Red Bull GRC: Ken Block rocks in Charlotte, wins Round 5

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Ken Block picked up his first Red Bull Global Rallycross victory of the season in Charlotte, North Carolina after leading wire-to-wire in the final. The Hoonigan man celebrated with an exuberant spin of his No. 43 Ford Fiesta ST immediately after taking the checkered flag at start/finish.

“Oh man, I’m stoked,” Block said to NBCSN after his first win of the year. “That was a lot of work but I led almost every single lap of this event that I was in…It was a lot of fun and it was good to have a battle. Crazy, crazy day.”

Sverre Isachsen and championship leader Nelson Piquet Jr. picked up second and third place behind Block. Additionally, Piquet was also able to increase his edge in the standings to 46 points over Scott Speed, who finished fifth.

Block grabbed the Semifinal 1 holeshot from the front row and went on to the heat win as Steve Arpin and Brian Deegan followed him in second and third to advance directly to the final.

Meanwhile, championship contenders Piquet and Speed could not crack the Top 3 in the semifinal, forcing them to try their luck later in the Last Chance Qualifier.

Semifinal 2 started with Bucky Lasek, Washington D.C. winner Patrik Sandell, and Sverre Isachsen on the front row. But after Lasek and Isachsen leaped past Sandell for first and second coming into Turn 1, New York winner Tanner Foust got into the back of Sandell and sent him crashing into the water barriers.

Sandell suffered a broken driveshaft in the incident, which drew no penalty on Foust from race officials. The remaining five cars were gridded up for a restart, and in the rush to Turn 1, Foust himself hit the water barriers and help put a piece of it in the middle of the track.

On Lap 3, Joni Wiman got past Isachsen for the lead before the red flag came out again for Austin Dyne blocking up Turn 6 after he was apparently turned around by Foust.

The cars gridded up a second time for a four-lap dash that forced Wiman to start from his back row position. Foust once again made contact in Turn 6 – this time with Lasek – and took over the lead in his battered VW.

Foust held on for first in the heat despite missing a large part of the front end on his car. Wiman and Isachsen were able to get second and third to move into the final.

In the LCQ, Piquet and Speed did what they had to do by finishing first and second. Piquet was running fourth on Lap 3 of 4 but took a well-timed joker to go all the way into the lead past Speed, Dyne and Lasek.

Those four transferred to the main event, while teammates Rhys Millen and Emma Gilmour had their Saturday come to a close.

That left the 10-car final, which was only a few seconds old when the red flag came out for Piquet. He took the start from the third row but was squeezed into the aforementioned water barriers at Turn 1.

Piquet got back to the starting gate for the restart, but he and everybody else was left in the Carolina dust by Block, who quickly pulled away from the field.

Isachsen eventually settled a tight battle for second between himself, Wiman, and Speed. But Piquet once again showed great timing with the joker to pass both Wiman and Speed for third on Lap 8.

That would be enough to give him yet another podium finish behind Block and Isachsen.

Red Bull GRC will stage Round 6 of the season on August 23 at Daytona International Speedway. NBC will air the final live that day at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s What Drivers Said after qualifying for the 102nd Indy 500

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Here’s What Drivers Said after Sunday’s pole and qualifying day for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 pole winner): (About if he goes home and dreams about the Indianapolis 500): “Most nights (laughter) to be honest. But, I’ve just got to thank my team. That first lap blew my mind. I figured we could run a 229 mph based on last night. My run last night actually wasn’t very good. The car wasn’t near as good as we’ve been. So, I knew had more left but I wasn’t expecting a 230 mph, but the whole ECR team, especially the guys on my No. 20 car, they’ve put so much love into this car and it means everything to me to put us in a position like this. And to be able to share the top nine in this whole thing with Spencer (Pigot), his first time in the top nine with Preferred Freezer, and Danica (Patrick) with GoDaddy, we’re super happy to be here and obviously it couldn’t be possible without Fuzzy’s Vodka. Hopefully, we can keep doing this a long time.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet) – starts 2nd: “We gave our best. It was an incredible run. The No. 22 Menards team did a phenomenal job on the car yesterday and today. Ed (Carpenter) was just a little faster. It is what it is. It’s qualifying, and you try everything you have. I hate the waiting part of qualifying. Waiting is the worst because you don’t know what the others have. But we gave everything we had. It’s going to be a front row for us, and I thank the team and Chevrolet for an incredible job. Chevrolet, man, it’s incredible what they gave us. Team Penske did an excellent job preparing for this event. I’m super excited.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) – starts 3rd: “We weren’t going to beat a 230 mph lap. That’s very impressive. I don’t know how he (Ed Carpenter) did it in these conditions. I’m kind of happy with my run. If I could stay on the front row, too, that would be awesome. We’ll see what happens now. I feel good. I’ve had a very positive month, so we’ll see what we can do.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) – starts 4th: “You hope to go last in this sort of deal, but we didn’t. All these Team Penske cars have been so quick this month. We have a lot of great people working on them. Team Chevy has really brought their A-game. They’re going to get it done today, and hopefully, we can do it next weekend. I’m looking at my teammates, hoping we can get all four cars up front.” (On adjustments on the car after practice): “Some of it was eye-opening. We had a little moment in Turn 1, but it was a good practice for us to figure things out and see what we wanted to do. We made a lot of good decisions. You can always do things a little bit better after the fact, but for everything we knew, we put a really solid effort together. I’m really proud of the team.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda) – starts 5th: “It was just a great weekend for the SealMaster Honda No. 18. We are the top Honda car. I’m starting fifth in the middle of Row 2. I am really proud of everything the guys have done. 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. It has probably been the hardest weekend and the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I am glad it is over.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet) – starts 6th: “It feels great to be in an awesome qualifying run here. I have massively improved from every other time I’ve run in this race, so I’m definitely excited about that and the potential for us here next Sunday. ECR (Ed Carpenter Racing) has done a great job this year and our team is doing really well. I feel like Ed (Carpenter) has a really good shot for this race, especially after last night, but then again, I think all three of the ECR drivers do. It’s really great to be a part of this team, and I’m excited for what is in store this year in Indy.”

