Laughlin: Series Saturday summary

Letner leading Class 1; Mexico's Vildosola battles through field Saturday to take early lead; In SCORE Trophy-Truck at 15th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge; Race finishes Sunday as Pfankuch, St. John, R. McBeath, H. Steele, Chamlee, Skilton, all...

Letner leading Class 1; Mexico's Vildosola battles through field Saturday to take early lead; In SCORE Trophy-Truck at 15th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge; Race finishes Sunday as Pfankuch, St. John, R. McBeath, H. Steele, Chamlee, Skilton, all leading classes

LAUGHLIN, Nev.--Mexico's Gus Vildosola Jr. surprised the field Saturday to take the first day Overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck class lead after the first of two days of racing in the season-opening 15th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.

Steadily working his way up the field physically after starting eighth in the elapsed-time race, Vildosola Jr. took the corrected-time lead on Lap 7 first of 8 laps over the surprisingly rugged 6.25 mile race course from NASCAR Cup owner/driver Robby Gordon to finish in the lead with a time of 58 minutes, 32 seconds, averaging 51.25 miles per hour in the No. 4 Vildosola Racing Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck.

Racing concludes Sunday for 16 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.

Gordon, who began his racing career in the desert, started on the pole and ran consistently in front physically from start to finish as Vildosola Jr. came across second physically but has the lead by 13 seconds over Gordon and his No. 77 Chevy CK1500.

Round 1 of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series features 103 starters from 12 states, Mexico and Germany competing for nearly $400,000 in prize money and contingency postings.

One of the top Mexican desert racing teams, Vildosola Racing is based in Mexicali, Mexico. This is just the seventh career SCORE Trophy-Truck race for Vildosola Jr., who with his father Gus Vildosola finished second in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in 2007. Vildosola also led this race last year after Saturday but broke on Sunday.

Vildosola Jr. was seventh physically at the midway point of Saturday's 50-mile portion of the race, moving ahead of Gordon on corrected time on Lap 7, which Vildosola covered 21 seconds faster than Gordon. Vildosola Jr. ran consistent laps of 7:14, 7:13, 7:17, 7:11, 7:23, 7:31, 7:20 and 7:23 to take a 13-second lead in SCORE Trophy-Truck going in to Sunday's final half of the race.

While Gordon is second in SCORE Trophy-Truck, third is NASCAR developmental series driver Justin Lofton, Westmorland, Calif., 1:34 behind Vildosola Jr. in the No. 20 Lofton Racing Chevy Silverado while fourth is Robbie Pierce, Santee, Calif., 1:57 behind the leader in the No. 35 MasterCraft Racing Chevy Silverado.

Two seconds behind Pierce and 1:59 behind Vildosola Jr., is defending SCORE Trophy-Truck series point champion B.J. Baldwin, Las Vegas, in the No. 1 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado. Baldwin won this race in 2006 and 2007 and was second here last year.

Leading the unlimited Class 1 is Harley Letner, Orange, Calif., who is in eighth overall with a first-day time of 1:02:05 in a Chevy-powered Alpha open-wheel desert race car.

Second in Class 1 in a Bunderson-Chevy is Danny Anderson, Las Vegas, driving for injured driver of record Pat Dean. Anderson was the first to cross the finish line but Letner is ahead by 51 seconds in the race based on elapsed time.

The Class 1 race some unusual situations at the end of the final lap as Dale Ebberts lost all front gears and drove the last three-quarters of a mile through the infield in reverse and Armin Schwarz broke the left front suspension bouncing his way through the infield and finally making it to the finish line. It cost both higher results as Ebberts ended the day fifth in Class 1 and 15th overall while Schwarz stands in third in Class 1 and 13th overall.

Running the fast laps of the day were the SCORE Trophy-Trucks of Roger Norman, Reno, Nev. (No. 8 Norman Motorsports, Ford F-150) and Brian Collins, Las Vegas (No. 12 Collins Motorsports Dodge Ram1500) in 7:02. Norman, who won the last two races of 2008 with teammate Larry Roeseler, is in 13th so far in the race while Collins had mechanical problems that put him down after four laps.

