A week after opening the 2017 season in Adelaide, the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks traveled to Florida for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. A support event to the Verizon IndyCar Series, the Stadium Super Trucks have been racing on the street circuit since 2014.
With an inverted field, Jeff Hoffman started Saturday’s race on the pole, while fastest qualifier Robby Gordon started at the back. Hoffman led the first lap, holding off Matt Brabham’s charging truck until early in lap two when Brabham made the pass in turn one. While Brabham led, Gordon began his charge up the grid and was 5th after just two laps. After surrendering the lead to Brabham, Hoffman started dropping down the field as the likes of P.J. Jones, Sheldon Creed and Gordon passed him.
The first of two competition cautions came out partway through lap three, bunching up the field, and the green resumed as the trucks approached the start/finish line. Brabham continued to lead, with Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Jones behind him. Creed and Gordon both passed Jones to enter podium position, followed by Luyendyk a lap later; while Creed passed Luyendyk’s #25 cleanly, Gordon made contact with him before clearing him for 3rd. The two series champions battled for 2nd for much of lap six before Gordon successfully made the pass.
Another competition caution was flown with four laps to go, resulting in a three-lap sprint to the finish. On the restart, Gordon moved to Brabham’s inside before making the pass exiting turn one. After a side-by-side battle, Creed also passed Brabham during the lap. Creed closed in on Gordon on the final two laps, but collided with the wall. Despite the contact, defending champion continued on and applied further pressure on Gordon before making a final attempt in the final turn. The two trucks bumped into each other and damaged Creed’s hood, while Gordon edged him out by just .911 seconds to claim his first win of the season.
The win is Gordon’s 15th SST win and first in St. Petersburg since the 2014 season opener. “This is a whole new RG,” commentator Sean Sermini stated, alluding to Gordon’s struggles during the 2016 season, where he won just three races and finished a distant 3rd in points.
Creed finished 2nd, while Paul Morris joined the two champions on the podium. Luyendyk, running his first race of the season, finished 4th, followed by Davey Hamilton. Hoffman and Hynes, who started 1–2, finished 7th and 8th, respectively. Brabham spun on lap nine as he entered turn thirteen, relegating him to 9th. Gavin Harlien suffered from truck problems and finished 10th, three laps down.
The second race of the St. Petersburg weekend will be held on Sunday at 11 A.M. (Eastern).
Featured image courtesy of @SSuperTrucks