Red Bull GRC: Rain doesn’t dampen enthusiasm for New River event

Cleanest the cars were in Round 6. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC

In straight-up military terms, Red Bull Global Rallycross’ trip to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in Jacksonville, N.C. was not “mission accomplished” in terms of running all its on-track activity.

It was, however, a successful encore event to the series’ first trip there last year on July 4 weekend.

And the vibe from the U.S. Marines stationed there or visiting the event gave off a feel that this is a welcome addition to the base activity, rather than an interruption to their daily proceedings and tasks.

One of the challenges for Red Bull GRC in growing as a racing series – in only its sixth year – is finding, developing and then establishing “foothold” events that can properly be promoted and set in fixed dates.

Los Angeles, the series’ home base, has become one, and this year was a test to see if MCAS New River could do likewise.

Red Bull GRC staff photo. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC
Red Bull GRC staff photo. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC

“Overall I think they’re doing the right thing with the schedule and prime markets. The one thing I’d like to see is repeatability. Let’s make it a home, build a presence, and really start to make an identity,” Chip Ganassi Rallycross’ Steve Arpin told me pre-season.

“From a sales standpoint we need some repeatability.”

Crowds were good before the rain. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC
Crowds were good before the rain. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC

In only two years, it appears MCAS New River has become one of those “foothold” events.

There was plenty of discussion on the ground this weekend about “next year” – whether it was Marines who were already pumped up that the race was back this year, or drivers and teams who sought to make “next year” at the base a better event than this year.

Weather, inevitably, proved the struggle of the weekend – much has been the theme of Red Bull GRC this season.

From haboobs in Phoenix that caused Bryan Herta Rallysport to lose its tent setup, to the first round of rain in Dallas, to heavier rain and a Saturday delay in Daytona, to now biblical rain along with thunder and lightning in New River, this has not been an ideal year for weather.

A joke I even heard over the weekend was that GRC at one point unofficially stood for “Guaranteed Rain Championship,” simply because rain was ubiquitous at GRC events.

The rain swept through before both Supercars finals on Saturday and Sunday and how GRC handled the two different days was fascinating to note.

Saturday was a full-on thrash for teams to make the grid for the final, ultimately doing so within a half hour of the end of the scheduled live broadcast on NBC. What followed was, without question, good TV – if expensive for the 10 cars in the final.

It was interesting to say the least – there wasn’t so much as a recon lap before the 600-horsepower beasts were unleashed on the course – and the beating and banging that followed for the 10-lap final saw the dollar signs fly as fast as car body parts.

Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross’ Scott Speed won as much by survival as outright pace, while Ganassi’s Brian Deegan was desperately unlucky to not snap his five-year drought without a final win. The fact he ran the whole race with a broken turbo though, in hindsight, was epic.

Some competitors weren’t as pleased post-race given the number of repairs that were forthcoming. As one team owner told me when I noted how relatively laid back a Red Bull GRC weekend is from a media standpoint, the owner laughed and said, “For you, sure. For our crew guys, not so much.”

“It’s unfortunate that we had the insane weather on Saturday, which really made it so no one in the field could display their true power and skill,” Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE driver Sebastian Eriksson added.

Ironically enough, Red Bull GRC was presented with a near identical situation 24 hours later for Sunday’s race.

Hard, heavy rain swept through, lightning was clearly visible in the distance, and the grandstands were emptied.

An impromptu driver’s meeting followed on the pre-grid, with the decision ultimately that the second final wouldn’t happen – which was a wise one.

The track was mud-soaked and had taken on even more water following the deluge.

Forgetting the damage that could have followed, in the interest of safety it was the right call to cancel this race and determine a backup plan for another day.

Was it a disappointment that the second race wasn’t run? Sure it was.

But did it harm the weekend on the whole? Not so much.

Pre-race festivities. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC
Pre-race festivities. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC

Leave it to Lance Corp. Ned Johnson of the MCAS New River Public Affairs’ Office to explain why the racing is only a portion of why this event means so much to them, and why the Marine presence means so much to Red Bull GRC.

