RIVERSIDE, California (May 7, 2014) – The Silver State 300 off road race turned out to be more tiring than expected for the Stronghold Motorsports team.
Two flat tires and a jack malfunction spoiled what began as a good day for the MAVTV/Toyo Tires/Solar World team of Brandon and Scott Bailey, Larry Job and Matt Salgado, who finished 14th in Class 1500 and 34th overall in round three of the six-race Best in the Desert series May 3.
“The car was perfect, the preparation was good and the crew did a great job. It was just a little bit of driver error,” said Brandon Bailey, who was driving the Unlimited Open Wheel buggy when the first flat tire occurred. “We definitely learned a lot and we know we can go run with these guys.”
Brandon qualified the car 14th in class and 23rd overall and he started the race with Job as his co-driver. Salgado said that about 100 miles into the 300-mile contest Brandon and Job had moved into 3rd in their class and 7th overall. But at about mile marker 122 Brandon said he “ran over something in the sand” and punctured a tire.
What should have been a relatively minor problem became a major one, however, when Brandon and Job were trying to change tires.
“The jack was broke so we couldn’t get it all the way up, and then we couldn’t get the handle out,” Brandon said. “We had to get some tools out and do it all manually, and it took a long time trying to get everything situated.”
Salgado said the problems during the tire change cost the team about 15 minutes or so, a severe handicap on a sandy, tree-lined course so narrow that Job said the strategy for most would be to follow the leader and be in position to move up if anyone had trouble. Unfortunately, the tire snafu meant the team was one of the pursuers instead of being pursued when Scott Bailey took the wheel and Salgado buckled into the co-driver’s seat.
“We got into a really good rhythm and then we got another flat,” said Salgado, who was pressed into duty as a co-driver when Job began feeling ill.
“The tire thing bums me out,” Brandon said. “I wanted to give dad a flawless car. The car was flawless, except for the tire. When he took over he was on the move and doing really well, and then he had a flat. That’s definitely a bummer, but it’s all part of racing.”
Salgado said it was “a fast course, with a lot of technical, winding turns through the pine forest and down the summit. It was a good race, and we finished it. That’s three races with a brand-new car and we’ve finished them all.”
The 14th-place finish was disappointing, but it may have only a minimal effect on the team’s championship hopes. Stronghold went into the race tied for second, 10 points behind class leader Corey Keysar, who finished 2nd in class and 4th overall. The team now is third unofficially, 25 points behind Keysar. But each team gets to throw out its poorest finish of the season before the final standings are determined.
Next on the team’s schedule is the NORRA Mexican 1000, which gets under way on Sunday, May 11, in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.