BITD: Mongo Racing Parker 425 summary

A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? MAYBE, AS MERRITT NOTCHES ANOTHER SECOND PALCE AT PARKER 425 IN BITD SEASON OPENER Deja vu all over again? Randy Merritt certainly hopes so. The off-road racing veteran from Parker, Ariz., opened the 2006 Best in...

A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME?

MAYBE, AS MERRITT NOTCHES ANOTHER SECOND PALCE AT PARKER 425 IN BITD SEASON OPENER

Deja vu all over again?

Randy Merritt certainly hopes so.

The off-road racing veteran from Parker, Ariz., opened the 2006 Best in the Desert series with a second place finish in his own backyard, the Blue Water Resort and Casino Parker 425, and went on to win his first championship.

And in 2007, Merritt drove off with another second place.

If it's a sign of things to come -- again -- everybody in the BITD full-stock truck class better look out for the big ol' yellow KC Hi-Lites Ford F-150.

"Honestly, it's not how we wanted to start the season," said a physically exhausted Merritt following his run to the finish in the dusty and rough 2007 Parker event on Feb. 3. Merritt and fellow competitors agreed it was one of the roughest and toughest Parker events in recent history.

"I mean, we really, really wanted to win this race. It's our home court; we had our hometown fans watching; and we all worked so hard.

"But, then again, if 2007 is going to play out like 2006, hey, we'll take it."

That's Merritt's positive take on the finish.

The negative take is the bittersweet taste the defending class champion has in his mouth, because he came oh so close to taking the checkered flag.

Consider that after completing the first of three laps, he was in his pit for 50 minutes while the Mongo Racing Team replaced a rear-end and broken limit straps.

And when he resumed the race, he was 1 hour, 8 minutes behind the leader.

But at the finish line, Merritt clocked in 14 minutes, 13 seconds behind the class winner, Chad Hall. Merritt's time was 11 hours, 39 minutes, 37 seconds, compared to Hall's 11:25:24.

"Actually, I'd rather not talk about it," said Merritt

matter-of-factly, referring to the margin of defeat. "No, that's not something we want to get into. I mean, well, it just makes me sick."

In the final analysis, except for the problems with the rear-end and limit straps, the big Ford F-150 ran flawlessly, and Merritt and navigator-technician Chris Golding didn't have to get out once for a flat tire as the Goodyear-shod truck took on everything the desert could throw at it.

"Let's just say it's time to look ahead, and get ready for the next one," said Merritt. "Everything considered, without the rear-end problem, if we have the same race the next time out, it's going to be an awesome ride."

The next race on the schedule for the Mongo Racing KC Hi-Lites Ford F-150 is the Terribles Town 250, scheduled April 27-28-29 outside Las Vegas.

-credit: mr

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Series Offroad