The result also earned Heikkinen the Sylvania zXe Cup, a $20,000 prize purse awarded to the driver who scored the most points in a four-round sub-series including the rounds at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The surprise of the weekend was Dave Mirra, who showed incredible speed and consistency in a Mini loaned to him by Brit Liam Doran – who sat this round out to compete in Europe. It was the BMX star-turned-racer's first career contest in anything other than a Subaru and while the results ultimately didn't reflect his speed, Mirra proved without a doubt he could be a contender in the car. “I can't believe that Mini,” said Mirra. “It's just point and shoot and it was awesome to drive it – despite the outcome.”
The Pro Drive-built Mini is a proven performer, debuting on the series with a win in Munich earlier this year, with Doran behind the wheel. From his first session in the car, it was clear that Mirra had found a competition vehicle that suited him. He was one of only two drivers to score a sub-37-second lap during qualifying sessions, placing a season-high second to secure a front-row starting position for his first heat.
“I wanted to do well,” said Mirra. “I wanted to qualify, to show I can drive.”
It was a promising start, but Mirra's fortunes turned once the racing began. An unlatched door proved a major distraction from the first turn of his first heat, and, in the second heat, a bad call by race officials forced him to serve a penalty for a jump-start he didn't make.
Global Rallycross officials later reviewed the decision and determined that Mirra showed an incredibly fast reaction time to the start light and fairly earned his half-car advantage. But the race had already gone wrong for Mirra, who was forced into the Last Chance Qualifier, where he was knocked off course in the tangle with Foust.
Although he has some sympathy for Foust in the incident, he said he thinks Foust should have been able to bring his car under control before taking out so many other cars.
“All you have to do is put the clutch in,” said an obviously frustrated Mirra after the race. “A stuck throttle is no excuse – it's not like it's a Prius on the I-5.”
Foust, for his part, was contrite, apologizing to each of the affected drivers at his first opportunity. “I'm usually the guy preaching to everybody about driving a cleaner race, so of course I feel terrible,” Foust said later.
It was a disappointing debut for the Chevy Sonic, which snapped a bolt on the lower control arm during driver Pat Moro's first lap of practice, and dropped a cylinder during qualifying. The car's development will continue.
Although Heikkinen has sealed the title, there remains one round in the championship. The final race of the GRC season takes place on a purpose-built Las Vegas course Nov. 7, coinciding with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.