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Red Bull GRC: Drivers pumped for Indy debut (Sunday at 8p ET, NBCSN)

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Red Bull Global Rallycross heads to Lucas Oil Raceway just outside Indianapolis in Clermont, Ind. this weekend for a return to some normalcy – a single-race weekend in a market pretty close to some of its teams.

This comes after a tough stretch of back-to-back doubleheader races in Thompson, Conn. and Ottawa, Ontario in June. That quartet of races brought the 12-race season to its halfway point.

Race coverage of Round 7 of Red Bull GRC 2017 airs at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, following live coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Iowa Corn 300 from Iowa Speedway.

A midseason report is pretty simple to encapsulate in the marquee Supercars class: Variety has ruled the roost through the first six races.

Tanner Foust and Scott Speed have won three of the first six races, Foust having scored his second win of the year last time out at Ottawa race two. But while the dueling Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross pair have half the wins this year, they haven’t been as thoroughly dominant as their last two years.

Steve Arpin’s been the most consistent threat, with his privateer Loenbro Ford winning twice and right in contention.

Sebastian Eriksson delivered Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE’s first win for the new Honda Civic Coupe at Louisville in a dramatic photo finish over Arpin, but it’s been full-season rookie Mitchell deJong who’s been OMSE’s most consistent contender. The past GRC Lites champion has six top-five finishes in as many races, including three third-places from his last four starts.

Foust leads the standings with 418 points heading to Indianapolis this weekend, while the next three behind him are all in striking distance. Arpin has 391, Speed 381 and DeJong 372. Eriksson is fifth on 330 points and risks falling out of the title hunt if he can’t gain some points this weekend.

GRC Lites has been Cyril Raymond’s land of dominance so far. The French driver has taken multiple victories for Olsbergs MSE X Forces and leads that championship on 407 points over Conner Martell (DirtFish Motorsports) on 344 and sports car veteran Colin Braun (CORE autosport) on 333. Braun will drop back in the standings as he’ll miss the GRC Lites this weekend to focus on his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship commitments at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Indianapolis seems a natural venue for GRC to debut and it’s with a bit of excitement it does this weekend.

The 0.767-mile layout at Lucas Oil Raceway runs on most of the oval before cutting inside for the dirt section. The full track details are below:

Track length: .767 miles
Turns: 6
Pavement: 69.2%
Dirt: 30.8%
Joker Lap: Shortcut before Turn 1; .589 miles

Here’s some of the driver comments heading into the weekend.

“True to rallycross form, we’re bringing the racing to a whole new group of fans with the new tour stop in Indianapolis,” Foust said. “It’s a town very familiar with racing, but it will be the first time fans in Indy will see rallycross live. I always love when racing fans see rallycross for the first time, because they’re always so shocked at the excitement and speed of the cars.

“This event has a bit of a different vibe though, since it’s the home of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross. Our teams of mechanics and engineers will have family and friends present, so I’ll get to see the kids and families we’ve heard a lot about and signed autographs for over the past few years.”

“This track will be the fastest of the year,” deJong said. “The most challenging part of the circuit may be the long arching corners, because they will demand so much focus and attention to detail from the drivers.”

Added Austin Dyne, of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, “It’s pretty cool to be racing in Indy. I have never raced here before except in a charity karting race. I’ve been coming here as a little kid to watch the Indy 500 and back when F1 came here.”

GAINSCO partners with JDC-Miller for Simpson, Goikhberg

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The bright yellow No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, nicknamed the “JDC Banana Boat,” will morph into the latest incarnation of the bright red “Red Dragon” for 2018.

The now GAINSCO Auto Insurance-backed No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson will run the full 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and the new livery will be revealed at the Roar before the Rolex 24.

GAINSCO revealed last month it wouldn’t run its own team, having partnered with Bob Stallings Racing for more than a decade with great success in GRAND-AM Rolex Series competition. But it was still going to partner with a team and received multiple proposals from other teams. The initial deal with JDC-Miller Motorsports is one year for 2018 with an option for 2019, but both parties envision this growing into a multi-year deal.

The last few years the team has run only on-and-off, with a one-off appearance in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona as Alex Gurney scored pole, but a devastating accident for Memo Gidley having left him seriously injured. Gidley has made significant strides in his recovery.

Since that point, GAINSCO/BSR moved into Pirelli World Challenge, running first a Hyundai Genesis, then a McLaren 650S GT3, and then a Porsche 911 GT3 R with Gurney’s longtime co-driver Jon Fogarty. The same level of success was hard to find and while the team scored several podium finishes, wins eluded them over two years.

Alas, this provides John Church’s quality operation a major supporter both from visibility and agent standpoints, as GAINSCO is one of the biggest at-track activators in the sport. Primary drivers Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg continue for the full season with Chris Miller the third driver for Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds.

A fourth driver will be named later (likely within the next week to 10 days), but won’t be Jon Fogarty, as Bob Stallings offered him the opportunity but Fogarty declined owing to other business commitments.

“We offered Jon Fogarty the opportunity, took a couple days (to think), he couldn’t feature anyone else driving but him… he has successful business ventures and that takes priority at this time,” Stallings said.

Church and Stallings. Photo courtesy of GAINSCO Racing

Stallings, Executive Chairman of GAINSCO, as well as the founder of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Race team, recently decided not to run his own race team, but is committed to continuing the legacy of the Red Dragon by partnering with an organization capable of a long-term winning program.

“We had many opportunities to continue our quest for championships and JDC-Miller MotorSports was an easy pick,” said Stallings of the Minnesota-based team. “John Church and John Miller have established themselves as a team to be reckoned with, even against the formidable competition in IMSA.”

“We are very honored to gain the support of GAINSCO Auto Insurance and to carry on the livery of the No. 99 Red Dragon,” Church added. “It was immediately evident that the GAINSCO folks are as committed as we are.  This is a tremendous opportunity for JDC-Miller MotorSports and we look forward to the season ahead.”

Andy Jordan, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Business Development led the search for the GAINSCO’s 2018 racing partnership.

“We were amazed and flattered by the amount of interest we received from teams who felt their racing programs would be elevated by an opportunity to partner with us and run the famous “Red Dragon” livery.  There were several important considerations for GAINSCO; the team had to compete at the highest level, and it had to feel like the kind of family we could be a part of and believe in.

“JDC-Miller Motorsports was the team we kept coming back to.  They race prototypes, they are great people, they are committed to win and the parallels between JDC-Miller Motorsports today and GAINCSO/Bob Stallings Racing in 2006/2007 were abundant.  I couldn’t be prouder and more excited to join John and his team for the 2018 season and hopefully beyond.”

JDC-Miller is adding a second car this season, with Simon Trummer its first confirmed driver and Robert Alon having tested with the team at Daytona earlier this month. This car will maintain the “banana boat” livery and will announce the rest of its program later.

Church said there “hasn’t been a discussion” in terms of adding Bob Stallings Racing personnel to JDC-Miller’s lineup as it sits, but it could be integrated.

The JDC-Miller Oreca 07. Photo courtesy of IMSA