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Page 49 of 117

A WIN-WIN FOR BRYCE MENZIES Menzies now has the series points lead and pole position for the SCORE BaJa 1000 Story By Stuart Bourdon Photos by Get Some Photo The K&N 4th SCORE Baja 400 presented by VP Racing Fuels was peppered with mechanical challenges and tough terrain for Bryce Menzies as well as the other 206 starters making up more than a dozen race vehicle classes in the fourth running of the SCORE Baja 400. Fortune smiled on Menzies again, and after running an almost perfect race, he stood on top of the podium for the third time in a row in this race. This most recent victory also put Menzies first in the SCORE Trophy Truck class points and in the first-start position in the upcoming SCORE Baja 1000. The 384.66-mile race started and finished in Ensenada in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center, and led racers eastward over the mountains, south all the way to Mike’s Sky Rancho, then back westward over the mountains to near Colonet before turning north for the run up the Pacific coast. Then after turning east near Urupan, racers returned through the same mountains they crossed leaving Ensenada that morning. Menzies had seen it all pre-running, was mentally ready for the race, and was pumped for the qualifying session on Thursday before the Saturday race. His qualifying run was incredibly quick and smooth. Nonetheless, Bryce ended up in a 6th starting position. Menzies took it all in stride. It just meant he had five trucks to pass to take the lead. Menzies said, “We started sixth and it was dusty, we knew we were going to have to fight really hard, so we just charged as hard as we could.” RACE DAY ACTION Menzies began by focusing on chasing down and picking off those in front of him one by one. Paul Wheel (who started first) was a DNF. Harley Letner crashed in a big way (luckily no injuries to him or his co-driver) pretty early in the race. He got by Tavo Vildosola when he pulled off the course with some trouble. He passed Alan Ampudia in the pits, and then Menzies finally put Luke McMillin in his rearview mirror when he pulled off for a pitstop. “My plan was to try to be first on the road by the beach,” said Menzies. Having experienced a nearly race-ending “oops” coming north up the coast during the 2023 Baja 500, Bryce was on high alert at this point. “I knew it was going to be a long way from there with those guys behind me,” said Menzies. “I just had to play it smart, keep my eyes on the ball, and have no flats because that would have really made it hard for us. We were able to keep those guys behind us and just kind of cruised all the way from there. The truck lost front drive late in the race, so I had to think back to my two-wheel drive days.” Now first on the road, Menzies stayed out of trouble and brought his AWD Mason Ford Raptor in for a winning time of seven hours, 53 minutes, and 54.72 seconds for an average speed of 48.70 miles per hour. He led a trio of Mason AWD trucks across the finish line and to the podium at the 2023 SCORE Baja 400. Luke McMillin was second, just two-and-half minutes behind Bryce. Andy McMillin (who started 17th off the line) finished third another two-and-a-half minutes behind his cousin Luke. NUMBERS AND TACTICS Bryce Menzies’ tactical approach wasn’t limited only to going very fast, playing it safe, and picking off his opponents when the opportunities arose during this race. He was thinking ahead, as the SCORE Baja 400 finishing order determines a racer’s starting position for the SCORE Baja 1000. Menzies brought on good friend and teammate Andy McMillin to drive a second Menzies Motorsports AWD Mason Ford Raptor in this race. If one fell out, the other would still have a chance at a good finish and a good starting position for the team in the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000. As of this report, considering that both trucks have excellent starting positions, it hasn’t been announced whether the two will share driving duties in one truck or if the plan is to field both team trucks for the SCORE Baja 1000. Menzie’s wins at the 2023 SCORE Baja 500 and now the SCORE Baja 400 have put him ahead in the SCORE Trophy Truck class championship chase by nine points. But following close behind is Luke McMillin. All others are more than 20 points down behind McMillin. The final race of the 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship in November might see these two top SCORE Tophy Truck competitors dueling it out in the desert. The SCORE Baja 1000 is the only race on the SCORE schedule that Menzies has yet to win. It’s the win he wants most now. At the 2023 Baja 400 finish line, Bryce said, “What a day. To win the SCORE Baja 400 three times in a row and get to start the SCORE Baja 1000 in first place. I can’t wait for it.” SJ

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