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Page 24 of 105

Fast Company 14 SCORE Trophy Truck Racers Take On A Brutal Course By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo It was clear when the SCORE Trophy Truck racers lined up for the start of the 52nd BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts. The roars from the 900-plus horsepower engines filled the air at the El Dorado Ranch and resort and announced their presence would soon be on the course. Starting first after qualifying was Robby Gordon in his new “unicorn” AWD SCORE Trophy Truck. A total of 14 SCORE Trophy truck competitors took to the 493-mile course that included 2019 SCORE Baja 1000 winner Alan Ampudia, Dan and Luke McMillin, Rob MacCachren, Tim Herbst, and “Mr. Baja” Larry Roeseler. While the field was stacked with talented racers, the heat and brutality of the course raised the level of difficulty for all of the competitors in this race. Gordon took the lead early on until mile 425 where he got a flat tire and had difficulty changing it. “ We struggled to get our truck up in the air,” he said. “It fell off the jack twice and we probably got that flat tire in the worst area, we got stuck in a sandy wash and that was a huge bummer.” Luke McMillin had issues of his own, getting a second flat tire around mile 335 and got the vehicle truck in soft sand. “We couldn’t get it going again and we were stuck there for about 20-minutes,” said McMillin. This allowed Tim Herbst and Dan McMillin to overtake the first and second place spot for a majority of the race. Coming up quickly from behind, however, was Alan Ampudia who started sixth and began passing the pack and made his way up to third on the course. The Ampudias pitted for a driver change with brother Aaron Ampudia getting in behind the wheel when they had issues with their pressurized fuel system that didn’t allow them to fill up their truck. “We had called it off already, and I had my helmet out and everything, but then Team Jimco with Robbie Pierce (No. 20L) helped us out and gave us their gas because they were out of contention already. We lost a bunch of time there, so we just ran and cruised to the finish.” Justin Lofton who started third was pushing strong along the first couple hundred miles on the course but ran into some problems early on. “We had a wheel coming loose on us and were still on the hunt until we pit around mile 245 and we had to stop and fix it,” said Lofton. “We just rethreaded the wheel studs when we should have taken them out because not much after that, it came loose again and ended up breaking. Luckily we had some with us and we were able to get them knocked out. but we lost about one hour and a half there and we couldn’t get them all out. When we got to pit three at mile 360 we stopped, got out, and completely fixed it.” Larry Roeseler started ninth and with his legendary talents behind the wheel, moved up the pack and began closing in on the leaders. Halfway through the race, Roeseler had the engine shut off and lost a jack. “We lost a lot of time with the ignition shutting off,” said Roeseler. “The jack had flown off the vehicle at some point and when we pitted, the team told me not to get a flat. Well, guess what, I got one and had to back the truck up onto a rock to change it. Baja never disappoints the challenge of man and machine.” Dan McMillin with Justin B. Smith played it smart and were in the right position behind Tim Herbst physically on the course. Herbst teamed up with Pat Dean and the two of them managed to stay in the physical lead halfway on the course and maintained it until they crossed the finish line first physically. Justin Smith had got in the driver’s seat for Dan McMillin and crossed the finish line second physically and after the course penalties were assessed, Dan McMillin and Justin Smith found themselves with the fastest time overall to win the race and the SCORE Trophy Truck class. “The whole team did awesome and I’d like to thank all of them for a great job,” said McMillin. I also have to thank SCORE for making this happen. There were a lot of doubts out there and they put us on a great race in the lovely town of San Felipe, so it was good.” Finishing second was Tim Herbst who had a near flawless race with their Herbst/Smith SCORE Trophy Truck’s performance. “We didn’t have to get out of the truck once,” said Herbst. “We had no flat tires or anything. Pat Dean did a great job in the first half and put us in a great position, so all I had to do was to hold it and the race came to us.” Finishing in third was Luke McMillin followed by Alan Ampudia who finished in fourth place. Robby Gordon finished fifth followed by Larry Roeseler in the Baja Jerky truck who finished in sixth place. Vanderwey Clinches A SCORE TT Legends Win For the SCORE Trophy Truck Legends class Nick Vanderwey, driving for Clyde Stacey and with co-driver Jeff Geiser, piloted the twin-engine 5L SCORE Trophy Truck to a class win. “We lost our front outer CV at mile 130, but we were lucky that it was at the pit so we could