Subaru Motorsports USA’s Travis Pastrana (Subaru Impreza) won the 2021 Nitro Rallycross series after he finished fourth in the final round on Sunday (December 5). Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208) won the event ahead of his brother Kevin [Hansen] (Peugeot 208) and Scott Speed (Subaru Impreza). Pastrana and Speed end the championship equal on points but the title goes to Pastrana based on the higher number of race wins. Swede Casper Jansson (NRX Next) won the 2021 title in the NRX Next category.
The FIRM, what stands for Florida International Rally & Motorsports Park, near Jacksonville, FL in the north of Florida was the venue chosen for round 5 of the 2021 Nitro Rallycross Series. For the season finale a track was set out within the venue with a mixture of tarmac (about 60 %) and dirt (about 40 %) sections including a gap jump and table top jumps. 15 drivers were on the starting list with this time 2020 NASCAR Cup Series winner Chase Elliott (Subaru Impreza) piloting the third Subaru Impreza car.
After four rounds in the 2021 Nitro Rallycross series Travis Pastrana, Scott Speed and Timmy Hansen were going into the final round as title contenders. Pastrana (182 points) was leading the series with a seven point gap on his teammate Scott Speed (175 points) who was ten points clear on Timmy Hansen (165 points).
The race weekend went underway with the battle brackets where all of the three title contenders made it into the second round after Scott Speed got a bye, Pastrana beat Cabot Bigham (Audi S1) in the third battle and Timmy Hansen eliminated Oliver Bennett (BMW MINI) in the penultimate battle. A most interesting one was the last battle between Tanner Foust (Audi S1) and Chase Elliott that was lead by Foust until in the final lap when Elliott passed him on the inside. As there was some contact between the two, the Stewards overruled the result afterwards in favor of Foust who made it into the second round.
In the second round of the battle brackets Pastrana, Speed and both of the Hansen brothers were successful in winning their races leading up to a semi-final between the Subaru drivers and between Timmy and Kevin Hansen. Speed beat Pastrana in the Subaru battle while Timmy Hansen became logically the winner of the Hansen battle. Then in the final between Speed and [Timmy] Hansen the American had the better start. In the final lap when both had passed through the joker lap section Hansen successfully passed Speed and came in first. Unfortunately for the Swede the Stewards changed the result afterwards (time penalty for Hansen) and declared Speed the winner of the battle brackets.
After having done the maths from the battle brackets and prior to the heat races Travis Pastrana was on top of the points table with 184 points, five points clear on Scott Speed (179 points) and 16 points clear on Timmy Hansen (168 points).
Instead of the usual two heat races for this last round a format change was applied with three heat races of 5 cars each. In the heat races the wins went respectively to Pastrana, [Timmy] Hansen and Speed. All three were through to the final with Speed qualifying for the pole and [Timmy] Hansen the other front row starter. The first semi-final went to Kevin Hansen with Robin Larsson (Audi S1) finishing second and qualified for the final. The second semi-final needed three starts (the red flag came out twice for different incidents) and eventually Steve Arpin (Hyundai i20) and Fraser McConnell (Ford Fiesta Mk8) finished it as first and second. However, after a time penalty for McConnell Chase Elliott was promoted to second. Add to those names the winner of the sole LCQ race, Tanner Foust, and the grid for the final was complete.
Speed had the better start in the final but Pastrana from the second row tried to move on the inside of Speed in turn one. This was in favor of Timmy Hansen who was leading it after turn one. From there [Timmy] Hansen, Pastrana and Arpin stayed on the main track while Speed and the others went straight into the joker lap section. In this second group Kevin Hansen was able to overtake Speed in the opening lap. Timmy Hansen decided to pass through the joker lap section in the third lap and joined the main track as third behind Pastrana and Arpin. Pastrana and Arpin both went into the joker lap section in the final lap where Pastrana merged as fourth behind the Hansen brothers and Speed. Positions didn’t change anymore and therefore Timmy Hansen won the final round ahead of his brother Kevin [Hansen] while Pastrana’s fourth place finish was sufficient for the title.
