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Jul 25, 2014 - 03:44 PM
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Red Bull GRC Race Previews: The Dirt Track at Charlotte
Posted by: newsla on Jul 25, 2014 - 03:44 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
Red Bull GRC Race Previews: The Dirt Track at Charlotte


IN BRIEF: The Charlotte area is home to a significant portion of the Red Bull Global Rallycross field, making this weekend’s tilt at The Dirt Track at Charlotte a crucial event on most drivers’ schedules. Tanner Foust comes into this weekend’s race on a high note after winning in New York last week, while Brian Deegan returns to the series after a two-race absence.

 

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TUNE IN INFORMATION:
• Saturday, July 26, 2:00PM ET on NBC (live)
SPOTTER GUIDE: Click here

LAST RACE: Three starts were the charm in the main event, with three different drivers—Sverre Isachsen, Nelson Piquet Jr., and Tanner Foust—each grabbing the holeshot once. Foust took the lead on the third and final start and never looked back, while teammate Scott Speed clawed through the field to cross the line second and Piquet maintained third. However, a penalty applied to Speed after the event promoted Piquet to second and Ken Block to the next podium spot.

DRIVER CHANGES: 14 drivers are entered at The Dirt Track at Charlotte: all 13 from last week’s race in New York, plus the returning Brian Deegan. Deegan is the second-most prolific driver in series history; he has 11 podium finishes, including a runner-up performance at Charlotte last year.

THE TRACK: The Dirt Track at Charlotte boasts the most dirt that Red Bull GRC drivers have seen all season, with 65% of the course comprised of the loose surface. The eight-turn, half-mile layout, effectively preserved but slightly cleaned up from last year, now features more gradual corners in turns one and four, plus a small jump on the exit of oval turn two.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: For the first time, a Red Bull GRC event at The Dirt Track at Charlotte will feature night racing when the series completes two rounds of heat races under the lights on Friday. The series is no stranger to racing in the dark, having run all three of its races in Las Vegas at night, as well as the finale of the first Charlotte race in 2012.

CONSISTENCY WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Nelson Piquet Jr.’s four-race foray into Red Bull GRC in 2013 saw him languishing at the back of the pack in an uncompetitive car. This year has been the polar opposite; with three podium finishes in a row, including back-to-back runner-up results in Washington, DC and New York, he’s now the points leader. Coming into Charlotte on Friday, his birthday, he leads the field by 35 points.

WINNING WAYS: Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross has won three of the first four events of the 2014 Red Bull GRC season, with Scott Speed taking home trophies at Top Gear Festival Barbados and X Games Austin and Tanner Foust backing him up at Volkswagen Rallycross NY. Despite waiting for the newly-developed Beetle, the stand-in Polo has done a remarkable job, allowing the two drivers to win an impressive 12 combined heat races.

GENERAL-LY COMPETITIVE: It’s not too often that Brian Deegan doesn’t come out of a Red Bull GRC event with a solid finish. With 11 podiums in 21 starts, as well as 12 heat victories, he’s in the top five of the series’ all-time leaderboards in both categories. In 2012 and 2013, his two seasons of full-time Red Bull GRC competition, he only failed to make it to the main event of a race twice.

QUOTES: A selection of quotes in advance of this weekend’s Red Bull Global Rallycross event at The Dirt Track at Charlotte:
Scott Speed, Driver, #77 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo: “For me, it’s great to be close, because there are so many friends and family who don’t get to see what I do on the weekends, so they get to come out and check it out. Running under the lights will be very interesting—it hasn’t been done before, but I don’t expect to have any issue, having run so much at night in NASCAR over the years. But it will be interesting, and I bet the cars will look even faster out there at night. So I’m looking forward to that.”
Joni Wiman, Driver, #31 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST: “With Lites here last year, it was good to find smooth lines around every corner, which is really important in the Supercars to get speed. Obviously the first corner is a bit different, and there are some small changes, but it looks good. I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference, maybe a few miles an hour, but nothing major. But the jump is going to be quite interesting. It’s special for me because I’ve never done a night race—let’s just hope it will get dark enough so that it looks really cool! That’s going to be something really special.”

Steve Arpin, Driver, #00 Royal Purple Racing/OMSE2 Ford Fiesta:“Everyone here at Charlotte Motor Speedway has done such a great job of putting this track together. They’ve added a couple of new twists, and a couple of differences to the track from last year. Last year was a good learning experience, and this year they’ve kind of tweaked it. I think you’re going to see three, four, sometimes five wide racing this weekend. I cannot wait to get out there and feel what my Royal Purple Ford has to offer!”
Emma Gilmour, Driver, #27 Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing Veloster: “I like the track because it’s got a bit more room than where we’ve been racing so far this year, except for Barbados maybe. But it’s the first time we’ve really got some dirt, and it looks like a really good track. It looks like it’s got a bit more room for overtaking, and it looks like quite a bit can happen, so I’m looking forward to driving it.”

