Stadium SUPER Trucks

McFarland heartbreak leads to Robby Gordon victory in SST Long Beach Race 2

3 Mins read
Credit: Grand Prix of Long Beach

Cleetus McFarland was only meters away from winning the Stadium Super Trucks‘ Race #2 in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, but an awkward landing off the final jump instead shot him into the wall and ruined that dream. As McFarland spun, Robby Gordon snuck by to win for the fifth time at the street circuit and secure a Gordon family weekend sweep.

Saturday’s race results were inverted to determine Sunday’s starting grid, which placed Ryan Arciero—who retired on Saturday with a brake issue—on the pole while Gordon and his son/Race #1 winner Max were at the back. Arciero led the opening lap with Davey Hamilton Jr. and McFarland following, but the leader’s unlucky weekend culminated in a lap two spin in turn eight.

Arciero’s misfortune was Hamilton’s gift as he inherited the top spot. Behind him, Jerett Brooks and Gavin Harlien drafted their way up to McFarland’s bumper and fought with him for second. By the competition caution on lap four, Harlien was able to get by McFarland who in turn staved off Brooks’ challenge.

The top three took off on the restart and filed side-by-side, upon which McFarland capitalised to claim the lead as they reached the first corner. Hamilton and Harlien gave chase as Matt Brabham lurked behind them before joining the skirmish on lap six. While going past the fountain, Brabham tapped Harlien from behind and caused him to skid into the flowerbed (where Simon Pagenaud had beached himself in the NTT IndyCar Series race earlier in the day) before bouncing into the wall.

McFarland continued to lead as the race exited the second competition yellow to start lap nine. Midway through the lap, Zoey Edenholm spun in turn five while Hamilton ran wide as he raced Max Gordon, forcing him to miss a jump but leading to contact with Brooks that collected Robert Stout.

Robby Gordon caught McFarland as the penultimate lap commenced. Gordon cleared him in turn five and Brabham began fighting with McFarland for second, but he held his ground. Shortly after taking the white flag, McFarland received a lift from Brabham’s draft to reclaim the lead in turn one. Gordon and Brabham spent much of the lap searching for an opening to pass McFarland, to no avail.

McFarland held the inside line as he navigated the final hairpin which forced Gordon to the outside; Brabham tried a move on McFarland’s right that forced him to brake, causing Harlien to rear-end him before spinning. The top three dashed for the finish across the two ramps with McFarland holding the advantage. However, after completing the second jump, his truck had a poor trajectory that caused it to rotate towards the left; McFarland tried to correct this mid-air by turning his steering wheel to the right as he landed, but this resulted in him spinning into the wall.

“I actually warn all new drivers about this,” said Bill Hynes in a conversation with TCF. “The steering wheel isn’t like a boat rudder or flaps on a plane. You aren’t going to turn the truck in the air, even if your truck is sideways. You always want the wheels straight.”

Gordon and Brabham quickly avoided the sideways McFarland and Gordon won the drag race to the line. Max Gordon joined his father on the podium.

After his truck came to a stop in the middle of the racing surface just a short distance away, McFarland got out and, taking a page out of Talladega Nights, ran on foot across the finish and did a dive. Much like Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard in that movie, McFarland will probably not be classified as an official finisher as he did not take the checkered flag in his vehicle. Hynes and Shaun Richardson also retired from the race: Hynes brushed the wall after sliding on dirt strewn from Harlien’s trip through the flowerbed, causing the bumper to become lodged in a tyre and the jam could not be resolved on pit road; Richardson had an erratic landing of his own on the second jump before beginning lap seven and slammed into the wall.

“Unreal. Thanks for watching. So thankful to battle these drivers. An insane finish,” McFarland posted on Instagram.

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriver
1127Robby Gordon
21083Matt Brabham
31177Max Gordon
4928Robert Stout
5132Ryan Arciero
6755Gavin Harlien
7221Zoey Edenholm
831776Cleetus McFarland
9514Davey Hamilton Jr.
10827Jerett Brooks
11657Bill Hynes
12412Shaun Richardson
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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