Scott Speed defends his X Games Gold Medal in Red Bull Global Rallycross

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Today’s X Games at Circuit of the Americas in Austin may not be a points-paying round for the Red Bull Global Rallycross, but it is one of the championship’s signature events.

And for the second consecutive year, Scott Speed of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross has earned the X Games Gold Medal.

Brian Deegan, in his first start of the season for Chip Ganassi Racing’s new rallycross team, CGR Rallycross, battled OMSE’s Sebastian Eriksson, a Red Bull GRC rookie, to kick off the race.

But Speed, in the No. 41 Shark Week Volkswagen Beetle for VARX, got into medal contention after SH Rallycross substitute driver Andreas Bakkerud spun out of contention.

Speed was past Eriksson by the halfway point and able to pull away from there. CGR’s other driver, Steve Arpin, was able to make it into second with Eriksson holding off Deegan for third and the final podium position.

It gives Speed his first win of the season after winning three points-paying races, plus X Games, in 2014.

“It was a crazy final race, definitely the most gratifying of my career from the fact that it just took so much work, not only from myself, but from the whole Volkswagen Andretti team,” Speed said.

“I’m sure the show for the X Games fans was amazing; I know I cannot wait to get back home and watch it. It was a true testament to the Beetle because it took a beating out there.

“Ideally it would have been nice to just get through Turn 1 on the inside and just check away from the field, but that didn’t happen. I’d much rather win X Games Gold that way, it was a dog fight and when you are able to close on the win after such a battle is an incredible feeling.”

And, for good measure, he won in 2013 at the X Games, too.

It also gives Andretti a win over Ganassi for the second straight week. Call it a reach, but Andretti Autosport banked its first Verizon IndyCar Series win of the year a week ago Saturday in Detroit with Carlos Munoz winning the race and the highest-placed Ganassi driver, Scott Dixon, in fifth place.

Ganassi himself, meanwhile, seemed over the moon with Arpin bringing his Ford Fiesta home in second in only his second race with the team.

As Ganassi is set for his own Triple Crown weekend, with races in Red Bull GRC, IndyCar and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, I coined a term on Twitter to describe his weekend.

As for Red Bull GRC, its next event is a return to points-paying status, at Daytona June 20-21. That will be live at 2 p.m. ET, Sunday June 21, on NBC.

Unofficial results are linked below:

Even with half the purse and no fans, Indy 500 still has major team value

Indy 500 purse fans
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Even with reportedly half the purse and no fans in attendance, NTT IndyCar Series driver-owner Ed Carpenter believes it remains “absolutely critical” to hold the 104th Indy 500.

“Far and away it’s what makes and breaks our season as teams,” the Ed Carpenter Racing namesake told reporters during a Zoom media availability last week. “It’s the most important event to our partners. It 100 percent sucks not having fans there and not even being able to have the experience with our partners in full being there. But it’s necessary.

“We’ve got to look at all the hard decisions now of what we have to do to be in a position to have fans in 2021. It’s critical for the health of the teams that we have this race to make sure we have teams back here next year. That sounds a little dramatic, but that’s the reality.

HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBCDetails for the Aug. 23 race

DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy

“We live in not only a very volatile world right now, but our industry and motorsport in general, it’s not an easy business to operate. When you lose your marquee event, it’s a lot different than looking at losing Portland on the schedule or Barber. They’re in totally different atmospheres as far as the importance to us and our partners.”

Robin Miller reported on RACER.com that IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske told team owners last week the purse for the postponed Indianapolis 500 was slashed from $15 to $7.5 million. Miller reported holding the Aug. 23 race (1 p.m. ET, NBC) would be a $20 million hit to the bottom line.

Carpenter still is supportive of Penske’s “outstanding job” of leading the series through the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Even with a 50 percent purse reduction, the Indy 500 remains the linchpin of teams’ economic viability.

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The schedule has taken many hits with the cancellation of races at Barber Motorsports Park, Circuit of the Americas, Detroit, Portland International Raceway, Laguna Seca and Toronto, and another race weekend doubleheader at Mid-Ohio has been indefinitely postponed.

That leaves the 2020 slate at 12 confirmed races of an original 17, which has raised questions about how many races teams need to fulfill sponsor obligations.

“It’s a moving target,” said Carpenter, who announced the U.S. Space Force as a new sponsor for the Indy 500. “I think we’ve been pretty blessed as a team with the level of commitment of our partners and their understanding of COVID-19 and the impact on our schedule, our contracts.

“All of it is out of our control, out of the series’ control, the promoter’s control. At the end of the day is there a firm number (of races) I can give? No. But definitely every one that we lose, it does make it harder to continue having those conversations.

I think everyone’s as confident as you can be right now with what we have in front of us with what’s remaining on the schedule. Things are so fluid, it changes day-to-day, let alone week-to-week. We just have to take it as it comes. Right now the focus is on the 500 and maximizing this month to the best we possibly can given the situation.”

That’ll be hard this month for Carpenter, who grew up in Indianapolis and is the stepson of Tony George, whose family owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway for decades.

Having spent a lifetime around the Brickyard, Carpenter will feel the ache of missing fans as he races in his 17th Indy 500.

Ed Carpenter, shown racing his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway last month, led a race-high 65 laps and finished second in the 2018 Indy 500 (Chris Jones/IndyCar).

“Over that time you develop relationships that are centered around standing outside of your garage in Gasoline Alley,” he said. “It stinks, it sucks that we don’t get to share that passion we all have that is the Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately it’s the reality we’re in right now.

I think this is the best that we can do unfortunately. Without a doubt it’s going to be a different environment. You’re going to be missing the sounds and a lot of the sights and colors. For sure I’ve thought about it. It’s going to be a different morning, different lead-in to the race. After 16 of them, you have a cadence and anticipation for the buildup. That’s all going to be different this year.

“I’m confident it’s not going to affect the type of show we put on or the excitement and how aggressive we are fighting for an Indy 500 win. It’s still going to mean the same thing. We’re just not going to have our fans to celebrate with after the fact. But it’s going to be historic.”