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Red Bull GRC: Speed completes Atlantic City weekend sweep

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Scott Speed’s roll in Red Bull Global Rallycross rolled on in Round 9 of the 2017 season. The driver of the No. 41 Volkswagen Beetle GRC for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross enjoyed a perfect Sunday in Atlantic City at Bader Field, winning all preliminary races on the day and then completing a lights-to-flag sweep in the Round 9, 10-lap final.

He was never headed from the off, after another great start, a semifinal win in the race just before the final and heat races before that.

“There’s no question our Circle K Oberto Beetle was awesome. It always has been; for us, we play a lot of defense. Today was the full performance. No one could touch us all weekend,” Speed told NBC’s Will Christien in victory lane.

This is Speed’s third final round win in a row and fourth this season as he extended his points lead, which was just seven points going into the race over teammate Tanner Foust (535-528). After the race, unofficially, Speed now has 616 points and holds a 38-point lead over Steve Arpin with Foust now third, 41 points back.

Foust’s miserable weekend in Atlantic City continued, having been penalized for contact in the semifinal and then trying to rally from the back of the 10-car field off the start throughout the race.

Further back, a good battle took place for second between Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE’s Sebastian Eriksson in his No. 93 Honda Civic Coupe and Steve Arpin in his No. 00 Loenbro Motorsports Ford Fiesta ST.

The two banged wheels occasionally and that brought Eriksson’s teammate, young rising star Mitchell DeJong in his No. 24 Honda and Patrik Sandell in his No. 18 Subaru Rally Team USA Subaru WRX-STi, into podium contention.

Arpin tried around the outside of Eriksson on the final corner of the final lap, making contact, but didn’t make it around.

Even more contact occurred beyond them with Chris Atkinson keeping his head in his No. 55 Subaru, moving into fourth, as Foust nudged Sandell and Sandell hit DeJong in a crazy finish to the race.

Unofficially, Speed beat Eriksson, Arpin, Atkinson, DeJong, Cabot Bigham, Oliver Eriksson, Austin Dyne, Foust and Sandell. Foust was assessed an five-second post-race time penalty (plus three seconds in an earlier race), which dropped him from seventh to ninth in this race.

The series is off until Sept. 9-10 in Seattle, at Evergreen Speedway, for Rounds 10 and 11 of the season.

Red Bull GRC: Speed snatches win from Sandell in Atlantic City 1

Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool
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Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross driver Scott Speed ran down Subaru Rally Team USA’s Patrik Sandell in the final few laps of Red Bull Global Rallycross’ first race at Atlantic City at Bader Field, to claim a decisive victory in Round 8 of the 2017 season.

After using the Joker lap on Lap 5 of 10, Speed launched past Sebastian Eriksson’s Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Honda Civic Coupe for second, and then had a handful of laps to catch race leader Sandell to secure his third win of the year and second in a row, denying Sandell both his and Subaru’s first 2017 wins in the process.

On Lap 9, Speed forged through on the dirt, muscling his way past Sandell – briefly – before Sandell regained the lead over the jump on the same lap. But Speed made it through just at the end of the lap to hang on for the lead, then brought it home a lap later.

With his 14th career win, Speed now moves into first in Red Bull GRC history among race winners, breaking a tie with teammate Tanner Foust. Unofficially he now has a 7 point lead over Foust (535-528) with Steve Arpin 18 points back in third.

“To be fair, he drove a great race and it was a super difficult pass to make! It was such great racing at the end!” Speed exhaled to NBCSN’s Will Christien, describing the battle with Sandell.

Sandell was a season-best second, while Steve Arpin in his Loenbro Motorsports Ford Fiesta made it to third on the final lap, getting around Eriksson. With Volkswagen, Subaru, Ford and Honda in the top-four positions, it made it four manufacturers in as many positions.

Mitchell DeJong was fifth ahead of Oliver Eriksson and Austin Dyne, with Cabot Bigham, Chris Atkinson and Foust all out of the race.  Results are unofficial.

As noted, for Foust, day one in Atlantic City couldn’t have gone any worse. He entered with a 22-point lead but contact with Speed on the opening lap sent him off course, somehow saving the car even as he careened through the grass. But things got worse upon re-entering when making contact with another car, which appeared to be Arpin, sending him into a final spin and first lap retirement.

Sunday’s second race coverage from Atlantic City airs at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Red Bull GRC: Post-summer break stretch kicks off in Atlantic City

Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool
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After a little more than a month break since its last race in Indianapolis, Red Bull Global Rallycross is back in action this weekend with a doubleheader at Bader Field in Atlantic City, N.J.

