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Tuck takes second in San Felipe

March 04, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE
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Staff Writer

SAN FELIPE, Mexico — An assistant in the SCORE media center sat at a little brown desk poring over the results for Saturday's San Felipe 250 until she found what she was looking for.

Craning her neck like an owl to look behind her shoulder, she said, "Aaron Tuck finished second. That high enough? He's from Brawley."

Brawley's Aaron Tuck and Craig Smith took turns riding a Honda XR 650 over 227.79 miles of unforgiving desert to place second in the unlimited motocross class at the 16th SCORE San Felipe 250. Their time of 4 hours, 10 minutes was good for 14th place overall.

The time was one of the fastest for Imperial Valley speedsters in a race that featured 239 entrants in 22 classes of off-road vehicles. Only 133 finished.

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SCORE spokesman Dominic Clark said the number of entries was the second most of all time.

A trophy truck driven by Dan Smith and Dave Ashley of Riverside finished the 227-mile course first. The San Bernardino-based teammates won the overall and the trophy truck championships with a time of 3 hours, 45 minutes.

Clark said the course was rough enough to allow the trophy trucks to place ahead of the motorcycles and class 1 buggies but fast enough in various stretches, such as the high-speed burn through the Diablo Dry Lake, to let all the racers put up high speed averages.

Trophy trucks with huge suspensions were able to handle the rougher parts of the course's backstretch.

The winning Smith/Ashley truck posted a 60 mph average. The team won the SCORE Laughlin Challenge trophy truck championship in January.

An unlimited class 1 buggy carrying El Cajon's Mike Julson and Bob Lofton of Westmorland came in around two minutes behind Smith and Ashley to take second with a 60.08 mph average.

Neither of the top two finishers changed a tire. Clark said that's pretty impressive.

Lofton was the top Valley finisher. The 21-year-old Tuck and 28-year-old Smith finished second in the unlimited motocross class behind Steve Hengeveld of Oak Hills and Johnny Campbell of San Clemente.

The next highest Imperial County finisher was Heber's Matt Scaroni.

The 19-year-old drove the SMD Motorsports Team Ford Las Vegas Pro Truck for 120 miles, sharing duties with Steve Olliges of Las Vegas.

Congratulated on his sixth place showing, 35th overall, Scaroni said, "Actually it was not a good finish."

Tearing through Matomi Wash, Scaroni "got a nail in the tire. There were 9 million rocks in Matomi Wash and I got a nail. The chances of that …"

The time it took him to get out and change the tire kept the team from finishing higher then he wanted.

"The flat killed me," he said.

When it happened, "We were going all out. We were going to win or break."

The next Imperial racers behind Scaroni/Olliges were Sam Hilfiker and David Marini of Holtville.

Hilfiker, 25, and Marini, 47, piloted a class 10 1650cc buggy to finish 45th overall and seventh in their class.

The next Imperial racer to finish was Martin Bejarano of Calexico. He and Dayton Raper of Mesa, Ariz., raced a class 21 bike. The team finished second in its class and 51st overall. A class 21 bike cannot have a motor bigger than 250cc.

One of the notable Imperial racers who didn't finish the race was Josh Waddell of Holtville. He broke an axle on his class 1 buggy going through Matomi Wash.

"I made it to mile 173 … broke an axle in half," he said.

Waddell said he didn't crack it on a boulder.

"Just broke going around a turn," he said.

The finish was especially disappointing since Waddell was one of the favorites going into the race and running close to the lead before the axle broke.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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