Among the other class leaders after Saturday included: Adam Pfankuch, Carlsbad, Calif. (Class 1-2/600, Mirage-VW), Alonso Angulo, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 5/1600, VW Baja Bug), Donald Moss, Sacramento, Calif. (Class 3, Ford Bronco), Heidi Steele, San Clemente, Calif., (Class 6, Ford Ranger), Jose Canchola Jr., Mexicali, Mexico (Class 7, Ford Ranger), John Holmes, Olivenhain, Calif. (Class 7SX, Ford Ranger), Greg Adler, Manhattan Beach, Calif. (Class 8, Ford F-150), Gavin Skilton, Anaheim, Calif. (Stock Mini, Honda Ridgeline), Justin Matney, Bristol, Tenn. (Stock Full, Dodge Ram 2500),

Kevin Carr, San Diego (Class 5, VW Baja Bug), Robert McBeath, Las Vegas (Class 10, Jimco-Honda) and Rick St. John, Encinitas, Calif. (SCORE Lite, Duvel-VW).

Besides SCORE Trophy-Truck and Class 1, several class leaders are less than a minute ahead of second place.

Just two seconds separate the two leaders in Class 1-2/1600 and both entries used their second driver Saturday with the drivers of record both scheduled to drive Sunday. Steven Eugenio of El Centro, Calif., drove Pfankuch's Mirage-VW to the lead by the closest margin of the day, edging Aaron Hawley, Las Vegas, who is splitting the driving with driver of record Brian Burgess, Riverside, Calif. in a Seagrove-VW.

In SCORE Lite, defending SCORE Lite season point champion Rick St. John, Encinitas, Calif. has a six-second lead over Dan Worley, also of Encinitas.J Pulling double-duty, Pfankuch will drive St. John's car Sunday in SCORE Lite as well as his own vehicle in Class 1-2/1600.

The stadium seating area includes the immensely popular SCOREvision large-screen LED display, showing live footage from nearly the entire race course.

15th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge
Round 1, 2009 SCORE Desert Series
Jan. 22-25, Laughlin, Nev., 6.25 miles per lap

Total Starters: 103
Top Overall Leaders

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

1. Gus Vildosola Jr. /Gus Vildosola Sr., Ford F-150, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 58 minutes, 32 seconds (51.253)

2. Robby Gordon, Charlotte, N.C., Chevy CK1500, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, :58:45 (51.063)

3. Justin Lofton, Westmorland, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:00:06 (49.916)

4. Robbie Pierce/Mike Julson, Santee, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:00:29 (49.600)

5. B.J. Baldwin, Las Vegas, Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:00:31 (49.573)

6. Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif./Rick Geiser, Desert Hills, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:01:07 (49.086)

7. Bobby Baldwin, Las Vegas, Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:01:56 (48.439)

8. Harley Letner, Orange, Calif., Alpha-Chevy, Class 1, 1:02:05 (48.322)

9. Ed Stout, Santa Ana, Calif./Trigger Gumm, Mission Viejo, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:02:27 (48.038)

10. Pat Dean/Danny Anderson, Las Vegas, Bunderson-Chevy, Class 1, 1:02:56 (47.669)

11. Adam Householder, Orange, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:03:35 (47.182)

12. Damen Jefferies, Apple Valley, Calif./Luis Ramirez Jr., Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:03:54 (46.948)

13. Armin Schwarz, Germany/Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif., Jimco-BMW, Class 1, 1:04:57 (46.189)

14. Randy Wilson, Lakewood, Calif./Rick Wilson, Long Beach, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, Class 1, 1:04:59 (46.165)

15. Dale Ebberts, Wilton, Calif./Danny Ebberts, Canyon Lake, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, Class 1, 1:05:31 (45.789)

16. Enrique Bujanda, El Paso, Texas, Porter-Chevy, Class 1, 1:06:15 (45.283)

17. Ronny Wilson/Rick Wilson, Long Beach, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, Class 1, 1:06:17 (45.260)

