Laughlin: Round 1 preview

This week in Laughlin, Nev.; With two wins and a second in Laughlin, B.J. Baldwin leading 22 SCORE Trophy-Trucks to SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge SCORE Trophy-Truck field also includes NASCAR's Robby Gordon & Justin Lofton; Brian...

This week in Laughlin, Nev.; With two wins and a second in Laughlin, B.J. Baldwin leading 22 SCORE Trophy-Trucks to SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge

SCORE Trophy-Truck field also includes NASCAR's Robby Gordon & Justin Lofton; Brian Collins,Roger Norman, Larry Roeseler, Gus Vildosola Jr., Damen Jefferies, Cameron Steele, Jesse James

LAUGHLIN, Nev.--B.J. Baldwin, the 29-year-old Las Vegan, returns to the banks of the Colorado River this week to where his burgeoning desert-racing career got a tremendous jump start as he leads a talented field of 22 SCORE Trophy-Trucks entered in this week's 15th Annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.

For the 15th straight year, motorsports fans and racers from across the United States, Mexico and Germany are gathering this week in Laughlin, Nev., the desert resort town near the shores of the Colorado River, for the popular SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.

The first major motorsports event of the year will be held Thursday through Sunday, launching the five-race 2009 SCORE Desert Series, the World's Foremost Desert Racing Series. The race itself is split into two parts, with the first half on Saturday and the concluding half on Sunday. The start/finish line is in the Laughlin Events Park at Edison Drive and Bruce Woodbury Way.

B.J. Baldwin will drive the No. 1 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado in SCORE Trophy-Truck, the marquee SCORE racing division for high-tech, 800-horsepower unlimited production trucks. After cutting his teeth from 2003-2005 with eight did-not-finishes and no podium placements racing both in SCORE Trophy-Truck and the unlimited Class 1, the 1997 graduate of Durango High School in Las Vegas fashioned three of the most phenomenal seasons in SCORE history the last three years.

With 18 classes of cars and trucks divided into five groups, the single race is divided into multi-lap segments split over two days. Starting at 7 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division will run 8 laps at 1 p.m. each day on the spectator-friendly much-abbreviated 6.25-mile race course followed by the unlimited Class 1 open-wheel desert race cars that will run their 8 laps at 3 p.m. each day. The combined elapsed time and number of laps completed from both days will determine the final finishing position for each vehicle. Two vehicles will leave the start line every 15 seconds.

"The biggest difference for me over the last three years is having the new Chevy Silverado which is extremely more dependable and reliable than our old SCORE Trophy-Truck," said B.J. Baldwin, whose father Bobby Baldwin drives the No. 96 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado. "Additionally, with the help of Larry Ragland in the desert and Robby Gordon in desert rally racing, I have learned how to drive faster and smarter and intelligence behind the wheel can make you lethal. My 'further' education with Larry and Robby has increased my skill sets incredibly."

"With Barry Beachem as our Baldwin Motorsports Crew Chief and Sandy Stewart as our Operations Manager along with a great new crew, this will be the first full year of our Baldwin Motorsports race shop and I am confident that the results will reach an even higher level than we have the last three years."

One of the event's most popular features, the SCORE Laughlin Leap, revs up the fun and gets the weekend off to a roaring start at 6 p.m. Thursday. Drivers will enjoy the spotlight at the Laughlin Events Park, competing for a $16,000 purse and the honor of being the 2009 champions. The SCORE Laughlin Leap, a dirt ramp built into the middle of the stadium portion of the race course, challenges the most daring of drivers. This year's competitors will be attempting to break the event record in the SCORE Laughlin Leap of 160' 6" set in 2004 by Mark Post in the No. 3 Riviera Racing Ford F-150.

For the second straight year, qualifying for starting positions for the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division will be held Friday, just before the two days of SCORE desert racing. With free admission to the grandstand seating area, SCORE Trophy-Truck qualifying will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and each truck will be timed over one solo lap of the 6.25-mile course to determine the start order in that class for Saturday's first half of the race.

Obviously developing into one of the top drivers in a class laden with stars, B.J. Baldwin has won both the 2006 and the 2008 SCORE Trophy-Truck season point championships and finished a close second in points in 2007.

During the last three years B.J. Baldwin has won the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge twice (2006, 2007) finished second once (2008) along with winning the 2008 Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and recording two second-place finishes in the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 (2006 and 2008).

After three years of no podium finishes (2003-2005), B.J. Baldwin has emerged as the driver to beat in SCORE Trophy-Truck with two season point titles, three race wins, five seconds and two thirds and three fourth places to earn three straight SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards for finishing every mile of every race (17) during the last three years.

With late entries accepted until race morning, among the other desert racing stars entered to date are NASCAR Cup Owner/Driver Robby Gordon, NASCAR Nationwide Series racer Brendan Gaughan, ARCA/Re-Max Series Driver Justin Lofton, six-time Laughlin class winners Rob MacCachren and Donald Moss.

Besides B.J. Baldwin, R. Gordon and Lofton, among the other regulars who are also officially entered in SCORE Trophy-Truck are Brian Collins, Roger Norman, Larry Roeseler, Cameron Steele, Tim Herbst, Gus Vildosola Jr., Damen Jefferies, Bobby Baldwin, Chad Ragland, Robbie Pierce, Pete Sohren, Bill McBeath and Jesse James.

Gordon is coming to Laughlin after finishing third last week in the Dakar Rally, which was held in Argentina and Chile.

Collins, Tim Herbst, Ed Herbst and Eric Solorzano (Class 11) each have four class wins in this race.

Advance tickets for the Laughlin Events Park are on sale at or by calling 800.308.2233.

Daily general admission tickets, good for grandstand seating, are $20 each per day for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, children five and under are free. Daily VIP tickets are $40 each per day for the three days, good for admission to the Laughlin Hospitality Chalet, including food, beverage and special seating.

The stadium seating area will include the immensely popular SCOREvision Large-screen LCD display, showing live footage from virtually the entire race course.

Tickets, priced at $5 each, will also be available each race day for 'SCORE Hill', which overlooks the infield, start/finish area and the main pits. The SCORE Hill will have grandstands and standing room areas along with vendors, concessions and the other public safety services available.

The newest spectator area, opened last year adjacent to Laughlin High School off of Cougar drive, allows entry at $10 per vehicle, as space allows, to the backside of the course with a view of much of the 6.25-mile loop. Tickets for the Laughlin High spectator area will be available only on each day of racing.

To date, SCORE Trophy-Truck has the most entries with 22, followed by the unlimited Class 1 with 21 and Class 1-2/1600 with 19.

Friday's pre-race activities will also include the SCORE Manufacturer's Midway and vendors village from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. SCORE Contingency, which includes each vehicle being pushed down the street in front of the displays, will be held for the second straight year on Bruce Woodbury Way at Casino Drive.

-credit: score

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Series Score
Drivers Robby Gordon , Damen Jefferies , Brendan Gaughan , Larry Roeseler , Justin Lofton , B.J. Baldwin , Mark Post , Larry Ragland , Tim Herbst , Jesse James