Stadium SUPER Trucks

Gavin Harlien wins dash to finish in SST Nashville Race 2

3 Mins read
Credit: Music City Grand Prix

Gavin Harlien lost the Stadium Super TrucksMusic City Grand Prix Race #1 win to Matt Brabham on the final lap, but he was not going to suffer the same fate two days in a row. Despite a wreck while battling Cleetus McFarland for the lead that sent the latter into a flip, Harlien squared off with Brabham and Ben Maier in the closing laps of Sunday’s Race #2 to win at Nashville for the first time.

The final restart with three laps remaining saw a mad scramble for the win as Brabham led Maier and Harlien. Maier made his move in turn nine to lead the next lap, only for Brabham to capitalise on an error outside turn eight to retake the position. Harlien caught Brabham and the two ran neck-and-neck to the white flag, and the chicane allowed the former to briefly clear him.

Brabham retaliated on the backstretch run down the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge to once again place himself next to Harlien for the remainder of the lap. Although Brabham found the inside line in the final corner, Harlien carried enough momentum to the finish line to win by .0811 of a second.

“Usually, you only have to [come from the back to the front] once, especially if you qualify well,” Harlien said in his podium interview. “Yesterday, I was lucky enough to start up front and kind of sit there the whole time, but today, I had my work cut out for me for sure. I had to go front, back, front again but couldn’t be happier with how it went.”

Harlien started eighth and was able to move up to second behind pole sitter McFarland by the competition caution on lap three. The two duelled as the race resumed with Ryan Beat in tow, only for McFarland and Harlien to collide with each other exiting turn eight; the contact, along with transmission fluid spilled onto the track by Robert Stout‘s truck, caused Harlien to get loose before bouncing back into McFarland, who was turned sideways before Beat—with nowhere to go—pushed him onto his passenger’s side door. McFarland’s truck was rolled back on its wheels after the driver’s relatively tall height enabled him to exit the vehicle without assistance, though it meant he suffered a retirement in both Nashville races.

“I didn’t mean to flip Cleetus,” Harlien added. “That was totally not intentional.”

McFarland vouched for Harlien, explaining in a YouTube comment on his livestream that “What you guys may not see is all the gear oil that was down in that corner. That’s why he was sliding so bad. That’s my homie Gavin he definitely didn’t mean to. One day I’ll finish one of these races.”

Despite falling short of a sweep, Brabham still claimed the overall victory on total points accumulated throughout the weekend. He was pulling double duty in Nashville, finishing fourth in the Indy Lights event hours prior to SST Race #2.

“It doesn’t happen like that very often, but Gavin and I just put on a show,” commented Brabham. “We were racing hard. Obviously, he’s going for the championship and I didn’t want to wreck because I was trying to get the overall win for the weekend which I managed to get.”

The thirteen-year-old Maier scored his maiden SST podium. His fifth in the first race and third in the second were enough to place him third on the weekend behind Brabham and Harlien.

“I was in first at one point and I saw them behind me,” Maier recounted. “It got me a little nervous because I knew how they were. I was trying to keep it there, but I think I made a mistake[…], they got around me, I ended up getting third.”

Besides McFarland, the race was exceptionally rough for the ten-driver field as many were knocked out for mechanical issues. Fastest Qualifier Stout, who was flipped by Max Gordon at the end of Race #1, retired early with his transmission and leakage problem while Gordon ran over the fluid before hitting the turn eight wall and exiting himself, though he later rejoined after making repairs. Beat’s left-rear axle fell off his truck while fighting for the lead with four laps remaining.

“Damn, so close, almost had it,” . “We were rolling. […] I thought we had that thing won. We were rolling. I don’t think anybody had anything for us. Four laps to go, left-rear axle spit out of the truck and didn’t end up finishing the race unfortunately.

“But man, so fun. Such a good time. Even though the end result wasn’t great, we put on a great show. We came from seventh, back of the pack, to leading and almost had it won.”

Race results

1855Gavin Harlien
21083Matt Brabham
3667Ben Maier
43F26Stanton Barrett
5421Zoey Edenholm
6257Bill Hynes
7977Max Gordon
8751Ryan Beat
911776Cleetus McFarland
10528Robert Stout
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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