Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull GRC: Speed, Andretti, VW closing on three-peat in L.A.

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Red Bull Global Rallycross concludes its 2017 season this weekend in Los Angeles, arguably the series’ marquee event and now traditional late-season venue at the Port of Los Angeles just outside Long Beach. You can watch coverage of the Supercars finale on Saturday, October 14, at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

For Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, a three-peat of driver championships is almost guaranteed. Scott Speed, back in the team’s No. 41 Circle K Volkswagen Beetle GRC, enters this weekend with a 30-point lead over teammate Tanner Foust in the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle (756-726). At 74 points back, Loenbro Motorsports’ Steve Arpin (No. 00 Ford Fiesta ST) is mathematically eligible but in need of a minor miracle to overtake either Volkswagen Andretti driver.

A Speed title would be his third in succession after winning the 2015 title in Las Vegas and the 2016 in L.A. last year, snatching it from Foust’s grasp (recap of L.A. weekend here). Foust swept the Seattle doubleheader to keep his title hopes in 2017 alive.

“L.A. is a great track and it’s a home state race for me. I’ve always felt comfortable there,” Speed said. “This year, we go into the final race with a big lead [in points]. My job is to keep us in the most protected position as possible while on track and keep the tires rolling until the checkered flag. If I can do that, we’ll have another championship for the VARX team!”

Foust said of his hopes, “We’re ready to put on a good show for the fans in L.A. this weekend! It’s hard to call the San Pedro Pier a home track, but the location and backdrop is certainly one of the most unique in motorsports. This weekend’s GRC season finale event should be a blast!”

Full championship-clinching scenarios are linked here, via Red Bull GRC’s official website.

Elsewhere in the Supercars field, Cabot Bigham is back at Bryan Herta Rallysport after missing the Seattle round, and the Northern California native returns to the site where he clinched last year’s GRC Lites title in dramatic fashion after surviving some first-lap chaos. Arpin, Bigham and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Austin Dyne make up the three Fords in the field, and Arpin will deploy a split livery this weekend.

The Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE trio of Oliver Eriksson, Mitchell DeJong and Sebastian Eriksson will look to deliver a win for the Honda Civic Coupe not far from Honda Performance Development’s headquarters in Santa Clarita, Calif., and after a tough weekend in Seattle.

Subaru Rally Team had a strong Seattle with both Chris Atkinson and Patrik Sandell scoring a podium apiece, the only drivers outside the Andretti pair to make into the top step.

The GRC Lites title was decided at Seattle in favor of Olsbergs MSE X Forces’ Cyril Raymond, the French talent having taken that series by storm all season. Although the title isn’t up for grabs, the Lites cars do put on a good show in Los Angeles, and witnessed some great racing here last year. Coverage of that race airs Wednesday, October 18, at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

The 0.654-mile, 11-turn track at the Port of L.A. is quite similar to last year. A full course breakdown is linked here with a track map below.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.