Speed battles to X Games Gold in Austin


Scott Speed became the first driver to become a three-time X Games medal winner today as he took victory in an action packed final at Circuit of the Americas.

Heading in to the heats it looked like the Olsbergs MSE cars would be the ones to beat as they topped the final warm up.

Heat A saw Speed line up against Red Bull GRC champion Joni Wiman, Ken Block, Brian Deegan and Bucky Lasek. No one could have predicted the outcome of the next few laps; Wiman would retire after a dust filled jump went wrong and his Ford came crashing down at the side of the ramp.

With Wiman out it was looking like Speed would lead home Deegan and Block to proceed through to the finals; Speed would cross the line in the lead, while Deegan finished 5 seconds behind, but a mechanical issue would see Block spin on the final corner, letting Lasek through.

The Heat B line up was lead by Tanner Foust, Sebastien Eriksson, Sverre Isachsen, Austin Dyne and X Games legend Travis Pastrana. Eriksson would lead lap 1 as the jump nearly caught out second placed Foust, Pastrana was placed in third and looked set to take a place in the LCQ. This wasn’t to be for Pastrana as something in the right front of the car broke and the wheels pointed in a different direction, once again heartbreak for Pastrana. Stop-Go penalties were given to both Eriksson (changing lanes) and Foust (cutting course), but this wouldn’t stop the Swede from taking the heat win with Dyne slotting in ahead of Foust.

There was drama on the grid as the cars lined up for Heat C, while everything was in place for another great race Patrik Sandell‘s car was pulled back, revealing a pool of liquid under the car. A frantic five minutes from the Bryan Herta team almost saw the car repaired, unfortunately they were moments too late and the heat was down to four cars.

This heat saw two regular World Rallycross Championship competitors go head to head as Andreas Bakkerud and Liam Doran lined up for the race joined by Pat Moro and Steve Arpin. Doran would leap away at the start to slot in behind Bakkerud in the first corner, not before a friendly tap (rubbing is racing after all). The X Games rookie would control the race to lead home Doran and Arpin as Moro exited the event.

The LCQ Heat saw six cars that had finished second and third in the previous three heats go in to battle to see which three of them would progress to the final. Foust, Deegan, Arpin, Dyne and Lasek leapt away from the grid, leaving Doran behind with a mechanical issue. Foust would dominate the heat with Ganassi team mates Deegan and Arpin slotting in to second and third places respectively.

Deegan would take the initiative in the final as he took the lead in to the first corner, it wouldn’t be long before Eriksson would move in to the lead as Bakkerud also looked to make progress. Bakkerud would be the first driver to exit the race when the front left of his car was broken in contact from an over enthusiastic dive for position.

For most of the race it was looking like things were coming together for Eriksson, while Deegan chased down Speed’s Beetle which was now smoking as bodywork touched the tyres. Eriksson would head in to the joker but it wouldn’t be long before problems hit the Swede, a left rear puncture looked set to end the race, Eriksson had other ideas though as he soldiered on to the end of the race.

With Eriksson slowing, Speed pulled away a lead while Arpin moved in to second. Despite his best efforts Arpin couldn’t make up the time difference and Speed would take a dominant victory, not before his car self destructed in the final corner with parts of the beetle flying through the air.

“We were on plan D—plans, A, B, and C went out the window after lap one!” Speed said after the race. “What a great race. This is, by far, the best medal I’ve won.  The first one was great because it was my first X Games and I made a last-lap pass, but I’m sure the in-car footage of this one is going to be a lot more exciting!”

With another victory it would mean that Scott speed won the X Games for the third time with Arpin claiming Silver for a very happy Chip Ganassi while Eriksson limped home in third.