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GRC Preview: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

New Hampshire Motor Speedway represents the fourth of six rounds in this Global Rallycross Championship season, and the .77 mile layout is one of the more interesting ones on the schedule. Instead of adapting part of a tri-oval as the series did in Charlotte and Texas, the GRC will use part of NHMS’s motorcycle track, as well as a new crossover bridge to get from the oval frontstretch to pit road.

Walking through the paddock, many drivers and teams feel that tonight’s event will be the most exciting of the season thus far, while the new layout offers interesting choices in passing strategy.

“I actually think that the best passing opportunity is going to be after the gap jump, in turn one,” says Scott-Eklund Racing’s Andy Scott. “And then onto the (first) corner, which is going to be the choice of going into the joker lap or continuing on the main circuit, I think, (is) where most of the main action is going to take place.”

Staging will take place near the pit road start-finish line, giving drivers an out lap of nearly the full length of the circuit. They will see the slalom section first, followed by the gap jump, though drivers will bypass the gap jump on the out lap so as not to congest the racing line. They’ll land in NASCAR turn one, turn around at the motorcycle esses, go through a patch of dirt, and continue underneath the gap before hitting the frontstretch and the small jump.

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

After crossing the start-finish line, the first turn will challenge drivers with the crossover bridge, bringing them from the frontstretch to pit road. Bucky Lasek and Ken Block had single-car accidents on the corner yesterday. Lasek merely went through the fence, but unfortunately for Block, he rolled his car off the bridge entirely at the end of yesterday’s qualifying heats, giving his crew a long night of repairing cosmetic damage.

There will be three heat races instead of the usual four this weekend, owing to a shorter field of 14 cars. Neither Toomas Heikkinen nor Marcus Gronholm have healed from their injuries sustained at X Games, leaving Olsbergs MSE with a three-car team for the weekend. Meanwhile, Rhys Millen will not compete this weekend either; teammate Stephan Verdier will drive Millen’s car this weekend with his Motorcity wrap applied.

Tanner Foust, Ken Block, and Travis Pastrana set the three fastest qualifying times and will thus have the best lane choice in their heats. Foust’s lap of 39.203 seconds was over a second faster than all other drivers except Block, the only other driver to break the 40-second barrier.

Heat lineups for tonight are as follows:

  • Group A: Tanner Foust (1), Stephan Verdier (4), David Binks (7), Sverre Isachsen (10)
  • Group B: Ken Block (2), Brian Deegan (5), Dave Mirra (8), Pat Moro (11), Andy Scott (13)
  • Group C: Travis Pastrana (3), Samuel Hubinette (6), Liam Doran (9), Richard Burton (12), Bucky Lasek (14)

– Chris Leone

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