The Global Rallycross Championship arrived at Dallas for the third race of the season, and a week later after Bryan Herta Autosport showed the biggest surprise at the Indy 500 with Alexander Rossi, it was Patrik Sandell the man responsible to continue the tradition of upsets pulled the team owned by the former IndyCar driver, ruining what was about to be another Andretti Rallysport domination.
Semifinal A started with Tanner Foust in the lead and defending himself from the hard Honda Civic attack, specially with Joni Wiman eager to pass. Wiman kept the same distance to Foust during the whole race while Patrik Sandell watched from afar. As the final part of the Joker Lap is in fact favorable to the guy on it rather than the normal path, Foust was the first to see the checkered flag, with Wiman coming right behind in second and Sandell being the last in the race to qualify to the final, sending Sebastian Eriksson to the Last Chance Qualifier. Rhys Millen was expected to be the fifth guy in the grid but didn’t start.
In the Semifinal B, Scott Speed started the race just as Foust, being chased now by Steve Arpin while Jeff Ward was keeping a close view of the pursuit, and in last place was a frustrated Austin Dyne, who stalled at the start line but was able to go a while later. The gap between Speed and Arpin was only spreading as the Andretti Rallysport driver was half a second quicker, and had only the job of carrying his Volkswagen Beetle RX to the finish line, with Arpin and Ward being the other two that were qualified to the final, relegating Dyne to the LCQ. Brian Deegan, with repairs to do in his Ford Fiesta ST RX, wasn’t able to start in this race.
All the guys knocked out in the semifinals were in the LCQ and with no more opponents, they were automatically qualified, meaning it was a race only for the positions. Eriksson took the upper hand while a reborn Brian Deegan was following him closely, fighting to keep the tight gap, which paid off thanks to a mistake of the Olsbergs MSE driver. With even performances, Eriksson was unable to steal the victory from Deegan.
It was the moment of the truth for Andretti Rallysport as Foust had to prove that he is the dominant force on GRC, and in the final both Beetles suffered a hard stab in the back as Foust and Speed overdid the first corner and lost positions to Sandell and Arpin.
Given the advantage demonstrated by the Andretti pair, go back to the lead shouldn’t be that hard work, but in fact Arpin was holding them off, leaving room for Sandell to open the gap. Lap 5, halfway point, and Foust, with the Joker done, started to press Arpin, even resorting to some contact to open the way, but truth was that the Chip Ganassi Racing driver was a tough wall to break.
Sandell had a huge gap ahead of Arpin, and with no worries behind him, he conquered his first GRC win in 2016. Arpin held not only one, but two cars faster than him to get second place, and Foust completed the podium.
Tanner Foust still leads with 180 points, but now Sandell is the runner-up with 155 points against 150 from Speed and 137 from Arpin. In two weeks the action returns at Daytona with another double-header, on June 18th and 19th.
PHOTO: Bryan Herta Autosport