SCORE Journal


SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 65 of 117

BATTLE FOR A FINISH SCORE Trophy Truck Racers Try For A Win And A Starting Position By Dan Sanchez, Paul Hanson, Isaac Flores, Ariana Medrano, and Cindy Clark Photos By Get Some Photo The old Baja racing adage of “you have to finish to finish first,” should have been the official tagline for the K&N 4th SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels. Since the start of the SCORE Baja 400 race in 2019, the goal for many racers has been to simply get a good starting position for the SCORE Baja 1000 race. For many SCORE Trophy Truck racers, however, the competition is so high that the intent is now to get a win, or at the minimum place in the top five at the finish line, to get a good enough starting position for the next race. The struggle to finish the SCORE Baja 400 in the top five, especially in the SCORE Trophy Truck and Trophy Truck Spec classes is real, and this adds pressure on many of the top racers in these classes. Qualifying is where this process all starts. And at this year’s race, the starting line-up for the SCORE Trophy Trucks began with No. 46 truck of Paul Wheel and Toby Price who qualified first, with Tavo Vildosola in the No. 21 truck second, then Alan Ampudia in the No. 10 truck. For Bryce Menzies in the No. 7 truck, he had a sixth place start but he also had some insurance in the form of SCORE champion Andy McMillin driving the backup Mason AWD truck, starting in 17th place. Additional pressure for the Menzies team also came from Luke McMillin in the No. 1 truck who started 4th and would be very difficult to catch. As the Class Champion, Luke McMillin is never to be taken lightly, as he leaves nothing to chance, and many races between Menzies and McMillin have come down to simply who makes the fewest mistakes. After the race started, it was clear Menzies had a great day moving up the pack quickly before passing McMillin while he pit near the crossover from the highway. From there, he took it in the rest of the way for the win. McMillin fought hard, staying behind Toby Price and Paul Wheel in the No. 46 truck that was backing up traffic. “We were all bunched up within two minutes,” said McMillin. “Then I just took my time, but I got a flat tire.” After fixing the flat and stopping at their pit to re-rack the tire, McMillin was back in fifth place. “I knew it was going to be really hard to get back to first,” he said. At Mike’s Sky Ranch, McMillin moved into third place and passed Alan Ampudia in the No. 10 truck. Eventually, McMillin fought to get into first until the pit stop after the crossover. “[Menzies] really got on us and we had to chase him all the way to the finish line. It is what it is,” said McMillin. “For us, it was good qualifying for the SCORE Baja 1000. We won it three times in a row and second is a great starting spot!” It was a great surprise for SCORE fans to hear that Andy McMillin would compete in this race. Knowing his cousin Luke is a fierce competitor, McMillin was careful to drive fast enough to finish in the top three, and it was mission accomplished, as he finished in third place. “We started behind most of the pack and at Mike’s Sky Ranch. We began picking them off one at a time,” said McMillin. “We made a pass on Walser/Polvoorde (No. 89) while we were on the move along the beach.” McMillin then passed Alan Ampudia, who was struggling with brake problems. “I ran about a third of the race without brakes,” said Ampudia. The team pit but lost time fixing the problem. “We were chasing them down again, but we lost our brakes again, and by then, I was just trying to keep the truck on the course. “I’m not happy with this fourth place finish, as we could have won this race easily,” said Ampudia. “But we still have the