Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross was in strong form again at the second race of the 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross championship in Louisville, racking up multiple Heat and Semifinal race victories before taking home a third-place finish in Sunday’s final, courtesy of reigning series champion, Scott Speed. Tanner Foust finished directly by his teammate in fourth, earning good points that set the two Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross drivers further ahead of the rest of the field in the championship battle.
Speed began the weekend in Louisville quickly, setting fast times by a wide margin in practice on Saturday morning. While early indications looked like a runaway for the two-time reigning champion, his teammate, Tanner Foust, had different ideas, pulling out a spectacular time on the final lap of Qualifying to snatch his first pole position of the season. Speed’s time was good enough for second place and once again, the pair of Beetle GRCs looked to be the cars to beat.
The new Red Bull Global Rallycross race format saw both drivers face off in Heat 1B. Speed inherited the Heat victory after Foust was given a time penalty for bumping another driver. Speed went on to win his second Heat, a feat which Foust matched, despite starting from P4 on the grid.
Rain affected Sunday morning’s warmup session and as the track was drying, the teammates were back to racing one another in Heat 3B. This time Foust got the better result, while Speed finished third. Through the first round three rounds of Heats, the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross driers had scored more points than any other competitors, earning them top starting positions in the Semifinals.
The Semifinals were each some of the more straightforward events of the weekend–a far cry from the frenetic nature of the upcoming Final. Speed and Foust won each of their Semifinal runs, and set off to prepare for front row starting positions in the main event.
Dark clouds began to form, and as the cars waited on the grid for the lights to go green, rain started to fall, creating a treacherous set of conditions for the race.
The Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross pair got a strong launch off the line, but Foust was unable to slot in behind Speed and was forced to the outside edge of the track on the opening lap. Once the field reached the now rain-soaked dirt section of the course, things went crazy. Cars bumped a slid around one another with the two Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross drivers getting the short end of the stick in the frantic opening moments of the race.
Relegated to the midfield, the drivers jockeyed their way back and forth, trying to make up ground, but the tight and sloppy track offered few lines to make passes. Matters were only complicated when the two ran nose to tail and had to be cautious to avoid a team collision.
Last lap efforts were to no avail, and the drivers came home third and fourth, just behind the race winners. Speed led the way for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross with Foust close behind at the checkered flag.
“Our race went according to plan until contact knocked me off the track and dropped us back to fourth,” said the driver of the No. 41 Oberto Circle K Beetle GRC after the race. “It was really, really fun racing, and I guess this weekend proved that we can fight back from the middle of the pack and don’t need to start up front to do well.”
Foust was disappointed in his fourth-place result after an especially strong performance in Qualifying and the preliminary races.
“It was certainly a crazy weekend with the weather changes, and it was just an absolute battle out there,” said the driver of the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle GRC. “In the Final, I couldn’t see much and it felt a lot like bumper cars. It was honestly just mayhem in the mud!”
Speed’s third-place extended Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross’s streak of podium finishes to nine races, dating back to Daytona in 2016. After Louisville, Speed and Foust maintain their positions in the championship, with Speed leading the overall point standings ahead of Foust.
Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross will return in two weeks for the first doubleheader of the season in Thompson, CT, June 3-4.