Red Bull GRC: 2015 Midseason Review

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The Red Bull Global Rallycross season heads into the second half of the season starting with this weekend in Washington, D.C.

Just as in the first half, there will be four weekends with six races apiece – including two doubleheaders.

Here’s a quick recap of the first half:

Top driver: Ken Block, Hoonigan Racing Division

Block has come out firing in his No. 43 Monster Energy Ford Fiesta ST after coming up just shy of the 2014 title. He’s already eclipsed his final round win total, three (Ft. Lauderdale, MCAS New River, Detroit race one) to two, in just six races. And he was poised for another top-three result in Detroit race two before Block was, in his estimation, unfairly penalized by race officials after first-lap contact in a domino-effect type of wreck. Other than contact in Daytona race one, Block has been the driver to beat in a field now almost fully occupied by Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar race-winning teams.

Surprise driver: Sebastian Eriksson, Olsbergs MSE

Eriksson is delivering a season reminiscent of his teammate, Joni Wiman, last year through the opening six races. Eriksson was a late arrival to the team – named after Mitchell DeJong’s plans fell through – however he’s been entirely consistent thus far. The young Swede pushed Wiman in GRC Lites in 2013, and thus far exceeded him in the opening half of 2015 with one final round win and four podiums in six races. He also captured the Bronze medal at X Games in Austin. Eriksson, 26 points behind points leader Block, has the best chance to unseat him as the year progresses.

Mr. Consistency: Austin Dyne, Bryan Herta Rallysport

The son of series head Colin Dyne, young Austin’s made several strides in this season of Red Bull GRC, now driving with Bryan Herta Rallysport. Dyne is yet to win a final but he’s also not had a single bad final either. Results between second and seventh in each of the six starts, without missing a final and being knocked out in the LCQ, has him third in the standings, and poised to win at least once later in 2015.

Other notes

  • Tanner Foust and Scott Speed of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross have a win apiece this year – Foust in Daytona and Speed a Gold Medal at the non-points X Games – but through various mechanical issues they’ve struggled for consistency. Speed posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in Detroit so that provides him a boost heading into the second half of the year.
  • SH Rallycross driver Nelson Piquet Jr.’s GRC season hasn’t gone as well as his FIA Formula E season, where he won the title. Two third place results are his best finish.
  • Bryan Herta Rallysport’s Patrik Sandell broke a yearlong string of bad luck in Detroit race two to get on the board. He’s been a threat all year but unable to piece it all together in most races.
  • Chip Ganassi Racing’s program has been exciting to watch for most of the year as it remains in search of its first GRC win. Steve Arpin and Jeff Ward, teammates, dueled at Daytona with Arpin scoring his first regular season podium there. Brian Deegan posted two top-fives in Detroit but is yet to podium.
  • OMSE driver Wiman, the defending champion, still ranks fourth in the points but continues to struggle for overall pace. Strangely, he’s still never won a GRC final.
  • Subaru Rally Team USA has endured a tough season to date with Sverre Isachsen and Bucky Lasek having only made five of a possible 12 final round appearances, and not having yet scored a single top-five finish.

GRC Lites

It’s been a mixed bag of winners and a tight points battle in the GRC Supercars feeder championship, GRC Lites.

In six races, only Austin Cindric has won twice, with Oliver Eriksson, Alex Keyes, Tanner Whitten and Miles Maroney having also scored a win this season. Keyes is the only one of those five who has struggled from a consistency standpoint.

So championship-wise, it’s a five-way fight heading into the second half of the season.

Cindric leads Alejandro Fernandez, who is yet to win, by four points, with Maroney, Whitten and Eriksson also within striking range.

