June, 14 2017 (Mesa, Arizona) – They say everything is bigger in Texas and that was true for the Stadium Super Trucks Racing Series this last weekend as they made their debut at the world famous Texas Motor Speedway. The track hosted an eventful schedule which included the Verizon IndyCar Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series both of which ended with a yellow flag finish. On the other hand, the Speed Energy Stadium Super Truck Series offered fans the racing excitement they needed and it all ended in a spectacular victory lane celebration for Gavin Harlien who claimed a nice & juicy “Texas-Sized” Overall Weekend Championship Title, his second consecutive overall title after last weekend in Detroit.
To repeat and earn another overall victory in Texas just one week after the Detroit Grand Prix is something right out of a Hollywood movie and has the young emerging racing phenomenon riding high in the driver’s seat. Gavin Harlien and the Royal Purple Synthetic Lubricants #55 SST Truck have been on an absolute hot streak coming into the Texas race weekend with 6 straight podiums finishes and is hungry for more success.
The weekend started a little slow, but after a long rain delay on Friday the trucks were finally able to get on track. Gavin laid down the third fastest qualifying time despite having fuel issues limiting the power of his truck. “I had a mechanical gremlin in my truck during qualifying and every time I turned, it was gasping for fuel.” explained Harlien. The SST Trucks are equipped with front and rear sway bars, but there is still tremendous body roll which might have worsened the fuel pickup issue. The expert mechanics Robby Gordon and the Stadium Super Truck Series employ know the spec vehicles very well and had zero delay in correcting the problem.
Saturday would feature a double header for the Stadium Super Trucks. This format has been done before but it would be the first time this season. Knowing this, each racer had to consider the implications of going all out wild for a race win in the first event might wear down the vehicle’s performance if not eliminate them from competing in the second event all together. SST Race #1 was run just prior to the IndyCar Series’ Rainguard Water Sealers 600 and SST Race #2 was run just after that same event.
Gavin was very optimistic about the potential outcome based on the tight and abbreviated track that had been planned out for Race #1. Starting deep in the field due to the SST Series top qualifiers starting grid inversion, Harlien rolled off in the P8 position.
At the Green Flag, Gavin played it smart while the main group of mid pack trucks let the carnage and controlled chaos get the best of them. When the opportunity permitted, Harlien was quickly able to maneuver through the traffic and made his way into the third position. He would hold this spot through the finish right behind Robby Gordon and Matt Brabham. “That was the toughest and tightest tracks we have run on this season,” Harlien mentioned after the race.
The second and final race of the night would be much different with much more action and obstacles. The IndyCar race was completed and this allowed for the longer track configuration to be laid out by the SST team. IndyCar Race Officials did not allow the SST Race #1 to run the whole circuit to avoid any debris to be transplanted onto the oval track that could have cause problems for the 220 mph IndyCars.”
Harlien, a recent graduate of High School, before the main event race had calculated the potential race outcomes and what it would take to come out as the top finisher for the weekend. As long as he finished right behind Matt Brabham and within two spots of Robby Gordon, Gavin would take his second consecutive overall weekend championship.
The green flag would drop and Gavin and his good friend Stadium Super Trucks 2X Champion; Sheldon Creed made the quick decision to take the joker lap right at the start of Lap #1. The joker lap is designed to add an extra element of strategy to the races. Being a short cut, the joker lap, if run correctly could make a race or break a race for those who do not play their cards right. In the case of Creed and Harlien, the decision to take it immediately put them both in the first and second spots on Lap #1. Several other drivers followed suit but the two front runners quickly pulled away from the field and put on a show of their own for the thousands of first time SST fans at Texas Motor Speedway.
The race would see two scheduled Competition Cautions during the 15 lap event. A caution at Lap #5, and then again on Lap #10 would allow the field to gather back up and restart. This is designed to provide more “close-quarters” door-to-door racing action which the fans and drivers love. Each time they restarted the race Creed and Harlien would take down the first lap using the Joker choice to their advantage. Each time the two would pull away from the rest of the field and eliminating any possible chance of being caught. The race would end with Creed taking the win, Harlien 2nd and Matt Brabham in 3rd. Harlien would again take the Overall Win for his second consecutive weekend Championship based on the combination of position and qualifying points.
“This is so surreal.” gasped Harlien after climbing out of his truck on the speedway’s victory lane. “Having all my family and friends from Texas here to celebrate makes it that much sweeter.” This win and two more podium finishes give Harlien a total of eight straight podiums and two back to back Championships. As one of the dominate drivers in the Stadium Super Truck Series, and in his first fully committed season, Harlien is thrilled with the current success, yet he is longing for the coveted “top of the box“ race win.
Gavin Harlien is extremely grateful to Royal Purple for their continued support and will be running the vibrant Purple and Yellow livery for the remainder of the season.
Next, Harlien Racing and the Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks head back to “Down Under” where they will compete alongside Virgin Australian V8 SuperCars at Hidden Valley Motorsports Complexin Darwin, Australia on June 16th-18th. The Stadium Super Trucks Series has been a huge hit around Australia and to bring them to Darwin’s biggest party is going to be a real highlight there as the race track is celebrating 20 years of Supercars racing at Darwin’s iconic Hidden Valley track. Gavin hopes to win the overall title once again trying to make it three for three.