Travis Pastrana (Subaru Impreza) drove to victories in Saturday’s (November 13) battle brackets as well as on Sunday’s (November 14) Supercar final during the third round of the 2021 Nitro Rallycross Series at Chandler, AZ. Sage Karam (NRX Next) won rounds 5 and 6 of the 2021 Series in the NRX Next category.
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix, AZ in the Arizona desert was the venue for the third round of the 2021 Nitro Rallycross series with a track set out mainly as a dirt track with table top jumps and the return of a gap jump. 15 Supercars entered for the event with two new names on the list. Latvian Ronalds Baldins (Honda Civic Coupé) debuted Nitro Rallycross at the wheel of one of the Olsbergs/MSE Honda’s. Biggest name on the starting list however was the one of two time NASCAR Cup Series winner Kyle Bush.
Saturday’s action was filled with the battle brackets (head-to- head races). Given the 15 Supercars on the entry list, Kevin Eriksson (Honda Civic Coupé) was the driver to receive a bye in the first round (round of 16). First round wins were also awarded to Robin Larsson (Audi S1) as Liam Doran (Audi S1) didn’t made it to the start. Same story for Travis Pastrana (Subaru Impreza) as Oliver Bennett (BMW Mini) didn’t made it to the start either. For Kyle Bush Saturday’s racing was over with the first round after he got beaten by Scott Speed (Subaru Impreza) during the first battle of the day. Other drivers that recorded first round wins were Steve Arpin (Hyundai i20), Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208) and Kevin Hansen (Peugeot 208).
Kevin Eriksson then beat series points leader Scott Speed in the next round. For Speed it was the first time this season he did not win a battle he took part in. Also Arpin, Timmy Hansen and Pastrana won their quarter final leading to semi-finals between Kevin Eriksson and Arpin and Timmy Hansen and Pastrana. Both of the semi-finals were close races respectively won by Arpin and Pastrana. In the final afterwards Pastrana scored a solid win over Arpin.
Sunday’s action went underway with both of the heat races where – according to a format change – now only the winners were directly qualified for the final. Yesterday’s winner Travis Pastrana decided to race in the first heat race and won it from teammate Scott Speed. Therefore he secured himself a front row starting position in the final. Timmy Hansen beat Steve Arpin in the second heat race and claimed the other front row starting position. In the first semi-final former teammates Scott Speed and Tanner Foust finished one two and qualified for the Supercar final. In the second semi-final Larsson came in ahead of Arpin and Bush. However, for an action on Arpin, Larsson received a five seconds time penalty from the Stewards of the Meeting and was set back to third place. As a result, Arpin together with Kyle Bush were the qualifiers for the final.
Both of the LCQ races – according to the earlier mentioned format change, from now on two LCQ races take place when there are 15 or more starters – delivered the two final starting positions for the final. Cabot Bigham (Audi S1) won the first LCQ race from Fraser McConnell (Ford Fiesta Mk8) leaving the Jamaican out for the final. Kevin Hansen won the second LCQ race and claimed a starting position for the final on the last row.
Pastrana had the better start from pole in the Supercar final. Arpin was second after turn one ahead of Timmy Hansen. Pastrana, Arpin and Timmy Hansen then passed through the quicker joker lap section. Scott Speed was doing the same the lap after and joined the main track as second behind Pastrana. Timmy Hansen who climbed to second tried to do what he could to close the gap with Pastrana. However Pastrana stayed in the lead and won the final after having lead it from start to finish.
“This win is number one by far,” Pastrana commented immediately after the race. “It’s absolutely amazing. The Hansens are so good and Scott Speed, if he gets in front, you’re not getting around.”
Timmy Hansen and Scott Speed joined Pastrana on the podium. Kyle Bush made it in four in his first Rallycross race ahead of Bigham and last finisher Tanner Foust. Arpin as well as Kevin Hansen recorded a DNF in the final.
“I’m super happy with the result given how much racing I had to do to get there,” said second place finisher Timmy Hansen.
“I had put my head down in the final to try and catch Travis [Pastrana] but he was just a bit too far up the road. I think we had around the same pace, maybe a little more, but not enough to catch him and fight for the lead.
“Without those early battles maybe I’d have been able to compete with him for the win but I had to work hard for that second place.”
In the Supercar standings after three events Timmy Hansen is leading it with 134 points, 5 points clear on Travis Pastrana (129 points). Scott Speed is third with 128 points.
In the NRX Next category the event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park were rounds 5 and 6 of the 2021 series. Round 5 on Saturday went to Sage Karam (NRX Next) who won a 3-lap final from George Megennis (NRX Next) and Conner Martell (NRX Next). The final went initially underway with Jansson and Megennis (both heat race winners) on the front row but was red flagged in the fourth lap after Jansson spun and rolled his car. The re-run that was ordered was ran over three laps.
On Sunday Karam drove to another win in the NRX Next category, his third win in a row. George Megennis finished second with Casper Jansson third. In the standings after six events Jansson and Lane Vacala are tied for the lead with 220 points. Tied for third in the standings are Martin Enlund and George Megennis with 215 points. This weekend’s NRX Next winner Sage Karam is currently fifth with 200 points.
The next rounds in the 2021 Nitro Rallycross Series are taking place already coming weekend (November 20-21) at Glen Helen Raceway at San Bernardino, CA.
Round 3 – Supercar – Battle Brackets: 1. Travis Pastrana (USA), Subaru Impreza; 2. Steve Arpin (CDN), Hyundai i20; 3. Kevin Eriksson (S), Honda Civic Coupé; 4. Timmy Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 5. Robin Larsson (S), Audi S1; 6. Kevin Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 7. Scott Speed (USA), Subaru Impreza; 8. Fraser McConnell (JAM), Ford Fiesta Mk8; etc.
Round 3 – Supercar – Final: 1. Travis Pastrana (USA), Subaru Impreza; 2. Timmy Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 3. Scott Speed (USA), Subaru Impreza; 4. Kyle Bush (USA), Subaru Impreza; 5. Cabot Bighaml (USA), Audi S1; 6. Tanner Foust (USA), Audi S1; 7. Steve Arpin (CDN), Hyundai i20 – DNF; 8. Kevin Hansen (S), Peugeot 208 – DNF.
Round 5 – NRX Next – Final: 1. Sage Karam (USA), NRX Next; 2. George Megennis (USA), NRX Next; 3. Conner Martell (USA), NRX Next; 4. Lane Vacala (USA), NRX Next; 5. Martin Enlund (S), NRX Next; 6. Eric Gordon (USA), NRX Next; 7. Casper Jansson (S), NRX Next – DNS.
Round 6 – NRX Next – Final: 1. Sage Karam (USA), NRX Next; 2. George Megennis (USA), NRX Next; 3. Casper Jansson (S), NRX Next; 4. Lane Vacala (USA), NRX Next; 5.Conner Martell (USA), NRX Next – DNF; 6. Martin Enlund (S), NRX Next – DNS.
Supercar (after round 3): 1. Timmy Hansen (S), 134; 2. Travis Pastrana (USA), 129; 3. Scott Speed (USA), 128; 4. Kevin Hansen (S), 106; 5. Steve Arpin (CDN), 77; etc.
NRX Next (after round 6): 1. Casper Jansson (S), 220; 2. Lane Vacale (USA), 220; 3. Martin Enlund (S), 215; 4. George Megennis (USA), 215; 5. Sage Karam (USA), 200; etc.