2019 Holley EFI Clash at Cross Bar Race Recap

Weather Holds as the Annual Holley EFI Clash at Cross Bar Ranch Race Takes Over Davis, Oklahoma for the Third Year

Photos by Lindsey Fisher and Doug Dienelt

There's no denying that rapidly changing weather has been a constant for us over the years at the Holley EFI Clash at Cross Bar Ranch. Between flooding and chilly spells to tornadoes and long hot, sticky days we've pretty much seen it all. But this year, we were blessed by Mother Nature and the second race of the 4WP Eastern Series, the Holley EFI Clash at Cross Bar Ranch, went down without a hitch!

The Course:

Set up similar to years' past, the course at Cross Bar Ranch consisted of a short course and two separate loops, one more of the desert variety and the other a bit more on the rocky side. While pre-running was allowed on Thursday and Friday before 2pm on the entirety of the course, Friday's qualifying sessions took place strictly on the short course, complete with sharp turns, sweeping berms, a handful of jumps, and two small water crossings.

On Saturday, Can-Am Off-Road UTV competitors were required to hit each loop (Loop A – the 12.9-mile desert loop; and Loop B – the 11-mile mountainous loop) twice, completing the short course section between each loop. Limited Class competitors had varying loop configurations to complete when it came to their races. Spidertrax 4600 Stock Class drivers took on the desert loop twice and the rock loop once, hitting the short course in between loops. The Yukon Gear & Axle 4500 Modified Class and the Branik Motorsports 4800 Legends Class faced five laps total, including three desert laps and two rock laps with the short course starting each loop. Ultra4 4400 Unlimited Class competitors took on the most laps, with four desert laps and three rock laps, adding up to seven full loops with the short course a part of each.

Qualifying:

Qualifying kicked off on Friday at 3pm, starting with the 4600 Stock Class vehicles. With six competitors in the class, lap times were all within 35 seconds of each other. In the end, John Schaefer in the 4688 car took secured the pole position and earned the KMC Hard Charger Award for the class with a qualifying time of 2 minutes and 28.279 seconds.


Following the Stock Class, the UTV Class took to the track, with 23 drivers battling it out for the top slot. Over a minute separated the fastest qualifier and the slowest, with Dustin Robbins in car number 311 throwing down the fastest qualifying time of 1 minute and 55.052 seconds, securing the pole position and the KMC Hard Charger designation for the class.

Once the UTV Class was finished qualifying, the 4500 Modified and 4800 Legends class competitors lined up for their shots at securing the pole positions for Saturday's race in their respective classes. Only 13 seconds separated first and sixth in the 4500 Class while 18 seconds separated first and fourth in the 4800 Class. When all was said and done, Dan Fresh in the number 88 car secured the pole position and KMC Hard Charger designation for the 4500 Class with a qualifying time of 2 minutes and 9.107 seconds, while Casey Gilbert did the same in the 4800 Class with a qualifying time of 2 minutes and 6.318 seconds.


Last but certainly not least, the Unlimited 4400 Class took to the track, with 22 competitors trying to lay down the fastest lap and secure the pole for Saturday's race. Just over 45 seconds separated the slowest and fastest lap times and when the top slots were calculated, it was Loren Healy who came out on top with a fastest lap time out of all of the classes of 1 minute and 54.599 seconds, just under half a second faster than Dustin Robbins' qualifying time in the UTV Class.

For full qualifying results, please click HERE!

Friday's qualifying was followed by a mandatory drivers' meeting for all competitors taking the starting line on Saturday, and then the TRIBE 16/PSC Team Dinner.

UTV Race:

The UTV race kicked off a full day of racing at 7am on Saturday. Having secured the pole position the day before, Dustin Robbins led the pack off the Start line.

With four total loops to complete, competitors went through the first major S turn in the short course and then cut off to take on their first desert loop. While quick-paced and fairly flat, at least compared to the rockier Loop B, the first go at Loop A proved to be problematic for various reason for a handful of competitors, including Robbins. Out of the 21 UTVs that started, 17 made it through the first loop and went out for their second, the first go at the rocky Loop B, after a full trip around the short course.


