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We Preview Red Bull Global Rallycross Washington D.C.

by Brian Carroccio
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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Tanner Foust en route to victory at the 2016 opener in Phoenix
Tanner Foust en route to victory at the 2016 opener in Phoenix
The Red Bull Global Rallycross Series descends upon Washington, D.C this weekend for round 7 of the 2016 championship. It will be the third consecutive year the series has visited the nation’s capital. Last year, Nelson Piquet took the checkered flag in the race’s main event with Patrik Sandell coming home second, the reverse order of how the two finished in 2014.

This weekend one of the headline stories is Piquet, as the inaugural FIA Formula E champion makes his first GRC start of 2016, replacing Jeff Ward at SH Rallycross. Today, AutoRacing1 will break down these stories and others, as we get you ready for this weekend’s race.

The venue… The race will be held in the parking lot of RFK Stadium, As a native of the D.C. area I can tell you right now: she ain’t much to look at. Built in 1961 during the cookie-cutter dual purpose stadium era, and sharing city property with the D.C. Armory, the venerable arena named after Robert F. Kennedy is certainly showing her age. The local baseball and football teams have long since moved to more modern stadiums. Although RFK still plays host to MLS’ D.C. United, the stadium does not boast anything near the amenities such as local restaurants and nightlife of many modern sporting arenas. In short, RFK is a blast from the past, and not necessarily in the Fenway or Wrigley sense of the word.

That said, be careful what you say around the locals. As the home of the Washington Redskins from 1961-1996, RFK played host to five NFC Championship games, with the home team winning all five. In short, to many D.C. natives RFK is a symbol - albeit a decaying one - of the local’s team Golden Age.

David Brabham and Jan Magnussen celebrate victory in 2002 at RFK Stadium 
Also, RFK does boast a racing history, albeit a small one. It has of course, hosted GRC the past two seasons, but also hosted an American Le Mans Series race in 2002 won by the Panoz of Jan Magnussen and David Brabham.

On track…As mentioned previously, Sandell and Piquet have been one-two in the two D.C. races. Of course, this is Piquet’s first start of 2016, so it’s hard to say how he will perform. The SH Racing has struggled so far in 2016, with Ward scoring a best finish of 5th (Daytona 1).

As for Sandell, he won the Dallas race and pole for Daytona race 2, and will no doubt be a contender. The Bryan Herta Rallysport driver came into the season with high hopes. He sits fifth in the championship and won’t want to give any more ground to the team that has been the story of 2016.

Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross… Verizon IndyCar Series fans certainly know that the Indianapolis 500 aside, 2016 has been a struggle for the IndyCar wing of the Andretti Autosport racing empire. Not so for the GRC division.

Having won 4 of the final 5 races in 2015, and securing the series title for Scott Speed, VARX has carried that momentum into 2016; this time with Tanner Foust leading the way. The driver of the No. 34 RockStar VW Beetle has three wins and four poles so far in 2016. Foust, the all-time leader in GRC race wins, holds a 9-point lead in the series standings. Speed, who won the last race at MCAS New River sits third, 16 points adrift.

The contenders…Having scored his first series win last month (Daytona 2), Steve Arpin is enjoying a breakout season in the No. 00 Eneos Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta. Arpin sits a mere 9 points behind Foust. The Canadian’s teammate Brian Deegan has also been impressive, scoring three podium finishes. Deegan is 47 points behind Foust.

Sebastian Eriksson in the No. 93 Honda Civic
Sebastian Eriksson in the No. 93 Honda Civic
Keep an eye on…The Honda Red Bull OMSE pair of Sebastian Eriksson and 2014 series champion Joni Wiman have spent the early part of the season coming to grips with their new Honda Civics. During the Daytona doubleheader, both drivers were in the top-5 in both races. It is expected that the highly-regarded young pairing in combination with Honda will contend for wins soon. Might we see a breakout this weekend?

Local flavor…Subaru Rally Team USA driver Bucky Lasek is a native of nearby Dundalk, MD. The former X Games gold medalist skateboarder has shown significant improvement since moving to Rallycross in 2012. Lasek, who missed last year’s D.C. round, will try to give his contingent of local support something to cheer about.

GRC Lites…In addition to the Supercars, GRC Lites will be in action in D.C. Dreyer and Reinbold Racing’s Cabot Bigham holds a 16-point lead over Olsberg MSE X Forces driver Oliver Eriksson. Sports cars fans will recognize CORE autosport driver Colin Braun and Jon Bennett, both of whom will be driving for the team in GRC Lites.

TV…The Supercars can be seen on NBC at 2 p.m. ET, and streaming on Red Bull TV at 2:30 p.m. ET. GRC Lites will be broadcast on NBCSN August 25 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Brian Carroccio is a senior columnist for AutoRacing1. He can be contacted at BrianC@AutoRacing1.com

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