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GRC Season Review: Bryce Menzies, Part 2

Photo credit: Atiba Jefferson/Red Bull Content Pool

Photo credit: Atiba Jefferson/Red Bull Content Pool

When Bryce Menzies made his Global Rallycross Championship debut at X Games, it was also the first time that he’d made the switch from desert and short course truck racing to rallycross. Driving a second Dodge Dart alongside Travis Pastrana, Menzies finished 14th in his one-off ride at X Games.

But after wrapping up the Traxxas TORC Series’ Pro 2 championship for the second year in a row, Menzies got the call to drive for Pastrana once again in the GRC season finale at SEMA. This time, however, he’d be driving for a team whose prospects were completely different than at X Games. Pastrana took a popular win at New Hampshire, but he also elected for season-ending shoulder surgery after the Las Vegas round, meaning Menzies would be the team’s only driver.

In part two of our season review, Menzies discusses racing his way into the main event at SEMA, his appearance in the Red Bull Kluge video (see above), and what he has in mind for 2013:

On TV, Travis talked about the difference in the car this season before and after testing, and he gave you a ton of credit for helping develop it. Did the car feel significantly different at SEMA than it did at X Games?

Yeah—Travis took the car from X Games, and they tested with it a bunch and made it a lot better. I think with those cars you’ve got to change with every single track you go to. You’ve got to change the setup. And I think with me and Travis, two drivers, you always have a better shot at hitting the right setup. We’re trying both ends of the spectrum, and then we’ll come back and talk to each other and figure out what we like and what we didn’t.

Throughout the year, it’s a brand new car, the Dodge Dart’s first season, so we’ve just been making a bunch of changes trying to get notes on what the car likes on asphalt and on dirt. So from X Games to SEMA, the car got a lot better, probably 70% better, so it’s just going to go even farther from there, and I’m looking forward to next season.

Image via K&N Filters

Image via K&N Filters

Your battle with Samuel Hubinette in the second heat was one of the most exciting head-to-head races of the season, and you managed to advance directly into the final. What was your strategy in trying to pass him?

That heat race was one of the great ones that we had. We felt that we had some speed, we made some changes for that heat races that really helped the car. Going into the heat race, you just want to make it into the final. I felt like we were faster than Samuel but there’s no reason to push and try to wreck us both out. When you’re in those battles, you’ve gotta find a way around and not bully someone too much into hitting each other and smashing into each other. It’s a lot of strategy—when to use the joker, when to take the regular route. I think that’s what I’m still learning about rallycross. I’m trying to figure out ways to pass and use strategy and set up the cars. We’re still trying to figure that out, but it was a really good heat race for us.

When you got to the final, in the second attempt, you had a spin on the first lap. Did an issue from the first attempt at the final cause that? Is there anything you would’ve done differently in either attempt?

In the final, one of the things is that I really need to work on is the start. In Global Rallycross, it’s a huge key to winning these races to get off the start. I struggled a little bit there, and once you get in the pack it’s so hard to pass and make moves on guys, so that’s probably one thing that I would’ve liked to do a little bit better. And then you get up front a little bit better and run with the good guys. That’s one thing we’re going to work on this offseason, and hopefully bring back ready for next year.

Photo credit: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool

Photo credit: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool

A couple of weeks ago we saw you appear in the Red Bull Kluge video. When did that shoot take place and what was the process like?

At Red Bull, they’ve been working on the Kluge video for a while. They came up to me about it, I saw it all on paper, and it came together in October at El Toro Airbase. And what cooler event can you get 15 huge athletes together and make this huge event happen? I think it’s up to 12 million views now.

It was an all day process. I was in the truck for over eight hours, just for that little clip of mine. But when you’re making those movies, or shoots like that, that’s kind of what takes place. I’m just super lucky to be a part of Red Bull, and they always push the limits, try new stuff, and do some cool stuff with all their athletes. It was a really cool video, and I’m glad that everybody’s liking it.

Finally, we noticed during Pastrana’s interview that he showed interest in running you full-time in the series next year. Assumedly you’re running a full schedule of desert and short-course events next year, but is a full-time GRC ride something that you would consider?

