Robby Gordon bides time, sails by late wreck to win Formula Off-Road race in Long Beach

1 Comment

When Sheldon Creed and E.J. Viso took each other out on the next-to-last lap of Sunday’s SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS race in Long Beach, Calif., Robby Gordon couldn’t have been in a better place.

Running third at the time, Gordon, who founded the series last year, had a front-row seat to the hard racing between Viso and Creed. And when they both wrecked, Gordon sailed by to claim the victory.

“I saw what was going on in front of me and it was cool to see two great young drivers going hard and putting on a great show for the fans,” Gordon said. “That’s what’s great about these trucks: we can beat and bang and keep going which is what the fans want to see.”

A Venezuelan native and IndyCar series veteran, Viso led the most laps and finished second in his first-ever Stadium Super Trucks race.

“It was great to have E.J. a part of the series and we know Sheldon is going to be a great driver and one to keep an eye on for many years,” Gordon said.

Creed, just 16, was challenging Viso for the lead when their two trucks got together. Creed finished third, followed by PJ Jones in fourth and Gavin Harlien, just 14 years old, finished fifth.

Creed appeared headed for a fourth-place finish, but shoved Jones out of the way on the race’s final turn, a 180-degree hairpin, and moved into third.

“Had to do it,” Creed said. “Last lap and I saw an opening and had to take it. That’s what makes these trucks so awesome.”

Jones held no ill will against his opponent as they jousted around the 1.96-mile, 11-turn course.

“Well, I guess he had to take the chance,” Jones said. “We’ll do this again and I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity to make a pass like that on him somewhere down the road.”

Apdaly Lopez of Mexico finished sixth, rookie Bradley Morris was seventh, Scotty Steele finished eighth, rookie Nick Vanis was ninth and Jerett Brooks Brooks finished 10th.

The race will air on NBCSN on May 2 at 10:30 p.m. PST. The first two rounds of the Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS series will be seen this Thursday, April 17, at 10 p.m. PST on NBCSN.

The next race will be May 23 in Indianapolis.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”