Red Bull GRC: Rhys Millen wins Race 2 in L.A.; Ken Block takes championship lead

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Rhys Millen picked up his second career Red Bull Global Rallycross win with a clean run in Race 2 at the Port of Los Angeles.

Millen won his semifinal heat to earn a front row spot for the final. There, he took the hole shot and pulled away from Ken Block and Joni Wiman to score the triumph on his adopted “home” track.

FULL RACE REPLAY: Red Bull Global Rallycross: Los Angeles, Race 2

“We struggled all year long and to get that victory at Daytona was fantastic for everybody,” he told NBC Sports. “But to come back here and back it up, this is incredible.”

An equally big winner today was Block, who leaves Los Angeles as the championship leader by 18 points over Wiman heading into the last two races of the year.

“Right now, it’s all about conserving those points and trying to win the championship, so I’m really, really stoked to come away with second today,” Block told NBCSN.

“I can’t wait to get back on the dirt [next week at Seattle], so if it’s anything like the feeling I had at Charlotte when I was able to win by a large margin, I’ll be very, very happy.”

Scott Speed drops back to third in the standings at 24 points behind Block following a sixth-place finish today, while Nelson Piquet Jr. falls to fourth at 34 points back after finishing ninth.

Piquet, who entered L.A. leading the championship by 40 points over Block, acknowledged that he’s now in all-or-nothing mode.

“It’s very simple: Win in Seattle,” Piquet said. “That’s the only way to regain points.”

Block actually took the championship lead with a heat win on Sunday morning, and in Semifinal One, he then beat out Bucky Lasek and Austin Dyne.

But Speed, the Race 1 winner from Saturday, hit the wall moments after he appeared to have dodged an incident involving Patrik Sandell and Emma Gilmour.

Later replays showed that Sandell avoided a spin after apparent contact with Gilmour, but in an attempt to clear him, Speed clipped Sandell and went spinning himself.

Speed re-fired his No. 77 Volkswagen Polo, but with front suspension damage, he was forced to bow out early to get the car repaired in time for the Last Chance Qualifier.

Adding to the frustration for the Andretti camp, teammate Tanner Foust didn’t even start Semifinal One due to engine problems on his No. 34 VW Beetle.

In Semifinal Two, Sverre Isachsen nabbed the hole shot but was judged to have jumped the start and served a stop/go penalty.

Up front, Millen assumed control of the race with Wiman and Travis Pastrana in pursuit. The battle for fourth heated up on Lap 4, when Piquet got sideways over the dirt jump and went into the back of Steve Arpin.

Arpin’s left rear tire began to smoke after the contact, and Piquet was penalized at Lap 5. At the checkered flag, Millen, Wiman and Pastrana finished in the Top 3 to move to the final.

Neither Foust nor Arpin were able to make the LCQ, leaving just five cars on the grid. Just like in his semifinal, Speed had a slow start but used the joker on Lap 3 of 4 to move ahead of Gilmour into the fourth and final transfer spot.

Isachsen, Sandell, Piquet, and Speed ended up with the top four spots and advanced to the main event, which proved relatively uneventful as Millen led from start-to-finish and Block played things conservatively with the championship in mind.

The penultimate race of the 2014 GRC championship (Round 9) takes place next Saturday at DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie, Washington. You can catch it the following day, Sunday, Sept. 28, at 4:30 p.m. ET on your NBC station.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.