Flashback: Red Bull GRC’s 50th Supercar Final
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the sport of rallycross occurring today, Red Bull Global Rallycross takes a look back at the 50th Supercar final in series history, held at Evergreen Speedway last September.
It was the most important race of the year for Tanner Foust.
Now more than a decade into his racing career, the man who is arguably the face of Red Bull Global Rallycross would make his return to Evergreen Speedway, this time behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Beetle. He’d be racing in front of fans that had cheered him on for years in drift events at the track, some of which he had won, making the event a homecoming of sorts.
But it also represented the first time in the 2016 season that he came into an event playing catch-up.
“All you can do is put yourself in the best place possible,” he said, after losing the points lead to Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross teammate Scott Speed in the previous round in Atlantic City. “That’s all I’ve been trying to do all year. I’ve had unfortunate problems with the suspension, tires, or engine, while in the lead on three different occasions, which is 150 points. There’s no doubt that anything can happen.”
Speed, meanwhile, rode a three-race winning streak into the weekend—the first in the Supercar class since 2013. Although Foust had yet to lose a heat or semifinal at the time, it was the defending Supercar champion who held the nine-point advantage coming into the penultimate event of 2016.
“You’ve got to be clean and mitigate mistakes and hope things fall your way,” Speed explained on Friday morning. “This is going to be another track where some stuff can happen quickly. You just can only hope right now that you have a clean weekend.
“The cars are obviously fast—hopefully they get off the line clean and we have clean races. If that’s the case then we will take this thing to Los Angeles as a heavy favorite with team Volkswagen.”
The teammates vowed to keep it clean with each other on the track, and they lived up to that billing with each other. But while Foust extended his heat win streak to 25, extending the single-season record in the process, things weren’t so straightforward for Speed, who would find himself in the last chance qualifier after a disastrous semifinal that included contact with both a barrier and Subaru Rally Team USA’s Chris Atkinson.
That’s not to say that the VARX teammates were the only ones making headlines in Seattle: Brian Deegan earned his first pole of 2016 in qualifying, Nelson Piquet Jr.’s car erupted into flames in a spectacular moment during Friday night heats, and the Subaru duo of Atkinson and David Higgins both earned podium spots in the semifinals to advance directly to the main event, while Dallas winner Patrik Sandell went home early. But when the lights turned green in the final, there was only one question on everybody’s mind—could Speed close the gap to Foust?
In short: not quite.
Just hours after contact flipped his hood into his line of sight, Speed charged up to fourth, falling just short of a podium. But Foust continued his dominance, taking an easy victory—his career-best fourth in a single season—while Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman combined to give Honda its first double podium since partnering with Olsbergs MSE at the start of the year.
On the top step of the podium, Foust addressed a roaring crowd, not only excited about his victory, but the fact that he would enter the season-ending Los Angeles doubleheader with the championship lead.
“It’s a pleasure to be back here—I love you guys and the fans here are absolutely awesome!” he said over the cheers. “Across the country, the fans here are the best. I see so many familiar faces over the last decade of racing. The track was gnarly, and all the teams had a big battle, but Volkswagen and Andretti pulled it off and it was spectacular.
“It was really great to see so many new fans to a sport that I really believe in. I think there’s a long future here, so I hope to see you again next year!”
Photo credit: Larry Chen