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Don’t Mess with Consistency Luke McMillin talks SCORE Baja 500 strategy and the road to the 2020 SCORE BaJa 1000  By Stuart Bourdon Luke McMillin is already enjoying a very successful racing season, despite the unusual circumstances that have altered the plans for so many people this year. McMillin is a member of perhaps the most winning multi-generational off-road racing family dynasty, and his racing efforts in 2020 thus far includes a strategy for the upcoming 52nd BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts, and the 53rd SCORE Baja 1000 in November. The SCORE Baja 500 is the first race of the Covid-19 global pandemic-abridged schedule for the 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship, with the SCORE Baja 1000 being the other race in the championship points chase. With only a two-event season and the shift to the San Felipe-area location for the SCORE Baja 500 this year, Luke McMillin’s overall strategy in his Baja racing efforts is solid. “The schedule change doesn’t alter how we’re going to run the race much,” says McMillin. “The date and venue change of the SCORE Baja 500 means doing 500 miles in the desert, as opposed to the mostly mountain and coastal course that we traditionally run. I think a high attrition rate is going to play a big part in the results of this race. On one side of the coin, it’s good that SCORE moved the racecourse to the eastern side of the Baja peninsula because it keeps us out of all the little towns and cities along the Pacific coast, but at the same time it’s all desert over there and it will be September. It could be super humid and very hot.” According to McMillin, his support team has already had plenty of practice and is running like a well-oiled machine due to the “stateside” racing he has engaged in this year. “Luckily we’ve been able to run some races and have been doing well. We’ve won two races so far and finished on the podium in 3rd place in another. It’s kind of ironic because Baja is what our family does, and we’re known there for winning. I feel we’re ready and the team is sharp, but the fact that it’s all in the desert is going to make a big difference in the race.” Old Reliable McMillin is currently having a new Mason AWD Trophy Truck built, but it won’t be tested and ready to race until the 2021 season, so he is sticking with his old 2WD Trophy Truck for the remaining races this year. “We’re racing our #83 Trophy Truck for the rest of the season because it’s been consistent,” he says. “It’s not the fastest truck out there, it’s seven years old and the drivetrain and engine package is a little outdated and a little underpowered, but it’s reliable so we haven’t changed anything on the truck this season. We’re not going to change anything primarily because we’re looking toward the SCORE Baja 1000. Rumor has it that the ‘1000’ is going to be a true 1000-mile loop with very little pavement, which is going to be brutal on the race cars. We want to have a really strong vehicle there and so we’re sticking with our 2WD truck right now. It just keeps on going and that seems to be the ticket to winning races. Why mess with consistency.” 1,000 Mile Goal  The 53rd SCORE Baja 1000 is the bullseye that Luke and his team are shooting for long-term, and a high finish at the SCORE Baja 500 will place him in a good starting position for that all-important 1000-mile event in November. You might think this would make a driver more aggressive at the SCORE Baja 500, but McMillin has a different take on it. “I think people going after the championship will be thinking more about finishing the ‘500’ in a good spot rather than going for broke chasing the win because that determines their starting spot for the SCORE Baja 1000,” he says. “My ultimate goal is to win the SCORE Baja 1000. Of course we’re going to drive hard at the ‘500’, but I think it’s going to be a tough race. We don’t want to break for two reasons. It would take us out of the race and it gives us a bad starting spot for the ‘1000’. I want to get at least a top five finish at the ‘500’. Then we have a top-five place start at the ‘1000’ and a better chance of winning it. It’s a longer race but you go all out because you have to win the SCORE Baja 1000. That’s what will get the championship this year.” SJ

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