No one ever said the General Tire Mint 400 was easy, but this year’s course proved to be extremely difficult on drivers and equipment.
The excessively rocky terrain presented teams with a big challenge and it was one that they all accepted. Overall, Team GT claimed 14 podium finishes including five class wins. Harley Letner finished second in Class 1500 and 10th overall marking his best finish since joining Team GT this year.
“It was rough, rocky, dusty, every lap it was different,” said Letner upon crossing the finish line Saturday night. “Every lap you thought was the last one, nope, not even close. It was so rough, it changed every time. It definitely rings true to the General Tire Mint 400. There was no shortage of bumps or rocks, it was amazing.”
When asked about his tires Letner commented, “Everything was good. The size of the rocks I was hitting, everything should have gone flat but we were good.”
Many teams fell victim to the harsh landscape while many overcame adversity to finish the 400-mile race. One of the drivers who bounced back after a challenging first lap was Justin Lofton. After falling more than 40 minutes behind on lap one due to a power steering problem, Lofton and his team dug deep to finish fourth in Class 1500 and place themselves second in the overall point standings.
“This is truly the Great American Off-Road Race, they went through great extremes to make it every bit of that,” said a tired Lofton following the race. “We had a really tough day, we blew a power steering line really early on in the race and I’m really proud of all my crew because we changed strategy throughout the race to get us down the course and in front of some people. I have to thank General Tire. We only had one tyre issue all day long and that was because we hit a sharp rock buried in the silt. Otherwise, the Grabbers were great.”
The durability of the Grabbers helped many teams to the finish including Camburg Racing. It was an up and down day for Camburg in Class 6100. Mike Childress took over driving duties in the latter part of the race and made up significant time on the leader but would fall seven minutes short of the win to cross the line second. Steve LaRoza also posted a second-place finish in Class 7200.
In the early morning hours team GT newcomer, Steve Alexander, drove his bright yellow KC Hi-Lites buggy to a first-place finish in Class 5000. The win marked Alexander’s first win on Red Letter Grabber’s. Also finding himself in victory lane was GRAND-AM and ALMS regular, Patrick Dempsey. Dempsey, along with co-drivers Matt Crusan and Andy Lally, drove their Class 5500 Zero One Odysseys buggy to a first-place finish in class.
“The General tires were great,” said Dempsey from atop the podium. “To win here at this race, and certainly the history, it’s great to get back on this bike, it’s been a while.”
he Best In The Desert Series (BITD) returns to the desert May 3-5 at Silver State. For more information visit, www.bild.com
Let’s chat about The General Tire Mint 400 on Twitter (@generaltire) at #Grabber.
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