By Patrick Rall
Last week, Travis Pastrana and Bryce Menzies took to the Global RallyCross track for the last time of the 2013 season and while they had their best combined outing of the year – the results were bittersweet. As reported on Friday, Dodge will not participate in the GRC in 2014 and while it could just be a year off, it could also be the end of the short lived Dodge Dart rally program.
The Dodge Dart rally car first hit the track in the third heat race of the night in Las Vegas with Travis Pastrana taking on Ken Block, Bucky Lasek and Stephan Verdier. Pastrana got a great start and led the field through the first few laps with Ken Block hounding him relentlessly in what proved to be some of the best racing action we have seen all season. Block and Pastrana went fender to fender with both cars often up on two wheels until Travis got a bit too wife coming out of the last turn at the end of the 4th lap – at which point Block was able to sneak by. Block took the heat win while Pastrana was able to hold off Verdier for the second transfer spot into the final.
Bryce Menzies took to the track in heat #4 against Rhys Millen, Nelson Piquet and Scott Speed. On the start, Speed got out to the front of the pack in a hurry with Menzies close behind and this was pretty much how the heat race would go. Scott Speed took the heat win and Bryce Menzies took the second spot – guaranteeing him his first trip to the Global RallyCross final race.
For the first time ever, both of the Dodge Dart rally cars were in the final race with Travis Pastrana and Bryce Menzies starting side by side on the second row while 8 other cars were packed in around them. On the start, Tanner Foust got out to a huge lead while the other 9 cars wrestled through the first few turns for position and this mess would last through the end of the first lap. As the field began lap #2, Tanner was first, Ken Block was second, Pastrana was third, Sverre Isachsen was fourth, Patrik Sandell was fifth and Bryce Menzies was sixth. We wouldn’t hear much from Menzies as he went on to finish a very quiet sixth place but for Travis Pastrana – it would be an action packed race.
During the third lap of the final, GRC Race Control announced that Tanner Foust had gotten an early start and for that he would have to serve a spot and go penalty. That allowed both Ken Block and Travis Pastrana to pass him moving Block to the top spot while Travis took the second spot. Foust came out of the penalty box right behind Travis and the two would do battle for a couple laps until Tanner got his Ford around the Dart. After that, Pastrana found himself fighting with series champion Toomas Heikkinen through sixth lap when on the seventh lap, Heikkinen ran into Travis and shoved him out of the way. Travis dropped back a few spots but quickly worked his way back up to fourth and when Heikkinen was penalized for the contact with Pastrana, the Dart moved back into the third spot.
During all of the intense racing for the second and third spot, Ken Block pulled away to easily win his first ever Global RallyCross race with Foust in second and Travis Pastrana in third. That was Pastrana’s best finish of the 2013 season and Menzies sixth spot was his best finish ever. Unfortunately, it was announced the next day that Dodge is effectively pulling out of the Global RallyCross ranks so we may have seen the end of the program but at least both drivers went out with their best showings of the season.