Laughlin: Series race event report
JDavis wins Class 1
Rookie Menzies stuns star-studded field to grab Overall victory,
SCORE Trophy-Truck win at SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge
Other class winners include: D. McMillin, Caspino, J. McMillin, Moss, Hanna, Chamlee, Bevley III, Matney, Stacy
LAUGHLIN, Nev.--Surprised that he was four seconds behind the overall lead during Saturday's first half of the race, SCORE rookie Bryce Menzies grabbed the lead right off the start during Sunday's finale to capture the overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck title at the 17th Annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.
Starting on the outside of the front row next to first day leader Jesse Jones, Menzies grabbed the physical lead in the elapsed-time race at the end of the front straightaway and maintained his lead over Jones to the claim his first SCORE checkered flag. With the race split into two days of eight laps each of an intensely rugged 6.25-mile course, Menzies ran a combined total time of one hour, 51 minutes and 38 seconds, averaging 53.75 miles per hour in his Red Bull-sponsored No. 70 Menzies Motorsports Ford F-150. Menzies finished physically first in Saturday's first half of the race, but learned later that he was in second place to Jones by just four seconds in the elapsed-time race.
Running nearly identical lap times for the first six laps, Jones, Litchfield Park, Ariz., fell off the pace slightly with some minor engine issues over the final two laps, eventually finishing second overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck. Jones, the reigning SCORE Trophy-Truck and SCORE Overall point champion, finished in a combined time of 1:52:37, averaging 43.28mph. Jones time in his No. 1 Jones Motorsports Chevy Silverado was just 59 seconds behind the winning time of Menzies.
The popular event featured 125 starters from 15 States, Canada, Denmark, Germany and Mexico, who competed in 19 Pro classes and one Sportsman class for cars and trucks for over $300,000 in prize money and contingency postings. The event was Round 1 of the five-race 2011 SCORE Desert Series, the world's foremost desert-racing series.
With the second-half of the race unfolding almost as a dead heat for the first six laps, Menzies ran amazingly consistent laps on Sunday of 6:55, 6:55, 6:56, 6:54, 6:54, 7:00, 6:58 and 7:03. After the first six laps Sunday, Menzies and Jones were tied on elapsed time.
"The plan was just to cruise the first five laps and Jesse was right on me," commented the happy Menzies, 23, at the finish line. "We decided the last two laps that we were going to take it and run with it. Jesse is a really good friend of mine and it's awesome to be racing with him. Just to be up here and win the SCORE Laughlin race is awesome. My first desert racing win was with Jesse, when we teamed up. It feels really good to get my first SCORE win by myself. It's a good start to the season and hopefully we come away with a championship at the end -- this is definitely a good start for it. I think it was good that we were just pacing each other off the start and we ran away from the field."
"Jesse and I talked to each other before the race and we said, 'Let's just run five laps consistently and then from there, let's go.' That was the plan and he was running right behind me the whole time, like right on my tail. I saw him every corner. This is my second SCORE race so to get a win in the second race is pretty good. It's good momentum to go into the year. We didn't think we were going to be up here -- we wanted to leave Laughlin with a top five but we'll take the win, for sure."
Menzies first SCORE desert race was his seventh place finish in last year's Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and his truck was originally owned by Jones, who turned it over to Menzies after Jones won last year's MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250.
With 17 of the 32 SCORE Trophy-Trucks completing the required 16 laps for the race, third overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Mexico's Gus Vildosola Jr., who won last year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 overall with his father Gus Vildosola Sr., finishing in Laughlin in a combined time of 1:56:37, exactly four minutes behind Jones and 4:59 behind Menzies in the Red Bull-sponsored No. 21 Vildosola Racing Ford F-150.
Las Vegas' Rob MacCachren finished in fourth place overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck, completing the race in a total time of 1:58:15 in his No. 20 MasterCraft Safety Ford F-150.
Completing the top five overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Pete Sohren, Glendale, Ariz., who finished in 1:58:41 in his No. 2 Ford F-150.