Photo credit: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

Photo credit: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

You know something, once I got in the GRC car, I fell in love with it. It’s so much fun. I’m working with my sponsors and Travis Pastrana’s, talking back and forth and trying to figure out if we can make it work. I’m also running a full desert season and a full short course season, so I just want to make sure it’s right for me and if we have enough time to do it. So we’re in the process of talking about it. I really want to get back and show that our team is capable of winning races, as Travis did. At New Hampshire, he put that thing on the box. So it’d be really cool to get back, get in that car, and try to make it a two-team deal next year. Hopefully we’ll be out there at the first race!

Bryce Menzies is on both Twitter and Instagram at @BryceMenzies7, as well as Facebook. For more on Bryce and his other racing endeavors, be sure to visit the Menzies Motorsports and Red Bull websites.

—Chris Leone

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GRC Season Review: Bryce Menzies, Part 1

Photo credit: Dan Busta/Red Bull Content Pool

Photo credit: Dan Busta/Red Bull Content Pool

Having made a name for himself by winning both the SCORE Off-Road Championship and Traxxas TORC Series’ Pro 2 Class in 2011, Mesa, Arizona’s Bryce Menzies decided to add another challenge to his already busy schedule in 2012. When fellow Red Bull driver Travis Pastrana needed a driver for his second Dodge Dart at X Games, Menzies jumped at the opportunity, stepping into the No. 99 Red Bull/Discount Tire car with limited seat time.

He demonstrated enough skill in that X Games run that when Pastrana elected to undergo shoulder surgery before the Global Rallycross Championship season finale at SEMA, Menzies was the only choice to replace him. Again, Menzies stepped into the car and transitioned nicely, this time appearing in his first GRC final round after a strong showing in the heat race.

After running the Baja 1000 once again, Menzies sat down with us at the Menzies Motorsports shop to talk about how busy he’s been this year, differences in driving style from short course to rallycross, and debuting on the big stage of X Games:

You just scored a top-10 finish in this year’s Baja 1000 a couple of weeks ago. You won your second consecutive Baja 500 and the TORC Pro 2 championship, you made your rallycross debut at X Games, and you even took Tim Lincecum for a ride around Firebird Raceway in the trophy truck all the way back in March. How much fun has this year been for you?

Yeah, we’ve had a really busy year, but it’s also been a lot of fun. I’ve been lucky to be able to run desert, which I started out in, into short course, backed up our Pro 2 championship and won the Baja 500 again. We really were focusing on the Baja 1000 and it just didn’t play out as we thought—we came away, I think, seventh overall. It’s just been a fun season.

Image via Race-Dezert.com

Image via Race-Dezert.com

And also we got to jump into a rally car. I probably got the call about a week before X Games to drive Pastrana’s second car. I didn’t have too much seat time, but once I got into the thing, I knew it was a blast and I had to do it. It was so much fun. I just needed some more seat time, trying to get figured out all-wheel drive compared to two-wheel drive, what I’m used to. And then they called me back and I got to drive the last event out at SEMA. We made some pretty good adjustments, I got a little more seat time in the car. We ended up third in one of the heat races, and then in the main we broke so we didn’t have the best luck. But hopefully next year (I’m) looking forward to getting back in the Global Rallycross car and trying to do a little bit better in it.

We know you’re a relative newcomer to rallycross, and that desert and short-course truck racing has been your forte. But you’ve seemed to catch on pretty quickly. Are there a lot of aspects of your truck driving style that adapt well to rallycross?

From short course to rally, you’ve got to be super aggressive, and I think that’s one of the things I kind of lacked going into Global Rallycross. The car is all-wheel drive, so you have to drive like, Pastrana was telling me, you have to drive the crap out of them. You’ve got to drive them to the limit. In the Pro 2, which I race in short course, you (need) a lot of finesse, you’ve got to be really smooth. So just trying to transition myself from driving one to the other, taking my aggression a lot higher in the rally car and driving a lot harder, was a little hard for me at the beginning. But I think I slowly was figuring it out and getting a little hand for it. Hopefully, just getting some more seat time, I’ll be up there on the podium with that thing.

Photo credit: Alex Huff

Photo credit: Alex Huff

You debuted at X Games in the Dodge Dart in what was a hectic weekend for you and the team. Regardless of all of the drama and bad luck on race day, did you enjoy the X Games experience?