DANICA PATRICK (No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet) – starts 7th: “Before I went out, I kept saying I wanted it to be a boring run, well, as boring as it can be when you’re going 230 mph or more. I just wanted everything to be predictable and flow really well. I was able to chase the car with my cockpit adjustments and try and keep the speed in the car the whole run. These are tough conditions when it’s hot and humid out here, and the wind is up a little, but overall, my run was as boring as you can possibly get. I’m happy with it, and looking forward to next Sunday.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet) – starts 8th: “This is exciting for the fans. It’s exciting for us – for the teams and the drivers. When I saw that 230 mph, I was like, ‘Do we have enough to go that fast?’ And the guys were like, ‘Well, if we have a little help from the wind we might.’ But it’s all about being there in the end. I had to take that chance, otherwise I would be thinking, ‘I should have done it.’ Right now, we are happy to be competitive, but let’s see what’s going to happen in the race.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) – starts 9th: “It’s always a tricky situation whether or not you go out and practice in the morning. The conditions are so different really, so we elected not to just like last year. The PNC Bank car was good, we tried a couple things today we hoped would pick up the speed. It didn’t pan out, but we were in the Fast Nine for the second straight year and we’re proud of that. We’ll just have to now see how the race plays out.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – starts 10th: “What a great effort. As a team. A.J. (Foyt) and Larry (Foyt) put so much effort into this over the winter. They gave us everything I asked and they stepped up. I have a brand new car for this race, Matheus (Leist) has a brand new car. They spent every single dime to give us a good car. We’re a little team, but we’re having a lot of fun. This is for them. I told them today our pole is going to be 10th. This is pole in my books.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – starts 11th: “Since our first day here, the car has been quick. We knew that we could have a fast car today. I’m so happy for the team and for Tony (Kanaan). Both crews did an awesome job preparing us for qualifying. We were just fast. I think that if qualifying was yesterday and we had this car, we would probably be in the Fast Nine. I’m just so happy for this team. Everyone deserves it. I’m looking forward to the race now.” (About if he was expecting this success): “Yeah, I was expecting to be up front with Tony. I think that we both did a great job. I don’t feel the pressure. Normally, I get nervous, but I didn’t feel pressure. I think I’ve learned how to deal well with being nervous. The only thing that really makes me nervous was how track conditions were changing and how that would make the car feel different. After the first warm up lap, I could tell that I had more front grip than I had the rest of this week. Front grip makes the car a little more tricky to drive because you have to let the car go a bit, which is tough to do sometimes. It made the first couple turns difficult, but I figured out how to deal with it here. Now here we are, P11.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda) – starts 12th: “I thought it was alright. I was chasing balance end to end. Even though there’s not that much wind, the balance end to end was different and it kind of caught me out. Lap 2 exiting Turn 1, (I) had a big washout, but then corrected with the tools and just road it out. I’m excited about the race that’s for sure. Yesterday wouldn’t have been enough for the top nine – I just want to be Row 4 because we can get it done from there.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda) – starts 13th: “I’m really excited for the race in the No. 19 Paysafe car. I struggled a little bit with the no-tow speed and we really picked it up today and made some big improvements. It’s great to see how well we’re working together. It’s extremely encouraging as a rookie to do what we’ve done this weekend. Especially with our struggles earlier this week and yesterday in the first day of qualifying. It shows what a relentless team we are. We worked really hard, we stayed at the track late most nights and we got a good qualifying car. I’m super happy to end up where we are as a rookie. I believe in my ability in the race, more so than qualifying, that’s something that I need to work on, so to start so far forward makes my life easier as a driver. It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words. 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.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda) – starts 14th: “I was hoping for more – but I think that’s the speed the car has it in. That last lap killed us a little bit. I was really aggressive with the tools. I had a good balance with the car – my engineers told me we had wind pick up on our last lap. Only in the last six or seven cars has the wind really changed from the south to the north direction, which is a headwind on the backstraight, and that kind of killed the speed on the back. It just is what it is, that’s how it works. I’m looking forward to focusing on the race car tomorrow. If you have a good race car here, none of this qualifying stuff matters.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet) – starts 15th: “All week we’ve been trying to be as methodical as possible and just making sure we were prepared for the stress and the pressure of yesterday. Having gone through the qualifying process yesterday, we doubled our experience for today. We were just trying to maximize and optimize what we had and not take any big risks – really just trying to be smart. The No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet moved around more than I was expecting, but nothing particularly uncomfortable on that run. I’m just so proud of these Carlin guys and where they started before the winter to where they are now with two cars in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race – just a huge credit to them.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda) – starts 16th: “We found some consistency. We are trying to find the ultimate speed and are still working on that, but we found some consistency. The engineering group is really working hard. The three of us had kind of a difficult day yesterday, but at least we were happy and at least we got a consistent run out of it today. We definitely learned a lot and made a step forward. Now we have a completely different scenario concentrating on the race car. We have some time to work on the race car between Monday and Carb Day. In traffic, the car has to be really strong and consistency is important too. If it is a hot race, at the end of the race, everyone will struggle with tire degradation. I think that’s the one we really need to work on.”

