'Bachelor' star Arie Luyendyk Jr. picks up win at Belle Isle
Detroit -- Arie Luyendyk Jr. saw a familiar color decide his fate at Belle Isle on Sunday afternoon.
The former star of "The Bachelor" didn't have to sit through any red rose ceremonies, but it was a red flag that cut the second Stadium SUPER Trucks race of the weekend short in the sixth lap, awarding him his second victory of the season and the overall championship for the weekend at Belle Isle.
Luyendyk Jr. came from the back of the pack, moving up from the ninth starting position to take the lead on the second lap and easily holding off the rest of the competition before the race came to a screeching halt when Paul Morris flipped his truck on the third turn of the sixth lap.
Morris came into the turn hot before hitting the tire wall and standing his truck on its nose in midair before he came crashing down roof first. Morris was checked out by the medical staff and walked off the track under his own power. But with gasoline and debris making a mess of the track just prior to the main event of the day, the race was called and Luyendyk Jr. was given the win.
"Obviously the person out in front's going to love (the decision to call the race)," Luyendyk Jr. said about a race that was scheduled to go 10 laps. "But I was ready to go and battle it out to the finish. It was a shame we couldn't race to the end, but I'm just glad I was able to get to the front as fast as I did."
For Luyendyk Jr., it was a day of firsts, as it was his first career win at Belle Isle and his first win when starting at the back of the pack. He finished third in the first race on Saturday after starting eighth, but his first place finish was enough to award him the weekend's championship, which goes to the best overall performer in the series.
"I love it here," he said. "It's perfect for the trucks. The jumps are in great locations.
"I had some trouble moving forward (Saturday) because I got hit from behind and it pushed the rear bumper into the tire. Today, I knew I'd have to get through the pack quickly to stay out of trouble. I had a couple of really good breaks. A couple of guys got into it in turn three and I was able to sneak on through."
With "The Bachelor" behind him, the reality TV star can now focus on his racing, and while he loves the SUPER Trucks circuit, the ultimate goal for him is to get back in an IndyCar.
"That's the goal," Luyendyk Jr. said. "We almost had something for the Indy 500 this year, but obviously I was a little busy with 'The Bachelor.' You never know. I still have a passion for it, and I feel like I could be competitive."
White Lake’s Robinson finds podium again
Gar Robinson had nothing to lose entering the Trans Am 2 races at Belle Isle this weekend.
A Texas native who now makes his home in White Lake, Robinson is a former champion of the TA2 circuit (2015), which is made up of racers going toe-to-toe in classic American muscle cars like Ford Mustangs, Chevy Camaros and Dodge Challengers.
This season, Robinson moved to the Pirelli World Challenge. But with the weekend off from his main duties in the PWC, he decided to give it a go at a track where he claimed a victory in 2017. And after finishing third Saturday, Robinson bettered his position with a second-place finish on Sunday, as he wasn’t able to catch up to a dominant Rafa Matos.
“I’ve ran here the past three years and I’ve had some incredible battles here,” he said. “It worked out with our schedule, so we decided it was a good idea to come out and party with these guys.”
Robinson is the head driver at 74 Ranch Resort Racing, a shop based in Milford. The team started with his dad, George, nearly 30 years ago.
“Finishing on the podium the entire weekend with not running any of the races this year is pretty incredible,” Robinson said. “I’m really proud of the support from my dad and the whole team. We put on a good show for the fans and made Detroit happy.”
When asked if any of the drivers resented him entering the race and affecting the TA2 points standings with his solid performances, Robinson laughed.
“Some probably do get a little upset,” he said. “(Matos) is probably pretty happy I finished second. That really helps him out.”