Author: Matt Kartozian Photos: Matt Kartozian
Ancient Rome's Coliseum saw many great gladiators fight and die in the ring to the amusement of thousands of spectators. On Friday, November 8th, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas hosted modern day gladiators doing battle in 600 horsepower race trucks in the shadow of a replica of the famed Coliseum to the delight of thousands. The race, SST on the Strip was the final in the inaugural Stadium Super Trucks season. Going into the race Rob MacCachren held the points lead but by a mere 3 points over Robby Gordon. The title, and the $500,000 cash prize for champion would come down to one final race.
Caesars Palace has hosted many iconic motorsports events during the history of "Modern Not Rome". Evel Knievel started it off by jumping the fountains in 1967 and Formula 1 raced there in the 80s. Robby Gordon is now part of that same historical chain with SST.
Gordon relied on contacts with Harrahs, a former sponsor of his in NASCAR, and a lot of trust from his partners to pull off the unprecedented task of having off road truck racing at Caesars. "My friend Tom Jenkins put his neck out on the line for me." Gordon said after the event. "I'm just really happy that we got out of the event with no catastrophes. Yeah we have a bit of damage to some cars and a little to the track area, but we expected that. I could not do this without the great group of guys I have. My guys burn the midnight oil so another huge thanks to them."
Gordon managed to carve out his own small area at Caesars at the front of the property between the Coliseum and the Las Vegas Strip. The limited space made things tough but Gordon created an approximately half mile race course with six turns, a couple of small jumps and one huge jump over a 10 foot wall and hedge. Ten trucks would race, first in heats of 5 before the 30 lap, ten truck main event. Kyle LeDuc, who was racing SST for the first time summed up what the fans would see on the tight technical track. " Robby built 28 of these trucks and we are here to break 10 of them tonight." The event began with qualifying, each driver took three laps with the fastest counting. Keegan Kincaid laid down the fastest time of the night with a 23.436. Gordon was second, one tenth back with Jerrett Brooks in third, a further half second off of Gordon.
After qualifying two heats of five trucks took the track. Kyle LeDuc took the win in a carnage filled first heat. Gordon won heat two. Gordon, LeDuc and eight other drivers would battle in a 30 lap main event. The race was red flagged on lap one after Arie Luyendyk Jr. charged into Scotty Steele's truck and the two became locked together. The race was restarted and PJ Jones jumped to the early lead followed by Rob MacCachren and Brooks. Jones stretched his lead on the field and MacCachren suffered a mechanical failure on lap 15, ending his championship run. A hard charging Gordon had moved up into second place. At the very first SST race in Phoenix Jones was leading the closing laps with Gordon close behind. In Phoenix Jones flipped and Gordon took the win. At the season finale in Las Vegas Jones was all business and kept it rubber side down to take his first win in SST.
"Vegas is awesome, thanks to American Racing and Airaid for the support and of course Robby Gordon for having the vision to make SST happen." Jones said after taking the win. "I didn't think we were going to win it, my motor was missing so bad I didn't think I was going to make it to the end. It was tight out there, I came up on lap traffic and knew I had Rob MacCachren behind me with nowhere to go, so I made my truck as wide as possible. Credit to Rob and the other guys behind me because they all raced me clean." Gordon's second place finish was enough to clinch the championship by just seven points. Gordon, MacCachren, Jones now head to Mexico to prerun for the upcoming SCORE Baja 1000.
Stadium SUPER Trucks Final (30 Laps): 1. P.J. Jones; 2. Robby Gordon; 3. Scotty Steele; 4. Jerrett Brooks; 5. Arie Luyendyk Jr.; 6. Rob MacCachren; 7. Sheldon Creed; 8. Craig Potts; 9. Keegan Kincaid; 10. Kyle LeDuc.
Stadium SUPER Trucks Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1. Kyle LeDuc; 2. P.J. Jones; 3. Arie Luyendyk Jr. 4. Jerrett Brooks; 5. Keegan Kincaid. Stadium SUPER Trucks Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1. Robby Gordon; 2. Rob MacCachren; 3. Sheldon Creed; 4. Scotty Steele; 5. Craig Potts. Stadium SUPER Trucks Qualifying (Best of 2 Laps): 1. Keegan Kincaid 23.436; 2. Robby Gordon 23.558; 3. Jerrett Brooks 24.043; 4. Rob MacCachren 24.178 5. Kyle LeDuc 24.211; 6. Sheldon Creed 24.396; 7. P.J. Jones 24.858; 8. Scotty Steele 25.330; 9. Arie Luyendyk Jr. 25.590; 10. Criag Potts 28.160.