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GRC Mid-Season Review: Stephan Verdier

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

No. 12 Motorcity/Disney XD Hyundai Veloster, Rhys Millen Racing

STANDINGS: 7th, 39 points

POSITIVES: Verdier established himself as the GRC’s master of the alternate strategy when he took an underpowered Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai to a surprise third place finish at the season opener at Charlotte by avoiding the shortcut at the start and running clean laps on an open track. While most of the field had 550 horsepower, Verdier was using a World Rally engine that only provided 300. When he borrowed teammate Millen’s car at New Hampshire, he showed that he could work with the speed by qualifying fourth and winning the last chance qualifier.

NEGATIVES: The lack of power in the old engine meant that Verdier had to rely on all of his opponents pulling out of his last chance qualifier to make the final at Texas, and it meant he couldn’t run Liam Doran down in the LCQ at X Games. He’s spent the past three races running in LCQs, and despite never finishing worse than second in them, that’s not the easiest way to make it into a final.

OUTLOOK: The assumption is that Verdier’s original car will be ready to run in the final two rounds of the season with all of its upgrades firmly in place. The Veloster hasn’t shown itself to be a world beater, but it’s a more than serviceable car, and Verdier is one of the most underrated driving talents in the series. There’s a good chance that he could score another strong finish before the season ends.

– Chris Leone

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