This year is the first time that the famous Baja 500 race has required qualifying in its 45 years of history. Race promoters said it was necessary due to the large number of entrants in the past few years, which has made time recording more difficult. Previously, the racers would be lined up according to a random draw, but this often lead to confusion and meant that many racers had to be "on line" for hours before they would actually leave the starting line, adding to fatigue levels.
So qualifying races were held in the most contended classes this year, including the Ojos Negros Trophy Truck and Class 1. The qualifying race took places on a five mile section of the course near Ensenada, Mexico.
Of the 32 Trophy Truck competitors, Robby Gordon in his No. 77 SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires / MAPEI Chevrolet was second-to-last to run and came out a full two seconds ahead of the second place time, giving him the first-ever Baja 500 Pole award. Not bad considering Gordon hasn't been in the No 77 since February, when he ran (and dominated) the Parker 425. In the interim, he's been running another truck in Stadium Super Trucks (SST), where he's been seeing hard competition and was often coming out on top.
The qualifying run proved to be a prophetic one, as Gordon and navigator Charles Holbrook managed to pull out an overall win in their SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires truck No. 77.
Watch this video of the pre-race, parts of the Baja 500 race run, including quick pit stops, and the victory party after they pull in for the win. Also featured is RPM Off-Road Truggy winner Justin Matney, part of the SPEED Energy family of racers.