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SECOND CHANCES Matt Burroughs And The Monster Energy Team’s Comeback By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo Winning their second SCORE Pro UTV Overall and FI class Championship this season, Matt Burroughs and the Monster Energy No. 2948 Can-Am were one of the most consistent teams this year, earning enough season points for the 2022 championship. Burroughs is the Senior VP of Corporate Finance for Monster Energy, but when he’s not discussing finances or talking to a room of accountants, he’s been one of SCORE’s most competitive UTV racers since 2017. This 2022 Championship wasn’t as easy as simply being consistent, however. This championship came after a near decision to quit UTV racing altogether. Burroughs told us that after winning his first SCORE Overall, UTV Overall and Pro UTV FI championship in 2020, he and the team entered the 2021 season with a lot of enthusiasm, determined to win another, along with some first-place podium finishes. But just before the 2022 SCORE San Felipe 250, their championship-winning 4-seater Can-Am burnt to the ground, leaving the team with only the UTV they used for state-side races. “We’re not a big team with lots of resources,” said Burroughs. “We worked up to having two race vehicles, one for Baja and a two-seat car which we had planned to use for stateside races.” With the “Baja” car out of the picture, the team was left with some serious questions to ask themselves. “We considered quitting,” said Burroughs. “We had serious conversations about retiring and being done with racing altogether. The second car was nowhere near where it needed to be for the demands of Baja. But everyone on the team didn’t want to quit. They told me they were not done as a team, so we immediately regrouped and re-focused on the short-wheelbase car.” The team got things ready for the 2022 season and took the two-seater Can-Am out for its first Baja test at the SCORE San Felipe 250. “At this race, we realized the car was not quite ready to being competitive with the other teams,” said Burroughs. “But we were shocked when we placed fourth in class. We struggled with the clutch and suspension set-ups but pushed on to the next race.” At the SCORE Baja 500, we did a much better job with car setup, allowing us to run with the lead pack of racers. “However, right before Mike’s Sky Ranch we had a mechanical issue and it took a long time to get parts out there,” said Burroughs. “We eventually got it fixed and salvaged a ninth-place finish.” Since the competition was so tough, many of the teams were not consistent and it left Burroughs near the top of the points standings where there was a chance for another championship. “We looked at the points after the SCORE Baja 500 and saw other competitors had a rough fight this season too, but we were all close in overall points towards the championship,” said Burroughs. So we continued to work on the car and address our issues. We had a good race at the 500 and were fast but not prepared to run at a winning pace.” At the SCORE Baja 400, Burroughs and the team decided to play it safe and push for a good finish without risking breaking their vehicle for the SCORE Baja 1000. “At that point, we were focused on winning our second championship and didn’t want to have a race that might leave us with a broken vehicle and a DNF,” said Burroughs. “We believed a top-five finish at the SCORE Baja 400 would put us in a great position heading into the SCORE Baja 1000.” The team finished fourth, their second fourth-place finish of the season. “After this, we were within five points of the class leader heading into the SCORE Baja 1000, said Burroughs. “We knew the SCORE Baja 1000 would be a huge race for us and just like in 2020, it was the second time the championship came down to this race.” After pre-running the SCORE Baja 1000 course, Burroughs and the team made their game plan. “Our feeling was that out of all of the courses we have done in Baja, in our mind this was the toughest and hardest,” he said. “We planned to go out at a medium pace and see where everyone else was on the course. At first, everyone’s pace seemed fast, but I thought we were at a pace that would last the entire race. By Race Mile 150, two of the championship contenders were broke, so it became a two-person race between us and our Monster Energy teammate Justin Lambert. We chased him to Race Mile 600, where we found him at the side of the road with a broken frame.” At this point, not worried about winning the race itself, Burroughs focused on those competitors that were close to them in points for the championship. “I knew Edgar Leon in the No. 2987 car was about 200 miles behind us,” he said. “At that point, we backed it down and got the car to the finish line in fourth place. Our pre-running helped us determine how rough the course was and it was the first SCORE Baja 1000 I’ve ever done with very few sections where you could relax on a long road.” For this race, Burroughs again had his son Zach on the team. “It is always great to have Zach, co-drive with me. Bradley Howe along with his co-driver Bradley Niper drove almost the entire night section at the SCORE Baja 1000 and were super-fast as always, ,” said Burroughs. “This season was a great experience and to be a two-time winning Champion is pretty darn cool.” The Monster Energy team is hopeful that the 2023 season will be just as successful. “For the 2023 season, we feel we’re much further along with car setup. It’s at 90 percent of where it needs to be on the suspension and clutch. We think that we can improve our speed in 2023. More than anything we think we have a successful program. We try not to look around to see what other people are doing or get caught up in any of the hype. We just do our thing and want to be champions again.” SJ

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