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.