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41st Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500
Round 3 of the five-race 2009 SCORE Desert Series
June 4-7, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Post-race racer quotes
Cars and Trucks
ROBBY GORDON, No. 77 (First in class and first overall four-wheel vehicle, driving solo.) It was a very good run for us. We had a great race with B.J. (Baldwin) Ė some of the better racing weíve ever had. We didnít have communication for the last 250 miles so it was really hard. We gave up a bunch of time, probably, not being able to use the true navigation. Still, we just paced it and kept it smooth. I had a couple of strategies in place. If I was close to him and I had enough of a gap, I was going to stop at (Race Mile) 80 and they were going to stop at 100. That gave me track position on everybody but Rob (MacCachren) and then Rob stopped at like 130 and that gave me track position on him. But, honestly, I just cruised most of the day. Once I was the first truck on the road, I knew they had to pass me to beat me and that would be hard to do.
B.J. BALDWIN, No. 1 (Second in class and second overall four-wheel vehicle, driving solo.) We broke a brake line and that hurt us as we were trying to chase down Robby (Gordon). We didnít have front brakes the last 70 miles. I was focused on (Brian) Collins, (Rob) MacCachren and mostly, Robby. I think Robby is the fastest guy out here. If he doesnít have any issues, he is tough to beat. He had a perfect day and we had some issues. We actually had some motor issues right from the start. It would run strong on the top end and the bottom. We didnít have any mid-range with the engine. I passed Robby on the beach but, about 20 miles later, I clipped a rock and had a flat tire and broke a brake line. I didnít think the tire would go down, but it came apart later. Robby got back around me and I followed him into the finish. Hats off to Robby today. Robby is a bad ass. I totally look up to him. I have been watching him race since I was a kid. It is great to race against him. I have beaten him before and we are fastest enough to beat him. We just didnít have enough today.
ROGER NORMAN, co-driver No. 8 (Third in class and third overall four-wheel with Larry Roeseler.) We stopped four times to fix the shock and we finally lost it completely. The truck got hard to handle and the brakes didnít work as well either. It was tough with no left front shock. But we managed to bring it in and take third. It was battle today, a very hard drive. We were right in the thick of things for the lead. Fortunately, we had no flat tires today. We had some tough steering issues with the broken shock. Larry had some steering problems too. I took me a long time to get used to the truck when I jumped in it. But considering the problems today, weíll take third and get ready for Primm.
LARRY ROESELER, No. 8 (Third in class with Roger Norman.) Well, starting 13th with this competitive field, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I got through a couple of guys early and, of course, the dust was bad. I had to be patient early, but I knew the front-runners might then get away from me. I lost three or four minutes in the early stages but I made that back up by the time I got to 200 miles. I was third on the road and in the hunt. When I got the driver change at mile 260, we were ahead on corrected time. We did fuel and a driver change and, when Roger left, we had a 15-second lead on corrected time. Roger drove great today. On the beach, he lost a shock hose and lost all of the oil. That took six or seven minutes and that was the difference. Roger is getting better with each race. He is aggressive and he wants to win. He has made a major commitment to the sport and it is great to have him in off-road racing. Our team planning and strategy has been working for us. It worked at Primm and at the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 and we were on track here to win again. We are very proud of our performance today.
ROBBIE PIERCE, No. 35 (Fourth in class and fourth overall four-wheel vehicle. Co-driver Mike Julson drove the first 225 miles and Pierce drove the final 207.5 miles.) We had a good day. We felt like we stepped it up a notch today. We had a good start off the eighth today and had a little trouble when (Greg) Nunley got crossed up at Race Mile 8 or whenever it was. We ended up clipping him when we came down the hill. But what a great day. We had one flat but we were running fourth or fifth all day long. We just couldnít reel in Robby or Baldwin or Larry. Weíre really happy with fourth. Thatís the next step. Before you can win one, youíve got to start knocking on the door and thatís where we are.
