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BREAK OR WIN A Rough And Technical Course Weeds-Out The SCORE Trophy Truck Class By Dan Sanchez, Paul Hanson, Guilherme Torres, and Cindy Clark Photos by Get Some Photo At the start of the BFGoodrich Tires 54th SCORE Baja 500 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts, the first SCORE Trophy Truck teams off the starting line were bound to set an extremely fast pace. Luke McMillin in the No. 83 truck was first off the start, followed by Bryce Menzies. Both quickly opened a gap for the rest of the field to catch up to. Mike Walser with Jax Redline in the No. 89 truck wasn’t far behind, starting in third, leaving Rob MacCachren in fourth to begin at his own pace. While the leaders were going all-out and attempting as perfect a race as they could hope for, MacCachren had pressure from behind with Tim Herbst, Andy McMillin driving for Eric Hustead, and Alan Ampudia following closely. Although a blisteringly fast pace allowed Luke McMillin to win the SCORE San Felipe 250 in April, the course at this year’s SCORE Baja 500 proved to be much more technical. Both McMillin and Menzies had issues that cost them the lead. “We started up front and had about a ten-minute lead, and then [we] lost the power steering box,” said McMillin. “We had to change out the whole box. We knew the win was probably gone but we wanted to stay in it for the Championship. We got back on the road in tenth place and made it up to sixth. It was a very technical course. I am glad we had a minor issue– not a major one, and that we are still in the points race. The whole team worked hard together.” From initial reports, Bryce Menzies had an engine failure which put him out of the race. Walser also had steering issues that set him back on the course. This allowed other racers to catch up, including Broc Dickerson, who drove an amazing race for his first SCORE Baja 500 in a SCORE Trophy Truck. “This is my fourth SCORE Baja 500 but those were in Class 10 and Class 1. I am surprised I made it to this level,” he said. “We started twenty-first and crossed the line physically in third. Our plan was to take it easy and save the car. We sat there having fun and set a good pace and went with it. It all worked out. It was a technical course. We only passed five trucks– the rest we passed when they were pulled over.” Dickerson officially finished in second place, leaving him even more excited about his performance. “We had a blast and I’m excited for the next event. We will have a good starting position. I think we proved a lot today. Now I know I can run with the leaders.” Finishing in third place was “Mr. Baja” Larry Roeseler, who also knew how to play it safe on this technical course. “It was a really tough race course,” he said. “We battled all day and kept pushing. This race was super technical with the rocks and sticks. If you overshoot a corner, it is easy to get a stick flat.” Roeseler finished despite several flat tires along the way. “They were all slow leakers– that makes it lean towards a stick flat, maybe even the bead lock. Other than that, we kept pushing all day. I battled with Dan (McMillin, No. 38) all day and we just kept coming through the pack. I am super happy to be here. Anytime you get to the finish line is awesome. With all the competition, we are pleased with our finish. It was a team effort. It was fun but it also kicked our butt. Justin Morgan (SCORE Pro Moto Champion), my navigator, did an awesome job. I normally don’t get tired, but I am more tired today than I was at the SCORE Baja 1000.” SCORE TT LEGEND CLASS  It was no surprise that the No. 21L team of Gus Vildosola Sr. and Ricky Johnson, two true legends in SCORE racing, teamed up again to take another victory at the BFGoodrich Tires 54th SCORE Baja 500 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts. The two were challenged by 2021 Class Champion Rolf Helland with Rick D. Johnson, who put an all-out effort to win this race after finishing second at the SCORE San Felipe 250. “Any time you get to make it to the finish line, it’s a good day,” said Vildosola Sr. “We had a problem in our car early, and had to stop every 40 miles to put some oil in. That cost us too much time and got us really worried about the race. But luckily, we made it to the end and were the first SCORE Trophy Truck Legends to do so. We won the SCORE San Felipe 250 and are really excited that we get to lead the championship. The fans were awesome. The road was packed two or three miles before the finish line and it was really exciting to see that.” “A couple of top contenders fell out so we went from eighth to sixth,” said Johnson. “When we went down the mountain, we realized that our transfer case was getting hot. By then, we had a five-minute lead, but we had to stop every 40 miles to put in oil. So, we were playing that game all day.” With many of the top contenders out, Greg Adler in the No. 56L SCORE Trophy Truck had pushed from a near last starting position, all the way to the front of the SCORE TT Legends class. Adler’s efforts proved to be good enough for a second place finish in class. It was the same for Clay Lawrence in the No. 85L truck, who started well in the idle of the field and moved his way up to finish in third place. Helland had battled with Vildosola Sr. for the lead a few times, early in the race, but he also had some hiccups with a brand new truck. This severely slowed them down on the course but they managed to finish in fourth place. “It was a long day,” Helland said. “We were ninth on the road coming at the Valle of