“Wow, three drivers within one point and me tied with Scott Speed for the championship, this has been an incredible season for the whole Subaru team,” said Pastrana after his victory.
“Scott [Speed] was so quick this weekend, and put so much into developing this car, to be tied for the top spot with him and just ahead of Timmy [Hansen] was just unbelievable.
“What a season, it exceeded all my expectations as a driver. I want to win as a driver but even more I want Nitro Rallycross to be the best championship out there. Now we have a proven concept.
“We had the best Rallycross drivers in the world, we had NASCAR Cup championship winners like Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott come out.
“It was a great first year, and I’m even more excited about the future.”
In the final standings Travis Pastrana and Scott Speed both totalized 219 points. Third place goes to Timmy Hansen with 218 points, only one point difference with the winner.
“It’s been a perfect weekend here in Florida scoring this 1-2 along with Kevin [Hansen], Timmy Hansen said.
“We did absolutely everything we could as a team to try and get that championship. In the end, there was nothing more we could do.
“We lost the title by one point, and without that penalty in the battle brackets on Saturday we would have won the championship. But that was the story of this season for me; penalties put an end to both titles.
“But regardless of that, it’s been a fantastic season overall.”
In the NRX Next category the FIRM also hosted the season finale in another double header event. On Saturday in round 9 of the series Sage Karam (NRX Next) was successful and won the final from George Megennis (NRX Next) and Conner Martell (NRX Next). He repeated this on Sunday in round 10 with another win. This time he beat Swedes Casper Jansson and Martin Enlund (NRX Next).
Despite the number of wins collected by Karam this season, the 2021 title in the NRX Next category went to Sweden with Casper Jansson. He wins the championship with a total of 395 points. Sage Karam (385 points) is second while Martin Enlund ends the season on third place with 380 points.
Round 5 – Supercar – Battle Brackets: 1. Scott Speed (USA), Subaru Impreza; 2. Timmy Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 3. Kevin Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 4. Travis Pastrana (USA), Subaru Impreza; 5. Oliver Eriksson (S), Ford Fiesta Mk8; 6. Tanner Foust (USA), Audi S1; 7. Robin Larsson (S), Audi S1; 8. Steve Arpin (CDN), Hyundai i20; etc.
Round 5 – Supercar – Final: 1. Timmy Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 2. Kevin Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 3. Scott Speed (USA), Subaru Impreza; 4. Travis Pastrana (USA), Subaru Impreza; 5. Robin Larsson (S), Audi S1; 6. Tanner Foust (USA), Audi S1; 7. Steve Arpin (CDN), Hyundai i20; 8. Chase Elliott (USA), Subaru Impreza.
Round 9 – NRX Next – Final: 1. Sage Karam (USA), NRX Next; 2. George Megennis (USA), NRX Next; 3. Conner Martell (USA), NRX Next; 4. Martin Enlund (S), NRX Next; 5. Casper Jansson (S), NRX Next; 6. Kyle Schwartz (USA), NRX Next; 7. Lane Vacala (S), NRX Next; 8. Eric Gordon (USA), NRX Next.
Round 10 – NRX Next – Final: 1. Sage Karam (USA), NRX Next; 2. Casper Jansson (S), NRX Next; 3. Martin Enlund (S), NRX Next; 4.Conner Martell (USA), NRX Next; 5. Kyle Schwartz (USA), NRX Next; 6. Eric Gordon (S), NRX Next; 7. George Megennis (USA); 8. Lane Vacala (USA), NRX Next – DNF.
Supercar (after round 5): 1. Travis Pastrana (USA), 219; 2. Scott Speed (USA), 219; 3. Timmy Hansen (S), 218; 4. Kevin Hansen (S), 157; 5. Steve Arpin (CDN), 123; 6. Tanner Foust (USA), 82; etc.
NRX Next (after round 10): 1. Casper Jansson (S), 395; 2. Sage Karam (USA), 385; 3. Martin Enlund (S), 380; 4. George Megennis (USA), 345; 5. Lane Vacala (USA), 240; 6. Eric Gordon (USA), 260; etc.