By Patrick Rall
The Dodge Dart Global RallyCross teams took to the track yesterday as part of the Los Angeles X Games but as has been the case all season – there wasn’t much to cheer about for rallycross fans who bleed Mopar blue. Travis Pastrana was back in his #199 Dart, joined by Bryce Menzies and while Pastrana was a front runner for the majority of the event, things continued to go poorly for the rookie Menzies in the #99 car.
Travis Pastrana got things started for the Dodge Dart rallycross team in the third heat race of the day where he would battle with Topi Heikkinen, Scott Speed, David Sterckx and Stephan Verdier. Heikkinen hasn’t failed to win a single race since the Munich X Games so Pastrana drawing him in a heat race was bad news before the race even started but fortunately, the other three drivers proved to be easier competition for the Dart. As soon as the race started, Heikkinen tore off into the lead and would really never be challenged but for Pastrana, he would find himself locked in a battle for second with Scott Speed and his Ford Fiesta. The two went door to door at times until Speed got too aggressive on the last lap and spun, giving Travis the second place finish and allowing him to secure a spot in the finals.
Bryce Menzies was up next, racing in the fourth heat race in a tough field that included Tanner Foust, Ken Block, Bucky Lasek and on-and-off teammate Timur Timerzyanov, who was running a VW Polo For Marklund Racing in LA. Unfortunately, Menzies was never close enough to the front of the field to even get any mention during the heat race as Block, Timerzyanov and Foust pulled away quickly. Fortunately, Menzies was able to sneak into the third spot late in the race when Timerzyanov wrecked while battling with Foust for the second transfer spot but third still wasn’t good enough to get him into the finals – again.
Menzies would be back on the track for the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) in a huge field including Dave Mirra, Rhys Millen, Scott Speed, Anton Marklund, David Sterckx, Steve Arpin, Stephan Verdier and Bucky Lasek fighting for just two transfer spots. After Marklund crashed hard on the start and caused a red flag restart, the field was cut from 9 to just 5 so Menzies’ chances got better before the LCQ ran an official lap. On the restart, Menzies battled with Rhys Millen for the second spot just behind leader Scott Speed and when Bryce made a quick, aggressive move through the short-cut joker turn, it looked as though he might slingshot his way into the lead and possibly into the finals. Unfortunately, as he slid out of the joker turn, the passenger’s side rear corner smacked the edge of the wall and did substantial enough damage to the Dodge Dart rally car that he was forced to coast to a stop and leave the race. However, until he wrecked, Menzies looked better than he has all season so it seems that the experience is beginning to pay off. He could make a run at the finals in the last two races of the 2013 GRC season but as has been the case all year – he failed to make the finals in LA.
In the finals, Travis Pastrana lined up in the second row of a three row field of 10 drivers that included Block, Doran, Heikkinen, Isachsen, Deegan, Sandell, Foust, Millen and Speed. Svere Isachsen jumped the green light and took the early lead (for which he would be penalized on the next lap) but as the field entered the first chicane, there was a huge pile up that sent multiple cars spinning into each other and the barriers. Out of the mess came Toomas Topi Heikkinen, Tanner Foust, Travis Pastrana and Rhys Millen and when Isachsen pulled into the penalty box for his mandatory stop and go, Topi took the lead with Foust trying to catch up in second. When Isachsen pulled into the penalty box, Pastrana was able to grab the third spot but it was short lived as Svere and his Subaru would quickly work around the Dart and before the race ended, Rhys Millen also caught and passed Pastrana’s Dart to push him back into a 5th place finishing position…which is a hell of a lot better than he did in the NASCAR race.
Heikkinen would go on to win his 4th straight race with Foust in second and Isachsen in third.
It could have been worse but it could have been a whole lot better and in the long run, the Dodge Dart rallycross cars showed that they can be competitive with at least the non-Ford entries. Right now, there is really no other car in the field that can battle the front running Fords but with more experience, Pastrana and Menzies should be able to battle for podium spots late in the season.
Results from the LA X Games Global RallyCross Event:
1. Topi Heikkinen
2. Tanner Foust
3. Svere Isachsen
4. Rhys Millen
5. Travis Pastrana
6. Ken Block
7. Brian Deegan
8. Patrick Sandell
9. Scott Speed
10. Liam Doran