Trinidad, but we had an issue at about road mile 355 that cost us quite a bit of time. At that point, we had the lead on the SCORE TT Legends class, so it was a little disappointing. It’s my 15th race here and 15th-straight finish, so at least we kept that alive. Happy about that, but really sad for the whole team. We got a brand-new Mason truck here and we didn’t have a lot of time with it before the race. We’re still getting used to it and it was a challenging learning curve here.” SCORE TT SPEC CLASS With 32 starters in this class, it was difficult for any of these talented racers to pull out a win. At the San Felipe 250, Chris Polvoorde secured his first win in the class and was expected to do well here at the SCORE Baja 500. The tough terrain combined with a very high level of competition, however, made it more challenging. With a stacked field of veterans and fast newcomers in the class, it was anyone’s race to win. In the end, Jorge Sampietro in the No. 297 truck managed to have the most perfect race despite some minor issues and finished first in class. “We only had one flat the whole race,” said Sampietro. “There were also some temperature problems, but we managed to get through it. It was super technical and super-hot. This was one of the toughest SCORE Baja 500s, but we made it thanks to the guys at the shop who did a great job. My mother and father were here and it was great to win in front of them.” Mason Cullen in the No. 207 truck finished in second place, followed by Christian Sourapas, and his brother Brett finished in third. “We had a great day with no flats thanks to BFGoodrich Tires,” said Cullen. “We had a fun, tight, technical course with amazing stops all day. A shout-out to my crew and everyone that gets us here.” For the Sourapas team, it was their first podium finish in this race. “It started out all right, then my brother got a right front flat and got passed by a couple of people,” said Christian Sourapas. “Then he got back on the road and encountered an accident on the summit that he stopped to help with for about an hour. I got in about race mile 304 and took it to the finish.” Polvoorde could not pull out another win this race, but he is still planning on trying harder for the SCORE Baja 400 and has a good starting position. “We had some problems and we will learn from them and go forward,” he said. “It was a wild day. I think I was one of the first trucks to make it through the log jam. My navigator, Andrew, helped push me through to the end. Baja won this one as we stuck it in a ditch. But we are here for the points so we pushed through.”  FINISH LINE TALK ALAN AMPUDIA, No. 10 (Fifth Place) “We were a little cautious at the start of the race. We were behind Andy (McMillin, No. 38) and we knew that after we passed Herbst (No. 19) we’d have to move faster. We got to pass them during an early pit, but we were having some issues with our steering wheel every time we had to turn left. We had to take it easy because of that and then Rob (MacCachren, No. 1) built a huge lead over us. The cars ahead of us were all having issues and we tried to push harder at the end, but the car was too hot. At the end of Mike’s Ranch, Rob had nine minutes on us. We managed to cut it to six, but it wasn’t enough.” SAM BALDI, No. 82 (Eighth Place) “We got a flat tire up in the pass that messed us up. Then we got caught up in an area that was really hard to get in and out and we lost some time. But other than that, it went well. It was tight and technical. The average speed was down because of that. It was hard on a SCORE Trophy Truck. I don’t know the attrition rate but we made it.” JUSTIN LOFTON, No. 41 (Ninth Place) “You can’t complain when you make it to the finish line of one of the toughest 480 miles that anyone can throw at us. It was grueling right from the start. We didn’t have the right starting spot to contend for the win. We did what we wanted to do - we finished the race and finished fairly strong. A big thanks to Yokohama Tire, Fox Shocks, Method race wheels, and all the people that help get this truck on the road. It was great to see all the fans along the course and great to see the fans here up close and personal.”    DAN MCMILLIN, No. 23 (Tenth Place) “We started 22nd and finished up here. We got stuck behind some trucks slowing us down in the beginning. The tires were great, thanks to BFGoodrich Tires. This truck ran great. We were picking off trucks coming down the summit and then got down to the desert and hauled ass. We tried to catch the lead group but the dust was brutal. It was a very tough race.”    SCORE TT SPEC DUSTIN GRABOWSKI, No. 272 (Fifth Place) “The course was good, technical– the way I like it. There were sections I was holding my breath the whole way. It was a good race except for a couple of our mishaps. We rolled the truck and ran out of gas. That cost us about 30 minutes.”  CHARLES DORRANCE, No. 299 (Sixth Place) “It was a rough course. I heard there was a log jam behind us. We were fortunate to get through. We ran hard. We lost a hood. We had some overheating problems. We lost a brake line but fixed it in five minutes. That may have cost us the podium. Overall, I’m grateful.” CHRIS MILLER, No. 240 (Seventh Place) “We were in first place but then had a bunch of flat tires today. But we fought back and it’s bittersweet. What today proved is that we can win. We are playing to win. All our sponsors did great. Thank you SCORE for opening up Mexico and thank you to the Mexican people for having us. It is such a special place.”

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