TROY HERBST, No. 19 (Fifth in class and fifth overall four-wheel vehicle, driving solo.) It was a really tough course. Youíve got to get back in shape in this stuff and the truck ran good all day long. To go 500 miles in this thing with no breakdowns just proves that we can go. It was (this truckís) second race. It took a little while to get it to go, to see the speed again. These (other drivers) have stepped it up a huge notch; theyíre not waiting for the very end anymore, itís a full-on race. We tried to stay close to these guys but we just missed our marks. But the truck was perfect to make it all the way.
BRIAN COLLINS, No. 12 (Sixth in class. Collins drove the first 225 miles and co-driver Chuck Hovey drove the final 207.5 miles.) We had some problems today. We just stayed in line with everybody Ė everything was running really tight. We got a flat, broke the air jack and then broke the manual jack. I think Chuck got one flat tire, too. Iíd liked to have done better than sixth, but it is what it is. We finished and a lot of guys didnít finish.
RICK D. JOHNSON, No. 71 (Seventh in class.) We caught up the tangle right off the start, maybe mile 20. People were going every which way. I had to actually back up and drive around the mess. Then I got stuck behind some slower trucks for about 180 miles. They were not on pace but I couldnít get around. Our truck was good all day but getting stuck behind slower trucks let the front-runners just get away. One of the first 10 trucks got stuck in the road and it was just mayhem. It was absolute mayhem for 20 minutes out there. It was unbelievable but we finally got through it. But the slower trucks hurt us. Itís tough when you start back in the behind. We just had a bad draw for the start. Hopefully, we can get a better draw for the next race.Ē
HARLEY LETNER, No. 114 (First in class. Co-driver Kory Halopoff drove the first 225 miles and Letner drove the final 207.5 miles.) Kory lost brakes at about mile 70 and at the driver change I said, ĎYou want to change them?í He said, ĎNo, youíll figure out how to drive it.í We were nursing the brakes the whole time but really didnít have any other problems. No flats ... we just did a rear tire change when we changed drivers. That was about it.
ARMIN KREMER, No. 110 (Third in class with Andreas Aigner.) We had some problems, but not too much. Just minor things. Everything was fine and we drove really, really good. It was Andreasí first time driving in Baja and he did a really good job.
TIM HERBST, No. 106 (Fourth in class driving solo.) We got out of the car too much. We got a couple of flats, we got stuck and then Pistol Pete (Sohren) turtled it and we got stuck behind him. We just got out of the car too much.
ERIC DURAN, No. 1647 (First in class with brother Hiram.) It was pretty close on time for the win. It was a good race. We had only one flat tire today. We had to change a wheel that was bent but the tire was okay. We are going for the points and I was really trying to keep it together for the distance. We ran pretty hard and just stayed with 1605 car since he started well ahead of us.
KEVIN CARR, No. 500 (First in class with Perry McNeil. McNeil drove first 220 miles with Carr finishing up.) Perry ran the first 220 miles and he said it was very rough. Perry left me with a great car and wonderful position. We were running well because we were in front of all of the 1600s and all of the 1200s. I think we had one Class 10 car in front of me. I made a couple of mistakes on the coast run. The starter went out and I stalled the car. We got a lot of spectators to push us and we kept going. Going up the hill from the beach, I made a right hand turn and got stuck in a ditch. We got more people to help us. I ran pretty conservatively from there. We never saw any other Class 5 cars from that point. It feels great to win our third race in the row.
ALONSO ANGULO, No. 551 (First in class with co-driver Mario Reynoso. Angulo drove the first 100 miles and the final 182 miles and Reynoso drove a 150-mile leg.) Itís a long day. The closest car (in Class 5/1600) was about a half an hour behind us, which is nice. In the morning, 10 or 15 miles (from the start), we had a flat tire but that was the only problem we had.
ROBERT PICKERING, No. 604 (First in class with Mike Childress. Pickering drove the first 200 miles and Childress drove the final 232.5 miles.) This is incredible. This is our first SCORE race and our first season and just our fifth race ever. The only problem we had was we could not keep a jack in the truck. We lost three jacks during the race. For some reason, they kept flying off. We had two flats during the race and with no jack, it was tough. The locals were great. The second time around, they picked the truck up and changed the tire for us while they were holding it up. Other than that, it was an event-free race.