There’s just five races remaining this season, with Atlantic City and Seattle hosting doubleheader weekends before the season finale in Los Angeles in October. The two Atlantic City Supercars finals air Saturday at 5 p.m. ET and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET, both on NBC, while GRC Lites coverage airs Wednesday, August 23, at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

In Supercars, the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross pair of Tanner Foust and Scott Speed continue their duel for the title in the pair of Volkswagen Beetle GRCs. Foust leads Speed, 488-462, heading into the doubleheader weekend. Foust last won race two in Ottawa while Speed took the series’ most recent win in Indianapolis, at the Andretti team’s home base. Speed also won in Atlantic City last year.

Steve Arpin in his Loenbro Motorsports Ford Fiesta ST remains the only other driver in really close title contention, in third place with 455 points. Arpin was on the podium in Atlantic City last year, ending third, and has won twice this weekend.

The Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE contingent fell back in Indianapolis; Mitchell DeJong’s impressive recent string ended with a 10th place classification there and he’s now fourth in points, some 103 points back of Foust.

Similarly, the pair of Subaru Rally Team USA drivers Chris Atkinson and Patrik Sandell look for any sort of result, while RLL Racing’s Austin Dyne has been fifth or sixth in five of the last six races, and will seek to continue his decent run. Bryan Herta Rallysport rookie Cabot Bigham remains in search of his maiden top-five finish in Supercars.

In GRC Lites, Olsbergs MSE X Forces rookie Cyril Raymond enters with a sizable points lead, 475-399, over DirtFish’s Conner Martell with two of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s trio of drivers, Christian Brooks and Travis PeCoy, third and fourth.

Of note here, Jon Bennett and Colin Braun resume for CORE autosport with IMSA off this weekend – they missed Indianapolis as they were on IMSA duty – and 2016 CORE driver Scott Anderson makes his series return in another OMSE X Forces entry.

The 0.902 circuit is one of Red Bull GRC’s longer circuits. You can see a course layout below.

Daly’s American Ninja Warrior episode (Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC)

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Conor Daly’s attempt at NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET. The American who drives for A.J. Foyt Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series received a last-minute invitation to a San Antonio regional qualifier back in March.

At Texas Motor Speedway, Daly checked in with NBCSN IndyCar pit reporter Katie Hargitt to preview the event for the latest edition of “Rapid Fire” presented by Verizon. You can see that above. A link to all Rapid Fire videos from 2017 is linked here.

A quick preview of Daly’s training is below.

Daly and the rest of the IndyCar field is at Elkhart Lake, Wis.’ Road America this weekend for Round 10 of the 17-race season (Sunday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Red Bull GRC: After four winners in four races, who conquers Canada?

Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool
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Red Bull Global Rallycross heads north of the border for its first Canadian race in its history this weekend. The trip to Ottawa’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum is part of the Ottawa 2017 calendar, a year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.

You can see both Rounds 5 and 6 on the NBC Sports Group networks. Saturday’s Round 5 airs at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN, and Sunday’s Round 6 airs at 4 p.m. ET on NBC.

It’s an important event for Red Bull GRC as it makes its debut in Canada, to showcase the talent and potential of the Supercars and GRC Lites fields.

Asked earlier this year what his favorite event to look forward to in his Supercars debut season, GRC Lites champion Cabot Bigham of Bryan Herta Rallysport said Canada is it.

“For Canada, it’ll be my first time ever leaving the country to race… I guess except (Las) Vegas for an international conference!” Bigham laughed, speaking to NBC Sports pre-season. “But going to Canada will be really cool in general for us and for GRC.”

Bigham isn’t a winner yet this year but there’s been no shortage of variety at the top of the GRC charts, as four drivers from three teams and three manufacturers have won so far this season.

Between Scott Speed (Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, Memphis), Sebastian Eriksson (Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE, Louisville), Tanner Foust (Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, Thompson 1) and Steve Arpin (Loenbro Motorsports Ford, Thompson 2), it’s been a year where no one driver has dominated and parity has reigned.

Just 20 points separate Speed (288 points), Foust (269) and Arpin (268) heading to the second doubleheader weekend of the year, and the weekend that brings Red Bull GRC’s 2017 campaign to its halfway point.

Honda’s trio of Mitchell DeJong (244), Sebastian Eriksson (215) and Oliver Eriksson (203) are also within striking range. DeJong scored his first Supercars podium at Thompson race one while Oliver Eriksson has a best finish of fourth in the finals.

Bigham has a best finish of sixth and sits seventh in points. Subaru Rally Team USA finally got a double top-five at Thompson race two, with Chris Atkinson on the podium in third and Patrik Sandell in fifth.

The 0.762-mile course is linked below.