Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross mounted a successful effort at Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross championship, earning a trio of podium finishes over the doubleheader weekend. Tanner Foust was the class of the field for much of the event, winning handily on Saturday, and leading much of Sunday’s Final before a wheel failure ended his bid for a perfect weekend sweep. Scott Speed found himself in recovery mode for much of the weekend, earning a pair of second-place finishes in two come-from-behind races that saw last-lap passes for the second podium spot.
Foust’s first day at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park was perfect as he set the fastest time in qualifying and won every subsequent race to take maximum points on Saturday. After setting a time more than one second clear of the rest of the field in the first of the weekend’s qualifying sessions, the driver of the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle GRC never looked back, taming the rough track to take his first win of the 2017 season.
Teammate Speed had a more difficult road to the podium after a mix-up in qualifying left the No. 41 ORAFOL Beetle GRC seventh in the order. The reigning, two-time champion recovered to win his second round Heat, and eventually took victory in Semifinal B to earn a front row starting position for the Final next to Foust.
On the start, Foust jumped out to an early lead while Speed was driven into the tire barrier by another competitor, prompting a red flag as the Beetle GRC stopped on course. The offending driver was penalized and moved to the back of the revised grid, while Speed was allowed to retain his second-place starting position. On the restart, Speed fell back in the field, but valiantly fought his way back to the podium, before making a thrilling, last-lap pass to earn a second-place finish.
Now within striking distance of his teammate in the points chase, Foust was keen to mirror his Saturday performance on day two in Thompson. The twelve-time race winner accomplished just that, and looked to be on track for an unprecedented perfect doubleheader until a wheel failure three laps from the end of the Final stopped his Beetle GRC on the track.
In Sunday’s Final, Speed was once again in catch up mode, suffering from a start on the outside of the first row, ending up mired in the midfield for much of the race. Knowing that his car was quicker than the competitors ahead, Speed saved his Joker Lap shortcut for the final circuit of the course, passing several cars to take another well-deserved second-place finish, regaining the championship lead he had briefly lost to Foust through points scored in the preliminary race rounds on Sunday.
“It’s really tough to be so quick all weekend and to have the track decide to take a bite out of the car at the end of the Final,” said Foust. “We dodged issues all weekend long and were super fast, so I’m bummed Sunday had to end like this. At least we know we’re fast, and I’m hoping to replicate most of this weekend at the next doubleheader in Ottawa.”
“Two second-place finishes are not exactly where we want to be, but it’s good points for the championship, so we have to be somewhat happy,” said Speed. “Starting at the front of the pack is always so much easier, but we showed we know how to get through the field and make things exciting, so I guess that’s a positive too.”
Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross will be back in action for the international leg of its season with another doubleheader weekend in Ottawa, Canada June 17-18. Both races will be broadcast live on NBC with Race One airing at 10:00PM (ET) on Saturday, June 17, and Race Two at 4:00PM (ET) on Sunday, June 18.