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SST: Potts, Gordon, Brabham take victories in Adelaide

For the fourth consecutive season, the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks crossed the Pacific Ocean to race in Australia. Once again, the series’ first date in Australia was the Adelaide 500 at the Adelaide Street Circuit, which had served as the season openers from 2015 to 2017. Like in past years, a tripleheader was scheduled as a support event to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, with races taking place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The 12-driver field saw much of the same faces from the Lake Elsinore round, though defending champion Paul Morris, Travis Milburn, and Toby Price made their season debuts. For Arie Luyendyk Jr., this marked his first career start in Adelaide and his first race in Australia since Townsville in 2016.

“We’re about to get a win. I can’t run second no more,” Price quipped prior to the practice session on Thursday. He finished runner-up to Sheldon Creed in the second Adelaide race in 2017. “I gotta beat the Americans. No Sheldon, so we might be alright, we’ll see how it goes!”

Matt Brabham led the practice with a lap time of 1:46.781, followed by Luyendyk (1:46.990), Milburn (1:47.662), Morris (1:47.918), Price (1:48.885), Blade Hildebrand (1:49.430), Greg Gartner (1:49.887), Cole Potts (1:49.933), and points leader Billy Hynes (1:51.880). Gavin Harlien and Jeff Hoffman missed the session as they were flying from the United States; although he was at the track, Gordon also did not practice.

In qualifying, Brabham once again established himself as the dominant driver with a time of 1:44.872. Behind him were Price (1:45.464), Morris (1:45.996), Luyendyk (1:46.348), Harlien (1:46.349), Gordon (1:46.543), Hoffman (1:47.052), Hildebrand (1:47.067), Gartner (1:47.656), Potts (1:48.853), and Hynes (1:51.256). With a field inversion, Hynes started on the pole for Friday’s race.

Race #1

Hynes held the early lead after getting a strong jump at the green flag, but lost it to the 19-year-old Potts in turn 11. The pole-sitter continued to fall as he was passed by Gartner before the end of the first lap and eventually relinquishing third to Gordon. Shortly before the start of lap three, Hoffman spun after multiple collisions in the final corner. Gordon crept up to Potts and was in position to make a run on lap four when the caution came out for Toby Price. Price’s rear differential housing had suffered damage, causing his truck to slide off course and clip the barrier, sending it airborne before landing.

Potts, Gordon, and Gartner comprised the top three positions for the ensuing restart. Brabham entered the picture when he passed Gartner and Gordon to move up to second on lap six. During the lap, Gordon slowed down and dropped out of the race with a transmission issue, while Brabham made the pass on Potts for the lead as he took the white flag. However, Brabham’s hopes of victory dissolved when he locked up the brakes entering turn four on Wakefield Street and went deep, surrendering first to Potts. More turmoil took place when Gartner made contact with Brabham and nearly collected Harlien, spinning in the process. Potts, in just his second career SST race and first on a street circuit, pulled away to win his first series event.

Luyendyk finished second, followed by Brabham, Hoffman, Milburn, Harlien, Hildebrand, Morris, Gartner, and Hynes. With their vehicular problems, Gordon and Price finished outside the top ten.

Race #1 results

Finish Start No. Driver Laps Status
1 2 60 Cole Potts 7 Running
2 9 25 Arie Luyendyk Jr. 7 Running
3 12 83 Matt Brabham 7 Running
4 5 47 Jeff Hoffman 7 Running
5 6 77 Travis Milburn 7 Running
6 8 55 Gavin Harlien 7 Running
7 4 68 Blade Hildebrand 7 Running
8 10 1 Paul Morris 7 Running
9 3 410 Greg Gartner 7 Running
10 1 57 Bill Hynes 7 Running
11 7 7 Robby Gordon 5 Running
12 11 87 Toby Price 3 Running

Race #2

With his victory, Potts was relegated to the rear for the second race of the weekend, while Price started on the pole alongside Gordon.

Upon the drop of the green flag, the field organized into a single file with Price leading the way. Gordon attempted to make the first move as they entered the Wakefield turn, but failed. Behind the leaders, Gartner was turned by Morris and spun into the gravel trap, dropping him to last. Gordon and Price resumed their battle in turn nine as they dueled side-by-side, but Price held off Gordon to lead the first lap.

On lap two, Gordon tried another pass on Price but could not make the move once again. In the middle of the field, Hoffman bumped with Morris and collided with the tire barrier, though as an isolated incident, no caution was waved. Gordon took the lead on lap three in turn 11. Harlien took second from Price at the start of lap four. Brabham also joined the podium fight as the top four began to build a gap to the rest of the grid.