SCORE Baja 1000, and we’ll prepare for that.” The rest of the field finished with some veterans up front and in a good position for the next race. Cameron Steele in the No. 16 truck, with 2019 Baja 400 race winner Ryan Arciero, finished fifth, followed by Rob MacCachren, who drove solo to finish in sixth place. Behind MacCachren was Larry Roeseler, who also drove solo and finished seventh, moving him up to third in points toward a class championship. VILDOSOLA DOMINATES TT LEGENDS In his third straight victory in a row this season, Gus Vildosola Sr. with Ricky Johnson finished first in the SCORE TT Legends class. Now with a huge points lead over the rest of the competition, Vildosola has almost wrapped up the class championship but still wants to win the SCORE Baja 1000 in November. “We had a trouble-free run– no flats, no overheating, nothing at all. It was just a great day,” said Vildosola. “To win it on Mexico’s Independence Day was really nice. We waved Mexico’s flag and celebrated with the fans. I’m very proud of my team– we did an incredible job. This truck just keeps getting miles put on it and it’s here at the finish line again. It’s our seventh-straight first-place finish in a SCORE race, and that’s certainly worth something. We want to get another win at the SCORE Baja 1000.” Co-driver Ricky Johnson wasn’t happy with his qualifying efforts at this race but was glad they pulled off the class win. “I screwed up in qualifying and I got two flats in the parade lap. I only had one spare, so I had to be very cautious on my timing lap,” he said. “In the race, I felt like we put ourselves in the right places. Some guys got flats and we were there to pass them. I was able to catch dust and capitalize when they made a mistake. I’m 59 years old but when I get out there and race, I feel like I’m 20 years old again. I want to congratulate SCORE for another great race. I also wanted to give a shoutout to K&N. They have been gone for a while and it’s great to have them back with off-road racing.” MCNEIL HAS HIS WAY IN TT SPEC It was another win for Jason McNeil in the No. 234 truck, who now has two first place finishes and one second to place him well ahead in the points standings toward a class championship. Despite a damaged driveshaft, he managed to maintain the lead to win the class— more on his story in this issue. Jordan Brenthel in the No. 273 truck had a great race, finishing only three minutes behind McNeil, but could not catch him in time to reach the finish. Thor Herbst in the No. 219 truck has been battling with McNeil all season, and it wasn’t any different in this race. He and his brother Pierce looked as though they could win the races early on, but Pierce put the truck on its side. “It left a bruise on our confidence,” said Pierce Herbst. “Thor had a phenomenal run with no mistakes or flats. I had a few but made it to the finish line.” FINISH LINE TALK SCORE TROPHY TRUCKS Ryan Arciero Co-Driver |No. 16| Fifth Place: Our main goal today was to get into the top five [or] top six and get a good starting spot for the SCORE Baja 1000. We needed a good finish in the SCORE Baja 400 but also to take good care of the car, so we pushed when we could and took it easy when we needed to. The worst thing that happened to us all day was getting a flat tire. We tried to see if we could run from race mile 190 all the day to the finish with the flat, but it was a bit too long. The dust was miserable, and there was no breeze on the coast, but we made it to the finish. Rob MacCachren |No. 11| Sixth Place: The race went well. We qualified 11th and ended up having a very clean race with no problems at all. The only thing that held us back today was the dust. We got to Tim Herbst (No. 19) and Dan McMillin (No. 23) by Mike’s Sky Ranch (race mile 150), followed