Red Bull GRC: Foust, Eriksson win doubleheader in Daytona

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Tanner Foust (Saturday, Round 2) and Sebastian Eriksson (Sunday, Round 3) have split the wins in the Supercars finals in the Red Bull Global Rallycross doubleheader in Daytona.

ROUND 2

Foust, in the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Volkswagen Beetle for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, fought through missing heat races and a mechanical to survive in the final itself on Saturday.

Foust took the lead on Saturday after a collision between Round 1 winner Ken Block and Patrik Sandell, the two front row starters. Austin Dyne of Bryan Herta Rallysport and Eriksson of Olsbergs MSE finished second and third.

“Once I came into the second corner of the first lap, there was mayhem and a few crashes around us,” Foust said post-race.

“A couple of cars in front of me collided and I ended up just sneaking through, I literally just went to the open track and drove away. There was a little bit of damage to the Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle, but it’s strong and it held together for the win. It’s awesome for the whole Volkswagen Andretti team after such a hectic day.”

But in Foust’s semifinal on Sunday, the crew had to work to repair the car once more. The right front suspension appeared to collapse following contact between Foust and Eriksson in the seminal.

“I was trying to give Eriksson room, he led into the first corner, and we both needed a clean lap so they couldn’t catch up on the second lap,” Foust told NBC’s Kristen Kenney. “He went so tight on the hairpin… I didn’t want to be that close to him. I clipped him on the inside. I think we broke the control arm.”

Despite the contact, Foust made it into the final after all after finishing second in the last chance qualifier.

ROUND 3

Eriksson was able to get a launch from the start of Sunday’s Round 3, while the action was occurring behind him.

Nelson Piquet Jr. made a great launch from 10th up to fourth, while Sandell pulled off on the first lap; meanwhile Jeff Ward collected Scott Speed a little later in the race.

Eriksson led from Round 1 winner Ken Block up front, while the battle was firmly for third and the final podium position.

Joni Wiman, Eriksson’s OMSE teammate, briefly held the spot with two laps to go before he contacted the concrete barrier with two laps to go, as he was engaged in a battle with Foust and Steve Arpin for the final podium position.

Arpin then fell back and into the clutches of Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Ward, in his weekend debut in Red Bull GRC, before contact occurred between the two on the final lap. Ward was dropped a position post-race, per the series, for rough driving.

It mattered not to Eriksson, who completed a double podium on the weekend, made it an OMSE Sunday sweep with Austin Cindric winning again in GRC Lites, and moved into the points lead.

“It has been a good day all day,” Eriksson told Kenney. “Had a great start in the finals. Took it safe in the first lap. After that I drove my own race and that was enough. Still nine races to go, but it’s good to be a few points ahead more than a few points down.”

Block finished second ahead of Arpin, with Ward dropped to fourth and Foust fifth.

“Man it was awesome to have [Ward] out here. I really enjoyed it,” Block told Kenney. “That final was nuts. I was getting knocked all around. It was fun. Congrats to Eriksson. It was a battle.”

Despite losing the position, Ward enjoyed his maiden weekend in Red Bull GRC.

“I just came here to learn. I knew with 360fly and Chip Ganassi Racing we’d have a quality car,” Ward told Kenney.” I knew I could drive, but I just knew I had to not make mistakes. Super cool to run with Scott, Ken and Tanner Foust.”

Red Bull GRC is off until Sunday, July 5, for a race at MCAS New River. It will air live at 5 p.m. ET on NBC.

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?