“There are so many cool aspects,” he told NBC Sports this weekend. “For the Marines, the cool part is if you went to a NASCAR race, chances of meeting anyone is remote. Here they’ll all know where everyone is, with drivers, mechanics all around and about. You can’t get that anywhere else.

“It shows Red Bull GRC wants Marines to get something out of it. The racing is almost secondary because we get to meet the people who care about us.”

And at the end of the day, this event is about them – Red Bull GRC is the entertainment race series that helps make their days a little brighter.

Sandell and BHR. Photo: Bryan Herta Rallysport
Sandell and BHR. Photo: Bryan Herta Rallysport

“It was fantastic to be able to race Fourth of July weekend on the military base,” said Herta’s Patrik Sandell. “They host a fantastic track and it’s amazing that we can bring this event to them and show our sport. And it’s been great to be able to see the interest from the military base.”

Deegan's rattled Ford. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC
Deegan’s rattled Ford. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC

Added Deegan, himself the “general” of Metal Mulisha: “First of all, thanks to all of the military that supports us. It gives us the freedom to go race these cars — much respect for that. This is by far the biggest, baddest race of the whole year, around the coolest tanks and aircraft. Much respect and thank you!”

Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC
Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC


First 2016 win puts Scott Speed’s Red Bull GRC title defense back on track
Red Bull GRC: MCAS New River II race washed out
Red Bull GRC: MCAS New River event brings rallycross to U.S. Marines
Red Bull GRC: Speed wins chaotic, mud-soaked first race at New River
Red Bull GRC: Saturday at New River before Supercars, Lites finals
WATCH: Red Bull GRC at 5 p.m. ET on NBC, Saturday and Sunday
Red Bull GRC: Oliver Eriksson building off GRC Lites title defense
Red Bull GRC: Speed’s pole highlights Friday at New River
Red Bull GRC: Ridealong, initial MCAS New River observations
Red Bull GRC: Patriotism, high speed highlight trip to MCAS New River

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton


Another crash while leading at Seattle dropped Chase Sexton from the top of the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings while solid performances by Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac allow them to climb the chart and threaten to make this a two-rider battle with six rounds remaining in the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Cooper Webb wags his finger at Chase Sexton after winning his heat in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

During the race, Webb knew he had ground to make up. Riding behind both Tomac and Sexton early in the Main, he was as far back as fifth on Lap 7 at Seattle. That position would cost him the red plate and give away the advantage he began to build with his first win of the season in Tampa. Sexton is often at his best as he battles from the back and he methodically worked his way through the field. At the end of the feature, he was nearly five seconds off Tomac’s pace, but during the past 45 days, he holds the advantage. A resurgent Tomac that could erase that advantage quickly though.

Tomac struggled in Indianapolis with a neck strain. That contributed to his worst performance of 2023 and his second result outside the top five. He finished third in Detroit two weeks ago, but it was a distant third after finishing off the podium in his heat during that round. In Seattle, it appeared the same thing might happen when Tomac finished third in the prelim behind his two principal competitors Webb and Sexton. The Main was a different story.

Tomac dropped to fourth in the opening laps behind both of his rivals early in the race, but he got around Webb on Lap 2 and kept charging. When Sexton fell to the ground on Lap 11 and dropped to fourth, Tomac was in position to strike. He scored his sixth win of the season to tie James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list. He now shares the red plate with Webb as the rounds wind down.

MORE: Eli Tomac gets rebound win in Seattle

Sexton has the speed, but he lacks the seasoning of Webb and Tomac. He’s pressing hard on every lap and that has bitten him several times this year. Sexton’s mistakes are costing him with a 10th-place finish at Indy, the loss of seven points at Detroit and a fifth in Seattle as the riders he’s battling stood on the podium. No one seriously questions Sexton’s talent or speed, but ultimately the results are what counts.

