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Page 79 of 117

A WILD RIDE Pro UTV FI Racers Hang-On To Finish The Course By Dan Sanchez, Paul Hanson, Guilherme Torres, and Jose Vazquez Photos by Get Some Photo Nearly 30 Pro UTV FI competitors came to race each other and the Baja peninsula. With some of the toughest competition in all of SCORE’s classes, the events leading up to the 54th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts had several competitors finishing in the top three during several races this season. Among them was Austin Weiland who started the race first as he was the winner of the class at the SCORE Baja 400, and had a second-place finish at the SCORE San Felipe 250. Phil Blurton also had two second-place finishes at the SCORE Baja 500 and the SCORE Baja 400, and started second at this race. Brandon Schueler had a first-place finish at the SCORE San Felipe 250 and a third-place finish at the SCORE Baja 500 but a sixth place at the SCORE Baja 400 had him start behind the lead pack. Although these were the top finishers during the season, one can’t count out racers with winning experience such as Brandon Simms who won the 2021 SCORE Baja 500, as well as Justin Lambert, and Wes Miller who are former SCORE Baja 1000 winners. With such tough competition from these and the rest of the competitors, it took Phil Blurton and Phil Judge in the No. 2944 Can-Am to finish the course in just under 27 hours to take the class win. Some bottlenecks, along with electrical and mechanical issues, plagued other racers, but those that persevered managed to get through. Among them was Simms with co-driver Eric Morgan in the No. 2969 Polaris RZR who finished in second place. “We had a small mishap with an electrical issue on that last section,” said Simms. “We got it fixed and back out on the course, then continued. We were running in second place at that point. Then Wes (Miller) got back in front of us and we battled him from that point to the end. It was pretty epic. This is the first time that I ever drove the Peninsula run, so it’s cool to come down and have a great showing on my first try, with no pre-running after the first hundred miles.” Miller, unfortunately, lost the battle with Simms and had to settle for a third-place finish after a long day. “My goal was to be methodical and work our way through,” said Miller. “We knew it was a long race and wanted to keep the car in one piece. We got through the pack pretty quick and got to the top ten quickly. We had a long pit and three guys got by then we got stuck in dust and then we got in a bottleneck around race mile 280 and we probably lost 20 minutes there. That let Phil (Blurton) escape and he built a gap up and I knew that would be hard to close. Branden Sims and I had a good battle all day long. He got by us when we were in a pit. We tucked in behind him. It was hard to pass. But then we got by him and I knew it would be hard for him to pass us back so I kept the hammer down. I am happy but we have the goal of winning. I’ve never won a Peninsula race. I think I’ve gotten second and third, but I need to win one of these.” See more stats on SCORE Fan Pages. SJ

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