Author: Bink Designs Photos: Bink Designs
Searing summer temperatures were a distant memory when the Best in the Desert series held its final race of the season in Henderson, Nevada. Like the frigid winds, sleet and snow that belted the teams on race day, the Henderson 250 would blow away any doubt as to who was the fastest in 2013. Hopes and dreams were no longer cogent. Only the cold hard facts contained on results sheets mattered. For the teams locked in a tight battle for the championship, it was make it or break it. For those outside, it was their last chance to make a statement after a long season of hard work and sacrifice. Best in the Desert made this a double points race so the list of viable champions went far down the order, nobody would have an easy day.
Qualifying on Thursday saw Justin Lofton in the first spot giving him a full, one minute head start on race day over Jason Voss, second fastest and Rob MacCachren who qualified third. Lofton drove possessed during time trials, running on the ragged edge to get the top spot. Qualified behind the Trick Trucks of Voss and MacCachren was the 1500 unlimited cars of CJ Hutchins and Harley Letner who are both General Tire teammates of Lofton. Despite Lofton’s tight championship battle with Jon Walker who qualified 20th, Hutchins and Letner would be gunning for Lofton on race day with 7th place qualifier Chuck Hovey also in the mix. Voss helped himself during qualifying; his top spot gave him an advantage over second in championship points, Steve Olliges. Olliges needed to gain big points on Voss to have a chance at the title. He had to do well and hope that Voss had problems. The Voss Motorsports crew was intent on not letting that happen.
At the drop of the flag on Saturday, Justin Lofton set out to outrun the pack but Rob MacCachren would not let him get away. Lofton developed an engine issue on the second lap that left him down on power. He and MacCachren would swap positions back and forth on the final lap. “The first lap was great, we pulled out a big lead,” said Lofton, “The second lap we started to lose power; it wouldn’t pull fourth gear through the washes. Rob got us in the big whoops, we waved him by us and later we caught him in the mountains. He showed the same courtesy to us and he waved us by. In the big whoops off the lakebed that big truck was able to put a little more power down than our buggy. We just brought it in with the hurt motor.”
MacCachren was able to take the overall victory and the Trick Truck win; Justin Lofton held on for second overall and the class 1500 win, his third in a row! Most of the course had been graded smooth by Best in the Desert leveling the field somewhat between the open wheeled buggies and the big Trick Trucks. Rob MacCachren drove a smart race; holding his own in the twisty technical sections that favor the buggies and taking full advantage in the big whoop sections that remained to pull ahead and take the overall win, his second in a row.
Third overall and second in Trick Truck was Ryan Poelman who beat some of the best to the checkers. Poelman was followed by Jason Voss and a hard charging TJ Flores who finished ahead of Voss on corrected time. Flores started 8th off the line so he knew he had the podium spot over Voss if he followed him in to the finish. Voss finished third on the road but 4th in Trick truck. He had the season long points championship wrapped up over Steve Olliges who had another solid race, finishing 6th but it was not enough to overtake the strong results posted by Voss. “We stepped it up this season,” said Voss on his championship, “We won two of the biggest races in my opinion, the Parker 425 and Vegas to Reno and took the championship. We have a pretty close team, mostly family members and my codriver James East rode every mile this year. He knows the truck inside and out and is very meticulous. I think most of the race is won at the shop with the prep and James does not miss anything when it comes to the truck. King shocks and BFG are new onboard with us this year and it’s been great.”
Justin Lofton did all he could to beat Jon Walker for the title. He qualified first and almost took the overall win. He could not do any better than first place but Walker had his own plans. He overcame a 20th place starting position to finish 6th overall; second in class 1500 with Sam Berri in third. Walker’s top finish earned him the title by a mere 2 points! The results are unofficial until a final tally but unless penalties are assessed, Walker wins by the thinnest of margins.
The 7200 and 6100 trucks set a fast pace with the top two finishers in both classes cracking the top 17 places overall. The 7200 win went to Jeff Horsley with Sean Backus second. Chase Borden took the top spot in 6100 followed by Jason Ruane. It was a tough race for all but none more than Jason Ruane. His truck had a tribute to his fallen friend Kurt Caselli who lost his life in a racing accident in Baja. Fans had a chance to write messages to Kurt on the truck during contingency. “I don’t have a lot of words to say except the world is a much sadder place without Kurt,” said Jason, “Outside of racing he was a genuine; honest man. That’s how I feel about him and we came up the idea to let the fans express their own feelings for him on the truck.”
In the first car and truck race held in the morning, the overall victory went to Dan Pfister driving his Class 3000 car to his second class win in a row. He took the overall by only 4 seconds over second overall Logan Holladay. This was also Holladay’s second win in a row driving the Trophylite rental truck. Logan credits the quick pit stops by the Trophylite crew and his codriver and girlfriend Tyler Eubanks. “We were playing it safe in the pit lanes doing under 25 miles per hour,” said Holladay, “Had I known we were that close on time I could have won the overall easily but we were concentrating on our second Trophylite win; we weren’t going to push it.”
With the conclusion of the Henderson 250 another season of Best in the Desert racing has come to an end. Weather conditions played a part in the race as usual; at times it was hard to see when the sleet and snow was falling. The slushy snow stuck to visors and soon had a layer of dirt mixed in to make matters worse. The low sun added to the visibility problems but the conditions spare no one. As the official results are tallied, countless other stories of intense battles, close calls and tight finishes will no doubt emerge, keeping the racers and fans pumped until we start again in 2014.