NASCAR’s R. Gordon dominates field to capture Overall victory Starting his new racing year on a high note, NASCAR owner/Driver Robby Gordon returned to his racing roots Sunday to easily dominate the field to capture the Overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck victory at the season-opening 15th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. With the race split into two days of 8 laps each of an intensely rugged 6.25-mile course, Gordon ran a combined total time of 1 hour, 57 minutes, 54 seconds, averaging 50.89 miles per hour in his No. 77 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500.
Second after the opening 8 laps by just 13 seconds, Gordon easily retook the lead both physically and on corrected time on the first lap as all of his challengers fell by the wayside.
The event featured 103 starters from 12 States, Mexico, Germany and New Zealand, who competed in 16 Pro and two Sportsman classes for cars and trucks for nearly $400,000 in prize money and contingency postings. The classes were split into five groups in Laughlin, each running as part of one of five races each day of three to eight laps over the rugged and challenging 6.25-mile race course. The event was Round 1 of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series.
Las Vegas’ Danny Anderson, driving for teammate Pat Dean who is recovering from shoulder surgery, overcame a first-half deficit of 51 seconds to win the unlimited Class 1 and finish fourth overall in a time of 2:07:05, averaging 47.21mph in the Las Vegas Dissemination Bunderson-Chevy. Dean was the defending overall and Class 1 champion in this race and the driver of record this year. Anderson will receive credit for the class win, his third in this race, but will receive no SCORE championship points because the driver of record did not start or finish as required by SCORE rules.
Racing in comfortable weather with slight breezes, mild temperatures, under mostly sunny skies, Gordon started from the pole on Saturday and the outside position and physically led all 16 laps over the weekend. On Saturday, however, Gordon, Charlotte, N.C., trailed Mexico’s Gus Vildosola Jr. by 13 seconds midway through the race on corrected-time in the elapsed time race.
Gordon took the lead on corrected-time on the first lap Sunday, pulling away from the 19-truck field for his eighth career race win in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division for high-tech, 800-horsepower unlimited production trucks and first since the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in November of 2006. After running the fast lap of the day to start Sunday’s half of the race at 7:07, Gordon ran consistent victory laps of 7:15, 7:25, 7:32, 7:29, 7:33, 7:25 and 7:23.
For the second straight year, Vildosola’s No. 4 Vildosola Racing Ford F-150 broke as attrition also hit also hit Saturday’s other top challengers: B.J. Baldwin, Robbie Pierce, and Justin Lofton.
At the checkered flag and the dust settled, Gordon’s victory margin was a comfortable 4:13 over the runner-up team of Cameron Steele/Justin Smith, San Clemente, Calif., who each drove one day in the No. 16 Dessert Assassins, Chevy Silverado SCORE Trophy-Truck.
Third in SCORE Trophy-Truck was the No. 13 Stout Industries Chevy Silverado of Ed Stout, Santa Ana, Calif., who was 5:17 behind Gordon.
For both Steele and Stout, it was their first podium finishes. Steele couldn’t drive Sunday because he had to return to his ESPN XGames announcing position in Aspen, Colo., and Stout drove both days. Steele
“After qualifying first on Friday, I knew we had a truck that could dominate and we were able to do just that although we did cruise a bit too much on Saturday,” said Gordon, who finished third last weekend in the Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile. “This was our first win at the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge and it was about time. We came in with a new race strategy and it ended up working out well. We have a busy year ahead with our NASCAR schedule, but I always enjoy coming back to the SCORE Desert Series. This win solidifies our plan more to run for the SCORE Trophy-Truck season point championship.”
Surviving the attrition on Sunday, finishing fifth overall and fourth in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Adam Householder, Orange, Calif., in the No. 24 Householder Motorsports Chevy Silverado.
Adam Pfankuch, Carlsbad, Calif., earned a pair of class wins on Sunday, winning Class 1-2/1600 as the driver of record and SCORE Lite where he drove Sunday for driver of record Rick St. John, Encinitas, Calif.
In Class 1-2/1600, defending SCORE season point champion Pfankuch, Carlsbad, Calif., increased his two-second lead to a final victory margin of 30 seconds over Brian Burgess, Riverside, Calif., who drove a Seagrove-VW.
In defeating a field of 18 starters in Class 1-2/1600, Pfankuch earned his fifth career class win in this race in a Mirage-VW. Steven Eugenio, El Centro, Calif., drove Saturday’s half of the race for Pfankuch while Las Vegas’ Aaron Hawley drove Burgess’ car on Saturday.
St. John, the defending SCORE Lite season point champion, drove to a six-second lead in SCORE Lite on Saturday before turning over a Duvel-VW to Pfrankuch. Pfankuch padded St. John’s lead by covering the course the fastest on Sunday for a 46-second victory over the husband and wife team of Michelle and Vic Bruckmann, Lemon Grove, Calif., who split the driving in their Lothringer-VW.
With his twin class wins, Pfankuch joined Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas, as the only drivers to win two classes in the same SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.
