Red Bull GRC: Washington, D.C. set to kick off second half of year

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After six action-packed races to kick off the first half of the 2016 season, Red Bull Global Rallycross heads to the Northeast for another returning event, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

The championship has about five realistic contenders with now five races remaining in the 11-race season, following the official cancellation of the second MCAS New River race.

Tanner Foust of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross leads the way from Chip Ganassi Rallycross’ Steve Arpin and defending series champion Scott Speed, Foust’s teammate.

Those three are at 295, 286 and 279 points, and the three clear front runners. Brian Deegan (Ganassi) and Patrik Sandell (Bryan Herta Rallysport) have 248 and 243 points and could capitalize if the three top drivers hit a rough patch.

It gets tougher from there on back, for the pair of Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic drivers (Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman) and SH Rallycross/DRR, the latter team of which provides one of the weekend’s most interesting stories with the return of Nelson Piquet Jr. in the team’s No. 07 MET-Rx Ford Fiesta ST.

Piquet won last year at Washington, D.C., and his presence this weekend will provide a good baseline whether SH Rallycross’ tough 2016 season is more setup or driver-related. Jeff Ward hasn’t forgotten how to wheel it by any stretch, but Ward has only one top-five finish in the first six races of the year for the James “Sulli” Sullivan-led team.

“I’ve missed competing in Red Bull GRC with SH Rallycross/DRR,” said Piquet Jr. “I had such a great couple of seasons with the team and I love rallycross. Sulli and I are friends and have kept in touch. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to race again with the team that helped me get my first GRC victory.”

Behind Piquet at this race last year, Patrik Sandell and Ken Block completed the podium – a Ford podium sweep. Arpin made it a top-four sweep with Foust and Speed in fifth and seventh, respectively.

Only once since that race have the pair of Volkswagens been off the podium (Daytona 1, 2016), and that race saw both drivers in win and podium positions before both fell out in the final stages of the race.

Deegan and either Honda driver is still in search of their first win this year, with Deegan having been the closest to breaking through thus far this year. The “General” of Metal Mulisha came a hard-luck second at MCAS New River, having lost the win on the final lap by way of taking the Joker while Speed took the standard course to the inside, and moved ahead.

The D.C. course, a 10-turn, 0.899-mile course, switches to a clockwise direction from counterclockwise last year. Even more notable, the jump is right before the finish line.

There’s also a new fantasy game Red Bull GRC has introduced; details of which are linked here.

You can watch the action LIVE this Saturday, July 30, at 2 p.m. ET on NBC. Toby Moody, Townsend Bell and Kristen Kenney have the call from RFK Stadium.