17th Annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge
Round one of 2011 SCORE Desert Series
January 14-16, Laughlin, Nevada
Driver quotes after first half of race -- Saturday, January 15
JESSE JONES, No. 1 (Leader after Saturday.) -- 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 racecars. We had 28 more trucks that went across the course before we did and every time that a truck goes through a hole, it gets deeper and deeper. The disadvantages of starting in the back are the obvious: there is dust and there is slower traffic in your preferred lines but we were able to overcome most of that stuff. I think we out-drove them today. (On his strategy for Sunday) It's the same thing. We really just want to come here and get out of Laughlin with a finish -- that's the key to the points race. If we get a top-five (finish), we'll be very, very happy.
BRYCE MENZIES, No. 70 (Second after Saturday.) -- It was awesome chasing down B.J. and Robby and the course just got really torn up. It's only halfway over so we've got a battle tomorrow and we'll go have some fun. We've got to come back tomorrow and do the same thing. The course was good. The start of it was smooth but it started getting rougher and rougher and we just tried to put a good pace so we could come out tomorrow and have a good showing and finish the weekend off right. We need to stiffen up the truck up a little bit for tomorrow because the holes are getting bigger.
MARK WEYRICH, No. 9 (Third after Saturday.) -- It was a hell of a day out there, it's roughening up pretty good and the competition is unreal. Great drivers and great trucks and thanks to SCORE for a great event. We ran it pretty hard today. The guys will check it over, change transmissions and rear gears, whatever we've got to do and go for the win tomorrow.
ROBBIE PIERCE, No. 30 (Tied for fourth after Saturday.) -- Things went really good up until the last two laps when she started spitting and sputtering on us and every time we would dive into a corner she would die on us so we had to feather it out. We lost ground on that. Other than that we had a great race. I think it is the ignition though I'm not really sure but the guys will take a look at it and get it fixed up. To come out here on a Saturday and finish in the top 10 you are doing good and that way you can go race on Sunday. Tomorrow is the start of the points championship so that's that fine line of trying to figure out whether you go for the win or try and come out of here with some good solid points and go for the championship.
ROGER NORMAN, No. 8 (Sixth after Saturday.) -- Our game plan for this race was just to finish the race and preserve our championship points. We are trying to avoid all the roughest stuff and preserve the truck but it's just rougher than hell. We were being conservative plus we couldn't go any faster because our engine was getting too hot.
ROB MacCACHREN, No. 20 (Seventh after Saturday.) -- In lap two or three, we started feeling something going wrong with the transmission or converter and right then we backed it down to take care of it and make sure we got to the finish. That's really what it is all about. You'll probably hear that from almost all of us. That's what we're making sure we do. This race is so critical on the whole year for the championship. If you walk out of here with a DNF it is such a downer for the whole year. We've learned that we've got to finish. For tomorrow, we are going to go back and assess the truck and look where everybody is at in the results. I know we are in the top 10 but we will see how far back we are and we'll just go at it and do the best we can. We'll just keep the eyes on the competition and we'll go with it when it is needed and cruise when it's not. We want to finish and win the points.
JUSTIN LOFTON, No. 107 (Leader after Saturday.) -- It's awesome to be here in Laughlin in front of all these fans. Oh man, I left it all out there. I have no brakes. I have no race car left it -- was unbelievable. Everyone that puts this program together is just awesome and there isn't one inch left out there that I didn't hit. I lost my brakes on lap seven and we just did what we could. There's a little bit more out there in me, just not in the car. It's used up and we're really going to have to go through it for tomorrow.
JUSTIN DAVIS, No. 122 (Second after Saturday.) -- For my first Class 1 race and only 40 miles on the car, it went pretty much flawlessly. On the second lap, our power steering blew up so my arms are pumping now. Pretty much more than half the race we had no power steering. We kept charging all day. We pushed the car to its limit and had a great day. Tomorrow we will see where we start and watch the times and the splits and then we will figure it out. We always want to get a good finish out here because you can always ruin your finish in Laughlin.
