Justin Lofton Takes Overall Win, Sam Berri Class 1500 Win in Brand New JIMCO Built Vehicles
at the 2015 Polaris RZR Mint 400 presented by General Tire
JIMCO Racing rolled in to Las Vegas for with an impressive list of vehicles ready to conquer the toughest race in America, The 2015 Polaris RZR Mint 400 presented by General Tire. The brand new Trick Truck and Class 1500 cars of Justin Lofton and Sam Berri reached the pinnacle of achievement as race teams from throughout the world all came to compete in The Great American Off-Road Race. Two races is all it took for both Jimco built cars to sit atop the podium and prove themselves Champions, with Justin Lofton as The 2015 Mint 400 Overall Champion and Sam Berri The 2015 Mint 400 Class 1500 Winner.
After debuting the new Jimco #41 Trick Truck at Best in the Desert’s season opener at The Parker 425, Lofton went in to Thursday’s Time Trials with the top draw to qualify for starting positions on race day. Lofton slapped down a sixth fastest lap time on the newly designed qualifying loop with a time +00:00:03.710 off the top qualifier, Dale Dondel. Sam Berri was third fastest Class 1500 and qualified himself to a modest starting position on race day.
Based on qualifying results, there wasn’t one racer in the top 20 you could count of contention for the overall. Lofton held with the race leaders through the first lap, including Dale Dondel, BJ Baldwin, Rob MacCachren and Robby Gordon, even after losing a tire about 4 miles in to the race. For Berri, after the first lap it was evident that it was between him and Jimco racer Cody Parkhouse.
A first for the Best in the Desert Series, the unlimited race was stopped for about an hour following a multi-vehicle accident near RM32 that sent two racers to the hospital. The racers, whose names were not released, were taken to a local hospital and vehicles were removed from the course before racing resumed at 4:45 p.m. After being held at the start line for nearly an hour, racers got a second to regroup before heading out on their second lap.
As lap two progressed, racers began to fall to the traps The Mint 400 course had in store. Heading out of main pit for the third and final lap, it was MacCachren, Dondel, Lofton and Gordon out in the lead physically. Shortly after, Lofton lost his rear brakes. “We did the whole last lap with no rear brakes, which doesn’t seem so bad. It slowed me down, which probably helped get me to the finish line in this truck.”
Lofton did just that, about a minute and a half faster than Robby Gordon, who finished second on the day. Tracking issues had fans uncertain who would be first across the finish line until Lofton, in his brand new Jimco truck, cleared the Red Bull Jump at the race’s end.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Lofton said. “We set our sites on doing this and here we are. We had a cleaner run than a lot of people had,” he said. “This truck is fast. This is (just) the second race for the truck. We were leading the Parker 425 before we had issues.”
Sam Berri’s 1500 car ran flawless all day. Berri finished the race on the same set of tires is began with and never had to make any adjustments to the perfectly tuned vehicle. Berri made sure to congratulate everyone else’s accomplishments over his own at the finish line.
“My crew came together. I couldn’t have done it without Jimco. Those guys did a fantastic job putting this together,” said Berri on the podium. “Everybody who got involved in helping, we put this thing together and made it worth winning The Mint! So this is all for those guys. I’m getting ready to turn 62 and we’re out here giving the youngins a run for their money and it’s awesome.”
Second place finisher and Jimco racer Cody Parkhouse was only fourteen seconds off Berri’s winning time. Parkhouse was fourth fastest at qualifying and went on to contest Berri as the two lead 1500 vehicles. The dust combined with Berri’s pace was too much for Parkhouse, who ultimately ended in second place in Class 1500. Thirty four Class 1500 vehicles started the race and only seventeen finished, including #1522 Brian Wilson in 9th, #1525 Joel Whitted in 10th and #1517 Ross Mattox in 12th.
Three other Jimco Trick Trucks finished in the middle of the pack including #94 Steve Strobel in 15th, #1 Jason Voss in 21st and #42 Will Staats in 23rd. Troy Vests Mint 400 got cut short in a nasty collision with another competitor in the infield just moments after starting the race. After a jump, the competitor collided with Vest and set him in a multi roll crash that ended his day. Fortunately, the Jimco Trick Truck endured the crash and Vest and co-driver was not injured.
#1025 Chad Dohrman and #1071 Jason Coleman held it down for Jimco in Class 1000. Dohrman missed the win by less than two minutes. Roger Starkey put together a consistent race and took the overall limited race win. A flat tire on lap two set Coleman twelve and a half minutes back at the finish, after leading the first lap. Coleman finished in seventh place overall. #1053 Brad Wilson broke an axle and did not finish the race.
Next on the list for Jimco Racing is SCORE-International’s Baja Sur 500 from April 15th-19th from Cabo to Loreto, Baja California.