Patrik Sandell podiums in GRC race in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles – Rounds 8 & 9 of the Red Bull Global Rallycross season were contested in the beautiful setting of the Port of Los Angeles. However, it was no day at the beach for the Bryan Herta Rallysport team.

Friday practice presented a number of handling challenges for both Patrik Sandell and Austin Dyne. Both cars struggled to get a handle on the track that was essentially and oval inside another oval track ~with the exception of one slow righthand corner. Overnight, the BHR team made radical changes to both cars in an effort to improve their performance.
Saturday, Sandell raced well: finishing second in both heats and winning his semi-final. Starting anywhere but on the inside was difficult all weekend, and Sandell lined up second in the final. On the start of the final, he slotted into third and ten laps later secured his fourth podium in the last five races.

Sunday, the Kobalt Tools team found more speed in qualifying, but the competition was tighter too. Sandell finished third in his heat and fifth in his semi-final, meaning he’d have to qualify for the final through the LCQ. Sandell easily won the LCQ and would start 7th in the final. Dodging contact on the start, Sandell moved to fourth through the ten lap race. And with Sunday’s fourth place finish, the Kobalt Tools team moved to third in the points.

Patrik Sandell on the LA Event:
“It’s been kind of a hard weekend for us. We didn’t get the car where it needed to be all weekend. We’ve been kind of spoiled the past few races being the fastest car out there for a while now. So, I was very happy with third yesterday and was very close to getting another third today. It’s never good to be outside the podium, but it was very good to get a fourth from qualifying for the final via the LCQ (last chance qualifier).”
“Now the points championship looks better than it did before this weekend. The Kobalt Tools team is definitely in the fight for this championship with three races to go, so that’s what we will bring from this race.”

The Cuttwood E-Cig Liquids team improved the performance of the car on Saturday and were poised to make the final until the transmission broke in the semi. The team worked valiantly to replace it; however, ran out of time before the LCQ.
Sunday, the No. 14 car was even faster, but so was the competition. Racing hard in the final lap of the LCQ, Dyne missed the final by about one-tenth of a second.

Austin Dyne on the LA Event:
“It was a tough weekend all around. The handling was way off on Friday, and we made a lot of big changes. The car was better on Saturday, and we probably would have made the final if the gearbox hadn’t broken in the Semi-Final. The Cuttwood team thrashed as hard as they could, but there wasn’t enough time to change gearboxes between the Semi and LCQ.”
“On Sunday, the we made some more changes to the car and it was way better. The racing was very tight, but we again were in the LCQ and there were nine cars fighting for four spots. We were close, I got 100 percent out of the car, but we came up just a bit short.”

The River Racing GRC Lites team with Collete Davis made steady progress throughout the weekend. On Saturday, she finished eighth in the final after a tight battle with the #21 car. Sunday, Davis was running competitive and looked poised for a top five finish until a spec part on the shift linkage broke.

Collete Davis on the LA Event:
“Rough weekend, with some minor mechanical problems that always crept up at the wrong times. We were making steady progress all weekend with the River Racing car, and I think we would have finished strong in Sunday’s final if the shift linkage hadn’t broken. So, on to Barbados.”

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”