Red Bull GRC: Speed completes Atlantic City weekend sweep

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Scott Speed’s roll in Red Bull Global Rallycross rolled on in Round 9 of the 2017 season. The driver of the No. 41 Volkswagen Beetle GRC for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross enjoyed a perfect Sunday in Atlantic City at Bader Field, winning all preliminary races on the day and then completing a lights-to-flag sweep in the Round 9, 10-lap final.

He was never headed from the off, after another great start, a semifinal win in the race just before the final and heat races before that.

“There’s no question our Circle K Oberto Beetle was awesome. It always has been; for us, we play a lot of defense. Today was the full performance. No one could touch us all weekend,” Speed told NBC’s Will Christien in victory lane.

This is Speed’s third final round win in a row and fourth this season as he extended his points lead, which was just seven points going into the race over teammate Tanner Foust (535-528). After the race, unofficially, Speed now has 616 points and holds a 38-point lead over Steve Arpin with Foust now third, 41 points back.

Foust’s miserable weekend in Atlantic City continued, having been penalized for contact in the semifinal and then trying to rally from the back of the 10-car field off the start throughout the race.

Further back, a good battle took place for second between Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE’s Sebastian Eriksson in his No. 93 Honda Civic Coupe and Steve Arpin in his No. 00 Loenbro Motorsports Ford Fiesta ST.

The two banged wheels occasionally and that brought Eriksson’s teammate, young rising star Mitchell DeJong in his No. 24 Honda and Patrik Sandell in his No. 18 Subaru Rally Team USA Subaru WRX-STi, into podium contention.

Arpin tried around the outside of Eriksson on the final corner of the final lap, making contact, but didn’t make it around.

Even more contact occurred beyond them with Chris Atkinson keeping his head in his No. 55 Subaru, moving into fourth, as Foust nudged Sandell and Sandell hit DeJong in a crazy finish to the race.

Unofficially, Speed beat Eriksson, Arpin, Atkinson, DeJong, Cabot Bigham, Oliver Eriksson, Austin Dyne, Foust and Sandell. Foust was assessed an five-second post-race time penalty (plus three seconds in an earlier race), which dropped him from seventh to ninth in this race.

The series is off until Sept. 9-10 in Seattle, at Evergreen Speedway, for Rounds 10 and 11 of the season.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.