Red Bull GRC gears up for “monumental” event in Washington, D.C.

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After the first two rounds of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross championship, the mission is clear for almost everybody in the paddock: Stop Scott Speed.

The ex-Formula One and NASCAR racer and his Andretti Autosport crew have shot out of the gates with back-to-back wins at Top Gear Festival Barbados and more recently at X Games Austin.

Those triumphs have enabled him to build a 28-point gap (110-83) early on in the driver’s championship over another ex-F1/NASCAR driver, Nelson Piquet Jr.

Now the scene shifts to RFK Stadium in Washington, DC – or, to be more precise, the “Festival Grounds” that lie outside the former longtime home of the Washington Redskins.

A half-mile, asphalt and dirt course has been constructed there, featuring a tantalizing passing opportunity at the Turn 3 hairpin, a jump between Turns 6 and 7, and a joker situated near the 10th and final turn.

The event is being put on by Andretti Sports Marketing, so expect Speed and Andretti Rallycross teammate Tanner Foust to be as motivated as ever (the latter especially so after his X Games run ended with a rollover in his quarterfinal heat).

As for Piquet, the closest championship pursuer to Speed, he believes that the DC track will lead to a wide-open affair for everyone.

“It has been a while since I last raced on a counter-clockwise track, so I think DC should be fun,” he said recently to the GRC website.

“I’m anticipating a lot of action in Washington. The track seems wider, with room for overtaking in the first two corners. I also like the balance in tarmac and dirt sections, a combination that should provide lots of fun for the drivers and a great show for the fans.”

Another driver to keep an eye on will be Bucky Lasek, who is coming off his first-ever GRC podium finish in Austin. As a native of suburban Baltimore (Dundalk, Maryland), the Subaru driver and skateboarding icon will enjoy home support this weekend.

Here’s the entry list for this weekend’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC event:

#00 Steve Arpin, Royal Purple Racing/OMSE2 Ford Fiesta
#04 Sarah Burgess, BMI Racing Chevrolet Sonic
#11 Sverre Isachsen, Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
#14 Austin Dyne, Barracuda Racing Ford Fiesta
#18 Patrik Sandell, Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
#27 Emma Gilmour, Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing Veloster Turbo
#31 Joni Wiman, Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
#34 Tanner Foust, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo
#43 Ken Block, Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST
#67 Rhys Millen, Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing Veloster Turbo
#75 Nelson Piquet Jr., SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST
#77 Scott Speed, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo
#81 Bucky Lasek, Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI

Additionally, here’s how the driver’s standings look heading in:

1. Scott Speed, 110 points
2. Nelson Piquet Jr., 83 points
3. Brian Deegan, 70 points
4. Steve Arpin, 69 points
5. Patrik Sandell, 52 points
6. Austin Dyne, 50 points
7. Bucky Lasek, 49 points
8. Joni Wiman, 39 points
9. Sverre Isachen, 34 points
10. Rhys Millen, 30 points
11. Ken Block, 29 points
12. Emma Gilmour, 15 points
13. Tanner Foust, 11 points
14. Pat Moro, 3 points

You can watch the event LIVE on NBC this Sunday, June 22, at 2 p.m. ET.

IndyCar: Turn 5 gives drivers fits in Friday’s second practice at Barber Motorsports Park

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You’ve heard of the Fast Six in IndyCar, right?

Well, Friday’s second practice session for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama was the Frustrating Five – Turn 5, that is.

It almost might be easier to list those drivers that were not bitten by the cantankerous turn on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park layout in Birmingham, Alabama.

Close to 10 drivers in the 23-driver field suffered issues in the turn, ranging from running off the grass and back on, to getting stuck and having to be towed out, to suffering damage.

But by the time the one-hour session was over, Josef Newgarden took a big step towards defending his win from last year’s race there, being fastest in Friday’s second of two practice sessions.

Newgarden covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in a speed of 122.786 mph at a best lap time of 1:07.4345 minutes.

Spencer Pigot was second (125.599 mph/1:07.5372), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (122.129 mph/1:07.7971), Will Power (122.107 mph/1:07.8092) and last week’s winner at Long Beach, Alexander Rossi (122.065 mph/1:07.8326).

Sixth through 10th-fastest were Scott Dixon (122.044 mph/1:07.8445), Ryan Hunter-Reay (121.975 mph/1:07.8829), Takuma Sato (121.652 mph/1:08.0628), Marco Andretti (121.579 mph/1:08.1040) and Graham Rahal (121.572 mph/1:08.1076).

Now, speaking of all the incidents, here’s a list.

INCIDENTS:

* Right after rookie Matheus Leist spun early in the session in Turn 5, fellow rookie Zach Veach spun with about 45 minutes left in the session in Turn 5. Graham Rahal had to take evasive action to miss Veach.

But that wasn’t all, as Sebastien Bourdais followed in almost the same spot with a spin of his own roughly a minute later, and then Gabby Chaves also had his problems in the same turn, going into the grass but avoiding the gravel.

* Simon Pagenaud joined his Penske Racing teammate Josef Newgarden in the Turn 5 gravel. Newgarden spun into the gravel in the first practice session.

* Rookie Rene Binder, who has struggled in his inaugural season, continued to have issues, running into the wall and causing damage to the front end, needing a tow truck to get him righted.

It appeared Binder snapped part of the front suspension in the incident.

* Turn 5 saw James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan run off-track late in the session, but they were able to continue.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The third and final practice of the weekend will take place Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET, to be televised live on CNBC (with an encore performance at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN). The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, the weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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