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51st SCORE Baja 1000: Teams to Watch

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via SCORE International (1); Bryce Menzies (2); Honda Off-Road (3)

Just how deep is the entry list for this weekend’s 51st Baja 1000, the final round of the 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship? We spent last Friday fawning over the list of Trophy Truck superteams entered in the event, and that didn’t even come close to touching on all the big names who have come out to play. Even this list isn’t remotely close to complete when it comes to all of the contenders for wins and championships who have entered in the sport’s major classes. But it does have more than a dozen drivers who we’ll be looking at closely this weekend, so without further ado:

#83 Luke McMillin (2nd, Trophy Truck)

How do you take your chances of winning the Baja 1000 to the next level? If you’re McMillin, you add Larry Roeseler, who has 22 wins in the Baja 1000 and 500 combined, to your team’s driving duties. Coming off a DNF in Tijuana, McMillin aims to bounce back for both the race win and 2018 title.

#7 Bryce Menzies (5th, Trophy Truck)

It’s hard to pick a more compelling story with Menzies: his addition of top Australian off-road racer Toby Price to the team, or their multi-million dollar, all-wheel drive Trophy Truck that dominated much of General Tire Vegas to Reno before freak mechanical issues just before the finish.

#16 Cameron Steele (13th, Trophy Truck)

Coming off of a win in Tijuana, his first in SCORE competition, and his election to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, Steele is already riding high coming into Baja. But at second in points, he’s also got a legitimate shot at taking this year’s Trophy Truck title. Pat Dean will join him behind the wheel.

#81 Dave Westhem (28th, Trophy Truck/3rd, Trophy Truck Legends)

Over multiple decades, Westhem and his team have won multiple off-road season championships, Baja 1000s, and Mint 400s. He’ll be backed by a Trophy Truck Legends superteam that also includes John Swift, one of Ford’s original Rough Riders and a three-time Class 6 champion in his signature explorer.

#709 Jeff Proctor (3rd, Class 7)

Proctor’s Honda and General Tire-backed team is a contender wherever it goes, but he’ll be joined by some legendary names this weekend. 11-time Baja 1000 winner Johnny Campbell, who has raced everything from bikes to quads, and 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi will also drive.

#2971 Wayne Matlock (28th, Pro UTV Forced Induction)

Though he’ll be one of the last starters in a stacked Pro UTV FI class on Friday, Matlock boasts a solid 34-point lead in the championship after winning in San Felipe and finishing second at both the Baja 500 and Tijuana. He’ll look to improve on a fifth place finish here last year.

#1954 Kristen Matlock (14th, Pro UTV Normally Aspirated)

Matlock’s DNF in Tijuana in September enabled rookie Kaden Wells to take over the Pro UTV NA points lead, but you can bet that she won’t give up the fight easily. Matlock, who was the top-performing overall UTV racer in the Baja 500 this year while handling all driving duties, will also ironwoman the 1000.

#77/2097 Robby Gordon (3rd, Trophy Truck; 23rd, Pro UTV Forced Induction)

Racers of all types have entered multiple classes and vehicles in desert racing events as the competitor of record, but seeing Gordon do it at this year’s 1000 is undoubtedly going to be a treat. It’ll be quite the story if he can take podiums in both Trophy Truck and Pro UTV FI this weekend.

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