No wins? No problem.
Needing a second-place finish in tonight’s Red Bull Global Rallycross final at The LINQ in Las Vegas to capture the 2014 championship, rookie Joni Wiman got the job done with a runner-up performance behind race winner and title rival Ken Block.
The full final will be broadcast on your local NBC station and NBC Sports Live Extra for online/mobile devices on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Wiman, driver of the No. 31 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST, did not earn a single race win this season but earned the title by a mere five points over the Head Hoonigan In Charge.
But Block proved quite gracious in defeat. After Wiman climbed to the top of his car with fists in the air, Block saluted the new champion by doing donuts around him in his No. 43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford.
“I’m so happy for the team,” an exhausted but joyful Wiman said afterwards on tonight’s live-stream broadcast. “Everybody has worked hard. We’ve been believing in what we can do. My goal was to finish behind Ken, and I did. I feel like I have no legs right now.”
The 10-lap final was just a few seconds old when Scott Speed, the other title contender in the main event, made contact with Bucky Lasek going into Turn 1 while Block held the holeshot on the inside. Speed and Lasek went skidding into the tire barriers, and the race was red-flagged.
Both Speed and Lasek were able to return for the restart (Speed had to take that from the back row by order of Race Control), which saw Block take the holeshot and Wiman fall to third behind him and Lasek.
An undaunted Speed roared from the back and was up to fourth before taking the joker and moving to third past Wiman at the end of the opening lap. At that point, race leader Block was in position to win the title.
But on the fourth lap, Wiman decided to take the joker himself and got out ahead of both Lasek and Speed to move into second place.
“I didn’t get the call to do the joker, but I saw that I might have an opportunity to do it,” Wiman said.
That move on his part swung the championship back in his corner. Lasek and Speed initially hounded him for the runner-up spot, but Wiman ultimately got away from them.
And that was basically that. Block picked up his second victory of the season by almost a margin of three seconds, but Wiman, with his fifth podium finish and his fourth such finish in as many races, clinched the title.
“Unfortunately with the way the points were, no matter how well I did, it was kind of fate with whatever happened with Joni,” Block said. “He did a good job. He put himself in the right position – if he had been one more [spot] back, I would’ve won the championship.
“It is what it is. Myself, my team, we put in 100 percent. We did everything we could to win. I led every lap and it just wasn’t enough. But that’s racing.”
Lasek ended his 2014 campaign with his third podium of the year, while Speed finished fourth and secured third place in the standings at 37 points behind Wiman. Sverre Isachsen completed tonight’s Top 5 finishers, while Emma Gilmour finished seventh after becoming the first female in GRC history to make a Supercar main event following her advance out of the Last Chance Qualifier.
Nelson Piquet Jr., the fourth title contender going into Vegas, did not make the final after gearbox problems in his semifinal heat caused him to ultimately miss the LCQ. He ends the year fourth in points, 75 markers behind Wiman.