The competition caution came out during lap four as Gordon, Harlien, Price, and Brabham comprised the top four. A lap later, Price went wide and nearly lost a spot to Morris, but ended up losing multiple positions after making contact with Morris and turning him. On the final lap, Harlien and Brabham fought for second, allowing Gordon to increase his lead en route to winning his first race at Adelaide.

Harlien took second and Brabham recorded another third-place run. Morris took fourth, with Luyendyk, Milburn, Gartner, Potts, Hildebrand, Price, Hynes, and Hoffman behind them.

Race #2 results

Finish Start No. Driver Laps Status
1 2 7 Robby Gordon 7 Running
2 7 55 Gavin Harlien 7 Running
3 10 83 Matt Brabham 7 Running
4 5 1 Paul Morris 7 Running
5 11 25 Arie Luyendyk Jr. 7 Running
6 8 77 Travis Milburn 7 Running
7 4 410 Greg Gartner 7 Running
8 12 60 Cole Potts 7 Running
9 6 68 Blade Hildebrand 7 Running
10 1 87 Toby Price 7 Running
11 3 57 Bill Hynes 7 Running
12 9 47 Jeff Hoffman 7 Running

Race #3

For Sunday’s race, Hynes and Price comprised the front row, while Gordon started sixth, Harlien tenth, and Brabham at the back. The field went single-file at the start of the race and Price quickly took the lead from Hynes shortly after crossing the chicane. Potts suffered damaged to his hood that partially obstructed his vision, though he was still running. Hildebrand also had troubles of his own when he clipped the tire barrier and dropped a few positions. Behind Price, Hoffman and Gordon battled for second.

On lap four, Potts’ woes continued when he spun out but managed to avoid hitting the wall. Harlien also spun when he hit Morris. As they approached the start/finish line to begin lap five, Gordon passed Price to become the leader when the competition caution came out. At the restart, the top six consisted of Gordon, Price, Hoffman, Milburn, Gartner, and Brabham. Price attempted a move on Gordon’s outside but nearly brushed the wall, forcing him to withdraw his attack for the moment.

At the start of lap seven, Brabham’s hood loosened and fell off his truck. Despite losing sheet metal, Brabham remained in race contention as he passed Milburn for third. In turn nine, Gartner went off the asphalt and into the gravel and wall before continuing.

The final lap saw Gordon drive away from Price and Brabham, who were locked in combat for the runner-up spot on the straightaway, but the latter quickly caught up to the leader with help from the draft. In the hairpin, Brabham passed Gordon around the outside, but Gordon was not keen on letting a second consecutive win slip away as he took back first as they neared the final corner. Gordon tried to block Brabham but went wide in the turn, which Brabham took advantage of to reclaim the lead and take his first win of the season.

Milburn bumped through Price’s inside line to take second. Hoffman finished fourth and Hildebrand fifth, while Harlien experienced a wild wreck to end his race in sixth: he hit the first ramp at a poor angle after bumping with Hoffman, landing him sideways and knocking his right-rear wheel off. When he tried to recover, he slammed into the outside wall, and the lack of a wheel caused his truck to turn back into the wall and spin multiple times across the start/finish line.

Behind the six were Luyendyk, Morris, and Gartner. Gordon was forced to settle for tenth, while Potts and Hynes finished 11th and 12th, respectively.

Race #3 results

Finish Start No. Driver Laps Status
1 12 83 Matt Brabham 8 Running
2 7 77 Travis Milburn 8 Running
3 2 87 Toby Price 8 Running
4 3 47 Jeff Hoffman 8 Running
5 4 68 Blade Hildebrand 8 Running
6 10 55 Gavin Harlien 8 Running
7 11 25 Arie Luyendyk Jr. 8 Running
8 9 1 Paul Morris 8 Running
9 5 410 Greg Gartner 8 Running
10 6 7 Robby Gordon 8 Running
11 8 60 Cole Potts 8 Running
12 1 57 Bill Hynes 8 Running

With two third-place runs and a win, Brabham clinched the overall weekend victory. Luyendyk finished runner-up overall with a boost from his second-place showing in Friday’s race. Like Luyendyk, Milburn’s best finish of second placed him on the overall podium as he ended the weekend in third.

Hours after Sunday’s race, Luyendyk tweeted, “Finished in the money… Still no need to sell fit tea on Insta!”

Next on the SST schedule is the Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 13–15. Brabham and Gordon are the defending winners.

Featured image credit: @SSuperTrucks

Podium image credits: @SSuperTrucks (Race #1, Race #3, overall podium), Stadium Super Trucks Facebook (Race #2)

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