Rockstar Energy Drink driver Tanner Foust finished fourth in Atlantic City after a tire puncture in Sunday's Global Rallycross Championship race cost him the lead.
Foust started strong this weekend and, heading into the main event, looked set to add to his all-time wins record. He qualified well and won both his heats, but misfortune struck in his semifinal race when several cars stacked together through a tight corner and Foust found himself turned backwards and sliding off course. The race was red flagged.
"The hit was so hard that I thought I was going to wind up in the ocean," said Foust, laughing. "We got debriefed this weekend on what you were supposed to do in the unlikely event that you wound up in the water and believe me, I was starting to review my emergency procedures."
Fortunately, the Rockstar Energy Drink Volkswagen Beetle came to a halt on the grassy run-out, well short of the water, and wasn't damaged. On the restart, Foust took the hole shot and never looked back to earn a front-row starting position for the final. The driver has won every heat and semifinal race he has started this season.
In the main event, he slotted into second off the start and chased Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross teammate Scott Speed through the first corner, then made thrilling mid-air pass over the 70-foot dirt jump to take the lead. "It wasn't my intention to pass there but when an opportunity presents itself, you take it," said Foust, whose fearlessness in the air means fans can count on him to make some of the biggest jumps in the series.
Out front and looking confident for his fourth win of the season, his luck ran out. With less than two laps to go, he suffered a flat tire in the rough dirt section. He battled to remain in control as his car swung wildly through the turns, but he couldn't keep the lead. Even so, he managed to hold on and finish fourth to score valuable championship points.
"It wasn't the result I wanted but I'll take every point I can get," said Foust. With three races remaining in the 2016 season, the two-time series champion is second in the standings, a slim nine points behind his teammate.
At the end of the race, fans stayed late as drivers signed posters and posed for photos in a post-race autograph session. Foust said he was surprised by how many familiar faces he met in the crowd.
"I'm always amazed at how many loyal, longtime fans show up to a place the series has never been before," said Foust. "We met people who had been to the DC race, and even some fans who watched us way back in 2010 at a track in New Jersey when we first started racing rallycross in the U.S. It's always a great feeling to reconnect."
Foust will next have the opportunity to reunite with fans in the Pacific Northwest when the series moves to Evergreen Speedway for Round 10 September 16-17. The Seattle area track is a new venue for Global Rallycross but one that Foust has visited many times before. Most recently, Foust finished in the Top Eight of the Formula Drift championship event there earlier this month as a series guest driver in his 800 horsepower Rockstar Energy Drink Volkswagen Passat.
"Whether I'm up there drifting, driving stage rally, or competing in rallycross, the fans are always very supportive and enthusiastic," said Foust. "As a driver, you can feel that energy when you line up on the start grid and I can't wait to get back."