Lofton leading Class 1
Jesse Jones surges ahead of the field Saturday to take early lead In SCORE Trophy-Truck at 17th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge

Race finishes Sunday as L. McMillin, J. Huerta, J. McMillin, Moss, Caspino, Chamlee, Bacal, all leading classes

J LAUGHLIN, Nev.--Although he crossed the finish line seventh physically to complete the first half of the race, reigning SCORE Desert Series Overall point champion Jesse Jones, Litchfield Park, Ariz., surged ahead of the field Saturday to take the first day Overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck lead after the first of two days of racing in the season-opening 17th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.

Starting 30th in the 32-truck field Saturday after not to qualifying on Friday as he arrived at the race site until Saturday morning, Jones, who won two SCORE races last season, ran a steady pace as early leaders B.J. Baldwin and Robby Gordon both dealt with mechanical issues and covered the eight laps over the bone-crushing 6.25-mile race course in an elapsed time of 55 minutes, 59 seconds with an average speed of 53.59 miles per hour, giving him the lead heading into Sunday's finale in the No. 1 Jones Motorsports Ford F-150.

Crossing the line first Saturday and second on corrected by just four seconds is Las Vegas rookie SCORE desert racer Bryce Menzies. Menzies, 23, outdueled fellow Red Bull racer Gus Vildosola Jr. and then passed both Gordon and Baldwin who were sidelined with mechanical issues. Menzies, in just his second SCORE desert race after finishing seventh in last year's Tecate SCORE Baja 500, finished the first half of the race in a time of 56:03, averaging 53.52 miles per hour in the No. 70 Menzies Motorsports Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck. The truck was originally owned by Jones, who won last year's MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 before turning in over to Menzies.

Racing concludes Sunday for 19 Pro and 2 Sportsman classes for cars and trucks with racing starting at 7 a.m. and lasting to 5 p.m. Running 8 more laps each, the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division will start the final portion of its race at 1 p.m., followed by the unlimited Class 1 at 3 p.m. The start/finish line area is located at the Laughlin Events Park at Edison Drive and Bruce Woodbury Drive in the heart of the Laughlin resort district.

With 21 of the 32 SCORE Trophy-Trucks completing the required eight laps on Saturday, in third place, just 48 seconds behind Jones is Mark Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore., who had a time of 56:47 in his No. 9 TSCO Motorsports Ford F-150.

Pete Sohren, Glendale, Ariz., drove his No. 2 Ford F-150 to fourth place midway through the race, one minute and 39 seconds behind Jones. Tied with Sohren in fourth place is Robbie Pearce, Santee, Calif., with an identical time of 47:38 in his No. 30 MasterCraft Racing Ford F-150.

Returning on Saturday morning after two weeks out of the country on business, Jones ran very extremely consistent laps on Saturday of 6:55, 6:54, 7:05, 7:03, 7:03, 7:00, 6:56 and 7:03.

"I have two aerospace plants in Mexico and I've been involved in some negotiations with one of my best customers in Mexico City and I've actually not been in the Unites States for two weeks -- this is my first day back in the U.S. I flew straight here from Mexico City this morning," said Jones afterward from his pits. "Our truck works really well. We won a couple races last year so obviously we have the speed and we're just carrying it straight into this year. Really, there was no secret. We just kept it clean. It's a lot of fun to go through -- I think we passed 24 trucks today. It was a good time."

"When you've got momentum like that, it kind of feeds on itself and you start feeling really good about the way that you're driving and the way that the truck is handling. We just got through them. I'm a big believer in momentum. It just helps with the team and everything else. The guys did a great job prepping the truck for this race. This is a really tough race on the race trucks."

Surviving another strong test among 25 starters to lead the unlimited Class 1 is second generation desert racer turned NASCAR Truck Series rising star Justin Lofton, who is in ninth overall with a first-day time of 58:32 at an average speed of 52.25mph in a Lofton Racing Chevy-powered Jimco open-wheel desert race car.

In second place in Class 1 and 10th overall, just 33 seconds behind Lofton, is Justin Davis, Chino Hills, Calif., who drove a Green Army ESM-Chevy. Davis, last year's SCORE Lite season point champion, is making his first start in SCORE Class 1.

Standing in third place, 45 seconds behind Lofton, is Harley Letner, Orange, Calif. in an Alpha Chevy while fourth in Class 1 as well as SCORE Trophy Truck is Sohren, who stripped the body panels off of his vehicle and ran it as an open-wheel Geiser-Ford. Sohren is 59 seconds behind Loftin in Class 1.J In fifth place heading into Sunday's second half of the Class 1 race is Las Vegas' T.J. Flores, 1:35 behind Loftin in a Bunderson-Chevy.

Running the fast laps of the day were SCORE Trophy-Truck racers Baldwin, of Las Vegas and Gordon, a NASCAR Cup team owner/driver from Charlotte, N.C. Baldwin, driving the No. 97 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado, covered the first lap in 6:44 and Gordon, a second-generation desert racer, matched it in his No. 77 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500 on lap 2.

