It was a rough weekend of rallycross for Tanner Foust at the Atlantic City doubleheader. Racing left the Rockstar Energy Drink Volkswagen Beetle battle scarred and the driver looking ahead to a comeback surge in the final three rounds of the season.
"We're in this championship fight to the end," said Foust. "The track in Seattle is one of my favorites in the series and I'll be writing my championship comeback story at the doubleheader there next month."
The points leader heading into Rounds 8 and 9 on the Jersey Shore, Foust started the weekend with a target on his back. He set the second-fastest lap in qualifying and looked set for another strong performance until the Rockstar Energy Drink Volkswagen Beetle hit a curb during Saturday competition in wet conditions and took damage to both wheels on the right side.
"It wasn't the way you want to start a doubleheader and I felt like it set the tone for the weekend," said Foust. "With so much contact throughout the field and penalties all over the place, I never felt like I got a chance to compete."
He was ready to put his misfortune behind him in the next round of heat racing when he climbed to second and then went on to win his semifinal race to earn a pole position start in the main event. But multiple hits in the first corner of the final saw him sidelined with vehicle damage and he recorded tenth-place points — a disappointing setback in a tight championship race.
The driver's trials continued through Sunday as Foust again qualified near the top of the pack but was one of a number of drivers to face sanctions for racing contact as officials issued penalties with a heavy hand.
In the semifinal, Foust crossed the line in second place but was dropped to third on a controversial penalty that forced him into a difficult second row, outside start position in the main event. That set him up for a battle through traffic in the chaotic, 10-car, 10-lap final. After multiple hits, he crossed the line seventh but officials ruled him at-fault for car-to-car contact and demoted him to ninth.
After the weekend, Foust remains in a close battle at the top of the points standings. With three races to go, he is third — just three points behind rival Steve Arpin in second place. Volkswagen teammate Scott Speed leads the points race.
"I felt like a pinball out there," said Foust. "It's frustrating to come out with a result like this after working so hard all weekend. I'm just glad that the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Team was able to pull out the win for Scott."
Off the track, Foust found welcoming fans and said he enjoyed the opening parade down the Atlantic City boardwalk on Friday. The driver and his team also visited a nearby Volkswagen dealership. People packed the venue at the Bader Field airport just off the famed Atlantic City boardwalk to take in the two days of exciting racing. The action from both days aired live on NBC.
Next, the series travels west to the Seattle area for a doubleheader weekend at the popular Evergreen Speedway venue. Also a venue for Formula Drift, Foust has competed at the Monroe, Washington, track many times and it is one of the driver's favorites.