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ALAN AMPUDIA WINS After A String Of Near Misses It Was Make It Or Break It Story by Stuart Bourdon Photos by Get Some Photo At the finish line of the King Shocks SCORE 37th San Felipe 250, Alan Ampudia said he was “stoked to get the win and get the monkey off our backs.” Days later, when we caught up and talked to him more about the overall and SCORE Trophy Truck class win at the spring opener to the 2024 SCORE World Desert Racing Championship series, he explained, “It wasn’t just that race. It’s been four years of being close to winning a SCORE race. It seemed like it was always one thing or another – a little problem here or there – that would take us out of contention. We would get so close. Last year, we were second at this race. At the SCORE Baja 500, we were right there and we could have won, but we had a problem changing a tire. Then the truck broke. At the next race, the SCORE Baja 400, we were leading and I just had to keep the truck moving. Then we had problems with the brakes and lost the lead.” This time around, everything seemed to be clicking right into place. “We had a great qualifying run and started the race first off the line,” he said. “Our Mason AWD truck was running like a champ. The game plan was to keep the truck moving and see how things would shake-out when we got to Borrego. Then we could decide to either turn on the jets or keep cruising.” Through communication with chase crews on the ground and in the air, Ampudia and his navigator Kyle Craft, kept track of where the other drivers were on the course, as well as their split times. This was how they were able to stay in front of the competition from the green flag to the finish line. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. “We started well and tried to maintain a steady pace. I knew Toby Price and Paul Weel in the No. 46 truck would be pushing it; and he’s wicked fast. He would be right on my bumper if I wasn’t careful. Bryce [Menzies] and Luke [McMillin] were not far behind Toby. So for the first 150 miles, I was trying to run at a comfortable fast pace and not blow any corners or hit anything that would create any downtime. I had to keep our speed up, but not make mistakes because I knew Toby would be right there to capitalize on it.” At Morelia Junction, Price was less than a minute behind Ampudia. “At that point, Toby was still keeping up the pace,” said Ampudia. “I realized I needed to make up a minute on this guy in these last 40 miles. It became a race of who could keep up this fast pace the longest without making a mistake. It was a make-it or break-it moment. Around that time, we lost communication with our chase crews. I didn’t know Toby had been down for a little while with a flat tire. It wouldn’t have mattered. I still would have pushed hard anyway because of the small gap between us.” About 20 miles before the finish line, a front tire got a stick puncture but luckily the tire kept enough air pressure in it so Ampudia could keep pushing without any sketchy handling in the corners. “I decided to not stop and change the tire because I still thought Toby was right behind me, and I was not going to lose this race by a few seconds.” At this point in the race, Ampudia was not stopping for anything. “I decided to take the gamble,” he said. “Even if I had to drive this thing in on the wheel, we were not stopping. When we pulled into the finish, I could see my dad and younger brother jumping up and down, yelling and screaming. I thought they were just happy we made it and maybe got second. I didn’t know we had won. But then the officials put the checkered flag on our hood, and we heard that Toby had broken down. At that moment, I knew we had done it.” SJ

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