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THE SCORE BAJA 400 RACE WEEK   3rd SCORE BaJa 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels Recap By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo The 3rd SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels is in its third year and is the race that determines the starting position for the 55th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts in November. The SCORE Baja 400 began in September 2019 in Ensenada, Mexico, after racers wanted a third race in Ensenada, Mexico that would be as exciting as the SCORE Baja 500, but also act as the prelude to the SCORE Baja 1000. The first two races proved the idea was a success, with spectacular racing and finishes from overall winners such as Ryan Arciero, who won the inaugural event in 2019, and Bryce Menzies who won the second race in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic suspended the race in 2020, but the race continued with this year’s event that brought thousands to the streets of Ensenada, Mexico to watch their favorite racers challenge the desert. CURT LEDUC GRAND MARSHAL This year’s Grand Marshal for the race was Off-Road Motorsports Hall Of Fame inductee and legendary SCORE Champion Curt LeDuc. “Curt LeDuc is one of the most accomplished racers who has not only made a name for himself as a SCORE Champion, but as a person who does a lot for the sport and support of other racers,” says Jim Ryan SCORE VP of Marketing. “Because of his ongoing efforts in supporting Baja racers, we asked LeDuc to be this year’s Grand Marshal and he graciously accepted.” LeDuc made his mark in SCORE winning in Class 8 and ultimately in SCORE Trophy Truck classes. His son Kyle became a short course champion and SCORE Trophy Truck racer. Curt LeDuc continues to make his presence in the off-road industry with his annual Curt LeDuc Off-Road Swap Meet, a place where budget-minded racers can buy and sell used parts and vehicles to keep their racing efforts going strong. Most recently, he was part of the Ford Performance Bronco R Prototype racing team as one of the drivers that helped test and race the vehicle to the finish at the 2020 SCORE Baja 1000. STREAMING LIVE FROM ENSENADA Providing complete coverage of a 400-1000-mile race involves a lot of complicated logistics. For the 3rd SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing fuels, SCORE’s investment into Starlink satellite systems allowed for improved live streaming coverage from strategic locations on the course, as well as in-car footage, drone footage, and start ramp footage with hosts Rat Sult and Dave Arnold. This added a greater experience for SCORE fans watching the live stream from the SCORE website, app, and social media pages. This technology also allowed Qualifying to be live streamed for the first time, with hosts Austin “Fish” Farner from FishGistics and SCORE’s Dave Arnold offering commentary on the competitors and the course. QUALIFYING FOR THE START Several classes were able to participate in a Qualifying Session that would determine their starting position for the race. SCORE Trophy Truck, Trophy Truck Legends, Trophy Truck Spec, and Class 1 racers attended the event mid-week before the race on Saturday, September 17th. The 4.9-mile course was not disclosed to racers until the day of the event to ensure there were no advantages in qualifying. The course was located 30 miles Northeast East of the city of Ensenada on private property, and racers were allowed two practice laps before their class qualifying sessions could begin. From 2021 qualifying events, most SCORE fans were betting on Bryce Menzies and Luke McMillin to have the fastest times in the SCORE Trophy Truck class. At last year’s race, Menzies got the top qualifying position by beating McMillin by .51 hundredth of a second. Both racers didn’t disappoint this year, with spectacular qualifying performances that had McMillin finishing the course with the fastest time of 6:37.15. Menzies had the second fastest time of 6:44.58, followed by Jax Redline, driving for DOR Mike Walser, in third with a time of 6:48.54. For Mason Motorsports, qualifying was a tremendous feat as the top five qualifiers in the SCORE Trophy Truck class were Mason AWD trucks. This included fourth-place qualifier Dan McMillin, and fifth-place qualifier Gustavo “Tavo” Vildosola racing in his new Mason AWD for the first time in SCORE. “It was a clean run for us,” said Vildosola Jr. “We are getting used to this new truck with a sequential transmission. The shifting needs some cleaning up. We made one small mistake but it didn’t cost us any time. The rain cut everyone’s pre-running short. This course is constantly changing. We need to have a clean race.” With a first and third starting position, Luke and Dan McMillin increased their chances of finishing on the podium of this race. “Qualifying went well. We are here in one piece and that’s what I was worried about– having to push it so hard,” said Dan McMilllin. “The course was similar to last year except they threw in a lot of new stuff like straight ditches.”  “This truck is so much fun to drive,” said Luke McMillin. “We had a good, clean run– no mistakes. It got a little hairy on the second jump– but a clean run. We want to have a good starting spot for Saturday. It is all about the SCORE Baja 1000. We are after a three-peat and there are only two people in history that have done that. That is what is on my mind. Qualifying is fun. I want to be fast– I want to be the fastest out here, but the reason I race is to win the SCORE Baja 1000’s.” Although Andy McMillin was also expected to be very fast during qualifying, he unfortunately had a flat tire on the course. His navigator Johnny Nelson did an amazing job changing the tire and getting McMillin back on the course. McMillin gives an in-car video of the entire qualifying event: SCORE TT LEGENDS AND SPEC QUALIFYING David Payne in the No. 61L SCORE Trophy Truck qualified first in the SCORE Trophy Truck Legends class, while Pierce Herbst in the No. 264 Herbst Smith Chevy qualified first in the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec class. Christopher Polvoorde qualified second, while Brock Heger qualified third for DOR Ryan Hancock. Class 1 racers did not attempt to qualify for the race and instead agreed among themselves and with SCORE Officials that their start order would remain in the order that they entered the race. The starting positions for all other classes were determined by a drawing in which racers were notified later that day. No. 46 Toby Price | Co-Driver for Paul Weel | Qualified 7th: “First time being on this course, it’s been a bit of a mission, but the truck is in good shape and no flats. I enjoy coming down here even if I’m just watching, but it is a lot better being in a race truck. [This is Paul’s] first time down here in Baja. It is cool to share that experience with him.” No. 1 Rob MacCachren | Qualified 9th: “It was good. My son Cayden rode with me. He qualified earlier in the Trophy Truck Spec with Steve Sourapas’ truck. We have a pretty good run– as good as we could do with this two-wheel drive truck. Ultimately, you don’t have to start first to win. We are leading the points championship right now. We want to extend the points lead. It’s what we are here for.” No. 41 Justin Lofton |Qualified 10th: “I wish I could say qualifying went good, but I think we lost a gear and unfortunately didn’t get the run we wanted. It is part of driving these things. So many things can and do go wrong. Hopefully, we are mid-pack and we can hold our own during the race.” No. 10 Alan Ampudia | Qualified 15th: “Even if we are outside the top ten, that’s fine. The race that counts is Saturday. There were a lot of rocks and some off-camber sections. I almost hit a big rock. These two-wheel drive vehicles like to slide. My co-driver killed it with the notes. The game plan for Saturday is to play it smart in the first half, then try to go for the win. It’s the qualification for the SCORE Baja 1000, so you can’t go too fast and hurt the truck and end up in the back.” No. 43 Larry Roeseler | Qualified 17th: “You know, that was a lot of fun. We have qualified here in the past. I think it was fair for everyone– whether you go out first or last. It is bermed up nice– some big ditches, some big jumps. We had a good time. We had a good run.”  No. 31 Andy McMillin | Qualified 30th: “Things did not go as good as I planned. Somehow, I got a flat tire so we have to start in the back. It is unfortunate– and almost in the same spot as last year. Sometimes you can’t do anything right and sometimes you can’t do anything wrong. We have done a lot of pre-running. The good thing is with all the rain hopefully the dust will be down.”

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