It would come down to one race to not only complete a season, but decide a first-ever champion. Back in April, the Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks made it's debut in Phoenix. Now, as part of the biggest automotive marketplace gathering, the SST Series would conclude their inaugural tour.
The SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, brings out many custom cars and trucks, plus is the largest showcase for new products and customized cars in the country.
This year, the SST's would hold their final event as part of the show, electing to do another all-asphalt course, but this time instead of going to battle on a road course, or on the street, it would be a parking lot that would see the tight turns and metal ramps. The makeshift, 7-turn course would be setup at one of the most famous hotels on the Vegas Strip, Caesar's Palace. With the fountains in the background, and lights shining, it would be time to crown a champion.
A few new names would be included in the final race, as Craig Potts would make his inaugural race, but also would see the SST debut of one of the most famous names in all of off-road racing, as Kyle Leduc would pilot the Monster Energy machine.
In fact, he made an impact in the opening heat, as he would hold on to beat PJ Jones and Arie Luyandyk in the first heat.
The two men battling for the points title would do their first battle in the second heat, as it would be Robby Gordon taking the win over the man entering the weekend with the points lead, Rob MacCachren. Entering Vegas, McCachren would have the most wins on the season with four, having taken victories at Phoenix, San Diego, St. Louis and Crandon.
The 30-lap main event would see Gordon and Leduc start in the second row as the random inversion would see the top four reverse positions, meaning MacCachren would have the advantage at the green.
At the start, things quickly stopped, as Luyandyk would colide with Scotty Steele in the first corner, causing the track to be blocked and the red flag to be posted to clear the wreck. Because the race never completed a lap, the race in essence would again get the fresh start. When it did go green, the biggest issue of the night became keeping away from breakage.
Jones would eventually get the lead early on and pull away from MacCachren, in fact by four truck-lengths. Jerret Brooks would have a strong battle with Gordon for third, which eventually saw Gordon move into the third spot.
At the midway point, things suddenly took a dramatic turn. Mechanical woes would strike a lot of trucks, including the two at the top of the standings. Both Gordon and MacCachren would make needed repairs, while young phenom Sheldon Creed would retire from the race as his woes would be beyond what needed fixed.
On the restart, Gordon would be in fifth, and did not hesitate to regain spots he lost getting repairs done.
He was charging so hard that at one point he took a jump awkwardly and hit the barrier, rolling his bright orange machine. But, seeming to have Vegas luck on his side, the truck would go completely over onto the wheels, and without missing a beat, he would nail the throttle and keep going.
As the race continued, Gordon would make the pass into the second spot as Brooks would encounter his own mechanical issues, eventually dropping back and out of the event.
Gordon would continue to charge as hard as he could, but as time began running out, he knew that there seemed to be no way to catch Jones. After coming so close on occasion, including having a run-in during the third race of the year, Jones would come across the finish line to capture his first, and ultimately only win, of the SST Series for 2013. Gordon would finish second, while Steele would recover from his first-lap incident to finish third.
Meanwhile, MacCachren still battled issues with his truck and would finish sixth. With that finish, the points were set, and in the end the man that created this series would be the one to say he won the first season.
The first-ever winner of the Stadium Super Trucks Series is the driver of the Speed Energy #7 SST, Robby Gordon.
It has been a season of trial, error, change, evolution, and excitement. It saw these trucks compete on full-dirt courses, in big stadiums, hit historic venues that combined the grip of dirt and sand with the stickiness of asphalt, and even see events at road courses and the most famous off-road track in the country.
Through it all, the man that wanted to bring the series back, and brought about the best competition in off-road racing stood tall in the end. Gordon can call himself the creator of the SST Series, and now he can be called a champion of the SST Series.
Look for the 2014 to be released later this month, and be sure to follow the Stadium Super Trucks on Facebook and on Twitter.