Photographer: Peter Minnig
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VOLKSWAGEN ANDRETTI RALLYCROSS CLAIMS SOLE VICTORY IN ABBREVIATED RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS EVENT AT MCAS NEW RIVER

Scott Speed earned a dramatic victory for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross (VARX) on Saturday, reaching the top step of the podium after a rain-soaked march through the field. This was the first leg of what was meant to be a Red Bull Global Rallycross doubleheader on the airstrip of Marine Corps Air Station New River. Sunday’s round of competition was called off after lightning and a torrential downpour rendered the track undrivable.

VARX set the two quickest times in qualifying on Saturday, with Speed leading teammate and current points leader Tanner Foust in the session. Foust went on to claim victory in each of his Heat and Semifinal races, setting up a pole position start for the Final. Speed’s road to the Final was more fraught, as the driver of the No. 41 Special Operations Warrior Foundation Beetle GRC sustained a mechanical issue, forcing him to race his way into the Final via the Last Chance Qualifier.

Before the Final, a thunderstorm rolled over the Air Station, dousing track and spectators alike, inundating the dirt section of the track. Foust got out to a huge lead in the wet Final, while Speed made a ferocious start from seventh on the grid to take position behind his teammate.

“I was so surprised to come out of the first corner in second place,” said Speed on the podium. “Getting up front early was key to our race, because we were able to avoid most of the mess caused by driving in that soup.”

The treacherous conditions yielded an incredible display of car control by Foust and Speed. While other drivers struggled to get through the mud, pointed in the right direction, Foust grew his lead until he began to lose power. To preserve the equipment for the next day’s race, the team made the decision to retire the car from the lead.

“It’s an unfortunate way for us to end the race after showing speed all day,” said Foust, driver of the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle. “We were definitely in a position to win, so finishing by the side of the track is a real bummer.”

By this point, Speed was wrapped up in a battle for the lead, hounding the first-place driver lap after lap. After taking the white flag, Speed used his Joker lap, taking the lead on the final corner and securing his first victory since Los Angeles 2015. 

“This is such a great way to end the day, and I’m so happy that these fans stuck around to watch this amazing show,” said a smiling Speed. “I’m glad to get a win under our belts after so much bad luck earlier in the season. It’s a great reward for our hardworking crew.”

The Beetle GRCs were quick again on Sunday, setting first and third fastest times of the morning’s qualifying session. Speed and Foust each took a win apiece in the Heat and Semifinal rounds, but track activities were called off after a massive thunderstorm left small lakes of standing water on the dirt section of the track.

“It’s a shame that we didn’t get to race today, especially since we were starting from the front again,” said Foust. “Thanks to the fans who stuck with us today. We’ll be ready for the next one.”