MERRITT'S WIN AT LAS VEGAS 300 SETS STAGE FOR THRILLING 2006 BITD FINALE The season-ending race in the 2006 Best in the Desert championship series is not recommended for anyone with a heart condition or any other nervous disorder. At least,...
MERRITT'S WIN AT LAS VEGAS 300 SETS STAGE FOR THRILLING 2006 BITD FINALE
The season-ending race in the 2006 Best in the Desert championship series is not recommended for anyone with a heart condition or any other nervous disorder.
At least, not for anyone planning to watch the outcome in the Stock Full Truck Division, where Parker, Ariz., driver Randy Merritt will be attempting to take home his first season championship after winning the Las Vegas 300 and moving to the top of the leader board in the process.
"We won again. It's nice to be able to say that," said the soft-spoken Merritt.
"This is very exciting. I don't know what else to say except I can't wait for that final race to get here.
"If we can pull this off, it would be a great accomplishment for this team and the KC HiLites Ford F-150. It would be the perfect payoff, the perfect end to the season when you consider how hard this team has worked this season.
"One thing is for sure. I wouldn't be in position to win this championship if it weren't for this team and their support."
The driver has had a little bit to do with it too.
He backed up his flawless and winning driving performance in the TSCO Vegas to Reno event in August with another sterling effort at the Las Vegas 300 on Oct. 14.
In the Las Vegas 300 Merritt proved by the end of the race that he clearly had THE truck to beat, logging a winning time of 4 hours, 33 minutes, 24 seconds, which was eight minutes faster than the second place finisher.
But it was no cakewalk by any means, as Merritt and the rest of the field had to not only navigate a punishing race course 43 miles south of Las Vegas, but a race course that slowly turned into a quagmire when rain caused normally dry lake beds to be not-so-dry, and normally dry wash beds to run, first with inches of water, which grew to feet.
Plus, he started last in class.
And he even stopped during the second lap to tow a crashed vehicle that otherwise would have blocked the race course for everyone else.
"We all just did our jobs," said Merritt matter of factly. "The KC HiLites Ford F-150 ran great all day. What else can I say. It was fun being up on the wheel."
In the final analysis, the win moved Merritt to the top of the Stock Full standings, overtaking Greg Foutz, of Chandler, Ariz., who had led the title chase since the first race. Foutz, who was driving the vehicle that crashed and Merritt towed out of the way, finished sixth.
It marks the first time in Merritt's career that he's been the class point leader.
"Yeah, that's exciting, I guess," said Merritt. "But it won't mean a thing if we don't finish it off, if we don't win it all."
With calculators in hand, his crew has already figured out the possible scenarios for the final race.
First, if Merritt wins his third straight race, the championship is his, no matter what Foutz might do.
Second, if Merritt doesn't win, but merely finishes ahead of Foutz, the championship is his.
And third, no matter where Foutz finishes, if Merritt finishes no worse than one position behind him, the championship belongs to Merritt.
"Pressure? What pressure?" said Merritt with a laugh.
The final race of the season, the Henderson's Terrible 400, is scheduled Dec. 1, 2, 3 outside Henderson, Nev.
It's billed as "A Spectacular Off-Road Race," by Best in the Desert.
Merritt thinks it will be.