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SST: Detroit Race #1 Recap

The SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks returned after another month-long break to race at the Detroit Grand Prix, serving as a support event for the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Entering the weekend, there were two notable changes to the entry list.  Átila Abreu made his SST debut in the #51 Shell/Monster Energy truck; Abreu currently races in Stock Car Brasil for Shell Racing, with seven career wins and a best championship finish of 2nd in 2014.  Monster Energy, making its first appearance as an SST sponsor, partnered with Abreu in 2013.  The current NASCAR Cup Series, AMA Supercross and FIA World Rallycross title sponsor was also a former sponsor of SST founder Robby Gordon in NASCAR.

Abreu tested a truck in February.

“Depending on how you jump, you may fall off,” he stated.  “I did not do it at a great speed and in the race, it will be much faster.  When you look, you even get scared, but once you race for the first time, it’s pretty addictive. Running in Detroit will be very cool.”

A driver who was not included on the roster for Detroit was Gordon.  Missing his first race since Detroit’s Race #1 in 2016, he was competing in the Baja 500 in Ensenada, Mexico over the weekend.  In his place, Davey Hamilton Jr. drove the #7 SPEED Energy truck.

Gavin Harlien was fastest during qualifying, which placed him at the back of the grid.  At the front was Hamilton, Erik Davis and Sheldon Creed.  As the race began, Creed had a strong start to take the lead.

Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Paul Morris, who started 7th and 5th, respectively, also moved up the field quickly.  After just two laps, the two were already in 2nd and 3rd, with Morris passing Luyendyk shortly after.  Meanwhile, Harlien remained one of the fastest trucks in the race, reaching the top-5 before the first competition caution came out with six laps to go.

As the caution came out, Jeff Hoffman knocked over an orange cone, leading to Race Control penalizing him by ordering him to the rear for the restart.  The green flag waved after the one-lap caution period and Creed continued to lead.

A lap later, Abreu was involved in the first wreck of the day.  As he approached the ramp near the start/finish line, he was unable to get all four wheels on the jump.  Instead, only the left-side wheels jumped off, causing his truck to lean into a roll.  The truck coasted a few yards and spun on its side before rolling itself back onto its wheels.  Abreu eventually retired from the race.

The second competition caution was scheduled to take place with three laps to go.  Moments before it came out, Luyendyk attempted to pass his teammate Morris for 2nd, but made contact.  Morris nearly collided with the tire barrier, while Luyendyk was sent into the incoming car of Matt Brabham, who was spun upon hitting him.  After exiting the scene, Luyendyk began to experience trouble with his truck and slammed into a tire barrier, while Brabham was left with damage to his truck’s left nose.

The trucks slowed down for the caution, though Luyendyk passed the field in order to get to pit road to repair his truck.  He would return to the race as the green flag came out, albeit a lap down.

The final green flag came out to signal a two-lap segment.  Creed retained the lead and faced little resistance to win his 30th career SST race and first at Detroit.  Behind him, Harlien was able to catch up and finish 2nd.

In the battle for 3rd, Morris and Brabham repeatedly exchanged the position.  The two made contact three times as they weaved through the turns, though Brabham managed to clear Morris and take the final spot on the podium.

Aaron Bambach finished 5th, followed by Hoffman, Hamilton, Davis, Bill Hynes and Luyendyk.  Abreu, the lone driver to not finish the race, was classified in 11th.

The second race in Detroit is scheduled to take place on Sunday at 2 PM Eastern.

Featured image courtesy of @SSuperTrucks

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