Heading to the second race weekend of the 2015 season in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, Doug Fortin had high hopes for he and his #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./General Tire/Toyota of Escondido Action Sports/Fox Racing Shox/Maxima Racing Oils Toyota. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, AZ, is a track that Fortin likes, and he felt that his truck’s exceptional cornering capabilities would play into his hands at this track, one of the best tracks in the championship for making passes in the corners. Unfortunately for Fortin, things didn’t go as planned, as tough breaks consistently hampered him all weekend.
Fortin slotted in seventh and eighth in the two Thursday practice sessions. Usually one to find a benchmark in these sessions before making overnight changes and moving up the order in Friday qualifying, Fortin was denied that chance, as a heavy rain wiped out Friday qualifying, leaving Fortin and the rest of the field with no chance to try out their overnight changes before Friday night’s Round 3 main event. Moreover, the downpour left the track wetter than it’s ever been. Series crews did their best to work the water into the track, a track which Fortin said he and other drivers felt had substantially different characteristics compared to last year, but the conditions were still slick. This didn’t suit Fortin, who lined up fifth for the start of the race, as determined by his position in the championship standings.
Fortin struggled early, and with traction at a premium and his truck scrambling hard to find any, a gap developed between Fortin and the early leaders. Attrition was nearly nonexistent until the late laps of the race, but thanks to a few issues striking some of the drivers ahead of him, Fortin moved up to fourth by race’s end, securing valuable championship points after a frustrating night at the office. “We picked the wrong tire option of the couple that we had available,” Fortin admitted, “and we also had a new suspension setup that we hadn’t tried before- it didn’t work. I was really getting beat up over one particular jump, which I’ve never had, and once they had a 10 car length gap on me, it’s kinda survival mode. I didn’t want to push it because I knew something bad would happen.”
Saturday qualifying was a case of “oh, what might have been,” as an unusual number of yellow flags repeatedly cut short some of Fortin’s best runs, as did another competitor, whom Fortin eventually had to slow down and give a gap to in order to create enough free track ahead of himself to try for a clean lap. Thanks to the yellow flags, though, Fortin never got a chance to complete a good, clean lap, and would line up ninth for Round 4. The track was again slick, and after trying an all-new grooving pattern in the tires, he quickly realized that it wasn’t working. As he raced amongst some of the more wild competition, he ended up getting landed on by another truck on a restart. Fortin continued, however, and got as high as fourth late in the race. However, on the penultimate lap, possible contact with another driver resulted in a sudden rollover for Doug. Fortin landed on his wheels and was quickly able to continue, and while his truck had some cosmetic damage, he still brought it home in sixth, again scoring some good points, even if it was fewer than he might have hoped for.
Never one to give up, Fortin now looks to capitalize on what he learned this weekend, and bring an even stronger game to Rounds 5 and 6, which are now less than five weeks away. “We’ve erased all the changes we made,” Fortin says, “and we’re gonna be testing again in a couple weeks. General should have a new tire for us, and we’re gonna try a few Elsinore-related things that we ran out of time to try at the first race weekend.” The series returns to Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park in southern California, where Fortin set a new lap record during the opening round of this season, and he hopes to continue the form he found there when the championship resumes on May 30 and 31.
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.