baja e araiza

3rd SCORE Baja 400: Race Preview

For the third time, the SCORE World Desert Championship fills its third race slot of the season with the Baja 400, a single-loop race both starting and finishing in Ensenada. While the route has seen some modifications from the original layout due to flooding, cars, trucks, and UTVs will still stare down a nearly 400-mile course on Saturday’s race day, while motorcycles and quads will get a slightly shorter route with multiple bypasses that cut out more than 20 miles of the course. Select classes will qualify on Wednesday morning, before outbound pre-running on Thursday, tech and contingency on Friday, and Saturday’s race day.

36 Trophy Trucks are on this weekend’s entry list, including seven Legends class entries. Defending champion Rob MacCachren leads the standings after winning the Baja 500 in June, giving him a three-point advantage over San Felipe 250 winner Luke McMillin. The next five drivers in the class standings are separated by just four points, including a three-way tie for fourth place, as six different drivers have taken podium finishes to start the season.

In Trophy Truck Spec, the fight sees three drivers within nine points of one another, with San Felipe winner Christopher Polvoorde ahead of Jorge Sampietro and Mason Cullen, the top two finishers in the Baja 500. That’s the same split between Kyle Quinn and Damen Jefferies in Class 1 after they went 1-2 in San Felipe. Those two classes will join the Trophy Trucks in Wednesday’s qualifying session to start the weekend, setting their start times for Saturday morning.

In the Pro UTV divisions, Forced Induction remains the primary class for those looking for the overall SCORE title with 21 entries. 2021 SCORE World Desert Champion Phil Blurton makes his return to the class alongside points leader Edgar Garcia Leon, San Felipe winner Justin Lambert, and Baja 500 winner Austin Weiland, while Mike Cafro and Mike Pratt will continue their battle with Wayne and Kristen Matlock and Craig Scanlon in Pro UTV Open and Joe Bolton and Kaden Wells will continue to carry the torch for Pro UTV Normally Aspirated.

Last year’s Baja 400 overall win went to Bryce Menzies, who finished just under four minutes ahead of Luke McMillin as MacCachren completed the podium. Jason McNeil (Trophy Truck Spec), Cody Parkhouse (Class 1), and Ethan Hagle (Class 10) took the other major car and truck victories, while Weiland beat Blurton for top Pro UTV FI honors and Wells was best in Pro UTV NA by more than an hour over his closest competition.

Motorcycles and quads will begin the 3rd SCORE Baja 400 at 5:30AM PT on Saturday, while the first Trophy Truck will leave the line at 9:15AM PT. SCORE will produce live streaming throughout the weekend from tech and contingency on Friday and the start/finish line on Saturday, while full coverage will air as part of ESPN2’s World of X Games coverage on Sunday, November 6 at 9PM PT. The 2022 SCORE World Desert Championship will then wrap up on November 15-20 with the 55th SCORE Baja 1000.

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.