GRC Lites’ class of 2015 look to stand out

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It’s not just the Red Bull Global Rallycross Supercars season that opens up this weekend at Fort Lauderdale.

It’s also first round of the GRC Lites campaign (race airs at 4:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday June 3, on NBCSN).

ENTRY LIST

This offers the next generation of stars a chance to showcase themselves on GRC weekends, and so far, it’s already produced graduates into Supercars.

Joni Wiman, the 2013 GRC Lites champion, moved up to Supercars last year and snatched the championship at the final round of the year.

The field this year of 10 cars for the race is split evenly, half and half between returnees and rookies.

One of North America’s more versatile up-and-coming drivers, 16-year-old Austin Cindric, should be a title contender this year, now as Wiman’s Olsbsergs MSE teammate and one of OMSE’s two GRC Lites drivers.

“Joining OMSE … it’s such a powerhouse team,” Cindric told MotorSportsTalk at the Red Bull GRC media day in Long Beach. “Working with Andreas (Eriksson) is quite an opportunity. It’s a significant point in my career.”

Cindric, along with both women drivers in the series in Colette Davis and Jackie Heinricher, have past open-wheel experience and are converting over to rally. Cindric also races a Ford Mustang Boss 302R for Multimatic Motorsports full-time in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class.

“I don’t even think I could list everything I learned last year,” Cindric said. “It’s quite a steep learning curve, with the four-wheel drive car, the format, and racing on dirt.”

Davis, a former USF2000 driver who will drive the River Racing entry for Bryan Herta Rallysport, spoke of how late her deal came together for the season.

“I recently got my first taste of dirt at Dirtfish for three days earlier this year,” she told MST at media day. “It’s breaking old habits. I have to be patient to let new ones sink in. I think this year will be a lot about learning as much as I can. There’s a foundation I have deep down to push myself. There’s a lot of changes that I’ve had to learn in 30 days.”

Heinricher has a good story, having worked in the biotechnical field and serving as the founder and former president and CEO of Booshoot, before she caught the racing bug. She has some open-wheel experience and has also competed in Ferrari Challenge.

“The first time I took the car testing on slicks was an eye opener,” she told MST at media day. “It’s surprising how much grip you actually have on tires on dirt. It just adds an element to the racing that is an absolutely blast.”

Heinricher’s other big project? It’s anti-bullying, and she hopes to spread her message through her racing in GRC Lites.

“Kids today face so many challenging issues including bullying and self-esteem issues,” she said. “To have this message on my car will be a great thing to see.”

They are but three of the interesting drivers to watch in GRC Lites this season, although there will be plenty to watch.

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.