Red Bull GRC gears up for “monumental” event in Washington, D.C.

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After the first two rounds of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross championship, the mission is clear for almost everybody in the paddock: Stop Scott Speed.

The ex-Formula One and NASCAR racer and his Andretti Autosport crew have shot out of the gates with back-to-back wins at Top Gear Festival Barbados and more recently at X Games Austin.

Those triumphs have enabled him to build a 28-point gap (110-83) early on in the driver’s championship over another ex-F1/NASCAR driver, Nelson Piquet Jr.

Now the scene shifts to RFK Stadium in Washington, DC – or, to be more precise, the “Festival Grounds” that lie outside the former longtime home of the Washington Redskins.

A half-mile, asphalt and dirt course has been constructed there, featuring a tantalizing passing opportunity at the Turn 3 hairpin, a jump between Turns 6 and 7, and a joker situated near the 10th and final turn.

The event is being put on by Andretti Sports Marketing, so expect Speed and Andretti Rallycross teammate Tanner Foust to be as motivated as ever (the latter especially so after his X Games run ended with a rollover in his quarterfinal heat).

As for Piquet, the closest championship pursuer to Speed, he believes that the DC track will lead to a wide-open affair for everyone.

“It has been a while since I last raced on a counter-clockwise track, so I think DC should be fun,” he said recently to the GRC website.

“I’m anticipating a lot of action in Washington. The track seems wider, with room for overtaking in the first two corners. I also like the balance in tarmac and dirt sections, a combination that should provide lots of fun for the drivers and a great show for the fans.”

Another driver to keep an eye on will be Bucky Lasek, who is coming off his first-ever GRC podium finish in Austin. As a native of suburban Baltimore (Dundalk, Maryland), the Subaru driver and skateboarding icon will enjoy home support this weekend.

Here’s the entry list for this weekend’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC event:

#00 Steve Arpin, Royal Purple Racing/OMSE2 Ford Fiesta
#04 Sarah Burgess, BMI Racing Chevrolet Sonic
#11 Sverre Isachsen, Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
#14 Austin Dyne, Barracuda Racing Ford Fiesta
#18 Patrik Sandell, Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
#27 Emma Gilmour, Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing Veloster Turbo
#31 Joni Wiman, Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
#34 Tanner Foust, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo
#43 Ken Block, Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST
#67 Rhys Millen, Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing Veloster Turbo
#75 Nelson Piquet Jr., SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST
#77 Scott Speed, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo
#81 Bucky Lasek, Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI

Additionally, here’s how the driver’s standings look heading in:

1. Scott Speed, 110 points
2. Nelson Piquet Jr., 83 points
3. Brian Deegan, 70 points
4. Steve Arpin, 69 points
5. Patrik Sandell, 52 points
6. Austin Dyne, 50 points
7. Bucky Lasek, 49 points
8. Joni Wiman, 39 points
9. Sverre Isachen, 34 points
10. Rhys Millen, 30 points
11. Ken Block, 29 points
12. Emma Gilmour, 15 points
13. Tanner Foust, 11 points
14. Pat Moro, 3 points

You can watch the event LIVE on NBC this Sunday, June 22, at 2 p.m. ET.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.