Loop B, the more mountainous loop, put drivers and cars alike to the test, with numerous hill climbs, multiple rock obstacles, miles of tree-line track, and even some water crossings and a short creek crawl before the large Rock Face obstacle. While Mother Nature didn't add too much water and mud to the weekend, there was still plenty to be had thanks to the typical Oklahoma terrain.

After finishing Loop B, UTV competitors once again returned to the short course before going out for their second time on Loop A. Wear and tear on some of the cars at this point in the race proved to be detrimental, taking out another five cars going into the final loop. In the end, nine competitors were able to complete all four loops of the race, with Cole Clark taking the checkered flag after physical first, Nathan Wolff, was disqualified following a post-race inspection. Rounding out second and third places were Bailey Campbell and Travis Zollinger.

Limited Classes Race:

Next on the course were the Limited Class cars, with Casey Gilbert leading the charge. Sitting on the pole from qualifying on Friday, Gilbert was in a great position to continue his winning streak for the season in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, luck wasn't on Casey's side as mechanical failure knocked him down a lap behind the leaders. While Casey was down for a bit, he was able to return his car to working order and pull out a second-place finish behind the 4800 Class winner, Trevor Fults, the only competitor to complete all five loops of the race. Rounding out the 4800 Class podium was Randal Holmes.

 


Dan Fresh in the 88 car was also in a great position to run out front of the pack all race long in the 4500 Class, leading Jimmy Jack sometimes by just a few seconds, but putting in the work to ultimately take the checkers. Fresh had a relatively smooth go for all five race loops, allowing him to maintain his starting position and win the class by 4 and a half minutes. Following closely on Fresh's heels, Jimmy Jack took second place, followed by Jesse Oliver in third.

Just like at many of our races, the biggest challenge went to the 4600 Class, as they raced nearly the exact same course as the more modified classes. This, however, didn't deter the competitors, as they pushed through the fast desert sections, rock obstacles and water crossings just like everyone else. Starting on the pole, John Schaefer in the 4688 car led the Stock Class for awhile before being passed by John Snell in the 4671 Car and Chris D'Auria in the 4677 Car. Fighting for the finish, all three top competitors completed their required three loops in under two hours, with Snell taking the checkers, followed by D'Auria 2 minutes later, and Schaefer rounding out the top three, crossing the finish line 3 minutes after D'Auria.

Unlimited 4400 Class Race:

Once the Limited Class race was complete and those team's vehicles unfortunate enough to finish their race on the side of the course were moved so as not to interfere with race traffic, the Unlimited Class race kicked off at 1pm. First off the line to take on seven total loops was Loren Healy.

While Loren was first out of the gate, it wasn't long before competitors like JP Gomez, Shannon Campbell and fellow Fun-Haver, Vaughn Gittin Jr. were biting on Loren's heels on the first desert loop. By the time they were tackling their first rocky Loop B, mechanical issues had taken Loren's lead and moved him back in the pack to eventually finish 17th, completing just two loops.


After passing his fellow Fun-Haver early on, Vaughn Gittin Jr. physically lead the field for a number of laps, constantly battling both Campbell and JP Gomez as Derek West and Josh Blyler made up time, moving from ninth (West) and seventh (Blyler) off the line to the top of the pack on corrected time.

While many top guys in the sport started the race, a number of them suffered mechanical issues, leading to their early retirement from the competition. These included Alex Wacker, who retired after just taking a start due to a blown motor; Paul Horschel, who ripped a rear axle from under the car in the first rock loop; and Levi Shirley, who, after his first loop had made up enough time to be in first on corrected time, was struck by some bad luck with a steering failure and tire blowout resulting in the rear hub assembly being torn off of his car on his second desert loop. As they say, racing is only so much about preparedness, practice and skill. There's certainly a portion that is pure luck and good fortune.

Filled with heavy hitters, the 4400 Class race proved to be the fastest of the day, with the top six competitors completing all seven required laps in under three hours. In the end, it was East-Coaster Derek West who put down the fastest time and took the top spot on the podium, followed by Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Josh Blyler – making for a Nitto sweep!

For full Holley EFI Clash at Cross Bar Ranch race results, please click HERE!

See you all next month in Kentucky for the third and final race of the 2019 4WP Eastern Series, the KMC Battle in BlueGrass at Dirty Turtle Off Road Park!