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Red Bull GRC: Sweep in Seattle delivered by Foust, Andretti

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Tanner Foust fought back in the latest weekend of Red Bull Global Rallycross at Evergreen Speedway in Seattle, with a dominant doubleheader sweep to get back into the championship chase.

In Saturday’s race one, Foust completed a perfect day with a pair of heat race wins and a semifinal win before a pristine, lights-to-flag victory in the 10-lap final aboard his No. 34 Volkswagen Beetle GRC.

Foust, who delivered the 25th final race win for the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team, led a 1-2 finish over teammate Scott Speed, who retained his points lead. Foust cut the gap in points to 31 behind Speed, 687-656, following his nightmare weekend in Atlantic City.

RACE ONE REPLAY (via NBC Sports App)

“The last weekend in Atlantic City was so rough; less for me than for the guys. These guys have been rebuilding this car every time. To bring it home clean after two days of driving is so good, especially with a doubleheader. These guys can go home and have a beer after this one. It feels so good,” Foust told NBC’s Will Christien after the race, his 14th Red Bull GRC final win.

“It’s pretty high-speed here on the front straight, driving into the oval there’s a focus on brake release. Then there’s little potholes to avoid. Then it’s complete ice but there’s one patch of grip you have to get. It’s almost like snow driving. The last corner is all about saving tires. This entire track has something special you have to focus on.”

Chris Atkinson posted his first final round podium of the year in his Subaru with Steve Arpin in fourth. With two races left, Arpin fell to 54 points off Speed in the championship hunt, with all others 130 or more points behind.

On a sunnier Sunday, the result repeated itself with Foust leading Speed home for a second straight 1-2 finish. Speed won two heats and a semifinal earlier with Foust only winning only one heat. Foust closed one more point to a 30-point gap (756-726), but Speed still has a significant margin heading into the single race finale in Los Angeles next month.

RACE TWO REPLAY (via NBC Sports App)

“It’s true – Scott could have swept the title this weekend. We held him off from that, but more importantly we held off [Steve] Arpin from gaining points,” Foust said.

“Finishing 1-2 twice, that puts [Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross] in the championship 1-2 with Scott [Speed] leading. It was just an amazing effort from all the guys – Kyle, Brett, Pricey, Graham, Boomer – everybody put in everything. Especially with Atlantic City, this is sort of pay back for them because they rebuilt the car so many times there. Here, it stayed virtually clean the whole time – I’m happy and can’t tell you what a relief it is. So happy for the whole team.”

Patrik Sandell was third in his Subaru, extending Subaru’s podium streak, while Atkinson incurred a post-race penalty that provisionally knocked him down the order, promoting Austin Cindric to an impressive fourth place finish for Bryan Herta Rallysport in his first Supercars weekend and second race start.

Red Bull GRC concludes its 2017 season in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 14, with coverage slated for 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Bourdais hopes last year’s crash turns into Indy 500 Cinderella story on Sunday

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Sebastien Bourdais has relived his May 20, 2017 crash during Indianapolis 500 qualifying over and over in his mind, day after day, week after week and month after month.

He would think of the worst crash of his open-wheel racing career at least once — if not several times — a day, particularly when he’d experience a slight twinge of pain.

“I think about it every day,” Bourdais told MotorSportsTalk. “Even though I’m functionally 100 percent now, it’s still very rare that during the day that there’s not a little pinch or something that reminds me of what happened.”

But this past weekend while qualifying for this year’s 500, one year later, the French driver said he was finally able to work past the mental roadblock that just would not leave his mind.

The solution was simple: complete the task he wasn’t able to do so last year, namely, qualifying for the race – and qualifying well.

Bourdais will start fifth in Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, in the middle of Row 2.

“(Last year’s crash is) still in my mind,” Bourdais said. “But I think the biggest hurdle, at least mentally, was qualifying last weekend, putting yourself back in the same set of circumstances, going back on the line there.

“It felt a little bit the same, chances of rain, some rain, delays, you get back in line, conditions change, everything gets harder because it gets hotter, but that’s the biggest hurdle to overcome. After that, it’s back to business.”

Bourdais has already won once in 2018 – the season-opening race in his adopted hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida.

It helped jump start him to a strong overall run in the first five races of the season, including a fourth-place showing two weeks ago at the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Indianapolis, coupled with entering the 500 third in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings.

Now, he wants to win the biggest race of his career. If he does so, he’ll feel as if he finally and completely has come full circle from last year’s devastating wreck that shattered his pelvis, going head-on into the Turn 2 wall at a reported 228 mph.

“Well, it’s the Holy Grail of IndyCar, it doesn’t really get any bigger than that,” Bourdais said of the 500. “It’s the biggest achievement that you can accomplish in IndyCar.

“I don’t think I’m any different than anybody else: we all want to win it pretty bad, but I’m sure after what happened after last year, it’d be a Cinderella story.”

But there’s a caveat to Bourdais writing that story: “There’s 32 other drivers that want to accomplish the same thing, and it’s a one day event. We’ll give it our best shot … you can only give your very best and see what happens on that given day.”

Bourdais has a lot going for him heading into Sunday. First off, he’ll start from the highest qualifying position he’s ever had in what will be the seventh Indy 500 of the 39-year-old’s racing career.

Second, his confidence and comfort level are higher than they’ve ever been coming into the annual classic at the 2.5-mile Brickyard oval.

Third, he’s forgiven himself – not IMS – for what happened last year. He has no ill feeling towards the racetrack, nor does he seek revenge. If he were to start thinking that way, it would serve no positive purpose.

“No. I’m not really that way,” he said when asked if he wants revenge over the racetrack. “The track didn’t beat me up, I beat myself.

“The bottom line is there were a couple of reasons why it happened, but I got more comfortable and more confident and confidence and comfort at some point just bite you at Indy.

“You just do your laps, you get into such a rhythm and the week had gone perfectly with an awesome car and there was not a doubt in my mind it was going to stick (going into Turn 2), and that’s when it happened – and I paid the price.”

So, Bourdais is simply going to go out and race, again, hoping to complete what he started last year before being so painfully derailed.

His best finish to date in the 500 has been seventh (2014). He just needs for his Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser – Sullivan Honda to finish six places higher on Sunday.

And if he does, his move to Dale Coyne Racing last year – he’s competed in 13 of 23 races with two wins, 3 podiums and one pole – would only serve to make what already has proven to be a great move into a potentially brilliant move.

Because, yes, Bourdais isn’t just thinking Indy 500 win, he’s also thinking of a potential championship this season.

“I sure hope so,” Bourdais said when asked if his team’s success will continue. “I like to say it’s (the success that the Coyne camp has had since he came there) a little bit of my baby, bringing in Craig (engineer Craig Hampson) and Olivier (race engineer Olivier Boisson) and reinforcing the existing crew.”

Bourdais is no stranger to winning championships. He won four straight combined titles in CART and the Champ Car World Series from 2004 through 2007 (he also won 28 races in that four-year span).

“Obviously, it’s one thing to get into a winning team and basically meet expectations,” Bourdais said. “It’s another thing to try and build something and change the status of the underdog and turn him into a contender week in and week out.

“We got a glimpse of that last year, and this year, we’ve been competitive every weekend so far, and that’s a great feeling. Once you’re able to be competitive on street course, road courses, short ovals and superspeedways, then you can start saying and thinking championship.”

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