Among the other class leaders after Saturday included: Luke McMillin, El Cajon, Calif., (Class 1-2/600, AlumiCraft-VW), David Caspino, Woodland Hills, Calif., (Class 6, Ford Ranger), Dan Chamlee, Carpenteria, Calif., Mexico (Class 7, Ford Ranger), Elias Hanna, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 7SX, Ford Ranger), Noah Ostanik, Encinitas, Calif. (Class 8, Ford F-150), Joe Bacal, Anthem, Ariz. (Stock Full, Lexus LX570), 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), Justin Matney, Bristol, Tenn. (Class 11, Stock VW Sedan), Jessica McMillin, National City, Calif. (Protruck, Ford F-150), Wes Bevly IV, Corpus Christy, Texas (Class 7-2, BajaLite-Chevy and Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Va. (Class 4, PSD-Chevy).

Besides SCORE Trophy-Truck and Class 1, one other class has a leader less than a minute ahead of the field.

Just one second separates the top two leaders out of 11 starters in Class 1-2/1600 as Luke McMillin, the 2010 SCORE season point champion in the class, leads Mac Marmon, Fort Mohave, Ariz. (ADR-VW).

The stadium seating area includes a large-screen video display, showing live action from nearly the entire race course.

The Laughlin Events Park with grandstand seating, vendor's village and food court includes an infield section of the course that features the popular Laughlin Leap and three long switchbacks.

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.

Current SCORE official annual sponsors are: BFGoodrich Tires-official tire, Volkswagen of America-official vehicle, Sunoco Race Fuels -official fuel supplier, Bilstein-official shock, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance-official Mexican auto insurance, Slime-official tire sealant and Red Bull--official energy drink. Associate sponsors are: Tecate Beer, Coca-Cola of Mexico, Las Vegas Events, Blue C Advertising, Off-Road, SignPros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie's Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.

17th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge
Round 1 of five-race 2011 SCORE Desert Series
Jan. 14-16 -- Laughlin, Nevada 6.25 miles per lap
First half of two-day race

TOTAL STARTERS: 123
TOP OVERALL LEADERS -- SATURDAY (Jan. 15)

Rank, Driver(s), Manufacturer, Class, 8-lap, 50-mile time (miles per hour)

1. Jesse Jones, Litchfield Park, Ariz., Ford F-150, 55 minutes, 59 seconds (53.59 miles per hour)

2. Bryce Menzies, Las Vegas/Peter Mortensen, Las Vegas, Ford F-150, 56:03 (53.52 mph)

3. Mark Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore., Ford F-150, 56:47 (52.83 mph)

4. Pete Sohren, Glendale, Ariz., Ford F-150, 57:38 (52.05 mph)

5. Robbie Pierce, Santee, Calif., Chevy Silverado, 57:38 (52.05 mph)

6. Roger Norman, Reno, Nev., Ford F-150, 57:45 (51.95 mph)

7. Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas, Ford F-150, 58:28 (51.31 mph)

8. Gus Vildosola Jr/Gus Vildosola Sr, Mexicali, Mexico, Ford F-150, 58:30 (51.28 mph)

9. Justin Lofton, Huntersville, N.C, Jimco-Chevy, 58:32 (51.25 mph)

10. Justin Davis, Chino Hills, Calif., ESM-Chevy, 59:05 (50.78 mph)

11. Harley Letner, Orange, Calif., Alpha-Chevy, 59:17 (50.60 mph)

12. Pete Sohren, Glendale, Ariz., Geiser-Ford, 59:31 (50.40 mph)

13. Gary Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore., Ford F-150, 59:42 (50.25 mph)

14. Bobby Baldwin/B.J. Baldwin, Las Vegas, Chevy Silverado, 59:45 (50.21 mph)

15. Adam Householder, Orange, Calif., Chevy Silverado, 59:46 (50.20 mph)

16. Jesse Ashcraft, San Marcos, Calif./Danny Ashcraft, Vista, Calif., Ford F-150, 59:57 (50.04 mph)

17. Ken Losch, Tempe, Ariz./Greg Nunley, Tulare, Calif., Chevy Silverado, 1:00:02 (49.97 mph)

18. T.J. Flores, Las Vegas, Bunderson-Chevy, 1:00:07 (49.90 mph)

19. Mark McMillin, El Cajon, Calif./Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif., Ford F-150, 1:00:43 (49.41 mph)

20. Lloyd Sproule/Derrick Sproule, Canada/Dale Dondel, Hemet, Calif./Tim Scalzo, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Ford F-150, 1:01:06 (49.10 mph)

21. Kory Scheeler, Las Vegas, Ford F-150, 1:01:12 (49.02 mph)

22 Will Staats Jr., Valencia, Calif., Ford F-150, 1:01:45 (48.58 mph)

23. Kory Halopoff, Orange, Calif., Tatum-Chevy, 1:01:46 (48.57 mph)

24. Armin Schwarz, Germany/Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif. (Denmark), Jimco-Chevy, 1:01:54 (48.47 mph)

25. Daniel McMillin, El Cajon, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, 1:02:37 (47.91 mph)

Class Leaders

SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK (Unlimited Production Trucks, 8 laps, 50 miles, 32 entries, 32 starters, 21 finishers) --1. Jesse Jones, Litchfield Park, Ariz., Ford F-150, 55:59 (53.59 mph); 2. Bryce Menzies, Las Vegas/Peter Mortensen, Las Vegas, Ford F-150, 56:03; 3. Mark Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore., Ford F-150, 56:47.

