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Page 47 of 117

THE START OF SOMETHING BIG SCORE Trophy Truck Classes Battle For A Win And A Starting Position By Dan Sanchez, Guilherme Torres, Paul Hanson, Isaac Flores, and Cindy Clark Photos by Get Some Photo The roar of 900+ horsepower engines signaled the start of the SCORE Trophy Trucks for the 3rd SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels. With Luke McMillin starting first followed by Bryce Menzies, racers in this class knew the pace would be fast and that they would have to take more chances on the course to be able to stay within passing range of these two top competitors. McMillin got a flat around race mile 70, allowing Menzies to pass and take the lead for the rest of the race. There were some issues with the Stella system so Menzies wasn’t always showing up on the SCORE Live Tracking, but visual spotters reported he was in the lead. “We started out pretty smooth, just trying to chase Luke (McMillin) down,” said Bryce Menzies. “And then from there, we just held him behind us with about a two and half-minute gap and just wanted to keep him there in case we had any issues to be able to get out in front of him again.” “We earned a flat tire at race mile 70,” said Luke McMillin. “My fault. We lost front drive so then we had a truck that was pushing, not pulling, so we earned a flat due to that. The rain helped some sections and made other sections worse, so it was a mix.” Starting in third position was the No. 89 truck of Mike Walser with Jax Redline co-driving. Redline kept the truck up with Menzies and McMillin up until about race mile 220. “Jax put it up front in qualifying but then we smoked a rock that bent a sector shaft and killed a tire that put us several spots back,” said Walser. “We had to work our way back and got by Toby Price again, but then Dan (McMillin) was just too far ahead of us. My sector shaft was bent too bad and I was losing cylinders on the engine, so we just decided this was good enough and brought it in. Those guys in front of us are fast. We are fast, and I think we can run with them. If we can start in the top ten, we have a good shot at it. Jax is my teammate. He is fast and it’s a good team.” With Walser out of the way on the course, it opened the door for Dan McMillin to catch up to the leaders. McMillin kept chasing down his brother Luke and despite hitting rocks and a flat tire, kept his position on the course. “I had one flat tire at race mile 360,” said McMillin. “I hit a big rock about the size of a microwave. Then I hit another rock and bent my steering wheel. I was just trying to keep up with Bryce and Luke; they were very, very fast.” The three top leaders on the course kept their positions to finish the race. Menzies finished in 7:59:27 to take first place, while Luke McMillin finished in 8:02:54 for a close second-place finish. Dan McMillin finished only six minutes behind Luke with a time of 8:08:30 to take third place. Walser and Redline would end up finishing in sixth place behind Alan Ampudia in the No. 10 Ford Raptor who finished in fourth place, and the Australian team of Paul Weel and Toby Price in the No. 46 Ford Raptor, who finished in fifth place. As a result, the top five starting at the 55th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts will be some of the fastest SCORE Trophy Truck racers this season. But as SCORE racers and fans know, a lot can happen in 1000 miles of Baja desert, so it will also be key for any of the racers to only go as fast as necessary to be able to finish and win. “We will be racing the SCORE Baja 1000 with Rob MacCachren again,” said Luke McMillin. “We are leading the points championship, so we will be able to run my number, so that will be awesome.”   “Third starting spot for the SCORE Baja 1000 is an awesome spot. Honestly, anywhere in the top ten is great, so a podium start is very sweet,” said Dan McMillin. “Josh Daniels is going to race with me in the SCORE Baja 1000. We are very much looking forward to it.” SCORE TROPHY TRUCK LEGEND After qualifying first in the SCORE Trophy Truck Legend class, Gus Vildosola Sr. and Ricky Johnson in the No 12L held the lead all day without any issues. 2021 Class Champion Rolf Helland with Ricky D. Johnson in the No. 37L truck started second in class and held their position trying to chase down Vildosola. After crossing the desert, Vildosola and Johnson drove across the finish line to a first-place finish. “We had no problems all day. Just a nasty course,” said Vildosola Sr. “Our team did an excellent job. I’m very proud of them and would like to congratulate them. I want to thank my navigator Nico, he did an excellent job and changed our flat quickly, and thank you to Ricky Johnson.” Unable to catch Vildosola, Helland and Johnson had issues with their vehicle and had to bow out of the race. It was the same for the No. 25L team of Mark Winkelman who also did not finish. This left Clay Lawrence in the No. 85L truck to push his way to the front, even after starting in 29th place, among the SCORE Trophy Truck classes. Lawrence, along with co-driver Steve Lawlor, would end up driving their way to a second-place finish. “The course was fire and ice,” said Lawrence. “It was fast, but also very technical, rocky, and rough. We had a good lead over the third-place car, so we just brought it back here. This car is still the Trophy Truck Spec that we ran last year. We’ll get a new motor for the SCORE Baja 1000 and then will be able to run a little better.”  