HARLEY LETNER, No. 113 (Third after Saturday.) -- Thank you to all the fans for coming out here because without you, we would be nothing. Everyone that comes out helps us and we'll give you a better one tomorrow. It was amazing -- rough as always just like you can predict at Laughlin. I love it. Today I just tried to make eight laps and tomorrow I just have to figure out who I've got to beat.
PETE SOHREN, No. 121 (Fourth after Saturday.) -- We just wanted to get a good finish in both the SCORE Trophy-Truck race and the Class 1 race today. On the seventh lap when I took off, they told me it was smoking and it must have been power steering fluid leaking out. We had no power steering the whole last lap. I almost when off the track like 20 times in the breaking bumps but we made it around and gave up a lot of time on the last lap. We nursed it around and we finished so we will be ready for tomorrow. I couldn't believe how fast all the buggy guys were going, though, and I thought it was going to be easier. Now I've got to go for it tomorrow wide open.
T.J. FLORES, No. 125 (Fifth after Saturday.) -- We did pretty good because we are here at the finish. Starting in the back was kind of tough but I pushed really hard early and we got by a lot of people and then we started backing it down because we were starting to push a little too hard and we wanted to have a car for tomorrow. On the last two laps, we caught up to the next pack, pushed real hard and got by them all. I think we are in a good spot for tomorrow. I think we've got to pace ourselves a little better tomorrow because I get too excited when we are racing. I think that is going to be the pace tomorrow. We had no problems today. The car ran perfect, the tires hooked up. That's all I can say: It just runs good.
LUKE McMILLIN, No. 1600 (Leader after Saturday.) -- It was great. It was tons of fun. We were flying and it was just too much fun. I got first (place) on the third lap. We started eighth and we got first on the road by lap three and my brother (Daniel) and I were going back and forth. It was pretty crazy. It was fun. The course was a little bit smoother than last year. I really enjoyed it and I'm going back next year for more. Tomorrow I'm going to drive again.
MAC MARMON, No. 1609 (Second after Saturday.) -- Everything was good. The day went well. We just had one little bobble but we took care of it and made up some time. We were making about seven seconds a lap on the leader. It was really close and we might have caught him. We were gaining positions in all of the rough spots and corners while late braking and staying on the gas through everything. The course isn't bad right now but it will be a whole different course tomorrow -- it will be twice as rough. Our strategy going in was 'pin it to win it.' In these short course races, you can't take your time; you've got to go all out for the entire race.
DANIEL McMILLIN, No. 1605 (Fourth after Saturday.) -- It was crazy out there the last lap. On the fifth lap, I lost the fire extinguisher and it was rolling around in here. I had to hold onto it while I drove the last lap. We started fifth and we made up some positions on the corners. The course was nice out there but I'm sure it'll get a lot rougher as the day goes along.
DONALD MOSS, No. 300 (Leader after Saturday.) -- It went well, it went pretty well. It is just amazing how torn up it gets from one day to the next even though it was just qualifying and practice yesterday but we had some fun and found some people to race with. We had a good run and everything looked good. On Sunday, we will be just trying to hold it together because there will be enormous holes out there tomorrow. For the most part, we will try to run nice, consistent laps and again we'll find somebody to race with.
KEVIN CARR, No. 500 (Leader after Saturday.) -- It was a perfect run with no problems whatsoever. Victor (Cesena, No. 501) beat me off the first jump but then I was able to get around him in a section of real soft stuff. I think the bigger tires I've got on the back helped me to get around him there and I just maintained the lead after that. When I was coming off the finish line he was going off the leap so it was a good margin for a small course. No problems today and knock on wood, no problems tomorrow. The course is getting a lot worse. The lines that were good in the first couple laps were bad in later laps so you had to pick and choose your lines. From lap to lap, it is changing.
DAVE CASPINO, No. 600 (Leader after Saturday.) -- We've got a really good truck. No flats today. We drove at about 75 percent; all we had to do was keep ahead of the guy behind us. I don't know if we won, we might have come in second but it was down to the wire. I've really got to thank the great people of Laughlin and Sal (Fish) and all of the volunteers out there for doing a great job.
