After nearly a month off, the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks returned to action on Saturday evening at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. A staple event of the series since its inaugural season in 2013, it is the second IndyCar Series support weekend of the year.
Points leader Sheldon Creed did not race on Saturday as he was competing in the ARCA Racing Series race at the Nashville Fairgrounds. In addition to a part-time ARCA schedule, Creed is contesting the full K&N East schedule with MDM Motorsports, while also running in as many SST races as he can.
As the fastest qualifier, Matt Brabham started Race #1 at the back of the 12-truck grid, while Bill Hynes started on pole. Davey Hamilton Jr. would lead the early stages of the race; Paul Morris passed him for the lead on lap four. During the lap, Arie Luyendyk Jr. was forced to pit to change a left front tire; though he remained on the lead lap, he dropped to last place. Color commentator Sean Sermini remarked it might be the first pit stop in SST history.
The competition caution came out a lap later, resuming on lap six as Morris led Brabham and Jeff Hoffman. During the lap, Erik Davis spun after hitting the wall, but was able to continue. Brabham took the lead a lap later. Davis’ race worsened shortly after when he collided with the wall, flipping his truck and bringing out the red flag. The Orange County native and former Air Force cadet was uninjured in the wreck, and his truck was eventually flipped back on its wheels. Despite concerns about the delay potentially clashing with the upcoming Motegi Super Drift Challenge, Race Control elected to resume the race. Had the race been declared official after its suspension, Morris would have won; during caution and red flag periods, the leader is determined by whoever last led a lap. Although Brabham was the leader, he did not lead the most recent lap leading up to the red flag.
After a ten-minute red flag, the race was resumed as Race Control called for a two-lap sprint to the finish. Luyendyk collided with P.J. Jones, spinning Jones’ #98 SPEED Energy truck around, though he was not eliminated from the race. Morris was able to pass Brabham during the lap, but the 23-year-old was able to reclaim the lead on the final lap. As the two Australians entered the final turn, Morris clipped Brabham’s rear and nearly spun him, but Brabham saved the truck and went on to win his fifth career SST race and second consecutive.
Morris finished 2nd and was joined on the podium by Gavin Harlien, the 18-year old’s first career podium. Robby Gordon finished 4th, followed by Hoffman and Luyendyk. Myles Cheek, who ran in the SST’s Super Trophy Kart support class in 2013 and was making his series debut, finished 7th. Hamilton, Jones and Hynes rounded out the top-10. Davis and Troy Diede failed to finish the race.
The second race from Long Beach will be held on Sunday at 4:05 PM Pacific time.
Featured image courtesy of @SSuperTrucks