Friday afternoon update from D.C. GRC

Nelson Piquet returns to the No. 07 Ford this weekend in D.C.
Nelson Piquet returns to the No. 07 Ford this weekend in D.C.

Good afternoon from RFK Stadium Lot 8. AutoRacing1 is here in the nation’s capital on a sunny, steamy day covering all the happenings from this weekend’s Washington D.C. Global Rallycross event. As I write, the GRC Supercars are just wrapping up their opening practice.

As you know from my race preview, last year’s D.C. race was won by Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian, of course, returns to the cockpit of the No. 07 Met-Rx SH Rallycross/DRR Ford Fiesta ST this weekend replacing Jeff Ward. Ward has struggled so far in 2016, recording a best finish of 5th at Daytona. I bumped into team owner James “Sulli" Sullivan and asked him about who would b e driving the car going forward.

“I’m going to reevaluate it after this weekend," said Sullivan, who went on to note that the team did a fair amount of testing, but just hasn’t come to grips with the new Ford Fiesta.

I also chatted with Sullivan about the IndyCar season. Sullivan, of course, is a co-owner of the No. 11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet piloted by Sebastien Bourdais. Although somewhat disappointed in the results (Bourdais sits 14th in the championship), Sullivan was very complimentary of Bourdais and happy with the speed the team has displayed week-to-week. He pointed to numerous examples such as setting the track record at Barber, and a lousy final pit stop at Indianapolis which took the team out of contention for the win.

One thing he did admit to the team struggling with: the alternate Firestone red tires. “You can’t test them, so we put them on in qualifying for the first time and we have no idea what they’re going to do. I think we’d have a few poles if qualifying was on ‘blacks’."

As for this weekend’s race, one topic of discussion here in the paddock is the new layout. In three years racing in D.C., there have been three different layouts. If you remember last year’s layout, this year’s essentially runs in the opposite direction, and features the unique characteristic of the start/finish line being right after the jump. One person who approves of the track changes is Austin Dyne, driver of the No. 14 AD Racing Ford Fiesta ST.

“This track should be better than last year, even though last year was a quite big improvement from the first year where the lot was half the size," said Dyne. “It’s hard to compare, but it should be good. I saw the track and it looks good. I’m sure it will drag dirt on the front stretch, which will make it quite slippery, and that kind of mix between tarmac and dust that creates a lot of passing will be there."

For more information, here is a link of the track.

I’ll have more later.

Brian C. reporting from RFK Stadium

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