them, and ended up letting the people behind us close up. When we pulled in to fuel, Andy (McMillin, No. 31) got by me, and we ended up falling behind another truck. We ran super hard coming up the coast because we had no dust and ended up catching up to Ray Griffith (No. 91) and Dan, and there was a train of SCORE Trophy Trucks coming up to the finish. Chris Polvoorde Co-Driver |No. 89| Seventh Place: It was a good race and an interesting day. I got in at this truck after getting out of my truck (No. 91), so it was a hectic day for me. It was my first time racing a Mason all-wheel drive, and I have a lot to learn. Luckily, Rod Walser (navigator) got me off to speed, and I started getting on the groove. Unfortunately, when I kind of figured out the all-wheel drive and started to catch up with some other trucks, I made a few mistakes. The dust today was insane– it was a crazy amount of dust– you couldn’t even see your dash. We didn’t want to risk anything, so we just played it safe and tried to maintain it all day. It was great to get some seat ahead of the SCORE Baja 1000, as I’ll be racing with Mike Waler again. SCORE Trophy Truck Legends Nick Vanderwey | No. 5L| Second Place: We had some overheating issues on the Highway 3 side. Then, we lost a belt on the Pacific side, so we had to get out of the truck to get it back on. It was a very rough course– very technical. The fans were everywhere. They even helped us put the belt on. SCORE Trophy Truck Spec Charles Dorrance |No. 299| Fifth Place: The course was really good. It started pretty technical, but then it took us to some long speed sections. It had a good mix of everything, and SCORE did a great job in laying it out. We had some transmission issues towards the end, but we were able to manage it and take the truck to the finish line. Stephen Beal | No. 241| Eighth Place: It was a super tough race. The start was very dusty. I couldn’t see well and put the truck on the side. The locals put us back on and I want to go back there and buy them a case of beer. We got back going and started working our way up. We had a terrible qualifying, started almost dead-last and got a pretty good finish. Our co-driver, Sean Geiser, did an amazing job. Oliver Flemate |No. 244| Sixteenth Place: We started in 34th place and it was hard to deal with the dust at the start. Luckily, we recovered from a bad qualification finish and got to ninth place. However, in a section with a lot of spectators, I ended up hitting a rock and lost about two hours and nine or ten spots. These things happen, but it’s bittersweet. It’s a shame because we had a perfect race up to that point. OFFICIAL FINISHERS SCORE TROPHY TRUCK  (Unlimited Custom Trucks including Builder) (*37 Starters, *22 Finishers) 1. 7 Bryce Menzies, 36, Las Vegas, Ford Raptor (Mason) 7:53:55 (48.70 miles per hour); 2. 1 Luke McMillin, 30, San Diego, Chevy 1500 (Mason) 7:56:11 3. 31 Andy McMillin, 36, San Diego, Ford Raptor (Mason) 7:58:54 4. 10 Alan Ampudia, 32, Ensenada, Mexico, Ford Raptor (Mason) 8:01:01 5. 16 Cameron Steele, 55, San Clemente, CA/Ryan Arciero, 49, Foothill Ranch, CA, Ford Raptor (Geiser) 8:07:44 6. 11 Rob MacCachren, 58, Las Vegas, Ford F-150 (Geiser) 8:08:44 7. 89 Mike Walser, 56, Comfort, TX/Christopher Polvoorde, 23, Hemet, CA, Chevy Silverado (Mason) 8:08:57 8. 43 Larry Roeseler, 66, Boulevard, CA, Toyota Tundra (ID) 8:09:30 9. 23 Dan McMillin, 35, San Diego, Chevy 1500 (Mason) 8:09:58 10. 91 Christopher Polvoorde, 23, Hemet, CA/Ray Griffith, 35, Downey, CA, Ford Raptor (Mason) 8:12:19 11. 70 Harley Letner, 39, Corona, CA (DOR-Kevin Thompson, 50, New Braunfels, TX/ Beau Morton, 25, Huntington Beach, CA, Chevy Silverado (Mason) 8:15:53 12. 71 Jesse Jones, 67, Phoenix (DOR-Harley Letner, 39, Corona, CA, Chevy Silverado (Herbst/Smith) 8:25:17 13. 