Yeah, you know, X Games is something I grew up watching on TV. When I got the call to drive the car at X Games, it was unbelievable. There’s a lot of added pressure going into it—just the hype of X Games, and knowing I’d be racing it—so the goal was just to go in and have fun, and take the experience as what it is. I had a blast, and you couldn’t ask for a better teammate than Travis Pastrana, X Games ace. When you think action sports, his name comes up. I had a great time there, I just wish we both would have done a little bit better, but we took it as we did and had a lot of fun doing it.

When you made your rallycross debut, you were racing alongside Travis Pastrana. At SEMA, though, you were replacing him. Did that affect the way you approached the week’s race events at all, without having a teammate?

Image via K&N Filters

Image via K&N Filters

Coming into SEMA, I got in the car and I’d driven it at X Games, so I knew we had a good shot. We did some testing with the car, and being the only driver because Travis was hurt put a little more pressure (on). We knew we needed to do good not just for the team, but for all the sponsors that back the team, like Dodge, Red Bull, and KMC. We wanted to really put on a good show and I felt after qualifying—we didn’t qualify that good, but we made some changed to the car, softened up the suspension a little bit, and we came away third in the heat race. So we had high hopes going into the main.

But in rallycross, anything can happen. We went into turn one and me and Bucky (Lasek) got into it, and I got a flat tire, which broke the front drive also. So it didn’t turn out that good, but we also made some progress looking into the next year, that we do have the speed, and we’re capable of winning these things. We’ve just got to get the thing to play out and come into our hands.

Tomorrow, Menzies talks about how his races went at SEMA, the Red Bull Kluge video, and what he hopes to do in the 2013 season.

*A previous edition of this article said that Menzies had won the 2011 Baja 1000. He placed third in that event.

—Chris Leone

GRC Insider: Pastrana To Skip SEMA Round, Menzies To Rejoin Series

Image via TravisPastrana.com

Last week, Travis Pastrana’s absence from the official Global Rallycross Championship entry list for the October 30 season finale at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas sparked curiosity in fans of the sport and series. On Tuesday, fans received confirmation that Pastrana would indeed miss the race, but not for the reasons suggested previously.

According to ESPN, Pastrana underwent surgery to repair both the rotator cuff and labrum in his left shoulder two days after the Las Vegas round of the championship on September 29. Pastrana cited frequent shoulder dislocation during races as an issue, noting that it led to many of his accidents over the course of the year.

Pastrana’s goal is to be fully recovered by February in time to start the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series season. He is currently listed on the K&N Pro Series East entry list for a race this weekend at Greenville Pickens Speedway, but the revelation of the surgery, plus its four-month recovery time, suggests that he may skip that event as well.

At ninth in GRC points with 39, Pastrana is far out of the championship running, though a strong finish and a little bit of help could have mathematically elevated him to as high as third. Instead, he’ll stick with that score and risk falling out of the top 10, resting on the laurels of a dominant win at New Hampshire as proof of the competitiveness of his No. 199 Red Bull/Discount Tire Dodge Dart.

Image via Las Vegas Motor Speedway Facebook

In Pastrana’s place, Bryce Menzies will take out the No. 99 car that has run alongside Pastrana’s main entry twice this season. Filipe Albuquerque drove it to a 16th place finish in Texas, while Menzies made his rallycross debut at X Games and finished 14th.

This year, Menzies’ focus has been the Traxxas TORC Series, in which he scored the Pro 2WD championship this season with six wins in 14 starts. He also took the win in the Trophy Truck class in this year’s Baja 500, best in a field of 36 trucks and ahead of such legends of the sport as B.J. Baldwin, Rob MacCachren, and Robby Gordon.

– Chris Leone

GRC Insider: Olsbergs Scoring Most Points Per Entry

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

Swedish-based Olsbergs MSE may be loading the Global Rallycross Championship field with up to five cars per race weekend, but its best teams are so strong that they’re scoring the most points per entry of the seven premier teams over the course of the year.

In 16 starts spread over its five teams, Olsbergs-prepared Fords have scored 204 points, for an average of 12.75 points per start. They’ve scored two wins, both belonging to Marcus Gronholm, and seven podiums in that time frame, while only one car (Toomas Heikkinen at Texas) has missed a final event in that time.

