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Foust: “Winning the Red Bull GRC title is a bigger deal now”

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Tanner Foust won the first two Red Bull Global Rallycross championships in 2011 and 2012.

As he seeks his third this weekend, and potential first with Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, the significance of one this weekend in Los Angeles (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC) would mean even more.

Such a title would come in the VW to give the team its second in a row – and it’s assured it will go to either Foust or teammate Scott Speed. Foust leads Speed, 465-452, heading into the doubleheader Red Bull GRC Los Angeles presented by Honda weekend at the Port of LA. Volkswagen clinched the manufacturer’s championship at Seattle.

“Winning the championship in GRC now is a bigger accomplishment than it was four or five years ago,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It’s so much more competitive… everyone is switched on, you have teams like Andretti, Herta, Ganassi in the mix, there’s more pressure on the drivers and the cars are more equal.

“The teams are more prepared going into a weekend, so it’s on the driver to not mess it up. It’s a greater feeling to win. It would be a sweet win.”

Foust, driver of the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Volkswagen Beetle GRC, scored a pivotal fourth win of the season last time out at Seattle, which put him back in the points lead over teammate Scott Speed following a rough midsummer stretch.

The dominant win at Evergreen Speedway came after a three-race stretch at MCAS New River, Washington D.C. and Atlantic City when Foust finished eighth, third and fourth, and Speed won each of those three.

“It’s been a roller coaster of a year,” Foust said. “There’s been the puncture, suspension failure and an engine failure all with a comfortable lead to grab maximum points. It’s left a lot of points on the table.

“So the feeling with two laps to go in the last race in the lead, I was really nervous! Many things have happened thus far. The track was rough enough where it could have puncture a tire. But if you try to be overly conservative, that opens the door for punctures. It’s not necessarily about just trying to play it safe.

“It was great to follow through and overcome after the mishaps. We’re really driven hard. We’re hoping to follow through on it in LA.”

Foust heads into the doubleheader weekend having swept the Phoenix doubleheader to open the year, then missing a second straight double in Daytona after contact between he and Patrik Sandell in Daytona race one in the waning stages. He rebounded to win race two.

He explained the challenge that lies ahead:

“It can be double the benefit, or double the trouble,” Foust said. “Phoenix, I got it all figured out and could take advantage for maximum points.

“This LA track will be very tight. A lot of hairpin turns and it will favor the smaller cars. We will have our work cut out for us to be competitive. It’s a little bit difficult because other cars will be in the mix.

“You’re forced to deal with it for two rounds instead of one. But if you find something in the track, you may be able to get an advantage in day one that others haven’t found. But by day two, all that advantage is gone. It’s two different events, and you have to seize your chance at both.”

Having been a staple of Red Bull GRC since the start, Foust said this year has been one of the biggest ones yet for the series.

“I think we have got the racing bug into a lot of people that have never been into a motorsports event. That’s huge for rallycross,” he said.

“I’ve seen a big percentage of ‘Top Gear’ fans. That’s been really great – it’s the melding of my professional world. And at more than most, you see so many kids. That’s critical is to keep kids involved and get them hooked with the racing bug at the early age for this sport we love so much.

“If you look at rallycross, that’s the vehicle it is. It’s a way to put motorsports on the map for people that wouldn’t watch racing otherwise.”

And Foust will look to be at the top of that mountain if he can hold on to that points lead through the weekend and claim his third Red Bull GRC title.

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/