Donald Moss, Sacramento, Calif. (Class 3, Ford Bronco) won for the seventh time in eight years. His win ties him for the most class wins in the history of this race with George Seeley. It was also the 31st career race win for Moss, a six-time SCORE class season point champion.
Among the other class winners crowned Sunday were: Robert McBeath, Las Vegas (Class 10, Jimco-Honda), Dan Chamlee, Carpenteria, Calif. (Class 7, Ford Ranger), John Holmes, Olivenhain, Calif., Ford Ranger (Class 7SX, Ford Ranger), Heidi Steele, San Clemente, Calif. (Class 6, Ford Ranger), Greg Adler, Manhattan Beach, Calif. (Class 8, Ford F-150), Gavin Skilton, Anaheim, Calif. (Stock Mini, Honda Ridgeline), Alonso Angulo, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 5/1600, 1600cc VW Baja Bug) and Kevin Carr, San Diego (Class 5, unlimited VW Baja Bug).
It was the second class win for Steele, Holmes and Carr and first for McBeath, Chamlee, Adler, Skilton and Angulo.
Sportsman Car race winner was Rory Ward, Mohave Valley, Ariz. (Chenowth-Chevy) and Sportsman Truck winner was Gary Messer, Kingman, Ariz., Trophy Lite-Chevy.
Also of note, the four-vehicle Wilson Motorsports team of Long Beach, Calif., saw brothers Randy and Ronny finish third and fourth in Class 1 and seventh and eighth overall while second generation Wilson desert racers Brian and Brad finished fourth and 15th respectively in Class 1-2/1600.
A total of 59 of the 103 official starters finished the challenge, for a .57.3 finishing rate.
Round 2 of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series will be the 22nd Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, March 13-15, in Baja California, Mexico.
The 15th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge is sponsored by the Laughlin Tourism Commission, the Laughlin visits Bureau, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in association with Las Vegas Events. The race is sanctioned and produced by SCORE International of Los Angeles.
Current SCORE official annual sponsors are: BFGoodrich Tires-official tire, Volkswagen of America-official vehicle, Sunoco Race Fuels -official fuel supplier, Bilstein-official shock, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance-official Mexican auto insurance, Slime-official tire sealant and Red Bull--official energy drink. Associate sponsors are: Tecate Beer, Coca-Cola of Mexico, Las Vegas Events, Terrible Herbst Inc., Blue C Enthusiast Advertising, Off-Road, American Suzuki, SignPros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie’s Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.
For more information regarding the series, contact SCORE International at its Los Angeles headquarters (818.225.8402) or visit the official website of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.
14th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge
Round 1, 2008 SCORE Desert Series
Jan. 22-25 - Laughlin, Nevada, 6.25 miles per lap
Total Starters: 113 Total Finishers: 59 57.3 Percent
TOP OVERALL FINISHERS
Rank, Driver(s), Manufacturer, Class, 16-lap, 100-mile time (miles per hour)
1. Robby Gordon, Charlotte, N.C., Chevy CK1500, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 1 hour, 57 minutes, 54 seconds (50.891)
2. Cameron Steele/Justin Smith, San Clemente, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 2:02:07 (49.133)
3. Ed Stout, Santa Ana, Calif./Trigger Gumm, Mission Viejo, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 2:03:11 (48.708)
4. Danny Anderson, Las Vegas, Bunderson-Chevy, Class 1, 2:07:05 (47.213)
5. Adam Householder, Orange, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 2:08:32 (46.680)
6. Harley Letner, Orange, Calif., Alpha-Chevy, Class 1, 2:09:54 (46.189)
7. Randy Wilson, Lakewood, Calif./Rick Wilson, Long Beach, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, Class 1, 2:10:32 (45.965)
8. Ronny Wilson/Rick Wilson, Long Beach, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, Class 1, 2:10:53 (45.842)
9. Enrique Bujanda, El Paso, Texas, Porter-Chevy, Class 1, 2:12:53 (45.152)
10. Roger Norman, Reno, Nev., Ford F-150, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 2:13:31 (44.938)
11. Greg Nunley, Tulare, Calif., Chevy Silverado, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 2:14:16 (44.687)
12. Julio Herrera, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Jefferies-Chevy, Class 1, 2:17:20 (43.689)
13. Richard Boyle, Ridgecrest, Calif./Ron Brant, Oak Hills, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, Class 1, 2:19:14 (43.093)
14. Brian Parkhouse, Bell Gardens, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, Class 1, 2:19:33 (42.995)
15. Rick Romans/Jerry Bennett, Big Bear Lake, Calif., Jefferies-Chevy, Class 1, 2:24:28 (41.532)
16. Dale Lenk/Brett Lenk/Grant Lenk, Costa Mesa, Calif., Penhall-Chevy, Class 1, 2:25:41 (41.185)
17. Mark Post, Laguna Beach, Calif./Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas, Ford F-150, SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK, 2:25:50 (41.743)