In what can only be described as the biggest upset of the 2011 Ultra4 Season, Team GenRight’s Kevin Sacalas overtook this year’s King of The Hammers winner and current Ultra4 Series leader, Shannon Campbell to claim the win at the American Rocksports Challenge held at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT. Saturday’s race started off with more than 40 Ultra4 drivers competing in a new style of race that combined a rock-crawling obstacle course with a short course track. Throughout the day 44 drivers competed against each other in a series of 12 races until the top drivers remained.
Sacalas started off strong with a 2nd place finish coming in one second behind Shannon Campbell’s brother, Nick Campbell in the first heat of the day. Unfortunately for Sacalas, in his 2nd heat he blew a tire early in the race as he and the 2010 King, Loren Healy battled for position in the rocks. Sacalas was forced to complete the remaining 4 laps and one additional trip through the rocks on a flat tire. The BFGoodrich short course tire held up and Sacalas was able to cross the finish line, albeit in 2nd to last place. His combined time wasn’t enough to advance to the semi-finals and Sacalas found himself competing for a spot via the Last Chance Qualifier heat. Sacalas would have to finish in the top 2 of 12 to earn a spot at the back of the pack for the semi-finals.
As Sacalas and his Big Ugly Racing pit crew prepped the car for the LCQ they noticed the engine was misfiring. With little time between heats, they were unable to determine the cause and Sacalas was forced to race on 7 cylinders. With the reduced horsepower and the need to finish in the top 2, his chances of advancing didn’t look good. However, as the green flag dropped, Sacalas continued to amaze the crowd with jumps that had him passing 2 to 3 cars at a time and clearing table tops with ease. His jumps were so high they earned him the nick name “high flyin’ Sacalas” from the announcers and even on 7 cylinders, Sacalas ultimately took 1st place in his heat and advanced to the semi-finals.
Again, with little time to prep between the qualifier and the semi-final, Sacalas and his crew scrambled to find the source of the misfire which was finally attributed to a bad spark plug wire. With all 8 cylinders intact and his STS Turbo ready to go, Sacalas started the semi-finals in the last row and fought his way into a 5th place finish in what would be the closest race of the day with 4 cars crossing the finish line in a span of 1.5 seconds.
As luck would have it, Sacalas’ orange Big Ugly was matched against Shannon Campbell’s Monster green machine for the first time in the final race of the day. Campbell had won all of his heats allowing him to start the final race in the pole position. By the end of the 2nd lap; Brad Lovell, Nick Campbell and Levi Shirley had all rolled their cars and the race quickly came down to Campbell vs. Sacalas. For several laps Sacalas nipped at Campbell’s heels with Campbell overtaking in the corners and Sacalas gaining in the straight aways. Campbell looked to have the advantage until Campbell’s car stopped completely and Sacalas sailed into the lead. In the last lap, the tables had turned and it was Campbell chasing down Sacalas as the two attacked the last few turns of the race. It appeared Campbell was on the verge of overtaking Sacalas when Campbell’s car again stumbled and Sacalas secured the lead and flew across the finish line 3 seconds ahead of Shannon Campbell.
“What a fun day of racing!” exclaimed Sacalas when asked about his win. “I wasn’t so sure we were going to make the finals with the misfire before the LCQ and to come from the back and take the win is just awesome. My Bilstein shocks were set up perfectly to handle the jumps, the STS turbo gave me the boost I needed and my BF Goodrich short course tires worked great, even in the rocks! I couldn’t be happier with how the car performed. I’m also proud to say I was able to continue the Team GenRight tradition of a podium finish in every Ultra4 race a GenRight car has competed in this season.”
Kevin Sacalas will next be racing Big Ugly in the Lucas Oil regional short course race at Glen Helen on August 20th where he is currently the series leader for the Ultra4 class. His next Ultra4 race will be the Ultra4 Stampede at the Exit 28 Motorsports Park in Reno, NV on September 10th.
Sponsors–GenRight OffRoad, The Orleans Casino, BFGoodrich Tires, Raceline Wheels, Hughes Performance, Novak Conversions, RCV Performance, Spidertrax and Viking OffRoad
About Kevin Sacalas– He is a 27 year old native Californian, based out of Riverside, CA who has been off roading at the Hammers for the past 6 years in his highly modified ’01 TJ. Big Ugly was his first attempt at building a vehicle from scratch. In two years of racing, Sacalas has raced 9 races and had 5 podium finishes. For more information on Kevin Sacalas and Big Ugly Racing, please visit: www.biguglyracing.com or become a fan on Facebook: Big Ugly Racing