Branden Sims Runs A Perfect Mint 400 Race For The Win!
The Mint 400 in Las Vegas, Nevada is a full week of hoopla, and fun. Many people come for a good time. Others come for the challenge. Branden Sims was up for a challenge. He ran a perfect race to win his second Mint 400. He started on the front row in his Polaris Turbo, took the holeshot, and then successfully held off an angry bunch of turbo UTV’s behind him. Every year competitors claim it was the roughest course ever. This year they did the same, but had plenty of evidence to back it up. The course took many competitors out, and others bore the scars from 428 miles of ruthless desert terrain. It was easy to stay on course, just follow the trail of broken parts and shattered dreams. They started in the afternoon, and ran 4 laps over 100 miles long. Even the fastest cars were racing in the dark on laps 3, and 4. Somehow Sims was able to run trouble-free to take the win over his best friend Jake Carver who finished in second.
“We drew a front row start in 2nd spot,” said Sims. “We got out in front of the Honda, and from that point on we didn’t have much going on. We just stayed out front, and really had no issues; we didn’t get out of the car, just fuel and go. I knew that Carver was there, and I knew that Justin Smith was there a little bit, Scanlon was in the mix for a minute, Mitch was there, but I didn’t know about Cafro. I heard Cafro was in the mix for a while. I thought we would get into lappers on lap 3, but we were into them on lap 2. Some of them just moved over, but others didn’t know they were being lapped so they tried to race us. I only had to move a couple out of the way. We didn’t have push to pass, but I only had to bump a few out of the way. We had no issues with anything. The transmission’s got a hole in it. I have some repairs to do before the next race, let’s put it that way, but we’ll be fine.”
Jake Carver who finished 2nd admitted to slamming lots of rocks in the dark. “We had a couple tire issues from going too fast in the dark,” says Jake. “I hit a couple rocks in the dark that no tire would survive. We got real lucky with the first one. It happened right before the pit speed zone so we were able to limp it into the pit. The jack quit working so the crew had to lift the car to change it. It was a bit of a circus, but they managed to get us out in under a minute so it was good. The second one we weren’t as lucky. We had to change it in the dark and the car tried to roll away from us. The road to pit B was blocked off so my crew couldn’t get a new tire to me so I had to run basically that whole lap with a flat tire in the rack. Pushing with no spare tire is a little rough, but I knew I had to because we had people coming up from behind. Other than that it was a solid day; just not fast enough to take the win.”
We also caught up to Dustin Jones who finished somewhere in the top 5. Without official results yet, anything other than the top 2 spots are too close to call. It will be interesting to find out what the attrition rate was. Many fast, experienced racers were bested by the fast pace, and unforgiving terrain. Jones said they took a conservative approach; stopping to make repairs instead of pushing ahead with broken parts. The S3 team knew it would come down to who was left at the end. “It was a long day, but the Mint is one of those races that keeps drawing you back race after race,” said Jones. “It was a good day, the car ran strong, but we just had a couple little issues that put us outside a podium position by a couple minutes. By choice we stopped to fix some minor issues because we knew it was a long race. We might have been able to get by without it, but because it was going to be a long day we went ahead and put them in there. This was the roughest Mint course I’ve seen. Usually it gets rough after the second lap, but this was like racing in Mexico; it was chewed up from the start. You could tell by the attrition rate. Everybody had tough times, even the front runners.”
The Mint 400 is such an historic race. You can’t help compare the races today with those from the past that earned a reputation for being incredibly tough. It’s great to see that despite all the advancements in race technology that the Martelli Brothers are still able to supply a 100% genuine deal. It’s definitely a case of “Old School” meets “New School” at the Mint 400.