Second in the category is the now-dissolved privateer Scott-Eklund Racing, whose Saabs have taken 88 points in eight combined starts for an average of 11. Samuel Hubinette scored the organization’s best finish with a second place at New Hampshire, while both Hubinette and owner-driver Andy Scott added top five finishes to open the season at Charlotte.

Third strongest is Rhys Millen Racing, whose drivers Stephan Verdier and Rhys Millen have tallied 76 points in seven combined starts to average 10.86 points per start. Verdier has the team’s lone podium at Charlotte to start the year, making three of four main events in the process; Millen has scored at least 11 points in each of his three starts, with best finishes of fourth at both Texas and X Games.

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

The Monster World Rally Team of Ken Block has scored 40 points this season for an average of 10 points per start, ranking it fourth on this list. Block has seen his share of struggles, including incidents in heat races at both Charlotte and New Hampshire, but turned in one of the most heroic drives of the season at X Games by placing second in the final despite suffering a punctured tire. In fifth place is another Monster Energy-backed team, Liam Doran’s Monster Energy Citroen Rallycross Team, which has only made three starts but scored 27 points for an average of nine per start.

Sixth place Pastrana199 Racing has seen a challenging year thus far, with lead driver Travis Pastrana suffering bad luck in each of the first three events of the season. Pastrana missed the main events at both Texas and X Games, where his team campaigned two cars apiece, and thus scaled back for New Hampshire. In response, he won there, taking the victory and 21 of his team’s 38 total points. Over six starts, that’s an average of 6.33 points per race.

Rounding out this list is the Subaru PUMA Rallycross Team, which has campaigned three cars all season and added a fourth for X Games. Unfortunately, that extra X Games car, belonging to current Rally America champion David Higgins, has scored the team’s best finish of the year, an eighth place in the final. Higgins, Dave Mirra, Bucky Lasek, and three-time defending European Rallycross champion Sverre Isachsen have combined for 74 points in 13 starts for an average of 5.69 points per car per start.

– Chris Leone

GRC Mid-Season Review: Travis Pastrana

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

No. 199 Discount Tire/Red Bull Dodge Dart, Pastrana199 Racing

STANDINGS: 10th, 34 points; one win, two heat wins

POSITIVES: Pastrana scored a popular win at New Hampshire after intense battles with Samuel Hubinette in his heat race and Hubinette and Tanner Foust in the final. After spending most of the season on the conservative side and falling out of the championship hunt, Pastrana became more aggressive, moving other drivers out of his way as he headed to victory.

NEGATIVES: Accidents in the Charlotte final, Texas last chance qualifier, and X Games heat have effectively nuked any chance that Pastrana had at challenging for a championship in his self-owned Dodge. X Games was especially disappointing, as Pastrana didn’t make it through a single turn before getting caught up in an accident.

OUTLOOK: Pastrana’s fifth career rally championship wasn’t meant to be this season, but his New Hampshire win proved vindicating after spending the first half of the season rewriting the definition of “snakebitten.” He’s still in contention for the Discount Tire/America’s Tire Cup at Las Vegas, which would be a nice caveat; not only does it provide a $25,000 bonus, but it’s also presented by Pastrana’s primary sponsor. It’s not the overall crown, but it would be a nice way to end the season on a high note.

– Chris Leone

GRC Instant Reaction: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Photo credit: Chris Leone

Travis Pastrana broke a streak of three disappointing Global Rallycross Championship races in a row to finally score a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday night. Pastrana beat rivals Samuel Hubinette and Brian Deegan to the finish line, while current GRC points leader Tanner Foust came home in fourth after leading briefly in the final. Here are some observations from Saturday’s event:

  • This was the first GRC race event to go off with what seemed like no issues. While a lengthy setup period and two accidents shortened Friday qualifying, the series and track were more than ready for Saturday. They set up quickly, the track did not have any issues (especially with safety, as Tanner Foust and Ken Block have organized the drivers to address that end), the presence of sand, a longcut, and the crossover bridge added great new challenges for the drivers, and most importantly, everything was finished before sundown came to the unlit NHMS circuit. Many raved that they thought it was the best event of the season.
  • Marcus Gronholm and Toomas Heikkinen remained unavailable for Olsbergs MSE after their injuries sustained at X Games, but Rhys Millen’s absence was completely unexpected until the teams unloaded. Millen elected to let Stephan Verdier drive his car while Verdier’s was being prepared for the final two rounds of the season, and Verdier took full advantage of the speed by qualifying fourth. As for Olsbergs, Brian Deegan set the fastest time in practice, while Tanner Foust took pole on Saturday by over .7 seconds, and David Binks challenged for a podium in the final until having an accident, so they clearly didn’t miss a beat.

