For the first time in series history, the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks visited historic Road America in conjunction with the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In two races, Robby Gordon and Matt Brabham went home with new hardware in their collections.
SST ran a modified version of the track that bypassed turns six through twelve, while jumps were placed in turns one, three, five, and the main straightaway near pit road. A man-made barrier chicane was installed in turn three. If a driver were to hit any of the barriers, they would receive a five-position penalty rather than the traditional stop-and-go. For a special twist, the eight-lap races consisted of primarily using the shorter layout before using the full four-mile course for the final lap.
Jump just past gravel in T1; using chicane inside T3, then jump after 3, in T5 cutoff and on main straight about pit-in.
The weekend saw the return of two Lake Elsinore drivers as NASCAR driver Casey Mears and Trans-Am veteran Adam Andretti raced in the #25 and #1 trucks, filling in for Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Paul Morris, respectively. Furthermore, longtime NASCAR figure Greg Biffle made his SST debut in the #57 UFD Racing truck, subbing for Bill Hynes. British-Australian racer Tommy Dawson was also running his first SST race, driving the #88.
Friday saw practice/qualifying in addition to Race #1 prior to final Xfinity Series practice. Blade Hildebrand led with a time of 1:50.819, followed by Jeff Hoffman (1:50.819), Gavin Harlien (1:51.075), Brabham (1:51.604), Cole Potts (1:51.604), Mears (1:52.032), Gordon (1:52.660), Biffle (1:53.177), Aaron Bambach (1:53.906), Matt Nolan (1:53.944), and Dawson (1:58.189). Andretti did not finish the session.
With the field inversion, Dawson started on the pole for Friday’s race, followed by Nolan, Bambach, Biffle, Gordon, Mears, Potts, Brabham, Harlien, Hoffman, Hildebrand, and Andretti.
On a wet track, Dawson led the race early, while Potts went off in turn one and Andretti spun. Brabham and Bambach eventually pulled ahead. A lap later, Biffle flew to the lead on the straightaway, but Brabham caught up to him as the two began fighting for first. Brabham cleared the NASCAR veteran to take the lead.
Moments later, Hoffman flipped in turn three, losing his left-rear wheel in the process. Hoffman was unharmed in the wreck, but was eliminated from race contention after running in the top five.
On the restart, Brabham continued to lead Biffle until Gordon, Hildebrand, Harlien, and Bambach overtook the #57. Gordon eventually initiated a battle with Brabham and passed him.
As the white flag waved, the top four began to separate itself from he rest of the field. While the leaders entered the full course, Andretti went off track. Gordon and Brabham traded the lead as Harlien and Hildebrand waited to make their moves. In the final turn, Hildebrand drove off the asphalt, forcing him to skip the final jump to avoid a wreck, as Gordon held off Brabham for the victory.
Harlien took third, followed by Hildebrand, Bambach, Mears, Biffle, Potts, Nolan, Dawson, Andretti, and Hoffman.
A Qualifying Shootout took place before Saturday’s race. Like on Friday, Hildebrand was the fastest as he recorded a time of 1:36.886, leading Brabham (1:37.150), Gordon (1:37.735), Harlien (1:37.921), Hoffman (1:38.222), Bambach (1:38.650), Nolan (1:39.956), Biffle (1:39.960), Mears (1:40.025), Andretti (1:40.588), Potts (1:41.601), and Dawson (1:42.681).
Andretti and Dawson started on the front row, the former maintaining the lead throughout the opening lap; although Andretti went wide and Nolan flew ahead at the chicane, Nolan skipped the portion to avoid hitting the barriers. He relinquished the position back to Andretti as the second lap began.
Hoffman took the lead on lap two. As they approached the chicane, multiple drivers missed it in an attempt to dodge the barriers. While Hoffman led, Andretti began to fall on the straightaway as Nolan, Biffle, and Harlien drove past him with the help of the draft. Biffle eventually moved up to second.
At the competition caution, following a quick field reorganization, Harlien led Biffle, Hoffman, Andretti, Brabham, Dawson, Hildebrand, Potts, Gordon, Bambach, Mears, and Nolan; Nolan’s last-place restart had been the result of the aforementioned chicane dodge.
On the ensuing restart, Biffle jumped on Harlien as the two battled for the lead. As they neared the chicane, Harlien collided with the wall, causing him to surrender first to Biffle and drop multiple positions as Hoffman moved up to second and Brabham to third.
The chicane continued to provide a major action zone a lap later, when Hoffman overtook Biffle as they came closer to it. In turn one of lap seven, Brabham passed Biffle to claim second.
On the final lap, Brabham chased down Hoffman and passed him before they entered the full course. Biffle also overtook Hoffman, but Brabham’s distance proved to be too far for him to narrow. Behind them, Hildebrand, Hoffman, and Harlien battled for third, with Hildebrand holding off the two for the final spot on the podium.
Hoffman took fourth, followed by Harlien, Gordon, Bambach, Potts, Andretti, Nolan, Dawson, and Mears.
Biffle tweeted, “What a blast running the @SSuperTrucks..today was first time back behind the wheel finished 2nd catching the leader on the last lap!! #fun”
“Had some fun this weekend in @SSuperTrucks at @roadamerica[.] Bummer to get collected is a wreck early in the race today. Buckled the hood and couldn’t see,” Mears tweeted. “If you haven’t been to one of these races get to one fast. Crowd reaction was unreal!”