Gavin Harlien crowned SST champion, fifth different winner

Gavin Harlien returned to the Stadium Super Trucks in 2022 after a two-year hiatus to focus on his studies, and he came back in style as he secured his first championship. He scored three wins to finish the year with 216 points, 25 over second-placed Max Gordon and 33 on Robert Stout.

“I’m stoked to finally claim the SST championship after all these years,” said Harlien. “Max and Robert battled me all year long, but I got the job done and can proudly say I put the VP Racing Fuels truck on top.”

Harlien, a business student at the University of Arizona, resumed his racing career with the 2022 season opener at Long Beach where he finished sixth in both races while trying to re-acclimate himself with the trucks. He quickly found his groove at Mid-Ohio by attaining his second career Fastest Qualifier award (first was at Detroit in 2017) and winning Race #1, though the victory came in controversial circumstances due to a scoring error. Nevertheless, he sealed his spot in the championship fight by notching second in Race #2 for the overall win.

His momentum continued into Nashville when he narrowly lost to Matt Brabham in a Race #1 duel before exchanging the favour in the second. He was involved in a wreck in the latter that caused Cleetus McFarland to flip, triggering a lighthearted feud that carried into the final weekend in September at Bristol, which was organised by McFarland. Harlien scored another victory before finishing fifth in the finale.

Although Stout and Gordon finished 1–2 in Bristol Race #2, Harlien’s consistency throughout the season earned him the title. Gordon also recorded five podiums but one fewer win, while Stout had four podiums and the Bristol victory.

Harlien is the fifth different series champion after Robby Gordon (2013, 2014), Sheldon Creed (2015, 2016), Paul Morris (2017, 2021 Boost Mobile Super Trucks), and Brabham (2018, 2019, 2021); no championship was awarded during the COVID-plagued, two-round 2020 season.

The championship was a long time coming for Harlien, who has raced in the series since 2014 before becoming a full-timer three years later. He was runner-up in the 2018 points battle to Brabham by fifty points followed by placing third in 2019 to Brabham and Robby Gordon. He has twelve career wins to his name.

The lone confirmed date for 2023 as of this article’s publishing is the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on 14–16 April. Harlien has five podiums there and a win in 2018.