DAN CHAMLEE, No. 700 (First in class driving solo.) We were been running out of gas every couple of seconds for the last 20 miles. It just kept sputtering and then it would catch again and go. Our radio wasnít transmitting so we couldnít call for a splash of gas at Ojos (Negros, near Race Mile 400) so we thought we would have plenty but it turned out we didnít. But we didnít have any flats. This is four Baja 500 wins in a row for us and first race, first place on a new truck. We wanted this race but we were afraid to ask for us because this is a new truck and you never know about any bugs and stuff. This is great.
RODRIGO AMPUDIA JR., No. 801 (First in class with Rodrigo Ampudia Sr.) It was an awesome day for us. I started in second and move into first. We had some issues with overheating and we had to stop for a couple of minutes around mile 160. We got going again at Borrego and we were 11 minutes behind the leader. I was able to pressure the leader and he hit a rock and went off the course. We had to make three stops due to the transmission overheating a bit, but the truck ran to the finish. The BFG tires were great today. We ran a little more conservative at the end. But, overall, it was a good day for our team.
MIKE LAWRENCE, No. 1000 (First in class with Blake Kirkpatrick.) We really didnít have any problems today. It was pretty smooth. It was really hot on the other side of the mountains. The silt was deep in several spots. We went with a different shaving pattern on the BFG tires. We just shaved the sides of the tires. The car was just bogging down in the silt. The competition seemed to get a lot of flats and we didnít have any today. It was a great run for us.
LEE BANNING, No. 1202 (First in class with his son, Lee Jr.) The first 200 miles were really rough out there. I picked to run the first sections and it took me about three hours to recover from the pounding. Lee Jr. jumped in the car after Borrego and it was much smoother for him. We never had a flat all day long. We had a very clean race for us. We put new rear tires at the driver change and just dumped to fuel loads. We ran hard but we let a lot of guys go by and it hurt them. We finished second here last year and we had some engine problems in the 1000 that cost us the championship. So this is exciting to win the Baja 500.
KENDALL NORMAN, No. 4x (First in class and first overall vehicle. Norman rode the first and fourth legs and rode a total of 269 miles. Quinn Cody rode the second leg and Tim Weigand rode the third leg.) I put the bike in a comfortable spot and then my teammate (Quinn Cody) fell and messed the bike up pretty good (near Race Mile 200). I guess they had to change the ignition cover and something happened to our decompression system on the bike and so we made a pit stop and changed the rear wheel and I couldnít start it. We had to bump start it and lost another three minutes after I passed (the 15x bike) back. That was around Santo Tomas so itís just been one helluva lot of hard work. The course was really good; I liked it. I had a pretty darn clean ride.
QUINN CODY, co-rider No. 4x: Our race started out very well. I was trying to get through my section and make clean lines. A quarter-mile before Borrego, I hit a rock and it landed right on the ignition cover. It put a one-inch by three-inch hole in the cover and all of the oil dumped out instantly. But we had a pit within a quarter mile, and I rode into it. And the crew guys just ripped the ignition cover off and changed everything. They got us back out within a minute of the 15x bike. Kendall (Norman) just pulled off a miracle in the last 30 miles. The guys on the 15x did an amazing job today. They really gave us a race today.
TIM WEIGAND, co-rider No. 4x: Our race was filled with a lot of excitement and drama. We broke an ignition case and we got behind. Quinn pulled out a good lead and we needed that extra time to fix some of our mishaps today. I rode my little section and then Kendall just put his head down and hammered it to the finish. Colton (Udall) and Ox (Jeff Kargola) rode a great race on the 15x too. They were so close to a win -- just over a minute difference after 500 miles. Our team (Johnny Campbell Racing) finished 1-2 today and it doesnít matter who wins. The course was smoother than in recent years due to the rain that came down in the winter. It was a fun race for our entire team.
COLTON UDALL, No. 15x (Second in class and second overall vehicle. Udall rode the first 100 miles, Jeff Kargola rode the next 100 miles, Udall took over and rode approximately 62 miles, Kargola got on the bike and rode approximately 110 miles and Udall rode the last 40 miles) Weíre happy with second place. This was my first Baja 500. Iíve got Baja experience but this was my first 500. It was really rough out there and on the way back in, it was super rough. The last 30 miles was absolutely nuts. I pretty much lost the race in the last 30 miles because I made two big mistakes and thatís probably a minute right there. Itís just not my time to win, really, right now. Thatís why I am where I am right now. I just rode as good as possible and so did my teammate. I wasnít fatigued all day because my stints werenít that long.