58 Tracy Graf, 60, Canada/Justin B. Smith, 38, Las Vegas, Chevy Silverado (Racer) 8:35:08 14. 26 Dave Taylor, 49, Page, AZ, Chevy Silverado (Geiser) 8:35:23 15. 69 Andrew Myers, 43, San Marcos, CA/Julio Quintero, 40, Escondido, CA, Toyota Tundra (Herbst/Smith) 8:37:04 16. 19 Tim Herbst, 60, Las Vegas/James Dean, 27, Las Vegas, Ford F-150 (Herbst/Smith) 8:53:32 17. 38 Eric Hustead, 52, St. George, UT/Igor Dorojinski, Chatsworth, CA, Chevy Silverado (Custom) 9:02:54 18. 68 Roberto Ruiz, 48, Tecate, Mexico/Miguel Ramos, 31, Tecate, Mexico/Jose Contrera, 39, Tecate, Mexico/German Encinas, 47, Ensenada, Mexico, Ford F-150 (Geiser), 9:04:33 19. 6 Dan Myers, 45, Newport Beach, CA/Luke Johnson, 31, Murrieta, CA, Toyota Tundra (Brenthel), 9:08:08 20. 87 Dallas Lutrell, 42, Las Vegas/Cody Swanty, 48, Kingman, AZ/Billy Goerke, Dodge Ram, 9:20:18 21. 28 Ryan Daniel, 40, Huntington Beach, CA, Jimco-Chevy, 9:29:47 22. 33 Roberto Romo Jr, 18, Mexicali, Mexico/Roberto Romo Sr, 41, Mexicali, Mexico, Ford Raptor (Racer), 10:13:11  SCORE TT LEGEND  (Unlimited Custom Trucks, including builder, Drivers over 50 years old) (*8 Starters, 2 Finishers) 1. 1L Gustavo Vildosola Sr, 70, Mexicali, Mexico/Ricky Johnson, 58, El Cajon, CA, Ford Raptor (Mason) 8:20:12 (46.14 mph) 2. L Nick Vanderwey, 56, Phoenix, (DOR-Clyde Stacy, 78, Bristol, Va.), Chevy V16 (Geiser), 9:39:07 TROPHY TRUCK SPEC  (unlimited Truck/SUV, stock, sealed engines) 37 Starters, 26 Finishers) 1. 234 Jason McNeil, 45, El Cajon, CA/Eric Clay, St. George, UT, TSCO-Chevy, 8:28:57 (45.35 mph) 2. 273 Kyle Jergensen, 28, Phelan, CA, (DOR-Jordan Brenthel, 37, Temecula, CA), Brenthel-Chevy, 8:31:10 3. 219 Thor Herbst, 24, Las Vegas/Pierce Herbst, 20, Las Vegas, Herbst/Smith-Chevy, 8:43:20 4. 236 Michael Marsal, 35, Millbrook, N.Y./Troy Grabowski, 23, Upland, CA, Geiser-Chevy, 8:56:44 5. 299 Charles Dorrance, 48, Austin, TX, TSCO-Chevy, 9:03:56 6. 247 Scott Shields, 47, El Cajon, CA/Kevin Shields, El Cajon, CA, Alumi Craft-Chevy, 9:16:05 7. 207 Mason Cullen, 24, Long Beach, CA/Matt Cullen, 54, Long Beach, CA, Geiser-Chevy, 9:17:38 8. 241 Stephen Beal, 52, Dallas/Sean Geiser, Brenthel-Chevy, 9:24:34 9. 283 Garth Owens, 57, Chino Valley, Ariz/Nick Owens, 37, Chino Valley, AZ, Brenthel-Chevy, 9:38:40 10. 266 David Ziegler, 48, Reno, Nev., Brenthel-Chevy, 9:49:33 11. 294 Vincent Munoz, 36, Yucaipa, CA/Full Potential-Chevy, 9:50:31 12. 280 Bryan Scheible, 59, Georgetown, TX, Brenthel-Chevy, 9:57:20 13. 252 Ernesto Arambula, 46, Ensenada, Mexico/Elias Hanna, 41, Ensenada, Mexico, Mason-Chevy, 10:03:05 14. 289 Tanner Rust, 33, El Cajon, CA, Foutz Ford, 10:14:20 15. 246 Ethan Hagle, 31, Somis, CA/Ben Hagle, 33, Somis, CA, Alumi Craft-Chevy, 10:17:05 16. 244 Oliver Flemate, 45, Ensenada, Mexico/Luis Magana, 30, Ensenada, Mexico, TSCO-Chevy, 10:18:53 17. 277 Travis Williams, 46, Avondale, AZ/Travis Chase, 44, La Crescenta, CA, Geiser-Chevy, 10:21:37 18. 263 EJ Herbst, 22, Las Vegas/Ryan Millen, 38, Huntington Beach, CA (New Zealand), Herbst/Smith-Chevy, 10:34:51 19. 281 Damon Lewis, 24, Fallbrook, CA/Christian Lewis, 30, Fallbrook, CA, Mason-Chevy, 10:34:52 20. 260 Santiago Creel, 37, Mexico City/Guillermo Zamacona, 42, Mexicali, Jimco-Chevy, 10:42:26 21. 282 Brent Fox, 55, Highland, UT, Herbst/Smith-Chevy, 12:44:39 22. 249 Dustin Swanson, 44, Honolulu, Hawaii, TSCO-Chevy, 13:14:38 23. 298 Jordan Dean, 25, Las Vegas (DOR-Riley Herbst, 24, Las Vegas), Herbst/Smith-Chevy, 13:36:45 24. 238 Elijah Kiger, 23, Kirby, Pa./Justin Davis, 30, Riverside, CA, TSCO-Chevy, 13:53:46 25. 205 Joe Delucie, 44, Las Vegas/Neal Drickey, 44, Omaha, Neb./, SLR-Chevy, 14:27:25 26. 225 Scott McNeil, 35, Sun Tan Valley, AZ/John McNeil, 57, Mesa, AZ/Kelly McNeil, 61, Mesa, AZ, Geiser-Ford, 14:32:08

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