Oliver Eriksson resisted immense pressure from Robin Larsson to take the Top Qualifier spot for the second half of Nitro Rallycross’ Phoenix double-header at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
The younger Eriksson brother got his day off to the best possible start, winning his seeding heat before defeating Andreas Bakkerud and Travis Pastrana in the head-to-head Battle Bracket. Pastrana ran Eriksson close in the semifinal, but a late puncture ended his hopes of getting back to back TQ results.
His day initially looked to have ended earlier when Kris Meeke beat him in their quarter final encounter, but Meeke received a 5s penalty for contact.
Larsson, meanwhile, finished second to California winner Fraser McConnell in his seeding heat before knocking Austin Cindric, Kevin Eriksson, and McConnell out of the Bracket.
Oliver Eriksson made the better start in the three-lap final, with Larsson hampered by the less-grippy right side of the grid. Nevertheless, Larsson was able to draw level by turn one and the pair emerged side-by-side, taking the first jump together before Larsson tucked in. Eriksson left the door open at the end of the first lap, but Larsson saw room to capitalize. He looked again going into Turn 2 of the second lap, but once again Eriksson held firm.
Perhaps Larsson’s best chance of snatching the win came at the end of lap two when Larsson made contact with the rear of Eriksson’s car, but once again, the pair remained in their positions.
After the contact, the final lap was a much more subdued affair, but Larsson once again reeled in Eriksson in the final third of the lap, but to no avail.
Eriksson’s TQ result was his second of the year, joining Larsson as the only two drivers to top the first part of a race event more than once this year.
2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott had a much stronger start to this round, running Conner Martell close in their opening Bracket race, but Martell prevailed.
In the first NRX NEXT final of the weekend, Casper Jansson won ahead of George Megennis and Jimmy Henderson.
Megennis and Henderson engaged in an early fight for the lead, but Jansson’s emergence from the joker on the start of the lap three brought the three frontrunners together.
It was Jansson who made the most of it, able to build a gap to Megennis who held off Henderson for second — his sixth consecutive podium in the category.
Scottie Lawrence was the first Side-by-Side victor of the weekend, beating Greg Michaud, and Amanda Sorensen.