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BJ Baldwin and co-driver Johnny Nelson earned the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000 victory and the season championship.

Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Chevrolet driver BJ Baldwin crossed the finish line first in Ensenanda, Baja California, to earn his second consecutive SCORE Baja 1000 in the early morning hours of November 16. Baldwin faced a tough battle from the team of Rob MacCachren and Andy McMillin down the stretch, but he was able to muster up the energy to fend them off in spite of soloing the entire 883.1 miles of race course for the 2013 1000.

Baldwin came into the race heavy-hearted after an accident in Baja while preparing for the race cost him his beloved dog Xena. It was a long month of personal issues leading up the race and Baldwin said he was not as prepared as he’d like to be, but in spite of that he was able to put all of those issues behind him to earn the win. “Being that we had such a difficult month with pre-running and other stuff in my personal life, this really means a lot to me, because it was so hard especially after the month I had,” he said.

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Although the victory marks back-to-back Baja 1000 wins for Baldwin and the first for any driver since Troy Herbst/Larry Roeseler went back-to -back in 2004 and 2005, this is the first one he gets to enjoy right after the finish. After a controversial ruling against Gustavo Vildosola, who was initially named the winner of the 2012 SCORE Baja 1000, Baldwin was awarded the win after the fact. A win’s a win, but Baldwin’s protest for Vildosola’s improper pit stop was met with some backlash by fans. Now, Baldwin can put that all behind him.

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“Compared to last year this race win means a lot more,” Baldwin said. “Last year I worked really really hard to win the Baja 1000, and my moment kind of got taken away from me with some stuff that happened last year with some other competitors, so I didn’t win the race until about three weeks later. But this year it’s pretty clear that we’re the winner. We didn’t have any rule infractions or anything like that.”

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If we’ve learned anything with desert racing in recent years, nothing’s official until we hear confirmation from SCORE, but it appears Baldwin not only has the Baja 1000 win, but he also secured the Trophy Truck season championship as well.

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Rob MacCachren talks to media after finishing second at the Baja 1000.

For MacCachren and McMillin, the race for the win, and for the championship, couldn’t have been any closer. The #11 Trophy Truck of MacCachren was sitting just behind Bryce Menzies, who was leading much of the race up until approximately race mile 660 where he had transmission issues. When Menzies went down it looked like the team might have clear air to the finish, but Baja is a game of minimizing mistakes, and a small one may have cost them the win.

“At race mile 520, we pitted and were second on the road to Bryce, and I was really going to turn it up in that section,” McMillin said, who ran the middle section of the race while MacCachren ran the start and finish. “It was gnarly and rocky and mountain-y, we were still being conservative but we wanted to make up the little time Bryce had put on us, and I just clipped a rock with my right front tire and it blew up right away, it bent the wheel.”

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