Red Bull GRC: Tanner Foust triumphant in the Big Apple (UPDATED)

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Tanner Foust is king of the hill, A number 1, in New York, New York.

The Andretti Autosport driver survived an incident-filled final to take the checkered flag in today’s Red Bull Global Rallycross Volkswagen Rallycross NY event.

Andretti teammate Scott Speed finished second on the track behind Foust, but after today’s race, Speed was dropped to ninth place as a result of a penalty:

With that, Nelson Piquet Jr. moves up to the runner-up position and Ken Block moves up to third. Piquet now also has a 35-point lead in the championship going into next Saturday’s race at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.

The final was marred by several run-ins that necessitated two restarts, but Foust endured through it all.

“The final was really brutal,” Foust told NBC Sports. “I was in the unlucky position of monkey in the middle, just sandwiched [on the front row] in two starts. It was absolute chaos. I can’t believe this Polo keeps running after all of that, because it was a brutal first two starts.

“[But] I’m just really excited. It’s exactly what we have to do. It’s still a tight points championship between [Speed and Piquet], and I’m just glad to get in front of them this time. For the rest of the season, there’s a lot of pressure to do well.”

In Semifinal One, Ken Block grabbed the holeshot from the middle of the front row. The Hoonigan man maintained his lead up to a Red Flag at Lap 2 for Bucky Lasek, who appeared to suffer damage to his car and slowed on the track.

That gridded the field again for a restart, which had Piquet and Block go side by side through the first few corners before Piquet, the former Formula One and NASCAR driver, managed to take the lead.

While Block kept up the pressure on Piquet, Steve Arpin tried to take second from him when he took his joker lap on Lap 3 of the six-lap semifinal.

Block staved off the challenge, but Arpin would hold back Joni Wiman for third place and a transfer into the final along with semifinal winner Piquet and runner-up Block.

Semifinal Two saw Foust and Sverre Isachsen rocket into first and second out of the start, while Speed surprisingly fell all the way back to last place.

But Speed was able to get into the final the hard way.

After moving into fourth on Lap 3, he set his sights on Rhys Millen, who occupied the last transfer spot to the final. On Lap 5, he made contact with Millen before taking the critical position from him, and in the end, Faust, Isachsen, and Speed all advanced to the main event.

With Wiman, Austin Dyne, Patrik Sandell and Millen finishing first through fourth respectively in the Last Chance Qualifier, the 10-car grid was set for the final.

The 10-lap trophy dash started in wild fashion. Block spun out in the first corner, while Arpin was turned around at the Turn 4 hairpin and couldn’t get himself going again, triggering the Red Flag.

The subsequent restart quickly turned chaotic when Isachsen, who had gotten the lead, was hit coming out of the gate and could not return to the race.

Eight cars then took the second restart that ran for six laps. On this go, Faust was able to get the lead over Piquet into the first corner and went on to the checkered flag from there.

Piquet fell back as far as fourth before using his joker to reclaim the second position. But as the field headed for the white flag, Speed was able to wrestle second from Piquet, securing the 1-2 finish for the Andretti team.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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