get it changed out,” said Geiser. “We lost a couple of spots as well as time, but were still able to bring it back up. Other than that, it was a clean race, with no issues.” Challenging Vanderwey and Geiser were Bobby Patton with Robby Pierce (20L) who had problems with their vehicle and were out of the race mid-way through. It was the same for Mark Winkelman (25L) who had pushed to a third-place position on the course until he broke the front suspension which put him out of the race. Jose de Jesus Flores (55l) and Jim Bult in a Walker Evans Dodge Ram (47L) truck who also had issues and could not finish the race. Creel Emerges Through Carnage In TT Spec There were several great drivers competing in the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec class, which included Clay Lawrence, Pat Sims, Vincent Munoz, and William Hedrick Jr, all who have won SCORE races in the past. It was also the debut of Pierce Herbst, son of Tim Herbst. Pierce was Driver of record but he had Ryan Millen drive in the number 264 Herbst/Smith Chevy and qualify fourth in class. They were followed by Santiago Creel in the number 260 Jefferies Chevy. Creel started earlier in the day with the 66x Pro Moto Unlimited team, riding off the starting line and handing off the bike to Brandon Prieto, before coming back to get into the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec car. The course would take its toll on several of these racers, leaving Munoz, Herbst, Creel, Lawrence, and Hedrick Jr. to battle for the win. Munoz suffered a broken suspension link after rolling the truck around race mile 240 but spent lots of time repairing it after limping to their pit. Herbst was in the lead at one time but got the truck on its side and was stuck for about two hours, according to his report. Clay Lawrence had the lead for the second half of the race but had to stop close to the finish. “Something on the car caught on fire so we wanted to make sure we’d get the truck across the finish at the very least,” said co-driver Costa Gialamas. William Hedrick Jr. with his dad Hedrick Sr. also drove a great race until they hit a car at 100 miles per hour, breaking off the front of their truck. The team managed to fix the vehicle and they pushed hard until a flat 50-miles from the finish put them out of contention for the win. For Santiago Creel, he was in the right position, and with few issues with the vehicle, he and co-driver Jorge Sampietro drove to their first SCORE Trophy Truck Spec victory. “Santiago did a great job as he started fifth and he put us in third place,” said Sampietro. “We started passing other vehicles during the second half of the course and we managed to pass the last one around mile 400. It was pretty intense and we were lucky to not have any problems.” The winners in the SCORE Trophy Truck divisions are set to start first at the 53rd BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts in November. While the course is long and will be no doubt just as brutal, these racers also have the odds in their favor to take home a 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship as well. SJ Official Finishers SCORE TROPHY TRUCK  (Unlimited Custom Trucks including Builder)  (14 Starters, 9 Finishers) 1. 23 Dan McMillin, 32, San Diego/Justin B. Smith, 36, Las Vegas, Chevy C1500 (Mason), 8:29:17  (58.08 mph);  2. 19 Tim Herbst, 57, Las Vegas/Pat Dean, Las Vegas, Ford F-150 (Herbst-Smith), 8.34.51;  3. 83 Luke McMillin, 27, San Diego, Ford F-150 (Racer), 8:45:15;  4. 10 Alan Ampudia, 29, Ensenada, MX/Aaron Ampudia, 27, Ensenada, MX, Ford Raptor (ID), 8:47:05;    5. 77 Robby Gordon, 51, Charlotte, N.C., Chevy Silverado (Custom), 9:33:56;  6. 43 Larry Roeseler, 63, Boulevard, CA, Toyota Tundra (ID), 10:43:33;  7.  41 Justin Lofton, 34, Brawley, CA, Ford Raptor (Jimco), 11:11:41;  8. 35 Carlos Perununiri Ibarra, 39, Canada/J. Ivan Sanchez, La Paz, MX, Chevy C1500 (Custom), 12:38:09;  9. 17 Josh De Jong, 31, San Jacinto, CA/Louis Zavas, 35, Hemet, CA, Chevy Silverado (Zavas Eng.), 13:05:54   SCORE TT LEGEND (Unlimited Production Trucks, Drivers over 50 years old) (4 Starters, 1 Finishers)— 1. 5L Nick Vanderwey, 53, Phoenix/(DOR – Clyde Stacy, 75, Bristol, VA)/Jeff Geiser, Phoenix, Chevy V-16 (Geiser), 10:48:08 (45.64 mph)     TROPHY TRUCK SPEC (unlimited Truck/SUV, stock, sealed engines 10 Starters, 5 Finishers) 1. 260 Santiago Creel, 34, Mexico City, MX/Jorge Sampietro, Ensenada, MX/Jose Castelan, Ensenada, MX, Jefferies-Chevy, 9:00:08 (54.76 mph);  2. 295 William Hedrick Jr, 24, Vicente Guerrero, MX/William Hedrick, 54, Vicente Guerrero, MX/German Encinas, 44, Ensenada, MX, ID-Chevy, 9:50:39;  3. 285 Clay Lawrence, 58, Banning, CA/Brad Manka, 43, Perris, CA/Costa Gialamas, 41, Aguanga, CA, LMS-Chevy, 10:12:49;  4. 264 Pierce Herbst, 18, Las Vegas/Ryan Millen, 36, Huntington Beach, CA (New Zealand)/Thor Herbst, 20, Las Vegas, Herbst/Smith-Chevy, 11:52:39;  5. 294 Vincent Munoz, 33, Yucaipa, CA/Roy Tompkins, 34, Redlands, CA, ODR-Chevy, 12:16:19

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