ENSENADA, Mexico — Defending race champion Robby Gordon returned to his desert-racing roots posting the fastest qualifying time Thursday to earn the first starting position in Saturday’s 46th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500 desert race.
Driving his No. 77 Speed Energy Chevy CK1500, Gordon, who will race in the X Games in Austin, Texas, on Sunday in his Formula Off-Road truck series, covered the 4.3-mile desert test course near Ojos Negros 40 miles east of Ensenada in 5:08.74, averaging 50.14 miles per hour.
With qualifying for the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck division for high-tech, 850-horsepower unlimited production trucks and the unlimited Class 1 for open-wheel desert race cars, 28 of 34 entries in SCORE Trophy Truck and eight of 17 entries in Class 1 ran in the qualifying session. The vehicles that didn’t qualify will start at the back of their respective classes.
Second-fastest qualifier was Bryce Menzies in the No. 70 Ford F-150 in 5:13.42, just under five seconds behind leader Gordon. Third was Jason Voss, who was second in qualifying last year behind Gordon, with a time of 5:17:11 in another Ford F-150 while fourth was Rob MacCachren in 5:21.74 in yet another Ford F-150. Completing the top five fastest qualifiers for Saturday’s race was Clyde Stacy in the No. 5 Chevy Rally Truck with a time of 5:22.56.
The top three qualifiers in Class 1 were No. 100 Cody Parkhouse in 5:31.95 in a Chevy-powered Jimco desert race car, No. 153 Ronny Wilson in 5:36.28 in another Jimco-Chevy and third was No. 188 Jon Walker in 5:41.48 in a Kreger-Chevy.