Flat tire ends charge to victory
CONCORD, N.C. (July 28, 2013) -- Rockstar Energy Drink driver Tanner Foust was the driver to beat at the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, a week after his lights-to-flag victory in New York. But the win eluded Foust this weekend when a flat tire on the rough course ended his podium charge.
"It was a hard weekend at the dirt track. The course developed deep ruts and just about everybody got flat tires," said Foust. "Our wheels are incredibly tough and stand up to the abuse, but it's tough to keep up the pace when you're running on metal instead of rubber."
This year marks the third time the series has raced at Charlotte Motor Speedway and it is a highlight stop on the calendar. After the race, fans packed the open pits before lining up for more than an hour for a chance to meet with Foust and other series drivers at a post-race autograph session.
Two-time Global Rallycross champion Foust looked strong early in the weekend after earning a top-three qualifying position in the Rockstar Energy Drink Volkswagen Polo. But trouble started for the driver in his first heat race, when rival driver Sverre Isachsen punted him into the wall. Officials dealt Isachsen a black-flag for the hit, but Foust was unable to continue.
In the second round of heat racing, Foust battled from the back row and made a strategic decision to save his Joker until the final lap. When the time came for him to make the move into the shortcut, however, the half-second advantage wasn't enough to get him into the lead.
Then, starting on the second row in a chaotic semi-final round that saw two restarts, the Rockstar Energy Drink driver pushed hard through traffic to score the win. The victory allowed him to bypass the Last Chance Qualifier and advance directly to a coveted front-row starting position in the Final.
Sandwiched between two other drivers in the sprint into the first corner, Foust found himself with a flat tire on the first lap of the Final. In rallycross, there is no chance to change tires once racing has begun and although he showed his incredible car control skills by managing the car near the front of the pack for several laps, he couldn't keep the field at bay to the finish. He scored an eighth-place result.
"I was in the middle on the start in the Final and there just wasn't room in the first corner for all three of us," said Foust. "I had a tire go flat when we tried to squeeze through and my race was pretty much over right there."
It was a disappointing finish for the driver, but he credited the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team for getting him to the end of the day.
"This sport is rough and my Rockstar Energy Drink Volkswagen Polo held up really well this weekend," said Foust. "There were definitely battle scars from all the hits out there, but the crew worked hard and if it wasn't for a flat tire, we would have had a real shot at a win."
Teammate Speed finished fifth, while victory ultimately went to longtime rival Ken Block. Isachsen scored second and Nelson Piquet Jr. rounded out the podium in third.
Foust will next compete as a guest driver in the World Rallycross Championship for its Canadian round August 7 and 8 in Trois Rivieres, Quebec. He is running select events this season in the World RX series. He won the World RX round in Finland last month.
Rallycross is a blend of circuit racing, off-road racing and rally competition. It promises intense crowd-pleasing action in a fan-friendly track environment. As many as 10 drivers line up to start at once, piloting high-horsepower compact cars through race traffic over a challenging short course that features jumps, unbanked turns, hills and transitions between pavement and gravel.
Full Red Bull Global Rallycross coverage is broadcast live on NBC. A 90-minute midseason recap of the first five rounds of the 2014 season airs Sunday, Aug. 3 at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern time) on NBC. The show will feature highlights of the first five rounds, including Foust's win in New York, as well as exclusive new content.
Foust and the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team will return to Global Rallycross competition with the Rockstar Energy Drink Volkswagen Polo in Daytona August 22 and 23.