LOUDON, N.H. — Tanner Foust said he swore he could hear Toomas Heikkinen yell “Woo Hoo!’’ as the Finnish driver passed Foust’s crippled car on a final elevated hairpin corner to win Thursday’s Global RallyCross Championship at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“My start was so bad, I dropped to third place,’’ Heikkinen said. “But even at the end of the race, I tried to catch those guys and I got them. It was tough to see what happened to Tanner, but I was able to catch him.’’
Foust, who needed to complete one last corner to win the 10-lap event, slid sideways into a barrier as he attempted to protect his line, allowing Heikkinen to make the thrilling last-lap pass and take the lead in the $20,000 battle for the Sylvania SilverStar zXe Cup.
“That was a tough way to end the race, it’s never fun,’’ said Foust, who wound up finishing fourth behind Heikkinen, Patrik Sandell, and Brian Deegan. “Toomas was there pressuring me the whole race and then on the last straightaway he seemed like he had a little bit of a run, so I thought I’d play it safe and hit the brakes on the inside of the corner to protect the turn.’’
But loose gravel caused Foust’s car to slide into the retaining wall as it climbed the ramp of the elevated turn.
“As soon as I touched the brakes, I knew I was in for a pretty wild ride,’’ Foust said. “The car rotated and went straight into the wall and then I was face-to-face with Brian coming in at 100 miles per hour. The first events of the year for our team, the first six seconds have been pretty exciting, but in this race it was the last six. Hopefully, it was a good show.’’
Wet and wild
A torrential downpour hampered track conditions for the GRC event, but it really seemed to bite Travis Pastrana, who suffered a flat left-rear tire early in the 10-lap affair but soldiered on to finish seventh.
“Mother Nature killed us today,’’ said Pastrana. “It put us on our back foot all day. I tried to throw it in there on the first [heat race] and it didn’t work.
“Coming to the main, I just wanted to get the car to the finish,’’ said Pastrana, who had the tire problem after race contact with Ken Block.
“We’ve been having a lot of crashes. I kind of took a conservative route and ended up with a flat tire there in the main. It’s just really disappointing but the car is good. We need to get a little better luck and [get] a little further up there.’’
Preece is poised
NASCAR Modified Tour points leader Ryan Preece, 22, of Berlin, Conn., will attempt to make his NASCAR debut in Saturday’s Nationwide Series by qualifying Friday for the CNBC Prime’s “The Profit’’ 200.
Preece, who was the only Whelen Modified Tour driver to be selected to NASCAR’s Next group of up-and-coming prospects, will try to qualify in the No. 8 car fielded by Tommy Baldwin Racing.
Ever since his selection to NASCAR’s Next group, Preece has gone on a tear, winning eight of 13 races, including the last five with three Modified Tour victories and a pair of All-American Series triumphs. He owns a 32-point lead over Rowan Pennink (225 to 193) in the Whelen standings.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.