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A WILD RIDE Mechanical Issues And Silt Dealt The TT Spec Racers A Tough Hand By Paul Hanson, Guilherme Torres, Jose Vazquez, and Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo One of the largest race classes at the 54th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts, the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec teams came out in full force to win a peninsula run. The class has some of the toughest competition this season, which had Jason McNeil in the No. 234 truck rise to the top with two race wins. But with racers such as Ryan Hancock, who finished in the top two every race this season, as well as racers who have finished in the top three this season like Justin Davis, Bryce Swaim, and Kyle Jergensen, it was anybody’s race to win. McNeil started first and had the lead, but had transmission problems that put the team down until they could get it fixed. “We lost the transmission early, which cost us two and a half hours,” said McNeil. “That put us behind a lot of classes which were difficult to pass in the night and the dust. We didn’t get past them before the final 500 miles, and that made the race a lot more difficult. I believe we could have won the race if it wasn’t for that.” Second-place starter Ryan Hancock moved into first place but had brake issues that set them back early in the race. The No. 261 car of Jeff Bader saw an opportunity to move up and took advantage of McNeil’s and Hancock’s mechanical issues and was in first place on the course early on. But luck wasn’t on Bader’s side that day either. “We got to first place on the course by about mile 100. But unfortunately, our second alternator caught on fire, so that put us down a little bit, but our co-driver Dan Fresh was still battling,” said Bader. “We got in the truck in second place on the course, and then we had a steering issue. We changed the power steering pump, but that wasn’t the problem– it was in the rack, so we wasted about a half-hour there. Then we missed the serpentine belt on the alternator, so we only made it about 30-miles until we only had six volts of power. We had to get out and re-route that. So, we lost about an hour and a half between those three issues. But in the second half of the race, there were a lot of whoops and silt, but it was a fast and fun course. We ran through so much silt that our air cleaner got clogged, and we could only go about 40 miles an hour, so we had to replace it. But, anytime you can finish a SCORE Baja 1000, we are super happy.” The issues plaguing the top position racers on the course left the door open for Jorge Sampietro driving with Santiago Creel in the No. 234 truck. They moved up to take the lead for most of the race. “We got the lead around mile 400 and held it until race mile 900,” said Creel. “Then I got stuck in the silt and lost about 20 minutes, and several guys in my class passed me. When I got unstuck, I passed a couple back.” Coming up from the rear of the pack was Elijah Kiger who started fifth, had no mechanical issues, and managed to get through the silt quicker than the rest of the racers. By the end, Kiger crossed the finish line first in class, followed by Justin Davis, who started 21st out of 28 entries. “Overall, we had a pretty good day. We had a couple of flats that set us back a little bit and we got caught up in the dust and traffic,” said Davis. “Sometimes luck isn’t on your side. We lost the hood along the way; it decided to take flight. We lost a body panel too, but we are glad to be here. We look forward to next year.” Sampietro and Creel managed to hang on to finish in third place, finishing the season with a great effort in the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec class. Hancock finished fourth, and Bader finished in fifth place. See more stats on Score's Fan Pages SJ

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