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2024 Parker 400: Qualifying Preview

It’s been a long road to get to this point, but we’re finally here: the return of professional desert racing to Parker, Arizona with the 2024 Parker 400. The 50th anniversary of the famed January event marks the first race of the inaugural UNLTD Off-Road Racing Series championship, and with it, a new era of desert racing in the United States.

Hundreds of teams have entered this weekend’s action—you can see the full list here. Many of those top entries will get to take part in Qualifying later today, with the top classes taking on an approximately seven-mile course before hitting the 142-mile race course on Friday or Saturday. Before today’s UTV Qualifying at 1PM and Car and Truck Qualifying at 2:30, here’s a look at some of the biggest names that will be posting qualifying times across the two sessions:

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Unlimited Truck

With double-digit 2WD entries on the entry list, a pair of 4WD entries for Cole Potts and Justin Lofton, and three Legends entries, the Unlimited Truck lineup for Parker has plenty of depth. Last year’s top racers at the Mint 400 and California 300 were Eric Hardin and Adam Householder, respectively, and they’ll both be back to do battle with fellow UNLTD regulars like Kevin Adler, Nic Whetstone, Sterling Miller, Steve Olliges, and more.

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Unlimited Truck SPEC

What has already been one of the deepest classes in the desert in recent years will surely bring the heat to Parker. One of the top stories of the offseason was Kyle Jergensen’s move into the class with MagnaFlow and Camburg, where he’ll go head-to-head with his former teammates at Brenthel Industries, Jordan and Jonathan Brenthel—and their latest addition, defending Mint 400 class winner and 2022 California 300 overall winner Dustin Grabowski.

The Hardin versus Householder battle will also be active in this class, as Cole Hardin lines up against California 300 winner Terry Householder. Names like Brent Fox, Andre Laurin, and Jack Olliges also have strong shots at podium finishes this weekend.

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Class 1 and Class 10

While trucks have been riding a wave of popularity in recent years, decent fields for both Class 1 and Class 10 in Parker will keep the open-wheel fans interested. There are seven of each, counting Keith Basso’s Class 1 Unlimited with the other six Class 1 vehicles. Many of those Class 1 racers have made the switch from other classes or series after 2023, leaving it anyone’s guess as to who will stand out. With Class 10 racing on Friday, many of its drivers will pull double duty in both classes, with names like Conner McMullen and Indy Haberman due to appear on both days.

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UTV Pro Open and UTV Pro

The top classes in UTV Pro will return many of the front-runners from last year’s Mint 400 and California 300. Pro Open is led by Brayden Baker and Sierra Romo, who finished first and second in class and overall in Barstow in October, while 15-year-old Max Gordon will see how his Speed UTV stacks up against a class otherwise dominated by Polaris RZRs.

UTV Pro is the biggest UTV class of all with 16 entries, and one of the deepest entry lists in total. After qualifying first and leading the California 300 before encountering issues and falling to fourth, Bruce Binnquist will shoot for a return to the podium to open the year. He’ll be joined by veteran UTV racers like PJ Jones and Michael Mamelli Jr., quick teenagers like Chaden Zane Minder and Michael McFayden, and Christian Sourapas, who finished second in last year’s Mint 400 Unlimited Race while filling in for his dad Steven in Unlimited Truck.

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UTV Pro NA and UTV Pro Stock

Wrapping up the qualifying classes are the Pro NA and Pro Stock divisions. Doug Maclachlan and Armando Maldonado were second and third in the NA results at the California 300 and will go head-to-head once again in Parker. Meanwhile, Justin Von Metal and Wes Miller won two different classes in Barstow, but they’re among six racers facing off in Pro Stock.

Chris Leone

A veteran of the motorsports industry (both physical and digital), Chris Leone contributes coverage of race events of all types to Off-Road Racer. Elsewhere, he is the marketing/communications manager at iRacing, media director of Jim Beaver's Down & Dirty Show, and a frequent contributor to UTV Underground.