Kevin Hansen topped qualifying for the second time this season after resisting a charging Travis Pastrana in the final of the battle bracket at round four of the Nitro Rallycross season at Glen Helen Raceway.
Peugeot driver Hansen, whose other TQ result came in controversial circumstances in Minnesota, rocketed off the asphalt start grid from the unfavorable outside line to take an early lead.
Pastrana kept with Hansen for the next three laps, but it wasn’t until the fourth and final lap, when both opted to take the joker, where Pastrana had his best chance to snatch the win.
Through the winding longer route, Pastrana closed right up and rubbed Hansen’s bumper, applying the pressure, and by the time both reached the track’s second sweeping hairpin, Pastrana sent his Subaru up the inside.
Pastrana carried too much speed in the move however, allowing Hansen to switch back and quickly reclaim the lead, which he’d hold onto through the final turn and the flying finish.
Kevin Hansen’s victory against Pastrana meant that he’d defeated all three Subaru runners en route to the final, having beaten Scott Speed at the semifinal stage, a close start shaking out into a convincing win for the Swede. It marked the second event in a row that four-time US champion Speed hasn’t made it to the bracket final.
Speed had advanced to that point after another thrilling battle with Kevin Eriksson.
After beating a fast-starting Tanner Foust in the opening round, his former team-mate hitting a rock and succumbing to suspension failure as a result, Speed mirrored the Audi driver’s outside overtake off the start in his battle with Honda driver Eriksson.
By the final lap, with both having jokered, the pair were equal, running three corners door-to-door.
Eriksson looked to have prevailed with a move up the inside of the final turn, but Speed emerged ahead in a drag race to the finish line, flying higher over the main straight’s multiple jumps – almost landing on Eriksson’s Civic at one point – to narrowly edge ahead at the checkered flag.
Kevin Hansen also faced-off against a returning Andreas Bakkerud, who had a bye in the first round after setting the fastest practice time on Friday, and there being an odd number of Supercar entrants this weekend.
But before slaying the Subarus Kevin Hansen had an unusual start to the day, defeating Steve Arpin twice – the race having to be re-run after Arpin failed to make the start due to a start procedure mix-up.
Pastrana’s route to the final was a bit more straightforward, with convincing wins against Cabot Bigham and Oliver Eriksson setting up a semifinal showdown against an impressive Fraser McConnell.
McConnell, who’d disposed of points leader Timmy Hansen in the previous round after he suffered a puncture, was bettered off the start by Pastrana, despite his best intentions to resist the charging Subaru. And despite taking time out of him over the course of the race, the gap was just too big to overhaul.
Final qualifying order (Supercars)
1 Kevin Hansen (Peugeot)
2 Travis Pastrana (Subaru)
3 Fraser McConnell (Ford)
4 Scott Speed (Subaru)
5 Andreas Bakkerud (Subaru)
6 Kevin Eriksson (Honda)
7 Oliver Eriksson (Ford)
8 Timmy Hansen (Peugeot)
9 Steve Arpin (Hyundai)
10 Liam Doran (Audi)
11 Robin Larsson (Audi)
12 Tanner Foust (Audi)
13 Ronalds Baldiņš (Honda)
14 Cabot Bigham (Audi)
15 Oliver Bennett (Mini)
In NRX Next Casper Jansson won for the first time since the season opener in a thrilling eight-lap encounter for the development class.
Early on the race was all about front row starters Martin Enlund and Sage Karam, with the duo charging into the first two turns side-by-side. That battle would continue until lap two when Enlund lost a tire after running wide in Turn 2.
Meanwhile Jansson was hunting down Karam, having jokered early in the race. After Karam had taken the longer route on lap six, the pair were equal, with Jansson just edging the winner of the last three rounds on the merge.
The battle was far from over though – Karam continuing to hound on the penultimate lap. He looked to have finally got by through the second-to-last run on that seventh lap, only for Jansson to retake the lead a turn later.
Heading into that final lap Karam spun spectacularly out of contention braking for the first corner. That consolidated Jansson’s lead, while it allowed George Megennis – who’d started the final in eighth place – to move up to second.
A quick recovery and late charge for Karam was not enough for him to reclaim that place and he had to settle for third.
Conner Martell, competing in his second race weekend of the year, finished fourth, ahead of Eric Gordon, and Enlund, who faded after his early puncture.
Lane Vacala failed to make the finish after suffering steering failure and pitching his car onto two wheels up a bank on the final lap, while Kyle Schwartz also retired having completed just two laps.