Red Bull GRC: Scott Speed on adapting to rallycross

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Scott Speed’s career has taken him to very different worlds, but it’s clear that he’s found a home in rallycross.

The ex-Formula One and NASCAR racer has taken to this new discipline rather nicely. In his first Red Bull Global Rallycross outing last year at X Games Brazil, he won the gold medal driving the series’ Star Car.

He would go on to claim another win at Charlotte and finish fifth in the GRC standings despite also committing himself to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series duties with the small Leavine Family Racing team.

This year, his full focus is on GRC and so far, he’s the early frontrunner after back-to-back wins at Barbados and X Games Austin.

So how does this compare to his exploits in F1 and NASCAR?

In a recent interview with Complex Magazine, Speed said that regardless of the car, racing is all about finding the fastest way back to start/finish.

However, GRC does have one key difference.

“The only real difference is four-wheel drive, which makes GRC quite a bit different,” he said. “The four-wheel drive allows you to drive as hard as you want and it fixes a lot of mistakes. You can basically overcome a lot of different problems and keep a car in control that looks like it’s out of control.

“You can basically just point the where where you want and the car will just go there. That’s why those World Rally guys look so impressive going through the trees all sideways.”

As for adapting to the rallycross tracks themselves – compact courses with an array of different surfaces to contend with – Speed says that with the four-wheel drive at his disposal, dirt and tarmac drive relatively similar.

It’s the gravel that makes for, in his words, “kind of an unnatural feel.” Having been brought up in a proper racing background where going forward sideways usually means lost time, Speed has had to learn that going sideways in the gravel is actually a good thing in this form of racing.

“”I’d say that my style out there, if you compare me to a guy like [Andretti Autosport teammate] Tanner [Foust] or Ken Block, is a lot more tidy and looks more in control, which is, I think, better on the dirt and the tarmac,” he said.

“But in the gravel, you actually need to have the car as sideways as you can because the sidewall of the tire digs into the gravel; you’re gaining more grip by adding yaw.”

It may not be what he’s used to, but Speed’s certainly gotten the hang of it as his early-season results can attest.

You can see if Speed goes three-for-three to start the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross championship by watching Volkswagen Rallycross DC this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.