15th ANNUAL SCORE LAUGHLIN DESERT CHALLENGE Round one of 2009 SCORE Desert Series January 22-25, Laughlin, Nevada Driver quotes after second round of races Sunday, January 25 SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK ROBBY GORDON, No. 77 (First on Sunday, first...
15th ANNUAL SCORE LAUGHLIN DESERT CHALLENGE
Round one of 2009 SCORE Desert Series
January 22-25, Laughlin, Nevada
Driver quotes after second round of races Sunday, January 25
ROBBY GORDON, No. 77 (First on Sunday, first in class and first overall. This was Gordon's eighth career SCORE Trophy-Truck victory and his first since the 2006 Baja 1000.) -- Yeah, we were (on cruise control). We've come here for many years and we're normally fast here at Laughlin but we don't win so this year, I came with a little different strategy. We'd sit and ride the first race. Laps four, five and six here, I backed off quite a bit. I knew I had a minute and 45 on B.J. (Baldwin) and I knew he was up on me by 30 seconds but I was cool with it because the most important thing for us to do is win with this Monster Chevrolet. It's always fun to win -- it doesn't matter where it's at. I'm glad we did it here at Laughlin and we'll be back next year.
CAMERON STEELE/JUSTIN SMITH, No. 16 (Fourth on Sunday, second in class and second overall. Steele drove Saturday and Smith drove Sunday.) -- Smith said: I had a great time out there. This is my first time ever in a Trophy-Truck this weekend. He had me qualify for him and we came out in sixth place and he got sixth place (Saturday) and here we are and hopefully we're in the top three. I've always raced limited buggies and I've done my fair share of riding in Trophy-Trucks with Cameron and Clyde Stout and those guys. It was pretty nice. Clyde and I did some battling and he made a little mistake trying to push too hard and it feels pretty good to beat him to the finish line. I just tried to keep my mind off being nervous and on other things. (On lap 7, he was on the infield straightaway three-wide with Bill McBeath and Stout) I came on the inside of Bill McBeath and I didn't even know that Clyde was coming. I knew he was there, but I didn't know how close he was. He put some time on me when I slowed up from McBeath, trying to be polite, then Clyde came in and decided that he wanted to go three wide. I let Clyde go out there and get by us and then he bobbled in front of me and blew a corner and I got my chance to get back, so I took it. I was really excited for all my driving. I think I did a pretty good job. You've got all the big dogs out here and to come out and battle with all those guys, it's awesome.
ED "CLYDE" STOUT, No. 13 (Third on Sunday, third in class and third overall.) -- We had a good run. We finished eighth (Saturday) and our motor is about 620 to 630 horsepower. This one here, K Tech built it and Red Line tuned it and, man, they're good guys. But I think we're about 120 to 150 down in horsepower from these guys and we rattled them. This is an incredible truck. (On getting passed by Justin Smith in the No. 16 for second place) I was going down to this fast section where you kick it sideways and you drop it to second ... and on the last lap I came over and the edge grabbed and pushed my truck to the right so I had to pop over the berm and he got by me.
ADAM HOUSEHOLDER, No. 24 (Fifth on Sunday and fourth in class) -- There was not one issue. In testing, we broke a motor and went to a small-horsepower backup motor and there was not one issue. We're down probably 250-300 horsepower and it was tough passing people. We just had to carry more momentum than everyone else. I didn't get passed too much. I let them work for it just like I had to. We saw people ahead of us and they were broke down and we just picked them off one by one.
ROGER NORMAN/LARRY ROESELER, No. 8 (Sixth on Sunday, fifth in class. Norman drove Saturday and Roeseler drove Sunday.) -- Roeseler said: Roger had a heck of a run yesterday and we're a team and we talked about it and he said, 'It's your turn to drive today.' I wanted to make the team proud. Things started off pretty good but then we started having power steering problems about the third lap so it was pretty tough to manipulate this course without power steering. We had to stop and put about two quarts in it and oil was flying into our face. It was tough just to get those last few laps in. We've had rougher days, but to get all eight laps in on Saturday and all eight laps in on Sunday and leave here with a fifth-place finish ... we're not out of it.
GREG NUNLEY, No. 11 (Seventh on Sunday, sixth in class.) -- It was a little bit rougher than yesterday, a little soft in the back. We just wanted to finish -- that was our goal today. We didn't have any problems at all. We didn't have to pull into the hot pit at all, not one time. It went really good today. We finished yesterday in 1:06 and today in 1:07 so we were pretty consistent. I had a really good time.