Surviving another strong test among 26 starters to win the unlimited Class 1 and finish sixth overall overall was 17-year old Justin Davis, Chino Hills, Calif., with a total time of 581:59:35 at an average speed of 50.17mph in a Green Army Chevy-powered ESM open-wheel desert race car.
Just 33 seconds back of Justin Lofton after Saturday's first half of the race, Davis, last year's SCORE Lite season point champion, closed the gap to within seconds on Sunday and pulled away after Lofton lost a wheel on the seventh of eight laps, helping Davis earn the class win in his first start in SCORE Class 1.
Second in Class 1 and eighth overall, was Harley Letner, Orange, Calif. in an Alpha Chevy who finished 54 seconds back of Davis while third in Class 1 was the team of Dan Martin, Monrovia, Calif./Dale Dondel, Hemet, Calif., who recorded a total time of 2:02:18 for their 16 laps in a Racer-Chevy.
Fourth in Class 1 and was the team of Armin Schwarz, Germany/Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif. (Denmark) in a Jimco-Chevy with a time of 2:06:25.
Fifth in Class 1 as well as SCORE Trophy Truck was Sohren, who stripped the body panels off of his vehicle and ran it as an open-wheel Geiser-Ford. Sohren's total time in Class 1 was 2:09:35.
After traveling all the way from Virginia and Tennessee, the RPM off-road team had four entries in the race and impressively won three of the four classes they entered. Justin Matney, Bristol, Tenn. won Class 8 in a Chevy Silverado and Class 11 in a stock VW Sedan. His teammate, Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Va., won Class 4 in a PSD-Chevy and finished 15th in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the new No. 18 RPM Off-Road Chevy Silverado.
In the closest margin of victory of the entire race, Daniel McMillin, El Cajon, Calif., who was in fourth place after Saturday's first half by just 21 seconds and came back to earn the Class 1-2/1600 victory by a mere three seconds in a Jimco-VW. After Saturday, Daniel McMillin, 23, trailed his younger brother Luke McMillin, 17. Luke McMillin, the reigning SCORE Class 1-2/1600 season point champion and 2010 SCORE Roockie of the Year, ended up fourth in the final standings for the class in an AlumiCraft-VW, 1:10 behind his brother. Second in the class that had 12 starters in the race was Mexico's Arnoldo Ramirez in a Curry-VW.
Jessica McMillin, the McMillin brothers cousin, earned his first SCORE class win, as one of just two female drivers of record in the race, capturing the Protruck class in a Ford F-150 to give the third generation of McMilin family racers two more class wins.
In Class 3, Donald Moss earned his 36th career SCORE race win and his race-high eighth class win in the last 10 years in Laughlin in his dependable vintage Ford Bronco.
After going undefeated in five races in 2010 to win the SCORE Class 6 season point championship, David Caspino, Woodland Hills, Calif., made it six SCORE race wins in a row in a Ford Ranger
A father and son team traveled from Corpus Christi, Texas and captured two class victories. Wes Bevley III won Stock Full in a Ford F-150 and his son Wes Bevley IV won Class 7-2 in a BajaLite-Chevy.
Among the other class were: Dan Chamlee, Carpenteria, Calif., Mexico (Class 7, Ford Ranger), Elias Hanna, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 7SX, Ford Ranger), Kevin Carr, San Diego (Class 5, VW Baja Bug), Michael LaPaglia, Murrieta, Calif. (Class 10, Racer-Chevy), Jamie Huerta, San Luis, Ariz. (SCORE Lite, Curry-VW).
It was Carr's fourth class win in Laughlin, Chamlee's second, Hanna's second straight and the first SCORE race wins for both LaPaglia and Huerta.
A total of 73 of the 125 official starters finished the challenge, for a 58.4 percent finishing rate.
Round 2 of the 2011 SCORE Desert Series will be the 25th Annual MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, March 11-13 in Baja California, Mexico.
The 17th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge is sponsored by the Laughlin Tourism Commission and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in association with Las Vegas Events. The race is sanctioned and produced by SCORE International of Los Angeles.