GRC Supercars Points

43-Ken Block, 260
93-Sebastian Eriksson, 234
14-Austin Dyne, 195
31-Joni Wiman, 185
41-Scott Speed, 180
07-Nelson Piquet Jr., 178
00-Steve Arpin, 161
18-Patrik Sandell, 157
34-Tanner Foust, 139
11-Sverre Isachsen, 76

GRC Lites Points

77-Austin Cindric, 247
126-Alejandro Fernandez, 243
24-Miles Maroney, 242
15-Tanner Whitten, 231
16-Oliver Eriksson, 216
61-Alex Keyes, 131
42-Nur Ali, 121
88-Harry Cheung, 98
07-Collete Davis, 82
6-Geoff Sykes, 62

Remaining TV Schedule

  • Washington, D.C., Aug. 15, 3 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Aug. 19, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Los Angeles I, Sept. 13, 4 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Sept. 16, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Los Angeles II, Sept. 13, 4 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Sept. 16, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Barbados I, Oct. 4, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Oct. 7, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Barbados II, Oct. 4, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Oct. 7, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Las Vegas (race Nov. 4), Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN (TD); GRC Lites, Nov. 11, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN

After eating just one chip, NHRA drag racer says: ‘I seriously thought I was going to die’

Alex Laughlin official Instagram page
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Editor’s note: Due to rain, Sunday’s final eliminations of the NHRA Carolina Nationals have been postponed to Monday morning at 10 a.m. ET. In the meantime, check out this rather unusual tale:

Remember the old Lays Potato Chips commercial from back in the 1980s that bragged “No one can eat just one”?

Well, ask NHRA Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin and a few members of his team, and they’ll tell you they learned a very valuable lesson that there indeed IS a chip that you can only eat one of.

According to NHRA’s National Dragster, Laughlin and Elite Motorsports crew members Chase Freeman, Kelly Murphy and Brian Cunningham took part Friday night in the Paqui One Chip Challenge.

If you haven’t heard of the Challenge, Paqui Chips has produced a tortilla chip that the company boldly claims is the hottest chip ever made anywhere in the world. The secret is the “Carolina Reaper” pepper, considered the hottest chili pepper in the world, with a rating of 1.9 million Scoville units, according to PuckerButt Pepper Company.

How hot is 1.9 million Scoville units? Let’s put it this way: the Devil might even have a hard time taking this kind of heat. By comparison, a Jalapeno pepper only reaches 10,000 units on the Scoville rating. 

So while they were enjoying some downtime Friday night after the first two rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina (suburban Charlotte), Laughlin and Co. paid $30 for one chip – you read that right, $30 for one chip, it’s THAT hot – and thought they could take the heat.

They thought wrong.

“This is the hottest chip in the world,” Laughlin said on an Instagram post that documented the entire experience, adding a warning, “What to expect: Mouth on fire, short-term loss of speech, impaired vision from tears, extreme profanity — or death.”

View this post on Instagram

Never. Ever. Again.

A post shared by Alex Laughlin (@alexlaughlin40) on

 

Laughlin’s post also includes several reader comments that Laughlin and his crew should have had milk on hand instead of water to try and cool things down because milk has a natural antidote to cool your mouth down after eating hot food.

Sunday morning, with his mouth and throat still a bit sore, Laughlin recalled the red-hot episode to National Dragster’s Kevin McKenna:

Never again. Never. Ever. Ever,” Laughlin told McKenna. “It was definitely not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

One of our guys showed me a You Tube video and it looked like it wasn’t going to be too bad. I like spicy food and it’s usually never a problem. I’ve been to those places with hot wings where you have to sign a waiver before you eat them and that’s never been a problem.

But this? This is on a whole different level. I thought it might last ten minutes. Fourteen hours later, I was still in bad shape. I woke up at 3 a.m. and Googled “internal bleeding.” I seriously thought I was going to die. We all did.”

So if the heat from the chip was off the hotness Richter scale, where did the stunt rank on Laughlin’s own personal Richter scale?

I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.

Well, I really didn’t think it would be that bad,” Laughlin told McKenna with a shrug. “I mean, it’s just one tortilla chip. Like I said, I can usually eat stuff that other people won’t eat, but I had no idea what I was in for.

“I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.”

If you’re up for another challenge in the future that involves eating hot food, Alex, here’s a suggestion: Even though it’s a few years old now, maybe you should try the Ice Bucket Challenge (but fill it with milk) to cool down quick. Just a thought.

Follow @JerryBonkowski