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Mitch Guthrie Earns Inaugural California 300 UTV Victory After Tight Battle

After going toe-to-toe with Branden Sims all day long, it was Mitch Guthrie who managed to come out on top of the UTV World Championship desert race at the inaugural California 300 on Friday afternoon. After posting the second-fastest UTV qualifying time on Thursday, the PR-100 class racer and teammate Kellon Walch made it through an intense battle that never let up across four laps of competition in the Barstow desert, trading the lead on time with Sims throughout the day before unofficially beating him to the finish by nearly 10 minutes after extending their lead late.

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“It was a long day, a tough day,” Guthrie said at the finish. “I’m sure everyone knows how this course is—it was brutal, and then to top it off, I had Branden on us the whole time, pushing us to go faster and faster. It was fun, though, and it was cool because we were able to set the pace up front, play that game, and see where we’d end up every lap. It ended up working out for us!”

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After Bruce Binnquist took the top spot in qualifying and the classes evenly split the top four positions, the big question coming into the day was whether or not the PR-100 division could take overall top honors from the Pro Turbo division. But Sims would post the fastest time on the first lap for the PR-100s, followed closely by Turbo driver Ronnie Anderson—going for his second podium of the day after finishing second in the short course race—and Guthrie in second and third. Anderson would fall out of the race after two laps, opening the door for then-fourth place Justin Lambert and fifth place Sierra Romo to move up the order as the race continued.

DSC

Sims and Guthrie would continue to match pace for most of the day before Guthrie began to extend a gap on the final lap, and Romo worked her way up to the final overall podium spot after maintaining third in the PR-100 class for most of the race. Lambert would eventually take over the top spot in Turbo, but Mike Cafro would reel him in as the race went on to take the eventual class win in fourth overall. Pro Unlimited class winner Chris Blais and top Pro NA finisher Tyler Krepsz would also earn top 10 overall finishes at seventh and 10th, respectively.

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“Congratulations to Mitch Guthrie on an epic win in the inaugural California 300 UTV World Championship desert race,” said California 300 CEO Matt Martelli. “Following in the steps of the short course race earlier today, Mitch and Branden Sims gave us an epic fight all race long, matching times on lap after lap and keeping the outcome in doubt until the very end. Both drivers and teams did an excellent job of mastering this challenging and rough Barstow course. We can’t wait for another full day of racing tomorrow, because if today’s action was any indication, the Unlimited race should be a thriller!”

The unofficial top 10 overall finishers of Friday’s California 300 UTV and Limited race were as follows:

  1. PR901 Mitch Guthrie (1st, PR-100)
  2. PR969 Branden Sims (2nd, PR-100)
  3. P2929 Sierra Romo (3rd, PR-100)
  4. T975 Mike Cafro (1st, Pro Turbo)
  5. T918 Justin Lambert (2nd, Pro Turbo)
  6. PR915 Ryan Piplic (4th, PR-100)
  7. 2910 Chris Blais (1st, Pro Unlimited)
  8. T860 Stephen Beal (3rd, Pro Turbo)
  9. T903 Eliott Watson (4th, Pro Turbo)
  10. 1864 Tyler Krepsz (1st, Pro NA)

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Live coverage of the California 300 is available all weekend long at live.thecalifornia300.com. The site includes live timing and tracking, results from completed races, PCI Race Radios’ Weatherman feed, and much more.

The inaugural California 300 continues tomorrow with the UTV World Championship Youth races starting at 7AM, while the Unlimited Trucks headline the premier car and truck classes as they start racing at 11:30AM. Be sure to visit TheCalifornia300.com for a full schedule and information on how to spectate, and follow @thecalifornia300 on social media for live updates throughout the event.

Thank you to all of our California 300 sponsors who’ve supported us since day 1:

Rugged Radios, King Shocks, Polaris, Rockford Fosgate, UBCO, Vision Wheel, Kawasaki, VP Racing Fuels, Maxxis Tires, Jimco Racing, Clean-Dezert, Assault Industries, Site Solar, Camburg, Belching Beaver Brewery, Surface Sunscreen, Heat Wave Visual, Catalyst Distribution, PCI Race Radios

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.