Round 1 – Saturday
Buhl Sport Detroit driver Alex Keyes claimed the ARX2 victory at the Cooper Tires ARX of Mid-Ohio, the first round of the official Americas Rallycross (ARX) support category at the Mid-Ohio Sports Course.
With the quickest time in Qualifying 3 and a win in the second semi-final from pole position, Keyes took the hole shot with the No. 4 DRiV Inc. machine in the final and led every lap to take the first win of the season and the early championship lead. Keyes was joined on the front row for the Final by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam, after the IndyCar star had come out on top of a brual battle with thetop qualifier, Fraser McConnell, in the first semi-final.
DirtFish Motorsports’ McConnell made a great launch off the grid in the final and got in amongst the fight for the lead at the first turn with DRR’s Cole Keatts. Keyes and Karam and ran third and were both all over the rear of Keatt’s car until he clipped a tire barrier at the end of Lap 2 and damaged his steering and alignment. Karam had taken his joker lap on Lap 1, then overtook Keatts later in the race. Keatts took the joker on Lap 3 and lost time fighting for position with DirtFish’s Brad DeBerti and dropped behind Karam and then Derberti with a tire puncture on the next lap. At the front, Keyes took a comfortable win, with Karam and DeBerti on the podium in their rallycross debuts and JR Hildebrand was just one place short, in fourth. 14-year old rising star Gray Leadbetter challenged throughout her first event in rallycross and only missed a place in the final by one position.
“The car is really good, the big thing we have within our team is a really positive atmosphere, and that’s how we’re able to come from where we started the day today. I think tomorrow no matter how the day starts off, we’re going to be in a good position come the Final,” said Keyes, looking ahead to Round 2 of ARX2 of Mid-Ohio tomorrow.
“It was definitely an interesting day,” said the second-place finisher, Karam. “Totally different from what I’m used to with these six lap races and you can’t make a mistake because you can’t make it back up. Unfortunately, my mistakes today were the starts, I was just not very good getting off the line. It was a cool introduction to rallycross racing for me, I’m just looking forward to tomorrow.”
Round 2 – Sunday
Jamaican Fraser McConnell stood on the top step of the podium for the first time in ARX’s official single specification support category, ARX2. DirtFish Motorsports’ McConnell started from pole position for the final and took control immediately from the start to lead all six laps and claim his first rallycross win. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Cole Keatts started on the first row and recovered from a slow start to run second, but a clash with Buhl Sport Detroit’s Alex Keyes ended his race early. DRR’s Sage Karam dropped to fifth on the first lap but battled back to pass teammate Gray Leadbetter and Keyes, before pressuring McConnell throughout the final lap to secure another second-place finish to cap off a sensational rallycross debut weekend.
Keyes rounded out the podium in third to wrap up an excellent opening weekend for his 2019 championship aspirations, after winning Round 1 of the 2019 ARX2 Championship on Saturday in dominating fashion. JR Hildebrand came home fourth, ahead of Leadbetter who was forced to retire from the Final due to damage.
ARX2 Championship Standings after Round 2
1- Fraser MCCONNELL – 52pts
2- Sage KARAM – 49
3- Alex KEYES – 49
4- Cole KEATTS – 42
5- JR HILDEBRAND – 38
6- Brad DEBERTI – 33
7- Gray LEADBETTER – 31