Today in Red Bull GRC History: Speed Wins Big in Atlantic City
This past weekend, all the big bettors were focused on the battle between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in Las Vegas. A year ago today, it was another world-class athlete betting on himself on the other coast—and walking away with the jackpot.
After a sluggish start to the season that included a fire in Daytona and missed opportunities in both Phoenix and Dallas, Scott Speed clawed his way back into the championship chase with wins at MCAS New River and Washington DC. But it was his win in Atlantic City that truly put him back on the map: taking his third victory in a row, Speed also managed to wrestle the Supercar points lead away from Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross teammate Tanner Foust for the first time all season.
“This track has definitely been my favorite,” Speed said from the podium. “We’ve never been to a track that rutted up like this did, where we really had to be careful and pick our lines. As we saw in the race, that really played out in my favor, but it definitely made it interesting!”
Halfway through the final, Foust had appeared to evade both major challenges that he faced all weekend: he kept his perfect streak of heat victories alive after a penalty to Brian Deegan reversed a last-lap pass, and he began to put a gap on Speed after they traded the lead three times on the first lap. Unfortunately, tire issues late in the race would not only knock Foust out of the lead, but they’d also take him off the podium entirely as he faded on the final lap.
While Foust and Steve Arpin faded with tire-related issues, Deegan and Patrik Sandell snapped up the remaining podium places. Sandell reaffirmed his status as one of the series’ smartest Joker Lap players by saving it for the last lap, climbing from fifth to second in the process. Deegan, meanwhile, avenged his heat loss by passing Foust for third coming to the finish.
“I had kind of a rough first lap in the final,” explained Sandell. “I was kind of a ping-pong ball in the middle of a lot of cars, but my car was still great and I could still push with it. My spotter did a fantastic job to give me feedback on times all the way through, and what position we could get up to by taking the Joker at the end. It took us all the way up to second, so I’m super happy for the team.”
A full year later, the story played out almost exactly the same when the series returned to Bader Field, this time for a doubleheader. Once again, Speed used a nearly perfect weekend and a three-race winning streak to steal the points lead from Foust, who once again left New Jersey empty-handed after missing both podiums. That said, Foust reclaimed the top spot with a perfect weekend the next time out in Seattle, so the 2011 and 2012 champion will be hoping for history to repeat itself once again at Evergreen Speedway later this month.
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Photo credit: Louis Yio