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

  • Ken Block had an interesting week, to say the least. After dropping Gymkhana Five earlier in the week, Block qualified second on Friday, only to end the qualifying session by rolling his car off of the crossover bridge. In his heat race, Block and Andy Scott went for the same piece of real estate and made contact, leading Block to require major repairs before the last chance qualifier and final. With a taped-up car and a plastic windshield, Block came home an impressive fifth.
  • Aside from Scott’s broken wheel in Friday qualifying and heat incident, Scott-Eklund Racing had a very impressive run overall, cementing themselves as a top-tier team in the GRC despite no factory support from Saab. Samuel Hubinette gave Travis Pastrana a run for his money in their heat race, passing Pastrana out of the tabletop jump only to be bumped out of the way on the crossover bridge. They finished 1-2 in both events, but the finish was good enough to elevate Hubinette to second in points. Scott, meanwhile, made it to the final with his track control arm still damaged and took home a sixth place finish, his best since running fourth in the season opener at Charlotte.
  • Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

    Pastrana drove more aggressively than he had all season, also bumping Foust on the crossover bridge in the final. But, as Pastrana explained, Foust had stalled the car. The shot to the rear gave Foust an opportunity to restart without losing too many positions, but he was clearly upset to have lost a chance to take his first victory of the season. Foust did manage to extend his points lead from five to 12, however, going into the final two rounds.

  • Liam Doran came into New Hampshire with high hopes, only to suffer a series of disappointments. Due to Block’s qualifying accident at sundown, his session was cut short, leaving him ninth in seeding. Issues with launch control and his handbrake meant that his efficacy on starts and hairpins was compromised, and while taking the longcut hairpin in the final a later-braking Stephan Verdier caved in his door.
  • It’s been a bad year to be a Subaru driver in rallycross. All three—Sverre Isachsen, Dave Mirra, and Bucky Lasek—went home from New Hampshire disappointed after their heat races. Isachsen attempted to cut across the track in his heat, as he had done so well at X Games, only to run into Verdier and spin himself out. Lasek started last due to an accident in qualifying, and brought up the rear of the remaining field in both his heat race and the last chance qualifier. Dave Mirra avoided Block and Scott crashing in his heat, coming home second by default, but would blow a tire on the final lap and was the first driver to pull off in the final. None of the Subaru drivers are in the top 10 in points.
  • Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

    Finally, the series has plenty of interesting storylines in play for the final two rounds of the season, a TBA event in September and the season finale at Las Vegas on September 29. Foust would like to extend his points lead while taking that elusive first victory of the season, while Pastrana and Hubinette established one of the fiercest on-track rivalries in their duels at New Hampshire. With such an unpredictable series, anything can happen; in fact, Brian Deegan hinted during the weekend that this championship may be getting very unpredictable in September.

Race results and point standings can be accessed here. More photography from the race weekend by Matthew Kalish will begin to appear in the coming days.

– Chris Leone

#NHMSGRC Race Results, Post-Race Comments, and Point Standings

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

Here are the results to tonight’s Global Rallycross Championship race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway presented by Sylvania Silverstar zXe:

  1. Travis Pastrana, #199 Dodge, 3 minutes, 40.274 seconds, 20+1 points
  2. Samuel Hubinette, #77 Saab, 3:41.705, 17
  3. Brian Deegan, #38 Ford, 3:44.735, 15+1
  4. Tanner Foust, #34 Ford, 3:44.891, 13+1
  5. Ken Block, #43 Ford, 3:49.327, 12
  6. Andy Scott, #26 Saab, 4:05.282, 11
  7. Liam Doran, #33 Citroen, DNF, 10
  8. David Binks, #17 Ford, DNF, 9
  9. Stephan Verdier, #12 Hyundai, DNF, 8
  10. Dave Mirra, #40 Subaru, DNF, 7
  11. Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru, DNQ, 6
  12. Pat Moro, #59 Subaru, DNQ, 5
  13. Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru, DNQ, 4
  14. Richard Burton, #41 Subaru, DNQ, 3