CONNOR PENHALL, No. 5x (Third in class with Chad Black, Cale Wallace and Matt Henderson.) I had a pretty clean ride. I tipped over in a corner but that was about it. Everyone rode well and we got third.
SHANE ESPOSITO, No. 106x (First in class. Esposito rode the first 80 and final 60 miles. Teammates Brian Pinard, Francisco Septien and Brent Harden shared riding duties.) We really had no issues. I had some close calls but nothing where I almost got off the bike. Someone told me we passed about 33 bikes out there. For all that dust and what I passed, Iím surprised we had no close calls, no problems.
HECTOR CASTILLO, No. 152x (First in class with David Gonzalez, Sergio Valenzuela and Arturo Contreras.) Co-rider David Gonzalez said: It was dusty and rocky out there but it was pretty fun. The motor, at the end, I think something happened to the valves. The motor didnít respond. I think a rider got lost, too. We were 30 minutes ahead of (the 151x team) at Borrego. I thought we had first place easy but we had the problems with the bike and it was real close.
MIKE JOHNSON, No. 303x (First in class with Rex Cameron.) The front and the back side of the course was really slippery. I had one mishap early and it was a smooth race after that. Just a lot of dust for the 40 miles. We ran a good steady pace. That was our plan and it paid off. That is the way we like to run the races.
SCOTT MYERS, No. 400x (First in class with Brett Helm, Lou Franco, Jeff Kaplan, Bob Johnson and Rick Johnson.) We ended up having some problems against the 404x guys. They were tough. Brett (Helm) had some real hard racing against them. (Jeff) Kaplan was up by ten minutes but then he crashed and it bent a rotor. We werenít sure what exactly broke and we changed several things. I think we ran 30 miles with the front brakes. We finally changed the front wheel and it got better from there. They were two minutes ahead of us in San Vicente and Bob (Johnson) got on the bike and he passed them and put about a minute and a half on them. It was a great effort by our crew to get us back running. It was nice to race wheel-to-wheel with some guys in Class 40.
ANDY KIRKER, No. 500x (First in class with Jim OíNeal, Dan Dawson, Tim Withers and Craig Adams.) This was our fourth Baja 500 win in a row in Class 50. We ran into some serious cactus. This Scott Dunlavey/Berkeley Honda was a great bike. We just kept handing it off to each other and it kept running great. We hammered the bike all day long and it ran flawless. I think we are close to Top 10 overall in motorcycles with a bunch of 50-year-old-guys. We had a good battle with the 501x bike. We had the deck stacked against us with a lot of famous names like Danny LaPorte, Chuck Sun, Eric McKenna and Charlie Marshall. I got behind a quad on the beach and he was only going fourth gear speed. I was buried in dust through that section. It was tough.
RICHARD JACKSON, No. 609x (First in class, riding with Mark Force and Dave Olen.) It was real rough. The bike was set up a little too stiff for it and to make matters worse, going into Borrego, I had the front go away so it wouldnít hold the line so it was really a fight. We had to stop and change tires. Dave Olen gave me the bike with the lead and all I had to do was finish in front of the SCORE Trophy-Trucks.
WAYNE MATLOCK, No. 1a (First in class in Wes Miller, Josh Caster, Harold Goodman Jr.) It was awesome today. No one made any mistakes all day. We got the quad over to Wes and he got us in the lead and we just took off from there. Once we got into the lead, we didnít see any other quads. There were just a bunch of motorcycles in our way. We had a good team of riders. Itís always exciting to win in Baja.
CRAIG CHRISTY, No. 100a (First in class.) We had about a 30-minute lead starting about halfway through the race and we just kept it there and started trying to save the bike and that was it. I almost hit three outbound trucks in the last 20 miles. I almost did a header with a Class 7 truck that I guess just got going. Other than that, no close calls and no problems. It was an uneventful day. We had a flawless bike and never changed a tire. We just kept putting fuel in and going.