Pastrana becomes first Nitro RX repeat winner in 2022 in Phoenix

Pastrana becomes first Nitro RX repeat winner in 2022 in Phoenix

International Racing

Pastrana becomes first Nitro RX repeat winner in 2022 in Phoenix

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Travis Pastrana became the first repeat winner of the Nitro Rallycross season, heading off Vermont SportsCar teammate Conner Martell in the first final of the series’ double-header weekend at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix.

Pastrana started the main under the lights from pole after taking the top qualifier spot, then backing that up with a heat win.

From that pole, he got away cleanly, but faced an early challenge from a fast-starting Kris Meeke. The World Rally Championship-regular’s charge faded on the second lap, just as he was looking to make a move for the lead, after contact with Oliver Eriksson caused his car to grind to a halt. Pastrana was left unchallenged out in front.

Starting from the back row of the grid after winning the Last Chance Qualifier earlier in the evening, Martell was shuffled down a spot at the start of the race, but soon began to climb.

Kevin Eriksson made a botched landing from the gap jump that collected Fraser McConnell, and Martell immediately opted to joker to get clear air away from the wounded Dreyer & Reinbold driver. That brought him close to Andreas Bakkerud, who hadn’t yet jokered, but wasn’t able to keep the young American behind him regardless.

From there it was formation flying for the VSC duo, with Bakkerud momentarily losing third place to Oliver Eriksson, only to retake it with two laps to go.

Robin Larsson finished fifth, marking the first time this season that he hadn’t finished in the top two. His hopes of continuing his podium run were dashed on lap one when, while trying to challenge Meeke for third, he got too sideways while running through the gap between the main jump and clouted the bank, resulting in a left rear puncture.

He was able to limp home though, unlike McConnell, who, despite initially soldiering on after his lap one contact, was forced to end his race early with damage to both ends of his car.

Among those missing out on appearing in the final were NASCAR Cup series drivers Austin Cindric and Chase Elliott, who finished fourth and fifth respectively in the LCQ.

They joined Oliver Bennett on the sidelines who, despite a stellar start to the weekend with his best qualifying result to date, retired from the first heat after contact with Martell, and was then disqualified from his semifinal after heavy contact with Cindric. His initial third place finish in that race would have sent him to the LCQ regardless, and there he wound up third once again.

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