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SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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2019 SCORE Overall & Trophy Truck Champion Andy McMillin The SCORE BaJa Veteran Racer Wins His First Championship By Dan Sanchez Photos By Get Some Photo Most SCORE fans consider Andy McMillin as one of off-road motorsport’s elite racers, but despite being a 5x SCORE Baja 1000 winner and 4x SCORE Baja 500 winner, McMillin has never won a SCORE Championship until now. He admits he didn’t always see the championship as a goal in his early career, but with the extremely high level of competition over the past few years in SCORE, he believes winning the 2019 championship is one of his top career achievements. “Early in my career I, along with every other off-road racer, wanted to win the two biggest off-road races, the SCORE Baja 500 and SCORE Baja 1000,” he said. “I came close to winning them a couple of times in 2004 and again in 2005, but it wasn’t until 2010 that we as a team decided to go for the championship. We were leading the points going into the SCORE Baja 1000 that year, but some broken power steering lines failed and the championship eluded us.” In 2012 McMillin took a break from SCORE and came back in 2016 driving with Rob MacCachren and later with Steve Sourapas. While he continued winning races, it wasn’t until SCORE made the rule change where finishing positions dictated starting positions for the two big races, that had McMillin looking again at trying for a championship. “Not to take anything away from past championship winners, but I didn’t think it carried much weight,” said McMillin. “ With the change of the starting format, it made all the big teams run the entire series and by de facto, everyone is gunning for the championship. To me, racing against the top guys in the world in every SCORE race, made this championship mean much more.” While McMillin is one of the few racers who have the potential of winning every race he enters, the 2019 season wasn’t without its obstacles for him and his team. At the SCORE San Felipe 250, McMillin took the SCORE Trophy Truck win but it was a frustrating race for him and the team. “The random draw had me starting 27th, which makes it very difficult to stay at a winning pace,” said McMillin. “It was a very frustrating first half of the race, but I kept my head down and knew that this course is hard on the equipment so my experience told me not to push too hard. I tried to clear a ditch at around the half-way point and flipped the truck. It landed on the tires but we got a flat. I thought the race was over, but the truck was still running and kept going. By the time we reached the next pit, I was only eight to nine minutes behind the leader. My dad inspired me to push it so I did, and towards the end, it was between us and Bryce Menzies. We both got flats and after crossing the finish line, I didn’t know if he was going to beat my time or not. It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions but the word came in and we won. It was crazy!” McMillin made it two in a row winning the SCORE Baja 500, but admits this was another close race with tough competition from his cousin Luke. “That race may have looked like a decisive win for us, but Luke started two minutes behind me and was running a really good race,” said McMillin. “I got a flat and the other guys started pushing. By Mike’s Sky Ranch Luke was beating me until about 25 miles to the finish. I didn’t know at the time that Luke didn’t have first gear in his transmission and I pushed it hard. We won by a minute and a half.” With two wins going into the Lucerna SCORE Baja 400, McMillin was at the top of his game but the course was difficult in a different way than he had experienced before. “This was also a frustrating race,” he said. “While the terrain was smoother than in San Felipe, everyone was running at a similar pace because there were no sand washes or split lanes offering opportunities to pass. Everyone got blocked and we all followed each other to the finish.” McMillin ended up finishing second ruining his winning streak but was at that point leading for a championship. At the 52nd BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts, McMillin decided it was wise to team up with Bryce Menzies, making for an intimidating team at the last race of the season. Combined with a new AWD truck that both drivers were comfortable with, most SCORE fans thought they would walk away with the win. “The logistics of the course going to Mexicali and the Pine Forest is difficult so I needed more support for fuel stops and additional chase trucks in emergency locations,” said McMillin. “Bryce with his team had all that so it made sense to team up. I knew people thought we were going to be hard to beat, but it’s Baja. There are too many outside variables and that’s exactly what we ran into.” The truck broke a part in the transmission but the team managed to get it back up and running so that McMillin could finish and take his first championship. “Bryce had a big lead over Ampudia and although the transmission issue happened, it was disappointing but was happy that they were putting the effort to allow me to finish,” said McMillin. “This season we introduced our AWD Trophy Truck and it’s amazingly quicker. I don’t have to drive it as hard as the 2WD. To this point, I still haven’t seen the full potential of the AWD truck but by comparison, I could drive it at 80% and would have to drive the 2WD truck at 90-100% to carry the same speed.” With new technology and a championship added to his career, McMillin believes he still has a lot to accomplish in SCORE’s Trophy Truck division. “Next year we’re giving it even more of an effort,” he said. “I’m kind of a perfectionist and it motivates me to improve. Looking at winning this championship, it caused me to look at things from the fan’s perspective. I relate it to the late 1990s when I was going to the races and watching my dad, uncle and grandpa race. The level of talent back then was also high as it is now, and you had well-funded teams that were hard to beat. Now more guys have a good shot at winning a race on a given day and it’s exciting to see the sport get back to that.” Video of championship season Andy, keeping the wins in the family with dad Scott, former SCORE BaJa 500 and 1000 winner.

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