18. Larry Roeseler, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford F-150, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:06:36 (45.045)

19. Greg Nunley, Tulare, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:06:48 (44.910)

20. Roger Norman, Reno, Nev., Ford F-150, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:06:54 (44.843)

21. Julio Herrera, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Jefferies-Chevy, Class 1, 1:09:21 (43.258)

22. Byron Ashley, Litchfield Park, Ariz., Tatum-Chevy, Class 1, 1:09:59 (42.867)

23. Richard Boyle, Ridgecrest, Calif./Ron Brant, Oak Hills, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, Class 1, 1:11:40 (41.860)

24. Mark Post, Laguna Beach, Calif./Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas, Ford F-150, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1:11:52 (41.743)

25. Rick Romans/Jerry Bennett, Big Bear Lake, Calif., Jefferies-Chevy, Class 1, 1:11:48 (41.782)

SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK (Unlimited Production Trucks, 8 laps, 50 miles, 22 entries, 19 starters, 14 finishers) -- 1.Gus Vildosola Jr. /Gus Vildosola Sr., Ford F-150, 58 minutes, 32 seconds, 51.253 miles per hour; 2. Robby Gordon, Charlotte, N.C., Chevy CK1500, :58:45, 51.063 mph; 3. Justin Lofton, Westmorland, Calif., Chevy Silverado, 1:00:06, 49.916 mph.

CLASS 1 (Unlimited single or two-seaters, 8 laps, 50 miles, 21 entries, 19 starters, 14 finishers) -1. Harley Letner, Orange, Calif., Alpha-Chevy, 1 hour, 2 minutes, 5 seconds, 48.322 miles per hour; 2. Pat Dean/Danny Anderson, Las Vegas, Bunderson-Chevy, 1:02:56, 47.669 mph; 3. Armin Schwarz, Germany/Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif., Jimco-BMW, 1:04:57, 46.189 mph.

CLASS 1-2/1600 (VW-powered, single or two-seaters to 1600cc, 6 laps, 37.5 miles, 19 entries, 18 starters, 17 finishers) - 1. Adam Pfankuch, Carlsbad, Calif./Steven Eugenio, El Centro, Calif., Mirage, 51 minutes, 31 seconds (43.675 miles per hour); 2. Brian Burgess, Riverside, Calif./Aaron Hawley, Las Vegas, Seagrove, :51:33 (43.646 mph); 3. Cody Robinson/Roberto Romo, El Centro, Calif., Curry, :52:16 (43.048 mph).

CLASS 3 (Short Wheelbase 4X4, 5 laps, 31.25 miles, 1 entry, 1 starter, 1 finisher) - 1. Donald Moss, Sacramento, Calif./Ken Moss, Marysville, Calif., Ford Bronco, 51 minutes, 23 seconds, 36.490 miles per hour.

CLASS 5 (Unlimited VW Baja Bugs, 7 laps, 43.75 miles, 3 entries, 3 starters, 2 finishers) - 1. Kevin Carr, San Diego, 1 hour, 2 minutes, 31 seconds, 41.988 miles per hour; 2. Carlos Albanez, Calexico, Calif./Luivan Voelker, Mexicali, Mexico, 1:03:59, 41.026 mph.

CLASS 5/1600 (1600cc VW Baja Bugs, 6 laps, 37.5 miles, 2 entries, 2 starters, 1 finisher) - 1. Alonso Angulo/Roberto Escobedo, Ensenada, Mexico, 1 hour, 5 minutes, 52 seconds (34.160 miles per hour).

CLASS 6 (Unlimited, production mini trucks, 6 laps, 37.5 miles, 1 entry, 1 starter, 1 finisher) - 1. Heidi Steele, San Clemente, Calif./Ross Savage, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford Ranger, 1 hour, 16 minutes, 16 seconds, 29.540 miles per hour.