KYLE KAISER (No. 32 NFP / Juncos Racing Chevrolet) – starts 17th: “What an amazing day. I am in shock right now that we are going to be starting 17th for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. It was a stellar performance by the team. They gave me a super quick car for qualifying. The conditions were very challenging as the wind picked up and it got really hot, but we made it through and put in the best lap in these conditions. I am so proud of the entire Juncos Racing crew and I am thrilled to represent NFP in the race next weekend.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda) – starts 18th: “I’m confused by this whole thing… We were able to comfortably do a 228 (mph) this morning in the Lucas Oil car, and then we go out for qualifying, and I do a 226 and we didn’t change anything. Maybe we’re not catching the track conditions right, I don’t know, but the same thing happened yesterday. It’s just frustrating because now we have a lot of work to do ahead of the race. I have to say it’s still very cool to be able to start in my first Indianapolis 500.”

JAMES DAVISON (No. 33 Jonathan Byrd’s 502 East Chevrolet) – starts 19th: “It’s been an incredible weekend for the team after our mishap on Friday. We had to endure a very long night, obviously it’s always depressing when you have a crashed car around here. We punched above our weight on bump day, and got ourselves in, but didn’t show our hand. We really laid it down on pole day to move from 33rd to 19th. It’s basically two days in a row the team has been rewarded for their hard work, making the show and moving up 14 positions on the grid. Unexpected results are always really nice in motorsports and we got that today with our improvement, substantially. Just very proud of the entire team and want to keep the momentum going next week.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet) – starts 20th: “The No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet has been decent all month with the pace not going off. We’ve just had a really consistent car. It hasn’t been the quickest, but it’s been really good over four laps. This is our first time here with Carlin and we’re just so proud to be in the race and get both cars into the top 20. Obviously, where you start the race is important, but as I know from last year, I was one lap down 30 laps into the race it and I ended up leading more laps than anyone. The Indianapolis 500 is all about being in the front with 10 to go.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 29 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda) – starts 21st: “I want this race. I’ve been so close, so many years. I love the Indy 500. I’m a little disappointed in our qualifying. My last run wasn’t what I expected – this morning we were much quicker, and I don’t really know what happened. Even yesterday we were quicker. I’m really proud of my Ruoff Home Mortgage guys, though. I think the most important thing is to have a good car for the race and now we’ll switch our focus to making our race car the best – that’s what really matters.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet) – starts 22nd: This was the fastest run that we have had for qualifying, so we had a good run. We just need to keep improving it and keep working forward. The car has been pretty competitive all month and so that’s the important thing, so we just need to take it from there.

