There are very few tracks in the country with a more rich, and deep, history than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It is a place that is recognized by every fan, every driver, and every crew as the holy grail of racing. It has seen many changes in it's over 100-year existence, from the cars to the surface, to traditions that happen after the race, but it is still a very historic piece of real estate.
This year, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway can now add something more to their resume: off-road racing.
For the first time ever, the track would not see cars going extremely fast in the corners, but instead would see trucks going over ramps and kicking up some dirt.
The Speed Energy Stadium Off Road Series would make the historic trip to Indianapolis, as a 10-truck field would go after victory on a short course set up in turn 4 of the track. The course included metal ramps and would see pavement, dirt, grass and even a little gravel. The extremely tight course originally had a setup in the gravel that was on the inside of the track, but that was opted to not be used.
Even before the race began, the 10-truck field lost one driver. New driver Charles Dorrance was practicing in his No. 3 RD Motorsports truck, when it had a bad accident on a jump. The truck was mangled both front and rear, yet Dorrance was alright. Unfortunately, he would not make the field for the race due to the damage.
The remaining 9-truck field went after it right at the drop of the green flag, and immediately the truck getting the best launch was Keegan Kincaid, who last year substituted for both Rob MacCachren and Mike Jenkins in the Traxxas truck. This weekend would be his debut in the season, and he was not wasting any time. Quickest drivers in practice, Robby Gordon and Apdaly Lopez, were in the back to start the race but were making their way up. The biggest move early in the short 12-lap race was Sheldon Creed, who moved from mid-pack to challenge his teammate Kincaid in the early going.
Kincaid was able to pull out a strong lead, but it was halted at the mid-race caution, meaning that everyone was bunched up for the restart, and he would have to maintain a tough charge to keep the lead.
Unfortunately, that did not last.
With three laps to go, he had the lead in hand but coming into the final corner he slid out, spinning out and bunching up the pack. Arie Luyendyk Jr. would take the lead on the mistake, with Gordon taking second and Creed moving up to third. But Gordon was not happy sitting in second, and began putting the pressure on in his special edition Speed Energy/Menards machine. His charge into the corner got Luyendyk to be aware he was coming, and on the white flag he pulled alongside entering the first corner, following the jump. Gordon couldn't make it stick on the outside but stayed close on the apron of turn 4 and over the second jump to the infield.
He kept the pressure on and entering the final corner, he went for it. Gordon laid the bumper to Luyendyk, getting him in the corner, and passing to the inside. Luyendyk was left to see the bright yellow truck go by, as Gordon would come to the final jump to take the win, his third of the year. Jerett Brooks worked his way up to finish second while Lopez would finish in third.
The trucks would then head to the pits to get ready for another round of racing, and it was going to be a quick turnaround, as the next race would happen on the same track in about 90 minutes.
*UPDATE* RACE TWO
When the crews of each truck went in for repairs after the first race, it did appear that every truck would make it back for the next round of competition, but the nine-truck field would be down to eight. Robbie Pierce would not make it back after the first race, but it still would be a strong second round of action. Plus, determining a winner would also be a bit different than any race the Stadium Off-Road series has run before.
With two races happening in one day, the series would take a note from motocross and combine the finishes from both races to determine an overall winner.
Scotty Steele and Arie Luyendyk would start on the front row, as the finishing order from the previous race would be inverted to start the second round. At the drop of the green, even with the inside line, Steele couldn't hold off Luyendyk entering the first corner, but the guys on the move were Creed and Kincaid. At the same time, one guy that was making a surprise surge to the front was the Visit Mexico SST of Apdaly Lopez.
Early in the race he was moving up, took advantage of some tight racing in a corner, and got the lead ahead of Steele. Quickly, he began pulling away from the field by over a second, until the mid-race caution waved after 10 laps. Behind him were the Traxxas trucks of Creed and Kincaid, and he was well aware that both were hungry for victory, especially since Creed had the last race at Long Beach wrapped up until his spin on the final lap.
On the green the two teammates tried to go for the lead, but wound up battling one another in a fierce battle for position. Entering the final corner after the restart, Creed got into the protective tires on the end of the barrier, giving way to the field to get around him. Among those that passed him were Kincaid, Jerett Brooks and Gordon. But at the same time, it gave an opening for Lopez to extend his lead.
Creed would come back and battle for position in the only way he knows how, hard on the pedal and no-mercy driving every possible moment, but by that time Lopez already was checking out. After finishing third in the opening race, he would cruise to his first victory in the series since he entered a year ago.
With Lopez finishing first, and Gordon ending up in 4th, Lopez would have the honor of being the overall winner, and has the honor of kissing the bricks at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
There is little time to rest for the Stadium Off-Road series as they will next head to the Motor City in just one week. It is a debut weekend for the series as it will compete at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, hitting the asphalt for two intense races on May 30 and June 1.
Tickets are available for both days, and the driver line-up will be announced this week for both races. Visit StadiumSuperTrucks.com for all the latest information, and follow them on Facebook for up-to-date photos and happenings in the series.