Qualifying in racing means one has to be quicker than quicksand, though the latter might have been taken too literally in San Felipe. Friday’s qualifying for the SCORE International San Felipe 250 was plagued by multiple drivers’ cars being stuck in a particularly fine silt that covered a section of the course; such a predicament was especially concerning for two-wheel drive vehicles that could not pull themselves out, leading to delays as crews worked to extract them.
SCORE eventually tweaked the track to bypass the hazard, and by the end of the session, defending race winner Bryze Menzies was the fastest of seventy-five.
Menzies’ Trophy Truck had a lead of nearly five minutes over second-placed Justin Lofton. He won the 2021 edition to begin that year’s SCORE World Desert Challenge on a strong note, and also won the Baja 400 before finishing eighth overall in the WDC and TT classes. Lofton, who edged out the McMillin family for second, hopes to rebound from 2021’s race where he finished fortieth.
“Stoked that the work we’ve been putting in is starting to convey results,” Lofton wrote on Instagram; he was on the pole for the Mint 400 two weeks ago. Kyle Jergensen, who won the Mint, was seventh.
Rob MacCachren, the defending Trophy Truck champion and Baja 1000 winner, was one of the soft surface’s victims when his practice lap abruptly ended with his truck digging into the sand. The incident came moments after he had encountered Steve Strobel‘s Trophy Truck also embedded into the ground, and resulted in a lengthy delay to allow workers to pull them out. MacCachren qualified sixteenth overall and twelfth in his class.
“The track was absolutely torn up, extremely soft and silty,” commented Luke McMillin who qualified third. “After seeing the practice lap, we just wanted to get through with the truck in one piece.”
Gustavo Vildosola Ramos was the quickest among the five Trophy Trucks Legends entries. Driving alongside Ricky Johnson, Vildosola concurred with others on the track issues by noting the silt made it difficult for “traction and engine power to be put on the ground”. Conner McMullen and Ryan Hancock respectively led the Class 1 and Trophy Truck Spec classes.
Four drivers failed to set a time: Alan Ampudia, Jonathan Brenthel, J.P. Gomez, and Pierce Herbst. Ampudia had an especially difficult day as his Trophy Truck rolled on the practice lap before doing so again on his qualifying run after the steering broke on an awkward landing.
It has been an unusual start to the 2022 SCORE World Desert Challenge, as teams worked against fuel shortages and other predicaments. During pre-running ahead of qualifying, a non-participating Class 1600 car was testing in the area turned around and was impacted by a pre-running four-seat vehicle in the side at around the course’s seventy-eighth mile. The 1600’s 38-year-old driver Francisco Paul Alarcón was killed while 40-year-old passenger Noé Quintanar suffered injuries.
The 35th annual San Felipe 250 will commence on Saturday at 6 AM local time for the Moto and Quad divisions, while the four-wheel classes begin at 10 AM. Riders and drivers will have fifteen hours to complete the 277-mile (445.78 km) course.
Qualifying results (top 5 per class)
|2||41||Justin Lofton||6:15.001||+ 4.593|
|3||83||Luke McMillin||6:15.302||+ 4.894|
|4||31||Andrew McMillin||6:15.652||+ 5.244|
|5||23||Dan McMillin||6:29.799||+ 19.391|
Trophy Truck Legends
|1||21L||Gustavo Vildosola Ramos||6:38.655||Leader|
|2||37L||Rolf Helland||6:56.614||+ 17.959|
|3||85L||Clay Lawrence||8:25.554||+ 1:47.899|
|4||61L||David Payne||8:41.486||+ 2:02.631|
|5||29L||Jim Anderson||40:29.492||+ 33:09.837|
Trophy Truck Spec
|2||200||Jason McNeil||6:34.047||+ 9.222|
|3||272||Dustin Grabowski||6:39.866||+ 15.041|
|4||204||Christopher Polvoorde||6:43.852||+ 19.027|
|5||258||Justin Davis||6:48.844||+ 24.019|
|2||62||Brendan Gaughan||7:22.643||+ 1:03.424|
|3||110||Jeff Blanchard||9:53.632||+ 3:04.413|