Justin Barcia is hitting his stride. He advances two positions this week after scoring his fourth consecutive top-five and second podium in that span of races. Barcia finished between sixth and eighth in five consecutive rounds from Anaheim 2 through Arlington, but he’s mostly avoided controversy and that puts him fourth in this week’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

Jason Anderson had a solid performance in Seattle, but with a fifth-place finish in his heat and fourth in the Main he just keeps losing a little ground to the leaders. The biggest impact to his standing in the NBC Power Rankings is a 10th-place finish in Indianapolis that will take a while to age out of the 45-day formula. He’s tied for fourth in the championship points with Ken Roczen, who sits sixth in the rankings below. It’s important to be the rider “best in class” with Webb, Tomac and Sexton stealing the show.

450 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Cooper Webb 87.77 2 1
2. Eli Tomac 86.23 3 1
3. Chase Sexton 85.77 1 -2
4. Justin Barcia 80.71 6 2
5. Jason Anderson 80.69 4 -1
6. Ken Roczen 80.46 5 -1
7. Aaron Plessinger 75.86 7 0
8. Adam Cianciarulo 71.13 8 0
9. Christian Craig 69.86 9 0
10. Justin Cooper 62.88 10 0
11. Justin Hill 59.86 11 0
12. Dean Wilson 52.86 12 0
13. Josh Hill 49.00 15 2
14. Colt Nichols 48.67 13 -1
15. Shane McElrath 45.62 14 -1
16. Benny Bloss 43.00 16 0
17. Grant Harlan 38.08 20 3
18. Max Miller 37.67 24 6
19. Lane Shaw 36.67 21 2
20. Cade Clason 34.67 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points

The 250 West riders were back in action in Seattle and that gave Jett Lawrence the opportunity to break out of a tie with his brother Hunter Lawrence on the all-time wins list. It also provided Jett the opportunity to take back the top spot in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Jett Lawrence regained the top spot overall in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings with a near-perfect race in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

Jett has stood on the podium in every race this year with the exception of the second Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2 and that level of perfection gives him bragging rights. Rest assured that while the two brothers have a bond that is unapparelled in motorsports, there is no one they would rather beat. Neither has been particularly successful in Triple Crown rounds this year, however, and Jett could lose his advantage in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona under that format.

Lawrence is now two wins away from capturing the fourth-most wins at this level.

A rivalry is developing between Lawrence and Cameron McAdoo. Tired of losing to the affable Australian, McAdoo pushed the envelope last week in Seattle. He crowded Lawrence in the whoops during their heat race and sent both to the ground. That frustration could bubble over with four rounds remaining. One thing is certain, when these two riders are in proximity on the track, the cameras will be aimed in their direction.

Supercross 250 Points

A little means a lot this season. Finishing second to Lawrence in four of five rounds, RJ Hampshire would be losing ground to the leader no matter what, but an 11th-place finish in the overall at Anaheim 2 places him eighth on the chart below behind two of the 250 West riders and five 250 East competitors.

In the mains, Levi Kitchen has been all over the board with a win, one more top-five, two results on the high side of the single digits and a crash-induced 21st at San Diego. He’s really shown his speed in the heats, however, with a perfect record of top-fives and a win.

Mitchell Oldenburg makes the top five list among West riders with a perfect record of top-10 finishes. He’s heading in the wrong direction, however, falling from ninth overall to 11th after finishing outside the top five in both his heat and the Main last week.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Jett Lawrence – W 90.75 2 1
2. Hunter Lawrence – E 90.43 1 -1
3. Nate Thrasher – E 84.00 3 0
4. Cameron McAdoo – W 80.50 4 0
5. Haiden Deegan – E 78.21 5 0
6. Jeremy Martin – E 78.00 6 0
7. Jordon Smith – E 76.77 7 0
8. RJ Hampshire – W 76.75 10 2
9. Levi Kitchen – W 76.67 8 -1
10. Max Anstie – E 74.43 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 73.67 9 -2
12. Max Vohland – W 72.55 13 1
13. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 -1
14. Pierce Brown – W 68.64 19 5
15. Enzo Lopes – W 67.83 17 2
16. Chris Blose – E 67.43 15 -1
17. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 16 -1
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 18 0
19. Stilez Robertson – W 64.45 14 -5
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 20 0

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT SEATTLE: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage