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51st SCORE Baja 1000: Weekend Preview

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via SCORE International (1); Bryce Menzies (2); Alexander Rossi (3)

The 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship wraps up this weekend with the most historic of all off-road events, the 51st annual running of the Baja 1000. Kicking off and finishing in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, the 806.76-mile race will feature 284 entries of various classes, represented by racers from 41 of the 50 United States and 18 countries.

Motorcycle and quad racers will kick off the action bright and early, starting at 4AM PT on Friday morning. Six and a half hours later, the first of 38 Trophy Trucks—belonging to Team C’s Larry Connor and co-campaigned by a group including Ricky and Luke Johnson—will make its foray into the course, leading the truck, car, and UTV classes.

The Baja entry list, as always, is a who’s who of the past, present, and future stars of off-road racing, with countless superteams on the grid at all levels. Whether it’s Bryce Menzies and Toby Price, Rob MacCachren and Jason Voss, or Troy Herbst and Brett and Christian Sourapas, many of the biggest Trophy Truck entries have seen some big names jump on board to go for the team win on Friday. Longtime fans of the sport also have some iconic veterans to watch out for, as Dave Westhem, John Swift, and Tony and John McCormack headline the Trophy Truck Legends class for drivers over 50.

MacCachren, who qualified eighth for this race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during SEMA week, leads the Trophy Truck standings by 30 points over Cameron Steele, as the field looks to prevent Carlos Apdaly Lopez from successfully defending his championship once again. Steele will start 13th, while Lopez rolls off 14th. Tim Herbst (starting 10th), Chris Miller (starting 31st), and Luke McMillin (starting second) complete the top five in the standings; McMillin has added 10-time Baja 1000 winner Larry Roeseler to his team in pursuit of both the race win and championship.

With dozens of classes on the entry list for this weekend, keeping track of all the big names running can be tough, but a select few stand out. One of those names is Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner and ex-Formula 1 driver, who will join the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing squad in Class 7. Rossi, who is coming off of the best season of his IndyCar career after placing second in points, hopes to join Parnelli Jones as just the second former Indy 500 winner to take a victory in Baja.

UTVs make up 48 of the entries on this weekend’s entry list, led by points leaders Wayne Matlock (Pro UTV Forced Induction), Kaden Wells (Pro UTV Normally Aspirated), and Jesus Mendez Jr. (Pro UTV Unlimited). Rhys Millen, who was eventually awarded the Pro UTV FI victory in September’s Tijuana 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge, will roll off the line first. For more information on the UTV classes competing in the 51st SCORE Baja 1000, visit UTV Underground.

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