B.J. BALDWIN, No. 1 (DNF on Sunday after finishing fifth on Saturday. Baldwin lost all forward gears early on his seventh lap and tried, but failed, to finish the final lap in reverse.) -- It's all about persistence. I've heard it over the radio for the last 20 minutes that we are THE fastest truck at the Laughlin Desert Challenge in reverse, so I'm pretty proud of that. We gave it our all. It looks like we lost all forward gears in the family (father Bobby also DNF with gearbox woes). The only gears that worked were reverse and park. We did the best we can. I went as fast as I could in reverse for you guys to try to put on a show. I was going to get some momentum for the Leap but I didn't even know it was coming up. We were making a little bit of time on Robby (Gordon). I think he was playing it a little conservative today, but we were really going for it. We did the best we could. I think we lost all forward gears. (What's it like driving in reverse?) It's entertaining -- and weird. I'm going as fast as I can in reverse. You see all the other guys coming this way (toward you) and their wheels are working and they're going just 110 percent trying to get around you. (Co-driver) Mike Lucey is telling me where to go and I'm peeking out (the window).
BRIAN COLLINS, No. 12 (Second on Sunday, but DNF because he finished only four of the required eight laps on Saturday.) -- Yesterday we broke the front end off on the fourth lap and rolled the truck. It was really frustrating because we were running so well. I think we were even ahead of Gordon, time-wise. So we just recouped and tried to get it done today. The last two years I've had DNFs both days and that's a tough way to start the season. When the truck runs, I don't think there's a better truck out there.
PAT DEAN/DANNY ANDERSON, No. 109 (First on Sunday, first in class and fourth overall. Anderson drove both days for driver of record Pat Dean, who was unable to drive because of a shoulder injury.) -- Anderson said: I'd have to say today old age and treachery overcame youth and skill. My plan was to let Harley (Letner, who was first on Saturday) go. I knew I wasn't going to beat him by 50 seconds so I just let him go do his thing. About the third lap we come around and he had a flat tire and that was pretty much it. We just took it easy on the car and the car was awesome. Butch Dean and P.J. Flores are unbelievable prepping this Bunderson car. That's two years in a row for these guys as champions. I knew I wasn't going to beat him (Letner) by a minute if he had a clean run -- no way. The only chance I had was to let him do his thing and hope something happened to him and it worked. We just kept the same pace and tried not to tear up the car. We knew we were only racing Harley today and we had to get it around for eight laps. It was good.
HARLEY LETNER, No. 118 (Eighth on Sunday, second in class.) -- It didn't go exactly as I had planned. We had one flat, one setback, but a strong finish will keep us up there in points, hopefully. That was the only problem we had. It happened on the beginning of the second lap, about mile 2, and I had to just limp it in the rest of the way and trying not to bend the wheel over the caliper. We got it changed and I tried to make up some time but I don't think I made up enough. The car was running real good. I was pushing it down a little further after I got my flat. I was quite upset, but I was just trying to keep it in one piece and make it to the finish line.
RANDY WILSON, No. 102 (Fourth on Sunday, third in class.) -- It was a lot of fun. It's great. All four (team) cars finished this weekend so we'll go to San Felipe (for the 23rd Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 March 13-15) in the top 10 in points in all the classes, so it will be good. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. (He and brother Ronny ran second and third physically most of the day, with Ronny finishing in that spot) My co-driver said, 'They're right behind you.' He's hunting me. I blew two or three turns. It's easier to be the hunter. But they were going faster than I was. We worked on the cars a little bit last night. This really isn't our forte, you know. These are good San Felipe cars. We had no hiccups. We were a little bit light in the front end yesterday, suspension-wise, we were bottoming out really bad. Today was better.
RONNY WILSON, No. 120 (Second on Sunday, fourth in class.) -- We had a great time today. The cars ran great all day and I have to thank Mike Stapleton and Adam Wik and Fortin and BFG -- we had no problems with the tires -- and I can't wait to go to San Felipe. The track is going away real bad, but SCORE did a great job and the flagmen out there are slowing people down out there. It's great. We came here to finish and get the finishing points and get down to Mexico. It was a lot of fun out there today. We diced it for about three or four laps and it was just a lot of fun. It's a great way to start out the season; we're probably in the top five in points. We had no problems. Yesterday, I was just off my game a little bit and I just didn't push it like I was supposed to. But that's all right. We'll be all right. You're just supposed to survive Laughlin and we did.
ENRIQUE BUJANDA/HECTOR TRILLO, No. 113 (Fifth on Sunday, fifth in class. Bujanda drove both days but Trillo served as the spokesman for the team.) -- Trillo said: Enrique drove both days and we had no problems at all. We had a real good race. The course was hard -- very hard. Now we'll go to San Felipe. We got fourth last year so we're hoping to get first this year.
