Travis Pastrana (FC1-X) won his second event in the 2022/23 Nitro Rallycross series after he was victorious in the final during round five of the series on Friday evening (November 11) at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park at Chandler, AZ. Conner Martell (FC1-X) finished second and completed the success for Vermont SportsCar. Andreas Bakkerud (FC1-X) finished third and claimed the last podium spot.
The Nitro Rallycross round at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park has been turned into a double header event spread out over three days following the postponement for the 2022/23 season of the event in Saudi Arabia initially foreseen for the beginning of December. Friday saw a complete round/race day for the Group E category starting with the battle brackets in the morning and followed by the main event later on the day with the final taking place under the lights on Friday evening. NASCAR Cup Series drivers Austin Cindric (FC1-X), 2022 Rookie of the Year, and Chase Elliot (FC1-X), 2020 Cup Series champion, were part of the list of drivers for the weekend while Kris Meeke (FC1-X) was replacing Jenson Button at Xite Energy Racing.
After the battle seeding heats, the Friday battle brackets had first round races for Cindric and Elliot who got eliminated by Conner Martell and Oliver Bennett (FC1-X). Also in the first round, Kris Meeke beat previous event winner Fraser McConnell (FC1-X). The quarter finals saw Pastrana, who had a bye in the first round, and Meeke taking on the battle won by Pastrana. Oliver Bennett continued with a win over Kevin Eriksson (FC1-X) while teammates Andreas Bakkerud and Robin Larsson (FC1-X) won their quarter finals from respectively Oliver Eriksson and Conner Martell. With afterwards semi-final wins for Pastrana and Bennett both raced each other in the bracket final where Pastrana was the better from Bennett and becoming the top qualifier for the main event.
This second part of Friday’s event went underway with the heats with the first one won by Kevin Eriksson and the second one from pole by Pastrana. Next up was the first semi-final delivering Robin Larsson and Oliver Eriksson as qualifiers for the final. Kris Meeke then drove to the win in the second semi-final and was through to the final together with second place finisher Fraser McConnell. The top two from the Last Chance Qualifier, Conner Martell and Andreas Bakkerud, completed the 8-car-final leaving both NASCAR Cup Series drivers out for the final on Friday however they get another chance on Sunday.
When the final went underway Pastrana had the better start from pole with the other front row starter Kevin Eriksson going very wide in the first corner allowing Kris Meeke to go into second initially ahead of Larsson, then ahead of Oliver Eriksson. Pastrana and Larsson then made their pass through the joker lap section with Pastrana joining he main track behind Meeke. Unfortunately for Meeke his car broke down (battery issue) and Pastrana went into the lead again. Bakkerud, who started the final from the last row, was racing second but still had to complete his joker. Once done, the Norwegian was down to three when he came out of the joker lap section. Pastrana was still leading it with in the mean time Martell second. They continued for the remaining laps on the way to a one-two finish for Vermont SportsCar and a second race victory for Pastrana in the 2022/23 season. Bakkerud was able to hold off Oliver Eriksson and claimed the last podium spot. Robin Larsson (243 points), who finished fifth, remains on top of the standings after five events with Bakkerud (230 points) second.
The event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park continues on Saturday and Sunday with round six of the series as well as rounds for the NRX Next category.
Group E – Brackets (Friday): 1. Travis Pastrana (USA), FC1-X; 2. Oliver Bennett (GB), FC1-X; 3. Robin Larsson (S), FC1-X; 4. Andreas Bakkerud (N), FC1-X; 5. Kevin Eriksson (S), FC1-X; 6. Oliver Eriksson (S), FC1-X; 7. Conner Martell (USA), FC1-X; 8. Kris Meeke (GB), FC1-X; 9. Fraser McConnell (JAM), FC1-X; 10. Austin Cindric (USA), FC1-X; 11. Chase Elliot (USA), FC1-X.
Group E (Friday): 1. Travis Pastrana (USA), FC1-X; 2. Conner Martell (USA), FC1-X; 3. Andreas Bakkerud (N), FC1-X; 4. Oliver Eriksson (S), FC1-X; 5. Robin Larsson (S), FC1-X; 6. Fraser McConnell (JAM), FC1-X; 7. Kris Meeke (GB), FC1-X – DNF; 8. Kevin Eriksson (S), FC1-X – DNF.
Group E Drivers (5/9): 1. Robin Larsson (S), 243; 2. Andreas Bakkerud (N), 230; 3. Fraser McConnell (JAM), 201; 4. Travis Pastrana (USA), 162; 5. Oliver Eriksson (S), 158; 6. Conner Martell (USA), 151; 7. Oliver Bennett (GB), 133; etc.
Group E Teams (5/9): 1. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing JC (USA), 473; 2. Vermont SportsCar (USA), 313; 3. Meyer & Reinbold Racing (USA), 306; 4. Olsbergs/MSE (S), 290; 5. Xite Energy Racing (GB), 236.