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Global Rallycross Race Preview: Charlotte Motor Speedway

September 22, 2013
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IN BRIEF: Toomas Heikkinen looks for his unprecedented sixth Global Rallycross victory in a row, while 14 other drivers will attempt to knock him off of the top spot as the sport makes its debut at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

TUNE IN INFORMATION FOR RACE:

  • Sunday, September 22, 4:30 PM ET on ABC (Live)

SPOTTER GUIDE/DRIVER STATS: CLICK HERE for the full entry list.

LIVE TIMING FOR NHMS: CLICK HERE for Live Timing

LAST RACE: Toomas Heikkinen won an unprecedented fifth consecutive main event in Atlanta, continuing a winning streak that began in the second half of the X Games Munich doubleheader. As in Los Angeles, Tanner Foust and Sverre Isachsen completed the podium, while Dave Mirra and Timur Timerzyanov scored season-best fourth and fifth place finishes, respectively.

DRIVER CHANGES: Charlotte’s entry list features many significant differences from Atlanta:

  • Dave Mirra will move from Subaru PUMA Rallycross team to substitute for Liam Doran in the Prodrive-prepared MINI Countryman. He will run his traditional #40.
  • Pat Moro will make his season debut in the #59 PMR Motorsports Chevrolet Sonic.
  • Nelson Piquet Jr. and X Team Racing will return to competition in the #12 Mitsubishi Evo for the first time since New Hampshire.
  • Stephan Verdier will reunite with Rhys Millen Racing, his 2012 team, to race the #4 Hyundai Veloster.
  • Travis Pastrana and Bryce Menzies will return to Global Rallycross competition, replacing Timur Timerzyanov and Henning Solberg, respectively.

THE TRACK: Unlike 2012, this year’s Charlotte race will take place on the Dirt Track facility adjacent to the stock car oval. The track, primarily comprised of dirt, will feature multiple obstacles, including sections that will take cars out of, and back into, the facility.

HEIKKINEN HOPING FOR BIG CHARLOTTE WEEKEND: Toomas Heikkinen can clinch the 2013 GRC Drivers’ Championship in Charlotte with relative ease. Owing to his 43-point lead over Tanner Foust, he only needs to score two points over the final two races to win the title; even if Foust wins each of the next two races and all four of his heats, Heikkinen will score two points by simply starting the race. He will also lock up the Sylvania SilverStar zXe Cup by scoring two points; Ken Block, who is 20 points behind Heikkinen, would then have to win both heats and the final to tie Heikkinen on points, but would lose a tiebreaker on victories.

BIG THREE IN GRC: Ford has maintained a presence in Global Rallycross from the series’ inception, while Dodge entered the sport with a Travis Pastrana-led program last season. In Charlotte, a third American brand, Chevrolet, will join the sport for the first time; Pat Moro will enter the PMR Motorsports-prepared #59 Chevrolet Sonic in Sunday’s race. The move makes Global Rallycross one of a select few motorsports organizations to see same-class representation from all three major United States-based automakers: Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors.

MIRRA JOINS PRODRIVE: Dave Mirra has driven Vermont SportsCar-prepared Subarus since the very beginning of his motorsports career, but will trade the keys to his WRX STI for a new ride on Sunday. With Liam Doran otherwise committed, Mirra will step into the Prodrive-prepared MINI Countryman for the first time in Charlotte. The new combination has the power to surprise the field; Mirra scored his best finish of the season with a fourth place in Atlanta, while the MINI won gold and silver in its first two races at X Games Munich.

QUOTES: A selection of quotes in advance of Sunday’s Sylvania SilverStar zXe Global Rallycross at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

Travis Pastrana, Driver, #199 Pastrana Racing Dodge Dart: “(My car) is driving really good. It’s cool because we actually got to come down and use some NASCAR equipment here this week, and just test it, see how the suspension was working and try and get some more grip. I think this Dodge Dart should be pretty good.“

Dave Mirra, Driver, #40 Prodrive MINI Cooper: “I’m having a great time out here. The car is unbelievable, and I feel great in it. I’m so grateful for PUMA, WMG, and Prodrive, everybody here to support me, and I’m here for Papa Coyne and the family to race. I feel like a little kid.”

Stephan Verdier, Driver, #4 Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster: “I’m really excited. I definitely have some unfinished business with the Veloster, and we have the car 100%. We did some testing (on Thursday) and the car looks awesome. I think it’s going to be fun!”

Pat Moro, Driver, #59 PMR Motorsports Chevrolet Sonic: “It’s great to be down here in Charlotte. We’ve done so much testing with this car, and I’m just really excited to get it out there against all the other cars. I’m ready to get out here and ready to go racing.”

DRIVER POINTS:

  1. Toomas Heikkinen, 139
  2. Tanner Foust, 96
  3. Brian Deegan, 84
  4. Ken Block, 80
  5. Patrik Sandell, 75

MANUFACTURER POINTS:

  1. Ford, 264
  2. Subaru, 109
  3. Dodge, 94
Categories: Race Previews