Only four rounds into the 20-race 2018 Stadium Super Trucks season, it already seems like it’s Matt Brabham’s championship to lose.
While the grandson of Formula 1 champion Sir Jack Brabham only scored his first win of the season in the finale from Adelaide last month, he’s also got podiums in all four rounds so far—especially impressive as no other driver has taken more than two. That run has allowed him to extend the gap to 34 points over longtime SST driver Gavin Harlien entering this weekend’s event, part of the IndyCar Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
SST made its debut in Long Beach in 2014 with a single round, won by series founder Robby Gordon over E.J. Viso and Sheldon Creed, and expanded to a doubleheader in 2016. The event uses the full IndyCar course, with the addition of a number of metal ramps in strategic locations. Viso won the 2015 event, while Creed swept the first doubleheader the next year. While some Long Beach races have gone as long as 12 laps, last year’s rounds were nine laps apiece.
The 2018 SST season started on an interesting note in Lake Elsinore in January, as a Joker Lap scoring error initially robbed series veteran Bill Hynes of his first career victory. When the issue was remedied, Hynes and Apdaly Lopez were declared co-winners, with Brabham and Jeff Hoffman also deemed co-second place finishers and Harlien scored in third.
The first Adelaide race saw SST newcomer Cole Potts score his first career victory, holding off “The Bachelor” star and Indianapolis 500 veteran Arie Luyendyk Jr. for the win as Brabham placed third. Gordon and Harlien were first and second in the next Adelaide race, with Brabham third once again; he would break through in the third race with a victory over Travis Milburn and Toby Price.
With the series now back from Australia, expect to see a field mostly led by series regulars like Brabham and Gordon, who split the two Long Beach rounds last year. Defending champion Paul “The Dude” Morris, who finished second and fourth at this event in 2017, remains in search of both his first win and podium of the season; rookie Blade Hildebrand is in the same boat, having taken a best finish of fifth in Adelaide.
All nine drivers to be scored in every event so far this year are on the Long Beach driver roster, as Hynes, Harlien, Hoffman, Luyendyk, and Potts are all on the 14-truck entry list. Joining them will be four drivers making their season debuts: Aaron Bambach, Erik Davis, Troy Diede, and Davey Hamilton Jr., who ran this race last year. Lopez will also return to the grid this weekend after missing the Australian rounds.
Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2018 Stadium Super Trucks season will stream live from the series’ Facebook page on Saturday at 5:05PM PT and Sunday at 4:05PM PT.