The Team 4 Wheel Parts Jeepspeed raced into Parker, Ariz., this month to kick off the 2012 Best in the Desert race season. The Parker 425 is rich in history and known as one of the toughest courses in the six-race circuit. The Jeepspeed class consists of relatively stock Jeep Xjs and Tjs competing to win the coveted Jeepspeed Challenge Cup.

As with any race series, whether it’s racing lawnmowers or the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the first race of the year is special. Every member of every team wants that elusive first win to build momentum and carry the team through the season.

Our team is no different. We had a bad season last year, and we needed to do well in Parker. We had 20 cars entered in our class. Mark Linder (Sparky) and I drew the 10th starting position. Once the green dropped and we raced through the streets of downtown Parker, we hit the dirt.

The dust was thick, and visibility was extremely poor. We picked a pace that was fast but safe. We knew this was a long race, and the faster classes would be starting on the second lap soon after we left the start. We kept a close eye on the mirrors.

As our lap progressed, we passed six cars. Some were racing us and some were parked with troubles. The last 30 miles of the 145-mile lap were the worst we have seen in years. It looked more like Tranquility Base than a race course.

We finally finished the lap in fourth place and handed the car over to Josh Reiter and Dylan Cochran. They sped off, and we sat back and waited to hear their progress through the Jeepspeed Radio Relay. They made it through Pit A, then Pit B, then Pit C.

We were getting anxious and headed to the finish line to wait. First place came across the line, then five minutes later the second-place car finished. Five minutes after that, Josh and Dylan crossed the finish line and grabbed third place. It was a strong podium finish to start the season. We had a trouble-free day, and while we were hoping for a win, we at least got the morale boost we needed. The team has momentum going into the infamous MINT 400.

We would like to thank our sponsors that continue to support us:
4 Wheel Parts / Rubicon Express / Bilstein Shocks / G/2 Axle / Rigid Lights / L&J Landscaping / General Tire / ATX Wheels