LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 13, 2018) – Gavin Harlien of Mesa, Arizona managed to avoid the carnage in the first half of the race to work his way past competitor after competitor and hold off a late charge by Robby Gordon to earn his first SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks victory.
Pole sitter Arie Luyendyk Jr. who would encounter mechanical issues during qualifying would start from the first position, and immediately jump out to a sizable lead in front of third starting Bill Hynes of Nazareth, Pennsylvania driving the United Fiber and Data entry.
As Luyendyk would pull away, the man on the move was United Fiber & Data teammate Gavin Harlien who would move past truck after truck from his eleventh starting position to move into contention with the lead pack. Harlien whom has shown strong signs of competing for a win at Long Beach in the past was on top of his game today quickly moving into the second position by Lap-4.
Friday’s fast qualifier Robby Gordon of Orange, California driving the Toyo Tires/ KMC Wheels truck wasted no time finding his way to the front following the Toyo tire tracks of Harlien advancing though the field quickly from the fourteenth starting spot.
As Lap-6 approached Luyendyk would start to see the handling of his truck start to go away, and Harlien was right there to capitalize taking over the lead. Gordon would follow Harlien past Luyendyk into the second position.
However, the red flag would fly over the track at the start of Lap-8, as Tecate, B.C., Mexico driver Apdaly Lopez would catapult the SPEED Energy/ RPM Off-Road entry off the side of the Toyo Tires front stretch ramp barrel rolling down the front straight away. The young desert Trophy Truck champion would climb out of the truck un-injured with a wave to the crowd. The race however was deemed official, as the clean up crew would need extensive time to clean up the racetrack.
Harlien would go on to capture his first Stadium SUPER Trucks victory, while Gordon would be credited with the second position and Luyendyk would round out the top three.
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia driver Matt Brabham sporting new DeVilbiss/Headstrong/Bullet Liner livery this weekend would hang back in the pack waiting for things to sort out avoiding all of the carnage the first half of the race. After the competition caution Brabham would continue to pick off truck after truck through the field to ultimately finish in the fourth position after contesting Luyendyk Jr. multiple times for the third spot.
Davey Hamilton Jr. of Indianapolis, Indiana in his return to racing after a scary sprint car accident last November put him out of the drivers seat for nearly five months. Keeping pass running in the top three the first four laps the younger Hamilton showed signs of feeling right back at home in the seat of his VP Racing Fuels and Lubricants/ Always Evolving Truck. Not loosing any ground to the lead pack Hamilton would go on to score his best career Stadium SUPER Trucks finish with a fifth place effort.
Blade Hildebrand of Yucca Valley, California making his first start at the Grand Prix of Long Beach would keep his truck in one piece learning more and more each lap from his tenth starting position. The Empire Destructive driver would record a respectable finish earning the sixth spot.
Also making his first ever start at the Grand Prix of Long Beach Scottsdale, Arizona driver Cole Potts driving the HallmarkTrust.com truck would follow SST rookie Hidebrand to earn a seventh place finish.
Making his return to Stadium SUPER Truck competition after a year hiatus Erik Davis of Burbank, Calif. driving the Always Evolving/ Assault Industries No. 75 would bounce around the front of the field from his second starting position before falling back into the mix of things. Davis would be placed in the eighth position at the conclusion.
Lodi, California driver Troy Diede making his return to Stadium SUPER Trucks racing in the Diede Construction entry would run a smart cautious race holding his ground. Diede would be scored with ninth position.
2017 Stadium SUPER Trucks World Champion Paul Morris of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia would be stuck in the middle of chaos from his eight starting position. Beating and banging into each other trying to break free into open track Morris would spin around the LIVE/Think Loud Development entry on Lap-6, and be stuck against the tire barrier loosing multiple positions on track. When the checkered flag waved Morris was sitting in the tenth spot.
United Fiber and Data/ LIVE driver Bill Hynes of Nazareth, Penn., would run an amazing first three lap’s keeping pace with the leader Luyendyk Jr. at the front of the pack. However, in Stadium SUPER Truck racing nothing is ever certain lap after lap. Attempting to make a daring pass after the mandatory competition caution Hynes would not brake early enough, and need to use the escape road to slow down for the corner. One little mistake would take “The Thrill” out of a great finish with being credited with eleventh.
Phoenix, Arizona driver Jeff Hoffman driving the LIVE/ Think Loud Development truck struggle to gain positions after being collected in a Lap-2 scramble with Aaron Bambach where the two drivers would become stopped on track facing each other. That wasn’t the only trouble for Hoffman would encounter, as he would have nowhere to go after teammate Paul Morris would block the entire track on Lap-6. Hoffman would be scored with the twelfth position.
After his wild ride down the front straight away on Lap-7, Apdaly Lopez would go on to be credited with the thirteenth position after his beaten and broken the race would need to get towed back to the SST paddock with extensive left front suspension damage.
Rochester Hills, Michigan driver Aaron Bambach making his first SST start of 2018 would lose the handle on his Strategic Staffing Solutions truck on Lap-2 after making heavy contact with Jeff Hoffman. Bambach would pull his truck into the pit lane to see if SST technicians could diagnose a problem. Bambach would be credited with the fourteenth position.
The second and final round of the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks at the 2018 Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place Sunday at 4:05 PM PT just after the completion of the IndyCar Series event.