Dougans Racers Charge Best in the Desert’s Laughlin Desert Classic
RPM Off-Road’s Apdaly Lopez Wins Day 1 and Eduardo Laguna Earns a 3rd Place Overall Podium Finish
Desert racing returned to Laughlin, NV this past weekend with the inaugural Method Race Wheels Laughlin Desert Classic presented by Canidae Tap It. A two-day race, the Laughlin Desert Challenge was the first Best in the Desert race in recent years to separate the Trick Trucks into their own race separate of all other classes, allowing elite class to reach their full capabilities and terrorize the partially new 16 mile course that included the legendary Laughlin Leap and The Fly Over where race vehicles flew completely over Highway 162.
#5 Apdaly Lopez charged out of the gate to take the first day overall by +00:00:06 over Josh Daniel. On day 2, Lopez beat Daniel out of the infield and was leading out front for two laps before suffering a flat. At that point, there was only one speed for the Dougans powered #5 Trick Truck. The fearless Lopez hung everything on the line and completely soared the road crossing. “This is off-road and we don’t touch asphalt,” Lopez commented after the race. Unfortunately, in pushing the #5 to its limits, Lopez suffered a driveline failure that ended his day and hopes at the overall.
#17 Eduardo Laguna picked up the slack and earned Dougans a 3rd place overall finish on the podium. Laguna started in 10th place on day one and moved all the way to fourth on the road by the start of lap two. Soon after, Laguna lost an oil belt, forcing him to stop and repair the issue. On day two, Laguna averaged 60.6 mph and finished +00:00:43 off on the day and finished 3rd overall to secure Dougans Racing Engines yet another podium finish on the 2016 race season.
Of the 28 racers to start the race, only 8 made it to the finish line. After laying down a solid qualifying run, #184 Nick Vanderwey cruised to a 6th place overall finish. Vanderwey landed in 11th place overall after the first day of racing and finished +00:18:07 off the winning pace at the end of day two.
Justin “Bean” Smith and Tracy Graf shared driving duties in the #58 Trick Truck. Smith got off to a rocky start on Saturday and crashed a mile in to the race after jumping out front of Jason Voss. Smith lost 15-20 minutes getting it flipped over and redialed in with Graf who was navigating that day. Smith passed a few guys back and finished the day near the back of the pack. Graf piloted the #58 on Sunday and earned the duo a solid 7th place finish.
Hot off his second consecutive Mint 400 win, #41 Justin Lofton went to Laughlin looking to continue his successes in hopes of building another championship season. Lofton qualified third fastest on the 2.4 mile time trial course and lined up next to #5 Apdaly Lopez on day 1. The first day immediately set Lofton back after earning a flat on the first lap, a negligible roll over on the second lap, then another flat on the fourth lap. He finished the day second to last but came out blazing on day 2. Lofton went from 17th to 4th and had fun passing those vehicles trouble free. The flawless day 2 landed Lofton in 8th place overall at the end of the race.
Despite finishing a lap down, Jeff Terzo made it to the finish line in his first race in the #37 YouTheory Racing Trick Truck.
Nine Dougans Racers succumbed to the brutal Laughlin course and did not finish the race, including #16 Cameron Steele, #27 Steve Olliges, #38 Eric Hustead, #4 Justin Matney, #46 Troy Vest, #5 Apdaly Lopez, #54 Robert Johnston, #59 Cole Potts and #95 Scott Whipple.
2016 Method Race Wheels Laughlin Desert Classic presented by Canidae Tap Unofficial Results
3rd – #17 Eduardo Laguna
6th – #184 Nick Vanderwey
7th – #58 Tracy Graf
8th – #41 Justin Lofton
Photography by Jason Zindroski