JULIO HERRERA, No. 121 (Ninth on Sunday, sixth in class.) -- Our suspension was too soft and we were all over the place all the way around the course. The steering also was off. Yesterday, the course was a lot rougher. But, you know, it's good for my first race, my first race with SCORE and the first time in Laughlin. I race a lot in Cabo (San Lucas), but this is my first time in Laughlin. The plan is to race the whole year with SCORE in Class 1 and teaming up with Damen Jefferies in a Trophy-Truck. We hope we can make it a whole season.
BRIAN PARKHOUSE, No. 107 (Third on Sunday, eighth in class.) -- We were doing the last three laps in only fifth gear. We were fine all day and I don't know what happened. I was in fourth and went to go down to third. It waned. I brought it back up to fourth and had fourth for a little while, then no fourth. We had a good time. The car ran good. It's just about getting across the line here. I put the car on its side Saturday. It just tucked under on me and went over on its side. We still had a pretty good finish.
RICK ROMANS, No. 122 (Tenth on Sunday, ninth in class.) -- I'm not too sure if the fuel is bad or what, but we didn't run too well. We had a pretty good time. We had a lot of fun. Jefferies Racing put together a pretty nice car and we didn't have any problems here today. We had a good run. No problems; just that the motor wasn't running very good. But we got it here (to the finish).
ADAM PFANKUCH/STEVE EUGENIO, No. 1600 (First on Sunday, first in class. This was the fourth Laughlin Desert Challenge victory for Pfankuch, who also won in 2003 and 2005 in 1-2.1600 and last year in SCORE Lite. Pfankuch drove Sunday and Eugenio drove Saturday.) -- Pfankuch said: We had the lead the first day and all we had to do was go out there and hold it. (Second-place Steve Burgess was on your bumper the whole day) Yeah, all you can do is turn around and smile because he couldn't get by me. It made for a fun day. It's good to be back. We had about a three-second lead on top of Burgess and we started side-by-side, so the strategy was just to stay right with him or stay ahead of him and it ended up being a pretty good cruise. I just got by on a couple of turns. He was a little slower in one turn, I carried some momentum and just got by him and then after I pulled ahead a little bit, just cruised. But it was pretty much hammer down all day. Not a bad way to start 2009.
BRIAN BURGESS/AARON HAWLEY, No. 1603 (Second on Sunday, second in class. Hawley drove Saturday and Burgess drove Sunday.) -- Burgess said: This course has a lot of sharp edges and it's really, really pounding. You feel it through the steering wheel; you feel it on your head and everywhere. I want to thank Aaron Hawley for doing such a good job yesterday (Saturday), and congratulations to Adam on the win. We fought a carburetor issue all weekend. We fixed it a little bit today, but it still wasn't 100 percent and when you're racing Adam you've got to have your game on top. When you'd get off the gas at start-finish it was stalling. I think this is rougher than San Felipe because of the sharp edges. There's no way to set up a car for it. It's just hold on and pound through it.
CODY ROBINSON/ROBERTO ROMO, No. 1616 (Seventh on Sunday, third in class. Robinson drove Saturday and Romo drove Sunday.) -- Romo said: It went bad for me. We had a left-rear flat on the second flat and that cost us the race right there. That was the only problem we had. That cost us maybe a minute or so -- it happened about race mile 3.5 and we went all the way to the pits. It only took them about a minute to change it. We are the first two-seater on the finish line. It's way different between single-seater and two-seaters.
DONALD MOSS, No. 300 (First on Sunday, first in class. This was Moss' seventh Laughlin Desert Challenge victory in the past eight years.) -- That was a pretty good run. It was a lot tougher out there today. We took it a little easier today; this thing just doesn't do as well with the big holes and there was really nowhere to open it up. Our laps were a little slower today but it was still a lot of fun. This was our seventh win here. (What's the key to your success here?) We just know the vehicle real and we don't push it beyond its limits. We just basically take it easy and don't tear it up. Take care of the equipment, that's the main thing.
KEVIN CARR, No. 500 (First on Sunday, first in class.) -- It was nice today. It looked like they bladed a lot of the course so it was nice and smooth. It was really soft. I think we had a bit of advantage over Carlos because we've got more low-end torque and the big BFGoodrich tires in the back just helps a lot with sand. The car ran beautifully. It's the second time we've won here and I'm high as a kite.
ALONSO ANGULO, No. 552 (First Sunday, first in class. First career SCORE victory) -- Muy bien! Perfecto! No problems today, no flat tires. It was pretty easy (today). We had some problems (Saturday) but nothing today. The course was harder today.