CLASS 7 (Open, production mini trucks, 6 laps, 37.5 miles, 7 entries, 6 starters, 4 finishers) - 1. Jose Canchola Jr., Mexicali, Mexico, Ford Ranger, 52 minutes, 5 seconds, 43.200 miles per hour; 2. A.J. Rodriguez, Perris, Calif., Ford Ranger, :53:05, 42.386 mph; 3. Dan Chamlee/Tom Chamlee, Carpenteria, Calif., Ford Ranger, :54:00, 41.666 mph.

CLASS 7SX (Modified, open mini trucks, 5 laps, 31.25 miles, 1 entry, 1 starter, 1 finisher) - 1. John Holmes, Olivenhain, Calif./Mark Landersman, Temecula, Calif., Ford Ranger, 54 minutes, 12 seconds, 34.594 miles per hour.

CLASS 8 (Full-sized two-wheel drive trucks, 6 laps, 37.5 miles, 2 entries, 2 starters, 2 finishers) - 1. Greg Adler, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Ford F-150, 50 minutes, 35 seconds, 44.481 miles per hour; 2. Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Va./Justin Matney, Bristol, Tenn., Chevy Silverado, 1:10:31, 31.907 mph.

CLASS 10 (Single or two-seaters to 1650cc, 7 laps, 43.75 miles, 9 entries, 8 starters, 4 finishers) - 1. Robert McBeath/Jessica McBeath, Las Vegas, Jimco-Honda, 59 minutes, 1 second, 44.478 miles per hour; 2. Scott Gailey/Patrick Gailey, Norco, Calif., GET-VW, 1:02:17, 42.146 mph; 3. Mikey Lawrence, Sunset Beach, Calif., Lothringer-VW, 1:02:25, 42.056 mph.

SCORE LITE (VW-powered, Limited single-1776cc-or two-seaters-1835cc, 7 laps, 43.75 miles, 8 entries, 8 starters, 8 finishers) - 1. Rick St. John, Encinitas, Calif./Adam Pfankuch, Carlsbad, Calif., Duvel, 1 hour, 5 seconds, 43.689 miles per hour; 2. Dan Worley, Encinitas, Calif./Stan Potter, San Marcos, Calif., Jimco, 1:00:11, 43.616 mph; 3. Michelle Bruckmann/Vic Bruckmann, Lemon Grove, Calif., Lothringer, 1:00:42, 43.245 mph.

STOCK FULL (Stock, Full-sized trucks, 5 laps, 31.25 miles, 1 entry, 1 starter, 1 finisher) - 1. Justin Matney, Bristol, Tenn./Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Va., Dodge Ram 2500, 1 hour, 4 seconds, 31.215 miles per hour.

STOCK MINI (Stock, Mini trucks, 5 laps, 31.25 miles, 1 entry, 1 starter, 1 finisher) - 1. Gavin Skilton, Anaheim, Calif., Honda Ridgeline, 58 minutes, 50 seconds, 31.870 miles per hour.

SPORTSMAN

SPT CAR (6 laps, 37.5 miles, 4 entries, 3 starters, 2 finishers) - 1. Louie Serna, Flagstaff, Ariz., Tatum-Chevy, 51 minutes, 3 seconds (44.074 miles per hour); 2. Rory Ward/Tracy Ward, Mohave Valley, Ariz., Chenowth-Chevy, :53:48 (41.822 mph).

SPORTSMAN TRUCK (5 laps, 31.25 miles, 10 entries, 10 starters, 8 finishers) - 1. Gary Messer/Mike Simpson, Kingman, Ariz., Trophy Lite 2008-Chevy, 45 minutes, 46 seconds, (40.968 miles per hour); 2. Jonathon Libby/John Libby Jr., Dillingham, Alaska, Toyota Tundra, 45:47, 40.954 mph; 3. Rob Anderson, San Clemente, Calif., Ford Ranger, 49:23, 37.968 mph.

-credit: score

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Series Score
Drivers Robby Gordon , Rob MacCachren , Damen Jefferies , Armin Schwarz , Danny Ebberts , Larry Roeseler , Justin Lofton , B.J. Baldwin , Mark Post , Heidi Steele , Luis Ramirez Jr.