Here are links to post-race comments for the top four finishers:

  • Travis Pastrana, #199 Discount Tire/Red Bull Dodge Dart, Pastrana199 Racing
  • Samuel Hubinette, #77 ENEOS Motor Oil Saab 9-3, Scott-Eklund Racing
  • Brian Deegan, #38 Rockstar Energy/Makita Ford Fiesta, Olsbergs MSE
  • Tanner Foust, #34 Rockstar Energy/Etnies Ford Fiesta, Olsbergs MSE

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

Here are the Global Rallycross Championship points through four of six rounds:

  1. Tanner Foust, #34 Ford, 62 points
  2. Samuel Hubinette, #77 Saab, 50
  3. Brian Deegan, #38 Ford, 49
  4. Marcus Gronholm, #3 Ford, 43
  5. David Binks, #17 Ford, 41
  6. Ken Block, #43 Ford, 40
  7. Stephan Verdier, #12 Hyundai, 39
  8. Andy Scott, #26 Saab, 38
  9. Rhys Millen, #67 Hyundai, 37
  10. Travis Pastrana, #199 Dodge, 34
  11. Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru, 31
  12. Liam Doran, #33 Citroen, 27
  13. Dave Mirra, #40 Subaru, 23
  14. Sebastien Loeb, #72 Citroen, 21
  15. Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru, 19
  16. Pat Moro, #59 Subaru, 12
  17. David Higgins, #75 Subaru, 10
  18. Toomas Heikkinen, #57 Ford, 8
  19. Tim Rooney, #47 Subaru, 4
  20. Richard Burton, #41 Subaru, 3
  21. Bryce Menzies, #99 Dodge, 2
  22. Filipe Albuquerque, #99 Dodge, 1
  23. Jimmy Keeney, #418 Subaru, 0

– Chris Leone

#NHMSGRC Post-Race Comments: Travis Pastrana

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

Travis Pastrana’s first win of this Global Rallycross Championship season came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in tonight’s race. After winning his heat to score the pole position in the final, he beat Samuel Hubinette to the line by 1.431 seconds. Here are Pastrana’s exclusive post-race comments:

On the reasons behind improved performance: “Testing. We finally got time in the car. It was actually before X Games. We qualified second at X Games and put ourselves inside pole. We were really excited—we weren’t really aggressive the first couple of rounds. I was like ‘I’ll give everyone room in the first turn, we’ll do it that way,’ and this race we were aggressive. We didn’t take anyone out, but we definitely banged around more than I usually do. I’ve had a reputation for being aggressive there, but you know what? I’m going to go out there, be good, be as clean as I can and earn the respect of these guys, but I said you know what? We gotta win. It’s cool because everyone’s good, everyone finished, had a good run. So we were more aggressive, we had more testing, I believe we had if not the fastest, a car that could win X Games, and obviously a car that could win here.”

On contact with Tanner Foust on the crossover bridge: “Tanner actually stalled it. I kind of got into the back of him, and I gave him just a little bit. I hit him pretty hard, gave him a second, and then when he didn’t go I was like ‘I’m going, I’m not waiting there longer!’ And honestly, that’s what rally’s about. Rally is always about aggression. The first round we ran third and got put into the wall so hard it destroyed our car, and then the same thing for round three at X Games. And then at Texas we overjumped the jump and broke the car in half. So we had three races and three completely destroyed cars. So to come out of here with the car in one piece and the win, I just really wanna thank the guys, because they’ve put in so much work. You can only tell the guys after working 20-hour (days) so many times, ‘hey, guys, it’s worth it, we’re going to do well, it’s gonna be worth it,’ and then you do that. And months have gone by. But honestly, for our fourth race ever in this car, to have a win on this platform? I think it’s got a lot to improve on still but it’s really something to be reckoned with in the future.”

On his prospects for the rest of the season: “(It’s going to take) a lot of luck. After our second and third rounds there was just really no way that we were going to be in the hunt for the championship, but if I win the next two that will be a successful year for us. I think honestly just winning a race in the first year with the new platform, new team, new everything, is very successful. So I definitely want to thank everyone at Dodge, everyone at Red Bull, Discount Tire, and KMC for backing me. Because we keep promising these guys good finishes, and they keep coming to the races and being disappointed. So it’s been a long road.”

