Foust reflects on Red Bull GRC’s evolution, growth, what wins mean now


Having captured the 2011 and 2012 Supercars championships in the Red Bull Global Rallycross, Tanner Foust knows a thing or two about bringing home hardware.

Which is why if he and his Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team do so this year, it will mean more in what is arguably going to be the deepest field yet in series history.

Andretti is one of four IndyCar team owners in Red Bull GRC, along with Chip Ganassi, Bryan Herta and James “Sulli” Sullivan (with Dennis Reinbold as a partner).

That is in addition to rally powerhouse organizations like Olsbergs MSE (OMSE), Subaru Rally Team USA, Hoonigan Racing Division and Rhys Millen Racing.

So if you win in Red Bull GRC 2015, you’ve accomplished something. Foust more than anyone can attest to that, as he saddles up in the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Volkswagen Beetle.

“I was with GRC when it was a napkin scratch,” Foust told MotorSportsTalk during the Red Bull GRC media day in Long Beach.

“We kind of dominated the series when people were just learning the sport.

“So winning now, when you have the likes of Herta, Ganassi, and Andretti battling it out, it’s quite a bit more gratifying and quite a bit more difficult.

“Everybody has upped their game. Everyone knows that. We’re all a lot more serious. Hopefully it produces great racing and a great show.”

Foust has been busy this offseason, between returning to drifting in a 900-horsepower Rockstar Energy Drink / Nitto Tire Volkswagen Passat, and he’s racing in select stops of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Formula Drift and the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.

GRC is his focus for this year, but Foust notes that keeping fresh is half the battle given the length of the offseason from Las Vegas last November to Fort Lauderdale on May 31.

“According to I’m on a warpath to drive every Volkswagen model made in a race at some point this year and I’m doing pretty good so far!” Foust said.

“My focus is GRC. It’s a short season. It’s only seven events plus X Games. There is time to chase other opportunities and have fun.

“Building and drifting a 900-horsepower Passat was just as it sounds – pretty out of the box! It’s still a great adventure.”

Foust is determined to build on the 2014 season, which was arguably his toughest yet in the championship. Despite 10 heat race wins, Foust had only one win in the feature races and ended ninth in points.

“You can’t help but be very focused when you’re with the Andretti crew. Everyone is focused on performance and winning. Talking GRC, that is the environment.”

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)