2020 BITD VT Construction Silver State 300
BITD’s First Race Back Is A Trial By Fire
Story By: Mike Ingalsbee
Photos By: Brandon Bunch
Racers were anxious to get back up to speed after the COVID-19 shutdown, and Best in the Desert’s Silver State 300 presented by Polaris RZR, is always one of the most challenging courses for the drivers. It has tight, twisty sections through the trees, fast powerline roads that have them bouncing off the rev limiter, silt, and rocks that can rip a corner off a UTV lurking just off the race line. If nature hadn’t created enough of a test, there was also a 10 thousand acre wildfire that wreaked havoc on the race. The original finishing area would have put racers in the path of the fire, so the course was shortened to finish at pit 7 on the eve of the race. That would put the race mileage at 270. As teams recalculated fuel mileage, and planned to move chase crews around, the fire raged through the night. On race day, the course was shortened even farther. Best in the Desert moved the finish again; this time to pit 6 at race mile 220. Those planning any strategy other than to go flat out would be disappointed. With fewer miles to run, patience, and caution were no longer in play. The typical tolerance level for mistakes was now less than zero. At the speeds the racers were traveling, only a split second of indecision, or traveling an extra foot deeper into a corner could spell disaster.
This was demonstrated by several racers. Dodge Poelman ripped a corner off his car, but still managed to drag it across the finish line. For him, the shortened course was just what he needed. Cory Sappington went off course in the dust and ended up at the bottom of a cliff. He had some company as Sierra Romo had gone off at the same spot after running up front with the leaders all day. Phil Blurton and Mitch Guthrie Jr started out front, with Mitch experiencing overheating issues early. “Luckily we were still able to run at 80 percent,” said Mitch. “After pit one Phil got around us, and we followed him to pit 4 where we passed him back when he fueled. Before pit 5 he was back, and got around us again. With only 20 miles to go I clipped a rock in the dust and had to stop to change a tire. It cost us a couple minutes.”
Phil Blurton is tough to beat when the pace is fast; regardless of the conditions. He crossed the line physically first, and was then joined by Dustin Jones who ran a blistering pace himself. Jones started 11th, and ran fast and precise all day. The Silver State still owed him one, and he came to collect. He was 3rd last year, and it looks like he was 2nd this time around with Blurton taking the top spot; Branden Sims was 3rd. In the naturally aspirated class Seth Quintero was back on track, pun intended, with another victory. In 2nd was Kaden Wells who was especially motivated as his brother Corbin was also racing in the naturally aspirated class. Corbin was 4th or 5th according to Kaden. “My car turned off at race mile 180,” said Kaden. “We got it going again, but had to limp around at half throttle.” In fact Corbin was 5th behind Adrian Orellana in 4th, and Dominick Gaglione in 3rd.
Despite the shortened course, everyone got their monies worth when it came to a challenge. As the fire raged across the desert, the racers did much the same. With the next Best in the Desert event being Vegas to Reno in August, hopefully we are going to return to normal, and have a great racing season. If the Silver State 300 is any indication, Vegas to Reno is going to be just as intense. It will be another case of flat out speed, and survival of the fittest.