HEIDI STEELE/ROSS SAVAGE, No. 601 (First on Sunday, first in class. Steele drove Saturday and Savage drove Sunday.) -- Savage said: I just came aboard with the team Tuesday night. It was kind of a last-minute deal. Heidi drove the truck for her first time Friday; she did three laps. She drove (Saturday) and did a phenomenal job. Unfortunately, we lost an axle. We were able to finish and we were able to play a little bit more today. (Being the only car in the class) You've got to drive smart. You want to finish, you want to get your points, but at the same time you're out there with the (class) 7s, you've got a reputation and you don't want to have a bad lap time. It's kind of a pride thing. You've got to find a happy medium. Don't push it too hard, don't take yourself out, but go out there and have fun and show them what the truck can do.
DAN CHAMLEE, No. 700 (Second on Sunday, first in class.) -- The BFG tires were really hooked up. We never had a traction problem. It was awesome. We collapsed a trailing arm (on the passenger side on the second lap). It was hitting hard out there because of it, but this truck never comes apart, it just keeps going. It was more of a miss that I was fighting with that made me slow down, and it was hitting real hard on the bumps and I didn't want to break it. This old beater truck -- I'm down on horsepower and it's breaking and falling apart, but it just keeps going. This truck always gets me through. It's the low-budget, never quits.
CHRIS TAYLOR/JOSH QUINTERO, No. 719 (First on Sunday. Completed five of six required laps Saturday and was a DNF in class. Taylor drove Saturday and Quintero drove Sunday.) -- Quintero said: We broke the center out of the wheel with a mile to go (on Saturday). He (Taylor) blew a turn and stuffed it and just broke the center right out. We put a new wheel on it and finished (but not within the time limit). We came out today and showed them we can do it. I think we took the overall for today. We pretty much figured we weren't (in contention for an overall class win), but we came out for the fans, to redeem ourselves.
JOSE CANCHOLA JR., No. 703 (Third on Sunday, second in class. Canchola was first on Saturday and, despite getting stuck briefly on lap 2, was leading Sunday when he pulled into the hot pits on the last lap.) -- We didn't know it was the last lap. We had a fuel pump problem. We changed it. We thought we had to make another lap. It was a mess. We had some problems with communications.
JOHN HOLMES/MARK LANDERSMAN, No. 759 (First on Sunday, first in class. Holmes drove Saturday and Landersman drove Sunday.) -- Landersman said (tongue in cheek): It was a tight race all day. We battled all day. It was tough. They had us at one point, but we pushed it pretty hard to get back in front and we brought home the first place, and we were the only ones in our class so it was a lot of fun. (Turning serious, he added:) We just took it easy and shook the truck down and it was all good. We just used it as a test. We tested a couple of different setups in the tire and a couple of different setups in the suspension and made some minor changes. This is a great opportunity under race conditions to see how everything handles and what you might not try normally you can try sometimes. John stopped every lap yesterday and took a look at it. I just cruised around and I don't think the wheels ever left the ground.
GREG ADLER, No. 802 (First on Sunday, first in class.) -- The course was a little rougher today; it was pretty chewed up. We just kind of picked our way through after we built up enough of a lead. As we started getting further into the race, we knew we had a pretty good lead so we just didn't want to break it. This was a good weekend for us. It was fun. (Are you going to run for the points title?) We're going to figure that one out. This certainly gives us a good start. Hopefully, there's enough competition at some of the other races, too, that makes it worthwhile to do.
ROBERT McBEATH/JESSICA McBEATH, No. 1003 (Fourth on Sunday, first in class.) -- I had a three-minute and 16-second lead coming in so my goal was just to keep the cars in sight and not break and bring the car home. That's basically what we did. We gave up about 35 seconds to them and concentrated on not breaking the car. It looks like we lost our alternator but on a short course like this it's not a disadvantage. We ran hard yesterday and did what we needed to do and today we just wanted to bring it home. There's a strategy that's involved: The guys that are behind have to race hard, push hard, to catch up and they're more likely to break. We had a good time out there today.
MIKEY LAWRENCE, No. 1000 (Second on Sunday, second in class.) -- I guess I did one thing well: I kept all four wheels down today. Yesterday, I was battling with Bryce Menzies and having fun and I came into a turn a little too hot and tipped it over. It took us a couple of minutes to tip it back over and we finished third. There were no problems, no flats, nothing (today). We lost a little oil, so we put a little oil in it this morning and that was it. It's (Class 10) a tremendous class; I'm loving it.