STEFAN WILSON (No. 25 #Driven2SaveLives Honda) – starts 23rd: “I’m honestly a bit disappointed with our qualifying run today. I thought we found something overnight, and it felt like this morning when we went out the car had some speed. I was really hoping to improve on yesterday’s run and I think we ended up slower than yesterday’s run. So, I’m a bit disappointed right now, honestly, but now we’ll focus on the race car and running in traffic.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 24 WIX Filters DRR Chevrolet) – starts 24th: (About his frustration with his qualifying effort): “It just doesn’t make sense. We ran more downforce yesterday, and it didn’t really have speed. So, we took some away today and it went slower. This new car is just tricky. It just doesn’t really do what a conventional car usually does around here. I don’t think it really mattered if I was going to qualify 10th or 30th; it’s going to be a difficult race. No matter where you are you can’t pass, so you’re going to be struggling anyway. Unless you qualify first, second or third, you really can’t do anything. I’m just going to have to have good pit stops and win it in the pits and try to get to the front. But it’s not going to be like my last four Indy 500s where you can just storm through the field. We just have to find a different way to get there.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay / Group One Thousand One Honda) – starts 25th: “We tried some things that we thought we needed and the car is pretty good – just not the speed we needed. Honestly, I’m a little shocked – a little concerned. The balance felt like where it needed to be, I just don’t understand where the speed went. It’s going to be tough starting where we’re starting with that kind of speed, so we’re going to need all the help we can get in traffic, but it’s a long race, so we’ll see.”

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 64 Scuderia Corsa/Manitowoc Honda) – starts 26th: “We just tried to get a good baseline today, nothing crazy, to get a solid four laps. I feel we are in a good place to regain confidence from yesterday. Now we just need to focus on the race. We have a good place to go back to; Thursday we had a good car in traffic. Obviously, we wanted to start way more forward than where we are, but I have come from the back many times in this race. It just makes your life easier when you start from the front. But I guess I am going to have to work a little hard on May 27th, but that is what we are here for.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 66 Saleforce DRR Chevrolet) – starts 27th: “We were way overly loaded up with downforce. We need to be able to get some speed out of the car to be able to get the thing wicked up and run four laps. If we need to make balance changes to do that, we need to make balance changes to do that. That’s for sure how the Penske guys are going out there and running like they are. They’re as trimmed as they can possibly be. I’m happy to stick it in the show. Tomorrow (practice) is a much more important day than today. It’s a little bit frustrating to miss that. The guys on the No. 66 car are awesome to work with. I expect us to be able to get right back in the mix.”

JAY HOWARD (No. 7 One Cure SPM Honda) – starts 28th: “Obviously, I’m just really happy to have the opportunity to go out there and give the One Cure car a good qualification effort. The pace is certainly not there or what we expected. We went out for practice this morning and were considerably quicker than that (qualifying effort). I guess I’m a little disappointed – we all want to go fast; that what we want to do as drivers. We’re in the race, that’s the most important thing.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) – starts 29th: “On Lap 3, I went into Turn 1 and just lost the front of the NTT DATA car, unfortunately. So, I almost got into the wall and had to lift, which really killed the momentum. That lap really hurt the average and it’s pretty upsetting to have that happen, especially after having a solid car yesterday. Everything changed today and we did our best. But we have a good race car and now we focus on the race.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda) – starts 30th: “I’m happy to be in the race. From the word ‘go’ on Tuesday, we struggled with pace. Everyone on this United Rentals team has worked as hard as they possibly could. I ran the exact same setup as Takuma (Sato), but the car is a mile and a half an hour slower. It makes no sense but that is the fact. At the end of this, what we can take away is that it’s been a great team-building exercise. All three teams – the Nos. 15, 30 and 64 guys – had their backs up against the wall, and we all made it in. We will practice tomorrow and focus on the race.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM MSR w/SPM Honda) – starts 31st: “I don’t have any big issues with the track, it just comes down to not having a ton of qualifying speed this weekend. We are in the race and yesterday proved anything can happen. Obviously, the important thing is making it in and we did. We were hoping for a much better session than that (today), but I think we have a good car for the race, so I’m looking forward to next week and battling the field.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) – starts 32nd: “The NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Honda deserved to be higher up. I thought we were fighting for a position in Row 4 and we ended up in the last row. We’ll look into it, but that’s what makes this place what it is. We saw yesterday there are a lot of curveballs that are unexpected around here. Starting this far back is a new challenge and a new opportunity to show what we can do. I have a lot of experienced people around me who have had a lot of starts here – some at the front, some at the back, so I’ll lean on them and we’ll go forward from there.”

CONOR DALY (No. 17 United States Air Force Honda) – starts 33rd: “No dramas today, but we’re fighting for miles an hour. All I can do is put my foot down and do the best we can for our incredible partners at the U.S. Air Force. It’s incredible to be here with them and at this point, I’m just thankful to be in the field. I’d like to be a lot quicker, but we’ll see what we can do in practice tomorrow to improve our race car.”