By ARX Rallycross
Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross’ Scott Speed held off first lap challenge from Loenbro Motorsport’s Ken Block to claim the victory in the second ever Americas Rallycross (ARX) event at the Dirtfish ARX of COTA.
Speed took maximum points from the first event held at COTA’s permanent rallycross circuit and now leads his VARX teammate Tanner Foust – who won the second semifinal and started on the front row of the grid with Speed in the final – by one point in the Championship.
As they did in qualifying, the VARX drivers split their strategy at the start of the six-lap final, with Foust immediately taking his joker lap followed by Subaru Rally Team USA’s Patrik Sandell. Speed took the normal route and held track position from Block’s Ford Focus RS RX, the pair not repeating the fight for position that they had in the semifinals, where Block had moved into the lead for two corners after the start.
Travis Pastrana passed his Subaru teammate Chris Atkinson at turn one and was running third until Lap 3, when he climbed to second as Block took his joker and returned to the action in front of Foust, who had been held up behind Atkinson’s Subaru. The Australian driver dropped to sixth after being passed by Foust and Sandell, but Foust wasn’t able to catch Block in front.
Running first and second, Speed and Pastrana took the joker on Lap 6, Pastrana coming out fourth behind Foust as top Subaru driver. Foust’s third-place performance made it two VARX Beetles on the podium, but the cars that finished first and second in the first ARX round at the Speedmachine Festival at Silverstone in May were split at COTA by Block’s Focus RS RX. Xite Racing’s Oliver Bennett finished fourth in Semifinal two and missed out on a place in the Final and Loenbro Motorsport’s Steve Arpin retired on Lap 1 of the first six-lap semifinal with a suspension failure.
Conner Martell won the first ever round of ARX2. He made a strong start in the Final to take the lead before turn one and would cruise to victory. Top Qualifier, Fraser McConnell ran second with Scott Anderson in third on the first lap, as Christian Brooks, who was given a penalty for contact in his semifinal and dropped to the third row of the final grid, behind Alex Keyes and Cole Keatts.
After contact at the joker merge on Lap 5 and 6 disrupted the positions, Brooks finished second and Keatts was third. McConnell ended up fourth and Keyes was fifth but Anderson retired. Matt Carpoff and James Rimmer both had spins in the Semifinals and didn’t make the final.
The next round of the ARX Championship takes the series north of the American boarder to Montreal, Canada for the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres, August 4-5. Coverage will be streamed live on Facebook.com/ARXRallycross and YouTube.com/c/ARXRallycross.com. DirtFish ARX of COTA will be featured in a one-hour highlights show on CBS Sports Network, Wednesday, July 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT.
Scott Speed, No. 41 Circle K Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle: “That final was not easy. I had to brake 50 meters before the first two corners because I was getting plowed in the back by the 43. To be fair, it wasn’t too obnoxious, and we were able to fight it off and our speed showed. We had a relatively easy race from there. But, for sure, the start was stressful. We’re really strong, I think our team is the best team in Rallycross. Between the two drivers, and Andretti and the support we get from Volkswagen in Germany – it’s a whole package, it’s not one thing. It’s like a good soccer team. Everybody has to work together, and we have a very strong team.”
Connor Martell, No. 21 DirtFish Motorsports ARX2: “We started really well in practice and we didn’t change the set-up at all the whole weekend and unfortunately, the clutch froze up for the second Q. We obviously couldn’t race it, but we won Q3, Q4. The Semifinal went really well and Christian [Brooks] unfortunately got a penalty so we got to start in the front row in the final and from there we just got a really good start and took it away. The DirtFish team did an amazing job and I can’t thank Black Rifle Coffee enough for everything they’ve done for me, but overall it was a great weekend.”