CLASS 1 (Unlimited single or two-seaters, 8 laps, 50 miles, 27 entries, 26 starters, 24 finishers)--1. Justin Lofton, Huntersville, N.C, Jimco-Chevy, 58:32 (51.25 mph); 2. Justin Davis, Chino Hills, Calif., ESM-Chevy, 59:05; 3. Harley Letner, Orange, Calif., Alpha-Chevy, 59:17.

CLASS 1-2/1600 (VW-powered, single or two-seaters to 1600cc, 6 laps, 37.5 miles, 11 entries, 11 starters, 11 finishers) --1. Luke McMillin, El Cajon, Calif., AlumiCraft, 49:14 (45.70 mph); 2. Mac Marmon, Fort Mohave, Ariz., ADR, 49:15; 3. Arnoldo Ramirez, Ensenada, Mexico, Curry, 49:29.

CLASS 3 (Short wheelbase 4X4, 5 laps, 31.25 miles, 1 entry, 1 starter, 1 finisher)--1. Donald Moss, Sacramento, Calif., Ford Bronco,45:43 (41.01 mph)

CLASS 5 (Unlimited VW Baja Bugs, 7 laps, 43.75 miles, 3 entries, 3 starters, 3 finishers)--1. Kevin Carr, San Diego, 59:59 (43.76 mph).

CLASS 6 (Unlimited, production mini trucks, 6 laps, 37.5 miles, 5 entries, 6 starters, 6 finishers)--1. Dave Caspino, Woodland Hills, Calif., Ford Ranger, 44:51 (50.17 mph).

CLASS 7 (Open, production mini trucks, 6 laps, 37.5 miles, 2 entries, 2 starters, 1 finisher)--1. Dan Chamlee/Tom Chamlee, Carpenteria, Calif., Ford Ranger, 50:06 (44.91 mph)

CLASS 7SX (Modified, stock mini trucks, 5 laps,31.25 miles, 2 entries, 2 starters, 2 finishers)--1. Elias Hanna, San Diego, Ford Ranger, 41:49 (44.84 mph).

CLASS 8 (Full-sized two-wheel drive trucks, 6 laps, 2 entries, 2 starters, 2 finishers)--1. Noah Ostanik, Encinitas, Calif., Ford F-150, 47:07 (47.75 mph).

CLASS 10 (Single or two-seaters to 1650cc, 7 laps, 43.75 miles, 9 entries,9 starters, 6 finishers)--1. Michael LaPaglia, Murrieta, Calif., Racer-Chevy, 52:27 (50.05 mph); 2. Robert McBeath, Las Vegas, Jimco-Honda, 54:24; 3. Alex Mendez, San Diego, Jimco-Honda, 54:59.

SCORE LITE (VW-powered, Limited single-1776cc-or two-seaters-1835cc, 7 laps, 43.75 miles, 14 entries, 14 starters, 11 finishers)--1. Jaime Huerta, San Luis, Ariz., Curry, 53:25 (49.14 mph); 2. Sammy Ehrenberg, Las Vegas/L.J. Kennedy, Orange, Calif./Ronny Wilson, Long Beach, Calif., Jimco, 54:34; 3. Steve Eugenio, Alpine, Calif., Prill, 54:57.

CLASS 11 (Stock, VW Sedans, 3 laps, 18.75 miles, 2 entries, 2 starters, 2 finishers)--1. Justin Matney, Bristol, Tenn., 33:50 (33.25 mph) (Ramon Fernandez drove Saturday).

STOCK FULL (Stock, Full-sized Trucks, 5 laps, 31.25 miles, 3 entries, 3 starters, 2 finishers)--1. Joe Bacal, Anthem, Ariz., Lexus LX570, 47:04 (39.84 mph).

PROTRUCK (Limited, production trucks, 6 laps, 37.5 miles, 1 entry, 1 starter, 1 finisher)--1. Jessica McMillin, National City, Calif./Rhiannon Freiley, Signal Hill, Calif., Ford F-150, 50:29 (44.57 mph).

CLASS 7-2 (Unlimited 2.2/2.4-Liter Truck, 5 laps, 31.25 miles, 2 entries, 2 starters, 1 finisher)--1. Wes Bevly IV, Corpus Christi, Texas, 42:22 (44.26 mph).

CLASS 4 (Unlimited, 2.2 Liter open-wheel car, 7 laps, 43.75 miles, 3 entries, 3 starters, 3 finishers)--1. Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Va./(Eduardo Laguna, Mexicali, Mexico, drove Saturday) PSD-Chevy, 57:02 (46.03 mph).

SPORTSMAN

SPT TRUCK-- (5 laps, 31.25 miles, 4 entries, 4 starters, 3 finishers) -- 1. Jonathon Libby, Redlands, Calif./Jack Libby, Dillingham, Alaska, Chevy S-10, 38:20 (48.91 mph).

-source: score