Championship Contenders: Supercar
There are up to 81 points on offer to Supercar drivers in any Red Bull Global Rallycross round: seven each for up to three rounds of heats, 10 in the semifinals, and a massive 50 in the final. Through nine rounds of action, it means we’ve had 43 different opportunities for drivers to score what currently stands as a maximum of 715 points.
What’s not so surprising: championship leader Scott Speed, the class of the field all year, has scored 616 to earn the top spot in the standings with three races to go.
What might be: two drivers are only half a race out of the championship lead.
While no driver has been mathematically eliminated from winning a Supercar title just yet, with 243 points remaining to be scored, Speed, Steve Arpin, and Tanner Foust are the three drivers with a realistic shot at this year’s title. Today, we take a look at their championship chances:
Scott Speed (1st, 616 points)
- 2017 Highlights: 4 wins, 8 podiums, 25 heat/semifinal victories
- 2017 DNFs: Ottawa I (DNS)
- 2016 at Remaining Events: 4th (Seattle), 1st (Los Angeles I), 2nd (Los Angeles II)
There’s no disputing that, right now, Speed is in control of this championship. Then again, there was no disputing that in Ottawa in June, until an engine change forced him to miss the final and dropped him to fourth in points—or even last year in Seattle, when even a fourth place finish was enough to briefly cost him the championship lead going into the final event of the year.
The good news is that Speed is four for six in Los Angeles since joining Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, including a doubleheader sweep in 2015. This year’s single race will be winner-take-all, but so was last year’s Sunday round, and Speed stared down teammate Tanner Foust then.
Steve Arpin (2nd, 578 points)
- 2017 Highlights: 2 wins, 7 podiums, 8 heat/semifinal victories
- 2017 DNFs: Ottawa II (DNF)
- 2016 at Remaining Events: 5th (Seattle), 3rd (Los Angeles I), 10th (Los Angeles II)
First of all, Arpin deserves a hand for taking it to the factory squads with his Loenbro Motorsports operation. In the midst of his first multi-win season, Arpin used his back-to-back triumphs in New England and Ottawa to lead the Supercar point standings for the first time ever.
It’ll be harder to pull off the championship itself since his VARX rivals each seem to dominate at one of the remaining courses, but it’s by no means impossible. Remember: this is a team that prides itself on overcoming adversity with the motto “just keep digging.” They’ve done that at every round so far this year, and it’s a big part of why Arpin now has seven podium finishes.
Tanner Foust (3rd, 575 points)
- 2017 Highlights: 2 wins, 5 podiums, 19 heat/semifinal victories
- 2017 DNFs: New England II, Atlantic City I (DNF)
- 2016 at Remaining Events: 1st (Seattle), 2nd (Los Angeles I), 4th (Los Angeles II)
Foust’s brilliance truly shines when he’s most motivated to beat Speed. Not content to lose the pole in Louisville, he posted a flyer more than three-tenths of a second faster than Speed’s top time—and then went on to take the next three poles, too. When Speed went down in Ottawa, Foust used back-to-back podiums (the latter a win) to claim the championship lead.
But Atlantic City, for the second time in two year, was a nightmare for Foust, who failed to finish on Saturday and could only muster ninth on Sunday. He’s hoping history repeats itself in Seattle, where he reclaimed the points lead last season—but not in Los Angeles, where he lost it again.
Red Bull Global Rallycross Seattle
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Supercar Round 10 Finals: September 9, 4:30PM ET, NBC // Supercar Round 11 Finals: September 10, 4:30PM ET, NBC
Lites Rounds 10-11 Finals: September 13, 5PM ET, NBCSN
Photo credit: Larry Chen