Finishing in third place was the No. 61L truck of David Payne, followed by the No. 53L truck of Wade Porter who finished in fourth. SCORE TROPHY TRUCK SPEC It could have been anyone’s race in the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec Class. The talent of drivers in this class makes it so difficult to win, that you need to have a perfect day. At the start, Pierce Herbst in the No. 264 Herbst/Smith truck had qualified first ahead of Chris Polvoorde in the No. 204 Ford/Optima Batteries truck. SCORE fans were also looking at Ryan Hancock in the No. 228 car to also be fast as they qualified to start third with Brock Heger behind the wheel. Jorge Sampietro in the No. 297 truck was also a contender for the win after taking the SCORE Baja 500 victory. It was also Cayden MacCachren’s first SCORE competition in this class as he was driving for Christian Sourapas in the No. 219 Herbst/Smith truck. It would turn out to be a bad day for Herbst and co-driver James Dean who got a flat and then got stuck in the dust. “Larry Roeseler pulled us out. He’s a great man, he didn’t have to do it at all,” said Herbst. Polvoorde got a flat early on the course, allowing Ryan Hancock to take second place, then pass Herbst when he got stuck to take the lead. By that time, Polvoorde had caught up to Hancock and was riding his dust all the way to the finish line. While Hancock finished first physically, penalties were assessed allowing Polvoorde to take the class win. “We got a flat right off the start that put us behind right away. But we put our head down and caught (Ryan) Hancock and sat in his dust from race mile 250 all the way here. The dust was crazy. We got up to his bumper a couple times, but there at the end, it got really technical and we couldn’t keep pushing through the dust. Overall it was super good. It set us up good for the SCORE Baja 1000.” Jorge Sampietro, who started in the middle of the pack, would charge up to the front and finish third behind Hancock. “The goal was to get a good starting position for the SCORE Baja 1000. We had one flat– my fault. And then I lost first gear and had to take it easy on the transmission to make it to the finish. I want to thank my family and all the guys at the shop. We had no issues at all except for the flat that I caused. But that’s racing.” Post Race Interview with Jorge Sampietro After getting out of their situation, Herbst got back into the race but there was not enough time or course distance to catch up to be on the podium. Herbst would ultimately finish in seventh place, but still a good starting position for the SCORE Baja 1000. Alan Ampudia | No. 10 | 4th Place: “The course was a little muddy but outside from an electric problem that costed us a few minutes at the start, we did great and enjoyed the race. Our Toyo tires were fantastic– we had no flats. We’re ready for the SCORE Baja 1000. (It was announced later that Alan Ampudia and Tavo Vildosola Jr. will be teaming up for the race. - Editor) Larry Roeseler | No. 43 | 16th Place: “What a day we had. We started off really, really well. We just ran hard and put our heads down. We passed a few cars and just kept pushing. We managed to get from 15th to sixth at checkpoint one– we were in really good shape. Shortly after that, we started getting issues with our oil and smoke in the car. From that point on, it was just about survival. We lost so much oil that we think it hurt the engine. It’s a bummer that something that small took us out of the race, but we’re still very happy to be here.”  Paul Weel | No. 46 | 5th Place: “Toby (Price) did an excellent job, so I feel like I let the team down a little bit. We had a few issues with being able to see up and over the rises with the bonnet, so we were struggling with that. It is great to see an Australian team come over here and do pretty well. We are in a good spot for the start of the SCORE Baja 1000.” Toby Price | No. 46 | 5th Place: “We had a really good run going from the start. The truck performed well. It is Paul’s first time here. We are excited about it. We will be back for the SCORE Baja 1000. We had a good starting position for it– now we know what we need to do.” Andy McMillin | No. 31 | 8th Place: “Starting this far back, the first 25 trucks through are just burning the top layer off and digging up all the silt underneath. Right before race mile 77, we were getting ready to pass someone and I hit a stump I didn’t see and got a flat. Then we started picking guys off and were only six minutes behind Bryce (Menzies), so I thought that wasn’t too bad. But then we got stuck behind two or three slow trucks going up through the Mike’s loop and we lost another ten minutes, so that put us way back. At that point, we just wanted to keep it solid and get a good finish.” Rob MacCachren | No. 1 | 12th Place: “I knew at the starting line that it was going to be a tough one. There were a lot of trucks on the line at the green that can go really, really fast. We pushed hard all day long. This truck has been around since 2013 and has a lot of miles on it. It is getting tougher to keep up with the big motors and four-wheel drives. I have to thank BFGoodrich tires, Vision Wheel, Fox Shocks, KC Lights, VP Fuels, and everyone that helped me out | the Baja Fools did our fuel pitting– Collins Motorsports for prepping the truck. And all my crew that comes down here to help. We will be back here for the SCORE Baja 1000 racing with Luke McMillin. It looks like we have a good starting spot.” Dustin Grabowski | No. 272 | 4th Place: “It went good for the first half and we took over the lead around race mile 200. Then we had some mishaps and spent the second half of the race trying to catch up. We had two flats– one right after another. We hit two or three of the biggest mud puddles out there. We are going to go home, change some parts, and get ready for the SCORE Baja 1000.” Elijah Kiger | No. 238 | 5th Place: “We started out ninth and got a couple of flats early. I got in about halfway and started picking drivers off and made it back up to sixth. The truck was great. Me, personally– got sick today, so that wasn’t the greatest feeling.” Charles Dorrance | No. 299 | 6th Place: “It’s always rough here– it’s Baja. It was muddier than I first anticipated when we got here. I tried to avoid most of it but still got some. We ran clean all day, didn’t have any problems at all, it was really smooth.” Mason Cullen | No. 207 | 8th Place: “Played in the dust today. We caught some cars in un-strategic places and sat behind them for a while, but it was a super uneventful day. Glad we had FNL on the door, as we didn’t have any fuel issues. A huge shout out to BFGoodrich, no flats all day.”

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