Team Toyo off-road drivers win in California and Michigan

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Team Toyo Off-Road drivers were on a roll this past weekend, winning in both the hot California desert and in short course racing in Michigan.  Ron Whitton, with co-driver Chas Dana, piloted their Toyo Tires/Whitton Companies/G&R Racing Ford F-150 to win the KC HiLites Midnight Special in Ridgecrest, California.  Competing on 39X13.50R17 Toyo Open Country M/T-R tires, the team conquered the grueling 220-mile night race in 4 hours and 53 minutes.

“The course was very rocky and dusty with no wind to clear it… this made the first lap and a half a challenge to get to the front,” said Whitton.  “These are the best tires we have ever had... Toyo has done a great job developing this product.”

Early in the race, Whitton and Dana stopped to replace a rim broken on a rock when trying to pass in the blinding dust.  That cost the team approximately seven minutes, but they easily made up that time and took over the lead of the race.  This was a great family win, as the 65-year-old Whitton was accompanied by Dana, his 22-year-old grandson.  A part of the Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts (SNORE) series, the KC HiLites Midnight Special consisted of five 44-mile laps, resulting in a course that became more punishing with every lap.

At the 1.5-mile Bark River International Raceway in Bark River, Michigan, Team LeDuc scored victories in both Pro 2WD and Pro 4X4 during the weekend.  Kyle LeDuc won back-to-back victories in Pro 4X4 during Rounds 9 and 10 of The Off-Road Championship (TORC) series.  Driving his No. 99 Rockstar/Makita/Ford Trucks/Toyo Tires F-150 running on 35X12.50R17 Toyo Open Country M/T-R tires, he also won two “Oakley Bomb Run” awards for the fastest lap times in each race.  Also finishing on the podium in second both days was Rick Huseman, championship points leader and driver of the No. 36 Monster Energy/Traxxas/Toyota/Toyo Tires Tundra.

While driving his F-150, Todd LeDuc had similar success to his younger brother at Bark River by finishing in second during Saturday’s race, then winning overall in the Pro 2WD class on Sunday.  Although both LeDuc brothers swept the recent Lucas Oil Off Road Race Series weekend in Lake Elsinore, California, this was the first win for Todd LeDuc in TORC, even though he has finished on the podium five other times this season.

“This (Sunday) was one of the hardest 20-minute races I have ever done, and I am sure the hardest ever on my tires,” said Todd LeDuc.  “My Toyo Tires held up really well, finding grip in both soft loam and on dry, slick surfaces.”

Todd LeDuc is third overall in the Pro 2WD championship points, while Kyle has moved into second in Pro 4X4.

“We congratulate both Ron Whitton for his desert win and the LeDuc brothers for their short course victories at Bark River,” said Stan Chen, manager of events and motorsports, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.  “We are excited that Toyo Open Country M/T-R tires have scored wins in both forms of off-road racing during the same weekend.”

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