Red Bull GRC: Seattle return to play pivotal role in title fights

Sandell (18) and Arpin (00). Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Global Rallycross hits the Pacific Northwest for its second-to-last weekend of 2016, with a trip to Evergreen Speedway in Seattle (runs 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 17, airs at 10:30 a.m. PT/1:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 18 on NBC).

The Seattle track is the closest on Red Bull GRC’s schedule to an oval, with a big sweeping left-hander off the line to kick off the 0.791-mile, eight-turn circuit. Evergreen’s track is a bit different from DirtFish, which hosted the series in 2014.

Up front, Scott Speed looks to keep the momentum rolling that he’s achieved the last three races, which have propelled the defending Supercars champion into position to repeat.

Some roller coaster final round results left Speed playing catch-up to Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross teammate Tanner Foust in the opening five of 11 races.

But starting with a last-lap, last-turn pass of Brian Deegan at the lone MCAS New River race, the driver of the No. 41 Volkswagen Beetle GRC took his first win of the year.

He’s followed up with wins in Washington, D.C. and Atlantic City, N.J., the latter coming at Foust’s expense after Foust sustained a late-race puncture.

Foust sits second in points, nine back of Speed (409-400), and will look to recapture the early season form he had the first five races. He won three of the first five events in his No. 34 Rockstar Energy Beetle but only has one podium (third in Washington) in the last three races.

The pair of Chip Ganassi Rallycross entries – Deegan in his No. 38 NOS Energy Drink Ford Fiesta ST and Steve Arpin in his No. 00 ENEOS Ford – look to supplant the Andretti VWs. Arpin and fellow Ford driver Patrik Sandell (No. 18 Cuttwood Ford for Bryan Herta Rallysport) are the only non-Volkswagen winners in eight races, with one win apiece.

Arpin, Sandell and Deegan sit third, fourth and fifth in the points, at 357, 352 and 345 points.

Another question heading into Seattle is whether the Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE entries will take their first win. Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman have improved their form as the season’s gone on in the Nos. 93 and 31 Honda Civic Coupes, but are yet to break through in a final.

Nelson Piquet Jr. returns for his third and last scheduled start in the No. 07 WIX Filters Ford for SH Rallycross/DRR, with Austin Dyne (No. 14 AD Ford) and the Subarus leading the rest of those in the Supercars field.

In GRC Lites, Cabot Bigham (No. 2 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) leads the standings over 2015 class champion Oliver Eriksson (No. 16 Olsbergs MSE X Forces) and Miki Weckstrom (No. 45 Olsbergs MSE X Forces) with two weekends remaining. Bigham’s lead is 20 points, 344 to 324, with Weckstrom at 306. Conner Martell of DirtFish Motorsports sits fourth on 267 points with all others more than 100 points back of Bigham.