The 2018 Best in the Desert season wraps up this weekend with the Pahrump Nugget 250 presented by Polaris, the ninth and final round in this year’s championship. With most of the top championships still very much up for grabs, the car, truck, and UTV entries taking part in Saturday’s point-to-point race have plenty to battle for in Nevada.
Coming off of a runner-up finish in the Laughlin Desert Challenge, Tracy Graf has closed the Trick Truck points gap to just two behind championship leader Justin Matney. In fact, Graf, Steve Olliges, and Tony Smiley are all within 10 points of Matney for the lead. All three made up significant championship ground in Laughlin with top-five finishes, while Matney placed 14th, the last driver in class to finish the event. Smiley also leads Olliges in the Camburg Best in the Desert standings with finishes in all races and an average speed of 56.26 miles per hour to Olliges’ 56.04.
With double position points on the line, though, there are many more racers on the entry list that have a mathematical shot at the title. Defending event winner and last year’s BITD champion Jason Voss comes into Pahrump seventh in the standings, 61 back of Matney; with 16 Trick Trucks on the entry list, the winner scores a maximum of 64 position points, plus 30 each for starting and finishing the race. The right combination of speed and bad luck for others could open up the title race to just about anybody.
Sam Berri and Pat Dean will continue their title fight in Class 1500, with Berri currently holding a 23-point advantage in the premier buggy class after finishing Laughlin while Dean DNFed. In Class 6100, Andrew Whitehead holds a five-point advantage over Terry Householder coming into the finale, but don’t write off Ryan Hancock, whose victory in Laughlin puts him in third, just 18 points off the lead.
In UTV Turbo, Phil Blurton looks to best a 32-car field and hold onto a 37-point advantage over Branden Sims for the class championship. Blurton has some unfinished business at this event, just missing the podium here last year while Brandon Schueler took the victory and class title after the two were separated by a single point coming in. After already locking up a SCORE title in Baja earlier this month, Kaden Wells aims to hang onto a 17-point advantage in UTV Production over Mike Deley, while Brett Comiskey hopes to preserve a 10-point advantage in UTV Unlimited over 2017 Pahrump runner-up Michael Isom.
The Pahrump Nugget 250 presented by Polaris officially kicks off on Wednesday with time trials for the 41 combined Trick Truck, 1500, and 6100 entries on hand, with tech and contingency on Friday and racing itself taking place on Saturday. After the winter break, the 2019 Best in the Desert season kicks off in Parker, Arizona in January, with UTVs, motorcycles, and quads running the Parker 250 on January 11-12 and cars and trucks running the Parker 425 on January 31-February 3.