Robert Stout has been grinding in his first year of Stadium Super Trucks competition, and his work was finally rewarded this weekend at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix with a victory. A day after scoring his first series podium and 100th of his racing career, he held off newcomer Jacob Abel to win his maiden race.
After finishing last in Race #1 on Saturday due to a spin, Ricky Johnson started on the pole ahead of fellow Crosley Brands trucks Abel and Bo LeMastus. Stout, as the third-place finisher in said race, began his day in eleventh with winner Matt Brabham in last.
Johnson led much of the first lap before Abel initiated a side-by-side battle on the trip back across the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge. As Johnson locked his brakes entering the next corner which allowed Abel to clear him, LeMastus tried to catch up to the leaders and potentially pass Johnson on the inside by braking exceptionally late. The move backfired as LeMastus instead drove straight into Johnson’s driver’s side and sent the two into the tyre barrier. A red flag to clean up the track and separate the trucks followed, and LeMastus eventually rejoined the race without his hood.
Following the delay, the race resumed with Abel as the leader while Stout quickly shot through the order into fourth. Stout caught Abel and passed him for the top spot on lap five. Behind them and third-placed Arie Luyendyk Jr., Brabham took fourth from Jett Noland on lap six and the competition caution came out later on the circuit.
Stout continued to lead at the restart. Brabham entered the podium range by passing Luyendyk on the inside in turn twelve, resulting in bumping that nearly pushed Luyendyk into the tyres. Max Gordon also slipped by to take fourth.
Despite Abel’s efforts to catch up and the wounded, lapped truck of LeMastus briefly blocking him, Stout kept Abel at bay for the victory. He is the first driver to win a race in his first season since Shae Davies in his maiden weekend at Adelaide in 2020. Excluding the inaugural season in 2013, other instances of rookies winning races include E.J. Viso (sweep of Detroit 2014), Cole Potts (Adelaide 2018), and Matt Mingay (Gold Coast 2015); Brabham also won three races in his second year of competition but first as a full-time driver in 2016.
“People were spinning, sliding, tyres locked up, I don’t know. I saw the perfect hole—it was like Days of Thunder—and I just blew right through it. Next thing I knew, I was in like fourth,” said Stout on the podium. With his third-place finish in Race #1 and win, he secured the overall weekend victory.
“[…] The Continental tyres held up. I wasn’t sure if they were going to because I was locking them up at just about every single turn but they did a great job. Just happy to be out here. Brabham and Abel, it’s cool to run with these guys.”
Abel settled for second in just his second career race. Besides Davies, the Indy Pro 2000 regular is the first to get on the podium in his début weekend since Christopher Polvoorde finished third in Road America Race #2 in 2019.
“I definitely didn’t expect to do this well at all coming into this. [M]y first time driving a truck was just a few days ago,” Abel commented. “[…] It’s just as fun to drive. It’s so hard to explain. You can rub, you’re doing jumps, it’s unlike anything I have ever done before. Super, super fun and really hoping I can get to do it again.”
Contrary to the two who placed ahead of him, Brabham is more than familiar with the podium as he notched his seventy-second such finish.
“Just wasn’t as lucky getting through the traffic today,” said Brabham. “Robby and I just had a really hard time and then Stout just went straight through like butter.
“We were battling and that race was a bit more crazy. There was people crashing, people barging into each other, trying to push each other wide. My truck’s a little beat up more than usual but we had a good time.”
|6||7||25||Arie Luyendyk Jr.|
|9||4||22||Zach Van Matre|