By Patrick Rall
This past weekend, the Global RallyCross teams took to the track of the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the 7th race of the season with a pair of Dodge Dart rally cars in the field. Not surprisingly, Travis Pastrana once again skipped out on the race with Timur Timerzyanov driving his #199 Red Bull Racing Dodge but in an unusual move, Bryce Menzies also skipped the race in Atlanta. In his place in the #99 Dart was European stage rally champ Henning Solberg. In the end, the teams really weren’t that much worse without their regular drivers as Timur was able to drive to a 5th place finish while filling in for Pastrana.
Timur Timerzyanov was the first Dodge Dart driver to hit the track in Atlanta when he started the second heat of the day with Ken Block, Steve Arpin and Bucky Lasek. As soon as the race started, Ken Block pulled out to an early lead while Timur quickly dropped to the back of the field. He was far enough back that he was unable to catch Bucky Lasek when his Subaru hit the wall hard twice on back to back laps. Timerzyanov finished last and would move onto the Last Chance Qualifier.
Henning Solberg pulled onto the starting grid for the third heat of the day alongside Brian Deegan, Tanner Foust and Dave Mirra. Solberg got off to a solid start, tucking into the second spot behind Foust until both Deegan and Mirra passed him via the shortcut “joker” turn. Later in the race, Solberg’s car came to rest on the track due to mechanical issues so, like Timerzyanov, he would go into the LCQ.
In the Last Chance Qualifier, Timerzyanov and Solberg would battle with Bucky Lasek, Sverre Isachsen, Dave Mirra and Patrik Sandell for the final three transfer spots into the final race. After a great start, Timerzyanov found himself in front of the field but when Dave Mirra gave Henning a shove in the driver’s side rear – sending him into the outside wall – Solberg’s day was pretty much over. On the other hand, Timur continued to lead the field until Mirra also shoved his way inside of Timerzyanov to take the top spot and win the LCQ. Even with that last lap pass, Timur was able to take the #199 Dart into the finals.
In the final race, Timur Timerzyanov started at the rear of the field between the Subarus of Sverre Isachsen and Dave Mirra. Starting at the rear of the field put Timur at a huge disadvantage as the race was pretty much over as soon as Tanner Foust and Topi Heikkinen pulled out to a big early lead. However, Timur was able to work his way up through the field to the fifth position before the checkered flag dropped. That was Timur’s best finish of the 2013 GRC season while also being tied for the best finish by a Dodge Dart this season (Pastrana finished 5th at the LA X Games).
There are two events left in the 2013 Global RallyCross season – Charlotte and Las Vegas. It will be interesting to see if Travis Pastrana and Bryce Menzies show up for the final two races considering that neither of them are anywhere near being in the hunt for the championship. Pastrana missed the Atlanta GRC race because of his NASCAR obligations that same day but with the Nationwide Series running the day before the Charlotte GRC race and no NASCAR racing the days before or after the Las Vegas GRC finale – Pastrana should be able to race in the final two races. As a big GRC fan and an obvious Dodge Motorsports fan, I hope that Travis is in the final races as he has clearly been the best of the drivers in the Dart stables this season.