ELIAS HANNA, No. 740 (Leader after Saturday.) -- We came all the way from Ensenada, Mexico, and we are the defending class champion of the 7SX. The truck worked awesome and we'll see what happens tomorrow. We had a tough, tough race. It was the first time I've raced with John Holmes, he's a great driver, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the race tomorrow. The course was better than last year that's for sure. I love racing Laughlin. I love the high-speed corners and the track was awesome. The BFGoodrich tires did an amazing job.
JOHN HOLMES, No. 741 (Second after Saturday.) -- We didn't have any brakes. We had rear brakes but no front. It slowed us way do in the corners because we couldn't go hard into the corners. We did okay. You've got to take it easy on day one and save your car for day two. My cousin Scott Jones is going to drive tomorrow.
MICHAEL LaPAGLIA, No. 1001 (Leader after Saturday.) -- This is our first year racing desert and this is our fourth race and we've only had this car. This is the only car we know and the only motor we know and we haven't had a drop of problems. It runs as good on the last lap as it did right out of the gate.
ROBERT McBEATH, No. 1008 (Second after Saturday.) -- It was a great race out there. Everybody was handling the course well and into the pedal and had a lot of fun. It's a great course. It was a good competitive field and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
JAMIE HUERTA, No. 1206 (Leader after Saturday.) -- Today's race was easy but tomorrow is going to be faster and more fun.
SAMMY EHRENBERG, No. 1208 (Second after Saturday.) -- It was really good out there. I had to get by a few cars and then once I got through I got tangled up on two laps which was actually pretty scary but once I got through and could run clean it was good. It was definitely getting rough. It was the same old Laughlin, rough, rough, rough. We are running for the points this year so our strategy is just to stay as smooth as possible. Today is actually my birthday so it is a good day. I just started driving this car, I've been in the (Class 1-2/1600 cars) for a long time but I really like it and things are good.
FRANCISCO VILLAGOMEZ, No. 1212 (Fourth after Saturday.) -- Last year I (won this race) and now I'm in fourth. The course was rough and the suspension broke on the second lap, making us slow.
JUSTIN MATNEY, No. 1149 (Leader after Saturday. Ramon Fernandez drove Saturday and Matney will drive Sunday.) -- Ramon Fernandez said: We had no problems at all on the course. We had a blast today. Justin will drive on Sunday.
MATT CULLEN, No. 1101 (Second after Saturday. Juan Avila drove Saturday and Cullen will drive Sunday.) Juan Avila said: We came in one second apart. It was a close, close battle all day. I was ahead of (Ramon Fernandez, No. 1149) on the first lap and we were just playing tag. Our strategy was to not lose too much time. It's a stock class; there is not much you can do because all the competitors are at the same level. If he was ahead, I didn't want to lose sight of him. We didn't think we could do the little jumps on the infield but by lap two we figured out that we could jump them but the other Bug couldn't because he has the swing axle and that is where we gained a little time. We were about 100 yards apart and we were hitting those jumps and they weren't, so we gained some time there. Now we'll just go over the car for tomorrow and Matt will drive.
JOE BACAL, No. 860 (Leader after Saturday.) -- It was good out there. We just took it easy because our transmission wasn't shifting in manual mode so I couldn't rev it high and downshift and all that so I pretty much had to give it gas and it was in auto mode. We would come out of corners and the truck was lagging. This truck has eight full races and this is the ninth race on it. We've finished every race so it's had a little bit of a rough life but it's a Lexus and it's bulletproof. It keeps going and that's the goal.
JESSICA McMILLIN, No. 1301 (Leader after Saturday.) -- It was a blast. I had fun out there. We had no problems at all.
Jessica's father, Scott McMillin, said: This is a good class for her to gain some experience. She did a great job; we just need to get her some miles and some seat time.
WES BEVLY IV, No. 721 (Leader after Saturday.) -- The truck ran great and the track was awesome. It was fast and we had a great time out there. I think we were first in the class today and I'll be driving tomorrow morning, too. I think our competition broke down. The track was awesome there weren't too many vehicles out there and I didn't see anybody for quite a while so I was able to go fast.
CLYDE STACEY, No. 402 (Leader after Saturday. Eduardo Laguna drove Saturday and Stacey will drive Sunday.) Eduardo Laguna said: Everything went well. The course has gotten a little bit rougher but everything went real well.