– Chris Leone

Snakebitten Pastrana Falls Out Of X Games, GRC Title Hunt

Image via TravisPastrana.com

Travis Pastrana’s X Games ended before they really had a chance to start this year, marking two straight years of frustration for one of the event’s legends.

Last year, a Moto X accident left him with a serious ankle injury, and a hand clutch in his Rally car proved challenging to learn. This year, Pastrana chose to focus on rally, but saw his medal hopes dashed in the first turn of his qualifying race after an incident involving the entire field.

There had been rumors – confirmed facts, if you believed both Pastrana’s and the Global Rallycross Championship’s Twitter accounts – that Pastrana would take over teammate Bryce Menzies’ Dodge Dart and race in the last chance qualifier in a mad dash to make the X Games final.

Then, without comment, ESPN cameras showed Pastrana standing in the paddock, sending Menzies off to the grid with wishes of good luck. Pastrana wouldn’t be racing after all.

As it turns out, competitors didn’t like the gesture, and the series decided that Pastrana’s move would have flown in the face of the rulebook and the spirit of competition. After all, no wrecked driver had been allowed to replace a less prominent teammate in a last chance qualifier in the first two races of the season, and while Pastrana practiced his team’s second car after destroying his front end in jump practice at Texas, that was on Friday, while the race took place on Saturday.

In the end, Pastrana was unable to complete his heat race, compete in his last chance qualifier, or advance to the final. To add insult to injury, he walked out of Los Angeles with a single point, dropping all the way to 14th in GRC standings.

The New Hampshire round on July 14th will thus be a major proving ground for Pastrana; while his championship hopes are all but a distant memory from the start of the season, he still has a chance to go for race victories and maybe even the Discount Tire/America’s Tire Cup, which comes from a driver’s results at Texas, New Hampshire, and Las Vegas. In that regard, maybe this isn’t a lost season for Pastrana after all – provided his luck changes quickly.

– Chris Leone

X Games Preview: Team Red Bull

Image via Chrysler Group

The name “Team Red Bull” may be sort of an anomaly here, as one of these three cars will be prepared independently from the others. Travis Pastrana’s Pastrana199 Racing will maintain cars for Pastrana and newcomer Bryce Menzies, but X Games debutant and stage rally legend Sebastien Loeb will be attempting to conquer yet another form of racing when he and his Citroen World Rally Team debut a purpose-built DS3 in Sunday’s event.

Here’s what to expect from the three Red Bull-backed vehicles this weekend:

#199 Travis Pastrana (11th in points, 12; best finish 8th, 1 heat win): Two accidents at Charlotte plus two accidents at Texas led to Pastrana earning a guaranteed berth at X Games by the skin of his teeth. It seems like a lot of things this year simply haven’t been destined to go the way of the four-time Rally America champion and two-time X Games head-to-head gold medalist. Pastrana is happy with his Dodge Dart and confident in his own abilities, but luck is an equally important part of the game, and he hasn’t had it yet this year. But a shot of extra mojo, in the competition where Pastrana made himself a household name, could change all that.

Photo credit: Flavien Duhamel, Red Bull Content Pool

#1 Sebastien Loeb (making series debut): When Travis Pastrana initially called out fellow Red Bull driver Loeb to compete at X Games, it was merely a publicity stunt. But Loeb, winner of the past eight World Rally Championships, isn’t one to back down from a challenge, and his factory Citroen team will be equipping him with a new car for the event. As with two-time WRC winner Marcus Gronholm, Loeb’s professionalism in a rally car is bound to make him one of the event’s top drivers, if not Citroen’s second consecutive gold medal in America (remember, Liam Doran took top honors last year).

#99 Bryce Menzies (making series debut): Pastrana entered a second Dodge Dart for Felipe Albuquerque at Texas with disappointing results, but off-road truck driver Menzies will make his rallycross debut in the car in Los Angeles. Coming off of his second Baja 500 victory earlier this month, Menzies was the 2011 Dirt Sports Driver of the Year and just came off of a visit to DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie, Washington.

– Chris Leone