Matt Brabham finally broke through for his first win of the 2021 Stadium Super Trucks season, but public attention focused on Bill Hynes and Bo LeMastus. As Brabham celebrated winning Race #1 of the Honda Indy 200 weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Hynes and LeMastus traded hits and even threw a helmet and steering wheel in response to LeMastus’ driving.
LeMastus started on the pole ahead of Jett Noland, while Hynes was third. Brabham, as the Fastest Qualifier, was at the rear.
As Brabham and Robby Gordon teamed up in the draft, LeMastus led Jett Noland through the opening corners before Jerett Brooks took the lead in turn four. LeMastus slipped down to fourth after Aaron Bambach and Robert Stout passed him prior to the first lap’s conclusion. Noland, Gordon, and Brabham also made overtakes on lap two.
By lap three, Gordon and Brabham joined Stout and Noland in the fight for third. As the next lap began, the Gordon/Brabham tandem applied pressure on Stout; Gordon tried a pass in the Keyhole but ran wide before clearing Stout after the jump. Brabham made his own move as Noland slid into the gravel. At the competition caution, Brooks led Bambach, Gordon, and Brabham.
Coming to the restart, LeMastus lined up aside Brabham before filing in front of Max Gordon. Bambach subsequently took the lead from Brooks with Robby Gordon in tow, but Brooks received drafting help from Gordon to regain the position on lap six. Brabham and Stout passed Bambach as the next lap started.
Gordon, Brooks, and Brabham battled for first with Gordon winning out. The final competition yellow came out with four laps remaining. The race resumed with Gordon continuing to lead Brooks and Brabham.
On the penultimate lap, Brabham took second from Brooks in the Keyhole, followed by becoming the new leader in turn four. Gordon was passed by Brooks after contact between the two, which Bambach capitalised on to claim third. Bambach and Brooks sparred for the runner-up spot, which enabled Brabham to pull away and win his first race of the year, second at Mid-Ohio, and twenty-second of his career.
“So far it’s been a perfect weekend in the @carlislecompaniesinc (Carlisle Companies) Super Truck! Got the pole yesterday, started from the back today for race one and came through the field for the win! It was pretty wild race out there today… I’m sure it’s going to be just as wild again tomorrow,” posted Brabham on Instagram.
Brooks finished second to score his sixth career podium in his first SST race on a permanent road course. Bambach kept Stout and Gordon at bay in the final corners to take third and his fourth podium; it is also Bambach’s first podium outside of Detroit.
“Honestly, I haven’t had that much fun in a long time,” Brooks said in an Instagram Story. “It was almost like on the go-kart track with your buddies. You don’t have a spotter, you’re just out there doing your own thing. Got to the lead early, second or first. Third turn, I was in the lead. Had a really good run.
“Three full-course cautions. Everyone said, ‘Save your equipment.’ I don’t know what saving equipment is, I race short course (off-road). It was sick, man. We battled hard with Robby and it was just so much fun.”
Meanwhile, Hynes turned LeMastus’ truck and confronted him about his conduct, particularly how he raced Max Gordon. Speaking with The Checkered Flag, Hynes explained LeMastus nearly pushed Gordon off a ramp and repeatedly impeded his passing attempts, the latter of which included tactics such as skipping jumps and cutting through the grass; Gordon signed LeMastus’ truck afterward. LeMastus also jumped both restarts.
An animated exchange of words took place in which LeMastus took off his helmet and appeared to challenge Hynes to do the same, before the matter became physical: LeMastus hit Hynes in the shoulder and under his helmet, which the latter described “was like an uppercut” and prompted him to retaliate. LeMastus then chucked his steering wheel at Hynes like a frisbee. Hynes feinted a throw with the wheel, from which LeMastus backed up, then spiked LeMastus’ helmet to the ground twice. LeMastus exited the track before trying to return with a fire extinguisher, though neither driver proceeded as track officials arrived.
“In Stadium Super Trucks we have a few rules and we race each other clean,” Hynes told TCF. “When a new driver comes into the series and doesn’t follow the rules and races other drivers dangerously, it’s up to the veteran drivers to police what happens on the race track. Bo was putting Max Gordon in some very dangerous situations on the track and that’s just uncalled for. Anytime a driver gets into a race car, it can be their last time in the car and the last thing we need are other drivers putting us in peril.”
LeMastus was competing in his second career SST weekend after débuting at the St. Petersburg season opener in April.
Although such an incident would ordinarily result in discipline in other series, Robby Gordon felt otherwise. Speaking in the paddock following the race, he recalled throwing his helmet at Michael Waltrip‘s car after the two tangled in a 2005 NASCAR Cup Series event.
“I think I got a $50,000 fine or something like that,” he commented. “I think, as a series operator, I might buy that guy dinner for throwing his helmet, or at least do something. 50 grand for throwing a helmet? Come on, it’s entertainment!”
While Gordon was fairly lighthearted about the altercation, the United States Auto Club (USAC) has not ruled out punishing LeMastus for his behaviour throughout the weekend, including potentially parking him for Sunday’s race. In a Facebook post later in the night, LeMastus wrote he got “cold cocked” in the incident with Hynes and added, in a tone that seems to carry sarcasm, that “[t]omorrow’s going to be a real calm race, I am going to start from the back finish in the back and just be real nice and play fair with all the other fellas”.
The second and final race of the weekend will take place on Sunday at 2:30 PM Eastern.
Fastest qualifier (1 bonus point): Matt Brabham
Most laps led (3 bonus points): Jerett Brooks