A last-lap, last-turn pass of Brian Deegan netted Scott Speed an overdue first Red Bull Global Rallycross win of the season in the mud and rain of MCAS New River. Then Speed dominated at Washington, D.C. to go back-to-back.
A couple weeks ago however, Speed pulled off his third straight win in the No. 41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle GRC at Atlantic City, N.J., capitalizing on teammate Tanner Foust’s demise.
Foust had got the jump off the line and in the opening laps but eventually suffered a right rear tire puncture, and in the closing stages of the final, Speed was able to get past. Foust limped his No. 34 Rockstar Energy Beetle home in fourth, just off the podium.
For Speed, it was apparent that surviving the technical, more than 1-mile Bader Field circuit would be key to success.
“The off-road part of the track was extremely rough,” Speed told NBC Sports. “In practice, Tanner had ripped the whole right front corner off the car in the dirt. So we knew it’d be tough… and we saw others ripping tires. It was very much a risk/reward sector in terms of pushing the car.
“On the first lap of the race, Tanner made a great move on the dirt getting by us. I went into the mode of, I have to put in qualifying laps. Around Lap 3, when I’d caught back on, I damaged the right rear – I think a broke suspension piece – and cruised through dirt, ruts and potholes in the dirt section. I was a bit surprised he pushed as hard as he was. It was definitely surprising.
“But yes! It was very technical. It was made apparent after the first practice. Still, it was all a track we all really liked, even with the different dirt section, because you had to be so careful. Deegan very much enjoyed it!”
Bad luck struck Speed in the early season races but it’s finally come good here for the defending series champion in the last couple months, heading into the final two race weekends of the season.
“Like you said, it’s getting rid of the tough luck and having clean weekends,” Speed said. “They’re not easy wins by any means. I think we’re just having clean weekends; we don’t have a huge speed advantage anymore.
“Even Phoenix, the start of season was a disaster. We were lucky to qualify second when we did. We broke in one of the semifinals. We ended fifth or sixth. There were lots of little gremlins at start of year, but knock on wood it’s been clean since then.”
Speed also has a healthy respect with Foust as they head into the final three races of the year. Speed leads by nine points over Foust (409-400) as they look to add to their respective Red Bull GRC titles. Foust won two (2011, 2012) and Speed one (2015).
“We have enough mutual respect to race each other clean,” Speed said. “In three years, we’ve never really ran into each other… at least not intentionally! But that goes a long way.
“We’ve had the short end of the luck stick earlier, but it’s turning around right now. We’ll look forward to continue to rattle off the pole positions and having clean qualifying sessions; that hurt us in the beginning of the year.”