Fortin is hopeful that they will do so again, and added that he really likes the track, and hopes that he can turn the strong momentum from Reno into more podium finishes in Vegas.
Doug would like to thank all of his sponsors for their valued and continued support:
Fortin Racing, Inc.
Toyota of Escondido Action Sports
Fox Racing Shox
Maxima Racing Oils
Method Race Wheels
Weldon Racing Pumps
Automotive Racing Products
McGrath Fiberglass Products
Gibson Performance Exhaust
Cool It Thermo-Tec
For more information, please visit www.fortinracing.com.