CONCORD, N.C. — Marcus Gronholm bested a world-class field of Global Rallycross drivers, including Travis Pastrana, Tanner Foust and Ken Block, to win the 2012 GRC season opener at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday.
Gronholm took the lead on the first turn of the first lap and won handily in the 10-lap feature.
Gronholm used his race strategy and took the joker lap on the start to open a lead that he would never relinquish. Tanner Foust came home second with Stephan Verdier taking third. Rounding out the top five were Andy Scott and Samuel Hubinette.
On the second lap, two of the race favorites, Foust and Travis Pastrana took the short cut and it wasn’t a lap before Pastrana found himself in the wall and done for the night, finishing ninth.
Competition was tight on the narrow course as there were several spins and shoving incidents. On lap four Foust and Toomas Heikkinen tangled with Foust coming out with the position. Hubinette spun on the last lap while runnig third and ended up in fifth. Several cars lit up the brakes as the competition was as hot as the evening.
The win was the first for Gronholm and his new Ford Fiesta team as he has not run during the past four seasons.
“Let me tell you, I’m happy — happy for my team, sponsors and everybody,” said Gronholm. “I’m really happy and pleased after these two days here. I thought I could win here in the final without any problems at all. We did a little bit of things to the car, like with the brakes. The track was hard for the tires and brakes. Everything went well. I mean, the organization was running OK and the track was not easy, but not so difficult. The water on the track made it a little bit difficult and that was good for me.”