Ensenada, Mexico, June 5, 2017 – Facing an increasingly strong field and only three of the top eight starting positions, drivers on BFGoodrich® Tires stormed through race traffic, and the 513-mile technical, rough course at 2017 SCORE Baja 500 to capture nine of the top 10 overall finishers.
An ongoing strategy for BFGoodrich Tires over the course of four decades of desert racing remains its support for the widest range of classes in SCORE Baja racing. At the 2017 SCORE Baja 500, BFGoodrich claimed 10 class wins.
BFGoodrich Tires Performance Team member Bryce Menzies held the third overall starting spot and once again ran a strong race and stayed in contention until engine trouble ended his day just over half way through the race. Menzies was seeking his fourth overall SCORE Baja 500 title.
“We saw some heroic performances at this race as several racers were handicapped by difficult starting positions,” said Chris Baker, motorsports director, BFGoodrich Tires and Michelin North America. “We are overall quite pleased with the performance of the 40-inch Baja T/A® KR3 race tire, which was adopted by most of our Trophy Truck partners. This turned out to be a tough race course, with technical sections, some brutal, which made passing difficult, but that’s racing and you take the good with the bad or you don’t play. I think the KR3 has now set the bar for endurance desert racing when you look at recent finishing results and has continued the proud legacy BFGoodrich Tires has in this discipline.”
The story of the race for BFGoodrich Tires would come from those starting in the middle of the pack of the 900-horsepower Trophy Truck class. Several racers, armed with BFGoodrich Tires Baja T/A®KR3 tires, had a daunting task to overcome course conditions and racers ahead of them after disappointing qualifying runs.
Justin Matney and BFGoodrich Performance Team member Rob MacCachren, along with Luke McMillin had little choice but to enlist an aggressive approach and take chances and trust in their vehicle and its tires to pick off drivers ahead of them. Matney, who started 13th, and MacCachren, who started 19th, traded patience for aggression, and found themselves approaching the lead pack of drivers around race mile 200 after maneuvering through tight, technical conditions.
Once hitting the dry lake bed around race mile 250, they had their opportunity. “I was forced to push hard and take chances,” said MacCachren, winner of the last three SCORE Baja 1000 races and this year’s SCORE San Felipe 250. “I was gaining ground then fell back a bit just before the dry lake bed. Then I just pinned it and passed a number of trucks there and heading to the highway near San Matias. I was right there after that but then hit some tight, twisty areas behind slower traffic and it was too much to make up.”
The gain was impressive, if not astounding, when looking at the numbers. MacCachren gained roughly seven minutes on the leaders in just 136 miles from the dry lake bed to BFGoodrich Pit 3 at race mile 396. That equates to roughly three seconds gained per mile during that stint. MacCachren settled for improving his starting position an impressive 16 spots and placed third overall.
“Rob’s performance in the dry lake bed was simply amazing,” added Baker. “Throwing caution to the wind and gaining three seconds per mile on a racer of Andy McMillin’s caliber is unheard of in this sport. His heroic charge from the back of the field confirms the new KR3 is the real deal.”
Matney followed suit to increase his starting position 11 spots to finish second overall, by a mere nine seconds over MacCachren. McMillin took a similar approach and a late surge earned him fourth place overall.
The SCORE Baja 500 title has eluded the tire maker the past two years but BFGoodrich still owns 88 overall wins in Baja desert racing and 31 SCORE Baja 500 overall wins, by far the most by any tire manufacturer.
Other notable finishers include BFGoodrich Performance Team members Cameron Steele (9th overall), Larry Roesler (8th overall) and Larry Connor/Ricky Johnson, who started 12th and finished 6th overall. Additionally for Roesler, who holds the record with 11 overall SCORE Baja 500 wins in his career, also took home the honors in the new SCORE Trophy Truck Legends class. Another BFGoodrich Performance Team member Casey Currie finished the race, battling through equipment challenges, to place 37th overall.
Since quietly running a new developmental tire at the 2015 SCORE Baja 500 race, BFGoodrich continued its ongoing tire development and launched full force last year with the Baja T/A®KR3 race tire. Overall, 15 racers in the Trophy Truck class strapped the KR3 tires on their vehicle, including all nine of the BFGoodrich top 10 overall finishers.