Laughlin: Series race event report

Halopoff wins Class 1 Andy McMillin dominates star-studded field to grab Overall victory; SCORE Trophy-Truck win at 16th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge Other class winners include: MacCachren, Villagomez, Lawrence, Caspino, Carr, Bacal and ...

Halopoff wins Class 1
Andy McMillin dominates star-studded field to grab Overall victory; SCORE Trophy-Truck win at 16th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge

Other class winners include: MacCachren, Villagomez, Lawrence, Caspino, Carr, Bacal and Lopez

LAUGHLIN, Nev.--San Diego's third-generation desert racer Andy McMillin completed a perfect run Sunday, easily dominated a field of star-studded racers to capture the Overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck victory at the season-opening 16th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. With the race split into two days of 8 laps each of an intensely rugged 6.25-mile course, Andy McMillin ran a combined total time of 2 hours, 2 minutes and 03 seconds, averaging 49.16 miles per hour in his No. 31 McMillin Racing Ford F-150.

The fastest qualifier for his class, Andy McMillin had a one minute, 20-second lead after the opening 8 laps on Saturday extending his lead permanently on the first lap Sunday as all of his challengers fell by the wayside. As the checkered flag fell and the dust settled, his final victory margin was by 7 minutes, 36 seconds over Las Vegas' Kory Scheeler, who finished the two-day event in 2:09:39 in his No. 51 Real Tech Motorsports Chevy Silverado SCORE Trophy-Truck.

The event featured 126 starters from 11 States, Mexico, Denmark and Germany, who competed in 17 Pro and two Sportsman classes for cars and trucks for over $300,000 in prize money and contingency postings. The classes were split into five groups in Laughlin, the Southern Nevada resort destination along the banks of the Colorado River, each running as part of one of five races each day of five to eight laps over the rugged and challenging 6.25-mile race course. The event was Round 1 of the 2010 SCORE Desert Series.

"It was a great day for us out there today," said Andy McMillin, who was a prep basketball star at Poway HS near San Diego. "Once we got out in front of Pete (Sohren, No. 2) about the first corner, I just wanted to make sure that we didn't let him or B.J. (Baldwin, No. 97) get around me. And then B.J. wasn't there after the first lap so it was cruise control all the way. It was awesome. Compared to Saturday, (I backed off) a lot. Laughlin is a race of survival so I knew I had to get to the finish line first in order to win. The last four laps, I was just cruising. The bumps were getting so big out there but it was a real fun course."

"Thanks to Sal (Fish) for putting on the race," Andy McMillin added. "I just really enjoyed myself. I've never won here at Laughlin so it really feels good. It was an awesome way to end last year (with a win in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000) and a great way to start this year off. I think it just counts for the team and just feeling confident. Every time I go to the start line, I know I have a chance of winning in this truck as long as I don't make a mistake. That says a lot about our team and the way they put this truck together and I couldn't be happier."

Another third generation desert racer, Kory Halopoff, Orange, Calif., survived tremendous attrition caused by the difficulty of the course, defeating a talented group of 23 racers in the unlimited Class 1 to win his class and finish fifth overall in 2:13:53, averaging 44.82 mph for his eight laps. Driving solo in his Letner Racing Chevy-powered Tatum open-wheel desert race car, he earned his first class win in this race and his second-career SCORE Class 1 race win, and first as driver of record. He was the second driver for his cousin Harley Letner as together they were the overall and Class 1 winners of last year's Tecate SCORE Baja 500.

Halopoff led by just one-second after Saturday's 8 laps, but quickly pulled farther and farther ahead on Sunday as his top challengers fell back because of mechanical issues. Second in Class 1 to Halopoff was Mexico's Robert Ross who was the fastest on the course for Sunday's eight laps in his class and finished second in Class 1 and sixth overall in his Jeffries Racing Racer-Chevy.

Racing in comfortable weather with slight breezes, mild temperatures, under mostly sunny skies, Andy McMillin started from the pole on Saturday and Sunday and physically led all but one of the 16 laps over the weekend.

Andy McMillin, 22, whose McMillin Racing family team had six entries in the race, dominated the 28-truck field for his third career race win in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division for high-tech, 800-horsepower unlimited production trucks and second straight after winning last year's 42nd Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 with his father Scott McMillin. After running the fast lap of the day to start Sunday's half of the race at 7:10, Andy McMillin earned the first SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge race win for his famous family, ran consistently patient victory laps of 7:33, 7:37, 7:44, 7:53, 7:56, 8:17 and 8:25.