DRIVER POINTS:
1. Nelson Piquet Jr., 184
2. Scott Speed, 149
3. Steve Arpin, 140
4. Joni Wiman, 124
5. Patrik Sandell, 116
6. Ken Block, 99
7. Tanner Foust, 95
8. Austin Dyne, 94
9. Brian Deegan, 70
10. Rhys Millen, 65
11. Sverre Isachsen, 60
12. Bucky Lasek, 57
13. Emma Gilmour, 21
14. Pat Moro, 3

MANUFACTURER POINTS:
1. Ford, 373
2. Volkswagen, 244
3. Subaru, 117
4. Hyundai, 86
5. Chevrolet, 3

GRC Lites Race Preview: The Dirt Track at Charlotte
IN BRIEF: The GRC Lites championship battle got more interesting in New York, as Kevin Eriksson took his first victory to pull within seven points of Mitchell DeJong for the series lead. As the series returns to The Dirt Track at Charlotte, both drivers will look to establish themselves in the title battle.

LAST RACE: Kevin Eriksson and Mitchell DeJong both earned their third straight podium finishes in New York, but unlike the first two races of the season, Eriksson was the driver who earned the victory this time around. As DeJong managed a flat left rear tire, Eriksson converted a clean holeshot into a dominant win.

SPOTTER GUIDE: Click here

DRIVER CHANGES: Pedro Piquet will not be able to attend GRC Lites in Charlotte, owing to a prior commitment, allowing Oliver Eriksson to return to the series for his second race. Austin Cindric, who couldn’t attend last week’s event in New York, returns to the #77 C4 Motorsports car.

THE TRACK: The Dirt Track at Charlotte boasts the most dirt that Red Bull GRC drivers have seen all season, with 65% of the course comprised of the loose surface. The eight-turn, half-mile layout, effectively preserved but slightly cleaned up from last year, now features more gradual corners in turns one and four, plus a small jump on the exit of oval turn two.

REDEMPTION IN SIGHT: Last year’s Charlotte event had been Kevin Eriksson’s to lose, before a flat tire early in the event caused him to fall back through the field. The Swedish rising star jumped out to a clean holeshot, much as he did in New York last weekend, and turned consistently fast laps before his puncture. Now that he’s finally broken through with a victory, expect him to look to make good on last year’s promise.

BACKING IT UP: Geoff Sykes’ first GRC Lites podium came at The Dirt Track at Charlotte last September, as he scored a career-best second place finish to Joni Wiman in the nine-car final. Despite a pair of mechanical failures taking him out of the X Games Austin and New York main events, Sykes has been consistent enough to earn the third rank in points through three of nine races. Can he earn another podium finish this weekend?

LOCAL FAVORITE: Austin Cindric’s hometown is nearby Mooresville, NC, making him the only local driver in this weekend’s field. Cindric, despite missing New York, currently ranks fifth in GRC Lites standings with a podium finish at X Games Austin and a fifth place run in Washington, DC. With only one more date conflict on his schedule, Cindric may be able to earn a solid championship finish despite missing a pair of events.

QUOTES: A selection of quotes in advance of this weekend’s Red Bull Global Rallycross event at The Dirt Track at Charlotte:
Mitchell DeJong, Driver, #24 Olsbergs MSE GRC Lites: “I really like Charlotte, it’s a really fun track. I love all the dirt sections, where you actually get to slide a little bit rather than be so precise like a lot of the other tracks. We’ll find out in practices how the changes to the track affect us, but I think it’ll be a really cool event. It’s a very fun and really cool venue, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Geoff Sykes, Driver, #6 DTV Solutions GRC Lites: “I’m definitely coming into this race with a lot of confidence—not only being third in points, but being the only Lites driver currently to hold the podium at this track. Last year, coming into this race, I didn’t have a lot of confidence, being such a dirt-heavy track, but this year is totally different coming into this race. I haven’t seen the track yet, but I can say that the big difference coming into this race is that last year we were on treaded tires, rain-grooved tires, while this year we’re on slick Yokohamas. So that could be a bit of a factor, especially if there’s a little bit of rain and the track is slicker than it was last year.”

Austin Cindric, Driver, #77 C4 Motorsports GRC Lites: “I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed when the races are over, and not having to get on an airplane! I’m excited because it’s mostly a dirt track, and I’m excited to see how I do compared to some of these guys like Mitchell (DeJong), Kevin (Eriksson), and Oliver (Eriksson), since they have mostly dirt experience. But I think I’ll do fine. We’ve had a little time off since we didn’t go to New York, but I think I’m ready to hop back in the saddle and get after it.”

DRIVER POINTS:
1. Mitchell DeJong, 163
2. Kevin Eriksson, 156
3. Geoff Sykes, 84
4. Alejandro Fernandez, 76
5. Austin Cindric, 75
6. Nelson Piquet Jr., 75
7. Atila Abreu, 72
8. Tyler Benson, 61
9. Pedro Piquet, 43
10. Oliver Eriksson, 38
11. Colton Herta, 16



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