Pastrana tops Nitro Rallycross qualifying in Phoenix

Motorsport Images

Pastrana tops Nitro Rallycross qualifying in Phoenix

International Racing

Pastrana tops Nitro Rallycross qualifying in Phoenix

By

Travis Pastrana topped qualifying for the first part of Nitro Rallycross’ Phoenix doubleheader at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports park, defeating Oliver Bennett in the final of the head-to-head ‘Battle Bracket.’

Both made an even start, but it was Pastrana who grabbed the early advantage, keeping an aggressive Bennett at arms length until the final lap of the three-lap contest. From there, he dropped the hammer to cross the line 1.361s ahead.

Reigning series champion Pastrana started the day by winning his multi-car seeding heat, before beating World Rally Championship star Kris Meeke and round two winner Andreas Bakkerud en route to the final of the head-to-heads.

Bennett, meanwhile, didn’t fare too well in the heat race, but came into his own in the head-to-heads, beating 2020 NASCAR champion Chase Elliott in a preliminary round, before knocking out series frontrunners Kevin Eriksson and Robin Larsson (who won the other seeding heat).

In the latter of those two races, Bennett was more than a match for the points leader, but late-race contact meant that he finished second on the road behind Larsson, a result that was subsequently reversed post-race.

Elliott, returning to Nitro Rallycross after contesting last year’s season finale, fared well in his opening heat, placing sixth after passing Conner Martell late on.

The other Cup series regular in the field, Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric, took fifth in his heat, before falling to Martell in the head-to-heads. Cindric is also no stranger to rallycross, contesting a full season in the second-tier of the category before focusing on NASCAR.

Winner of the last round in California, Fraser McConnell was left with work to do after losing out to the Olsbergs MSE pair of Oliver and Kevin Eriksson in the opening heat, before falling to Meeke in the bracket.

The Phoenix Nitro Rallycross event will comprise two full championship rounds after the cancellation of a planned race in Finland earlier in the year. As a result, racing will continue on Friday with the final taking place under the lights, before the sixth round of the season takes its regular form across Saturday and Sunday.

More RACER