Third overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Nick Vanderway, Litchfield Park, Ariz., with a time of 2:10:41 in the No. 84 Chevy Silverado.

Fourth overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Andy McMillin's uncle Mark McMillin, whose combined total time for the race was 2:12:20 in the No. 23 McMillin Racing Ford F-150.

Finishing a SCORE career-best fifth in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division and seventh overall was key executive of Las Vegas' City Center resort Bill McBeath, whose final time was 2:16:52 in his No. 91 Chevy Silverado.

In addition to Andy McMillin and his uncle Mark McMillin, McMillin Racing had six entries in the race. Making his first start in Class 1, Daniel McMillin (Mark's son) finished third in Class 1 and an impressive eighth overall in a McMillin Racing Jimco-Chevy.

Also making her first SCORE race start, Andy McMillin's older sister Jessica McMillin, finished 12th in SCORE Lite in a McMillin Racing Jimco-VW. Luke McMillin, Mark McMillin's youngest son, finished fifth in Class 1-2/1600 in a McMillin Racing Jimco-VW while Daniel McMillin had the team's only DNF in another Class 1-2/16000 McMillin Racing Jimco-VW, finishing just two laps on Saturday and all six on Sunday, which was ninth among those that went all six laps.

Although he was officially a did not finish for the race because he completed only five laps on Saturday, the fastest SCORE Trophy-Truck in Sunday's 8 laps was the No. 30 MasterCraft Racing Chevy Silverado driven by MasterCraft Safety CEO Robbie Pierce, Santee, Calif.

In Class 1-2/1600, seven-time SCORE season class point champion Rob MacCachren of Las Vegas extended his four-second lead from Saturday to a final victory margin in his AlumiCraft-VW to 14 seconds over Cory Boyer, Bakersfield, Calif., who drove a Lothringer-VW.

In defeating a field of 21 starters in Class 1-2/1600, MacCachren earned his seventh career class win in this race and his 44th career SCORE class win. His seven Laughlin wins moves into a tie with Donald Moss (Class 3) and George Seeley (Class 5) for the most all-time class wins in this race.

MacCachren also raced in SCORE Trophy-Truck where he finished seventh in class in the No. 20 MasterCraft Racing Ford F-150.

In SCORE Lite, Mexico's Francisco Villagomez scored his first SCORE race win, moving from fourth place Saturday to defeat a sturdy group of 20 racers in his Pabloff-VW.

Among the other class winners crowned Sunday were: Dave Caspino, Woodland Hills, Calif. (Class 6, Ford Ranger), Mike Lawrence, Sunset Beach, Calif. (Class 10, Jimco-Honda), Elias Hanna, Ensenada, Mexico, Ford Ranger (Class 7SX, Ford Ranger), Juan C. Lopez, Tecate, Mexico. (Class 8, Ford F-150), Kevin Carr, San Diego (Class 5, unlimited VW Baja Bug), Joe Bacal, Anthem, Ariz. (Stock Full, Lexus LX570, William Eriksen, Elizabethtown, Ky. (Class 2, PredatorX18-Chevy), Robert Morton, Aliso Viejo, Calif. (Class 9, DesertDynamics-VW), Reid Rutherford, Montrose, Colo., (Class 7-2, Ford Ranger) and Troy Vest, Molalla, Ore. (Protruck, Chevy Silverado).

It was the third straight Class 5 win in this race for Carr and first for Lawrence, Hanna, Lopez, Bacal, Eriksen, Morton, Rutherford and Vest.

Sportsman Car race winner was Rory Ward, Mohave Valley, Ariz. (Chenowth-Chevy) and Sportsman Truck winner was Nick Tonelli, Huntington Beach, Calif. (Ford Ranger).

Also of note, the four-vehicle Wilson Motorsports team of Long Beach, Calif., saw brothers Randy and Ronny finish third and fourth in Class 1 and seventh and eighth overall while second generation Wilson desert racers Brian and Brad finished fourth and 15th respectively in Class 1-2/1600.

A total of 61 of the 126 official starters finished the challenge, for a 48.4 percent finishing rate.

Round 2 of the 2010 SCORE Desert Series will be the 24th MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, March 12-14, in Baja California, Mexico.

In addition to season point class point championships, drivers in the Pro car and truck classes are also racing to earn prestigious SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards given to all car and truck class drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 25th consecutive year, a total of 61 drivers remain eligible after Round 1 of the 2010 SCORE Desert Series.

The 16th 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.

More event information is available at www.visitlaughlin.com.

-source: www.score-international.com.

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Series Score
Drivers Andy McMillin , Mark McMillin