Red Bull GRC: Championship contenders Wiman, Block, Speed advance to Vegas final

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Three of the four Red Bull Global Rallycross title contenders did what they had to do in the semifinals of tonight’s season finale at The LINQ in Las Vegas.

Scott Speed (third, -27 points) finished second in the first semifinal behind Bucky Lasek to advance to the final, while Ken Block (second, -10 points) and points leader Joni Wiman did the same by finishing first and second respectively in the other semi.

But Nelson Piquet Jr. (fourth, -30 points) was forced to bow out of his semi after just one lap due to a reported gearbox problem on his Ford Fiesta ST. As a result, he will have to advance to the final out of the Last Chance Qualifier.

SEMIFINAL ONE

A pair of heat wins allowed Speed to move up to third in the standings prior to Semifinal One. Driving his new VW Beetle, Speed assumed the early lead but on the fourth of six laps, Lasek took the lead from the former NASCAR/F1 pilot coming out of the dirt jump. He then held off Speed the rest of the way.

Lasek pulled off the win despite being involved in a first-lap incident that had him make contact with Rhys Millen. Tanner Foust also sustained damage in the sequence of events and subsequently retired early. Steve Arpin – who was brought to a full stop by the melee but got going again – rallied to capture third place and the last transfer to the final.

SEMIFINAL TWO

Then came the second semi, which featured the other three drivers involved in the championship fight – Block, Wiman, and Piquet. But while Block and Wiman quickly shot to the front, Piquet was unable to launch off the start with the rest of the field.

After a few moments, Piquet finally got going but ultimately came to a stop off-course. Meanwhile, Block and Wiman pulled away and finished 1-2, with Patrik Sandell finishing third to join them in the final.

That sets up tonight’s LCQ at 9:20 p.m. ET. The Top 4 finishers there will go to the final at 10:35 p.m. ET.

REMINDER: Tonight’s GRC season finale will be broadcast Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m. ET on your local NBC station. The broadcast will also be streamed online and on mobile devices through NBC Sports Live Extra.

Simon Pagenaud’s engineer relives 2019 Indy 500 victory on Twitter

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The Team Penske engineer for last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner is reliving Simon Pagenaud’s day by tweeting about what he was doing each moment a year later.

Starting with an observation that he awoke in his Indianapolis hotel room at 4:30 a.m., Ben Bretzman (@benbretzman) sent nearly two dozen tweets by 11 a.m. ET about how the morning before the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 unfolded.

Bretzman was through the infield tunnel and in Gasoline Alley by 6 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., he was wondering if his driver was awake yet, but he had heard for the first time from Pagenaud 45 minutes later.

‘BACK HOME AGAIN’Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, NBC

FIERCE FRIENDSHIPPagenaud, Rossi recall epic battle of 2019 Indy 500

Among other highlights: The team’s last strategy meeting was at 8:30 a.m.; final check of the weather was at 9:30 a.m. and Bretzman gave the No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet a once-over at 10:35 a.m. before it was pushed to the grid.

Follow @BenBretzman to watch the day unfold from the pit box and tune into “Back Home Again at 2 p.m. ET on NBC as Pageanud and Alexander Rossi, who are good friends off the track, recap their epic duel with host Mike Tirico.

Simon Pagenaud and engineer Ben Bretzman debrief at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IndyCar photo by Joe Skibinski).