Red Bull GRC: Tanner Foust triumphant in the Big Apple (UPDATED)

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Tanner Foust is king of the hill, A number 1, in New York, New York.

The Andretti Autosport driver survived an incident-filled final to take the checkered flag in today’s Red Bull Global Rallycross Volkswagen Rallycross NY event.

Andretti teammate Scott Speed finished second on the track behind Foust, but after today’s race, Speed was dropped to ninth place as a result of a penalty:

With that, Nelson Piquet Jr. moves up to the runner-up position and Ken Block moves up to third. Piquet now also has a 35-point lead in the championship going into next Saturday’s race at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.

The final was marred by several run-ins that necessitated two restarts, but Foust endured through it all.

“The final was really brutal,” Foust told NBC Sports. “I was in the unlucky position of monkey in the middle, just sandwiched [on the front row] in two starts. It was absolute chaos. I can’t believe this Polo keeps running after all of that, because it was a brutal first two starts.

“[But] I’m just really excited. It’s exactly what we have to do. It’s still a tight points championship between [Speed and Piquet], and I’m just glad to get in front of them this time. For the rest of the season, there’s a lot of pressure to do well.”

In Semifinal One, Ken Block grabbed the holeshot from the middle of the front row. The Hoonigan man maintained his lead up to a Red Flag at Lap 2 for Bucky Lasek, who appeared to suffer damage to his car and slowed on the track.

That gridded the field again for a restart, which had Piquet and Block go side by side through the first few corners before Piquet, the former Formula One and NASCAR driver, managed to take the lead.

While Block kept up the pressure on Piquet, Steve Arpin tried to take second from him when he took his joker lap on Lap 3 of the six-lap semifinal.

Block staved off the challenge, but Arpin would hold back Joni Wiman for third place and a transfer into the final along with semifinal winner Piquet and runner-up Block.

Semifinal Two saw Foust and Sverre Isachsen rocket into first and second out of the start, while Speed surprisingly fell all the way back to last place.

But Speed was able to get into the final the hard way.

After moving into fourth on Lap 3, he set his sights on Rhys Millen, who occupied the last transfer spot to the final. On Lap 5, he made contact with Millen before taking the critical position from him, and in the end, Faust, Isachsen, and Speed all advanced to the main event.

With Wiman, Austin Dyne, Patrik Sandell and Millen finishing first through fourth respectively in the Last Chance Qualifier, the 10-car grid was set for the final.

The 10-lap trophy dash started in wild fashion. Block spun out in the first corner, while Arpin was turned around at the Turn 4 hairpin and couldn’t get himself going again, triggering the Red Flag.

The subsequent restart quickly turned chaotic when Isachsen, who had gotten the lead, was hit coming out of the gate and could not return to the race.

Eight cars then took the second restart that ran for six laps. On this go, Faust was able to get the lead over Piquet into the first corner and went on to the checkered flag from there.

Piquet fell back as far as fourth before using his joker to reclaim the second position. But as the field headed for the white flag, Speed was able to wrestle second from Piquet, securing the 1-2 finish for the Andretti team.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.