SCOTT GAILEY/SCOTT WHIPPLE, No. 1004 (Third on Sunday, third in class. Whipple drove Saturday and Gailey drove Sunday.) -- Gailey said: Scott Whipple's stepson, Johnny, rode with me for the first time and did an excellent job. There were no problems, none at all. This is a new car, so it's built to the new rules. We're a couple hundred pounds heavier than the rest of the vehicles and we're down on the Hondas in horsepower, so it's a battle. You have to do everything you can with air pressure in the tires and make sure you're on your game. Like we've always said: If you're not there at the finish, you can't win. We're at the finish and we had an incredible weekend.
ADAM WIK, No. 1010 (First on Sunday but failed to complete all seven required laps on Saturday.) -- We had a great day. Everything worked perfect for us today. Yesterday we had some issues. Yesterday we had a tranny get stuck in gear. We fixed that, then we had a power steering pulley break and that put us out. So we just decided to try and go through the whole car and get it ready for today and everything worked out great. No issues at all. Started dead last and just tried to pick my way through the pack and everything worked out good. (Wik is an engine builder. He said McBeath and Freemal in Class 10 were among 10 or 11 drivers using his motors here.) This is advertising, yeah, but we race. I love racing; that's how I got into building engines. If anything, I'd rather be a racecar driver than an engine builder, but that just doesn't work out sometimes, so I've got to build motors to pay for my racing.
RICK ST. JOHN/ADAM PFANKUCH, No. 1200 (First on Sunday, first in class. Fifth career Laughlin title for Pfankuch, who also won today in Class 1-2/1600. St. John drove Saturday and Pfankuch drove Sunday.) -- Pfankuch said: It feels really good. I wish I could have gone a little faster because I had someone right on my tail but that's how the (Class) 10 cars come and affect us in front of us. But I couldn't ask for anything more than a 1-2 finish. (Vic Bruckmann was within seconds of you all day long. How was that?) I felt really good. Every time I turned around I saw them back there and then I'd get stuck behind a 10 car and he'd reel me in and then he had to deal with it, too. The last lap, I had to deal with one 10 car and he didn't so he pulled a lot of time on me but it all worked out, so I'm happy. It was fun out there. The course was really chewed up today.
MICHELLE BRUCKMANN/VIC BRUCKMANN, No. 1206 (Second on Sunday, second in class. Michelle drove Saturday and Vic drove Sunday.) -- Vic said: It got pretty rough. I wasn't expecting it to be that rough but it was fun -- a lot of fun. Michelle drove yesterday and finished third. I just drove as hard as I could today. The only problem I had today was the Class 10 cars, which should have been way faster than us. It was hard to get around them. Other than that, it was great.
DAN WORLEY/STAN POTTER, No. 1201 (Fifth on Sunday, fourth in class. Worley, who took last year off from racing, drove both days.) -- It was rough. We tried to keep up with those young kids. We're in it for the year so we had to finish today. If you start off with a DNF here, it's hard to recover. We gave it all I had for the first couple of laps and then we held back a little bit and put it in cruise mode but then we had fuel issues on the last lap. We switched fuel pumps and fixed that. We haven't driven in a year so this was the first time in a car in a year. It felt good, like an old comfortable friend. I'll probably be a little sore tomorrow but I'll start riding a bike and get back into shape.
BRENT PARKHOUSE/CHUCK SACKS, No. 1208 (Third on Sunday, third in class. Parkhouse drove Saturday and Sacks drove Sunday.) Sacks said: It was a good day. It was bit rough out there. We hunted our way through trying to find lines. It was pick and choose every lap, looking for something to smooth it out any way we could, and spent most of the day in the air. It was tough. It didn't help at all trying to make up time. It was slim pickings for anything smooth out there at all. The car ran like a champ. I'd have liked maybe another 450 horsepower.
GAVIN SKILTON, No. 779 (First on Sunday, first in class.) -- The course was a lot rougher today, but another great day. Sal (Fish) always puts on a great race with SCORE. Laughlin is really great because everyone gets to see so much of the action, the crews get to hang out and see the action; they're not driving all night across thousands of miles of desolate roads. It was a fun day. The weather was great and the Ridgeline performed smooth as ever and absolutely no problems all weekend. The course definitely gets a lot rougher it was a good day of racing. We were running consistent lap times -- believe it or not, a little faster than yesterday, which is shocking. My team did a great job ... we didn't really turn a wrench on the Ridgeline all weekend. It's been a really nice, pleasant weekend for the team, so we had a lot of fun. We're going to be here for the whole series. We're chasing a championship and the Milestone and just trying to show people how tough this truck really is.