Scott Speed emerged as top qualifier at the Nitro Rallycross season finale at The Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park following a post-race penalty for Timmy Hansen.
Hansen won the Battle Bracket final ahead of Speed, passing him late on the track’s final asphalt section, making heavy contact with the Subaru driver in the process.
The move, which resulted in the front bumper of Hansen’s Peugeot completely detaching, was judged to have featured all four tires off the track during the pass, prompting a reversal of the result once the checkered flag fell.
Before that, Speed led from the start but immediately took the longer joker lap, dropping him to second. Needing to stay within around 6.2 seconds of Hansen, Speed set about stringing together a fast bunch of sectors and was 6.2s behind after the first of three laps.
Under pressure, Hansen clipped two barrels on lap two, shrinking the gap to 5.8s when he eventually jokered himself on the final tour.
That meant Speed had the lead on the merge, but Hansen didn’t give up, applying the pressure with two light taps on the four-time US champion’s rear bumper before going for his ultimately penalized pass.
Ahead of the final, both drivers were paired up with their respective team-mates in the third round of the bracket, with Speed needing to beat championship leader Travis Pastrana in a straight fight.
Timmy Hansen had an easier route to the final however, with Kevin Hansen out of the championship picture so not putting up much of a fight in their race.
Timmy Hansen also made light work of Tanner Foust and Oliver Bennett en route to the final, while Speed overcame a fast-starting Steve Arpin in the second round after receiving a bye through the first for being fastest in practice.
Foust’s battle with Hansen however came after he was beaten on the road by 2020 NASCAR Cup series champion Chase Elliott in the final round one race.
Elliott, who’s shown progression each time he’s been in the car this weekend and was sixth-fastest in final practice on Saturday morning, was equal to Foust off the start, and followed the Audi driver into the joker.
From there the duo were evenly matched for the duration of the race, until Elliott began to apply the pressure in the final dirt section of the final lap.
Approaching the penultimate corner, Elliott made contact with Foust’s Audi, rubbing up his inside to snatch a popular win on the road, which was later reversed post-race after it was deemed to be a push-to-pass move.
Speed’s qualifying win cuts Pastrana’s championship lead down to just five points ahead of Sunday’s slate of title-deciding races, with Timmy Hansen 16 off the top spot.
Hansen entered the weekend 17 points off the championship lead, the same margin that he had atop of the World Rallycross Championship standings ahead of its final weekend in Germany seven days ago.
At that event, he ultimately lost the title on countback after receiving three penalties for aggressive passes, similar in nature to the one he was penalized for in the bracket finale, meaning he’s once again at risk of having his championship hopes derailed by stewarding decisions.
Final qualifying order (Supercars)
1 Scott Speed (Subaru)
2 Timmy Hansen (Peugeot)
3 Kevin Hansen (Peugeot)
4 Travis Pastrana (Subaru)
5 Oliver Eriksson (Ford)
6 Tanner Foust (Audi)
7 Robin Larsson (Audi)
8 Steve Arpin (Hyundai)
9 Liam Doran (Audi)
10 Kevin Eriksson (Honda)
11 Chase Elliott (Subaru)
12 Ronalds Baldiņš (Honda)
13 Cabot Bigham (Audi)
14 Oliver Bennett (Mini)
15 Fraser McConnell (Ford)
Sage Karam survived heavy contact with championship rival Casper Jansson on the opening lap of the first NRX Next final of the weekend to claim his fourth win of the year.
The two drivers came together as they entered the first corner, with Jansson getting airborne before falling down the order. Fellow title hopefuls Martin Enlund and George Megennis settled into second and third respectively after the incident, with all three holding station for much of the race.
Jansson meanwhile had dropped to seventh, but waited until lap three to joker, a lap after the rest of the field had all completed theirs. For the support classes this weekend, the joker lap is a shortcut rather than the Supercars’ longer route. That allowed Jansson to reclaim two spots, and despite a half-spin on the same lap, he was able to stay in fifth.
For the second half of the race, Enlund started to gap Megennis and hunt down Karam but couldn’t find an answer for the Indianapolis 500 regular, and eventually dropped out of podium contention, with Conner Martell taking third behind Megennis.
Enlund as a result had to settle for fourth, ahead of Jansson, Kyle Schwartz, and Lane Vacala, with Eric Gordon a distant final finisher in eighth.
Despite his tough race, Jansson continues to lead the NRX Next standings with one round to go, holding a 10 point advantage over Enlund, with Karam now 15 points off the lead in third. Megennis continues to hold fourth, a further 10 points off Karam.
UTVs are also back on the bill this weekend for the first time since the second event of the season, and Korey Willis lead from start to finish to win the first of two Side-by-Side finals of the weekend.
Leading from the very start, Willis took charge of the race early on, while Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky rocketed up to second at the expense of a slow-starting Hailie Deegan.
Those three, along with Robbie Maddison all jokered on the first lap, allowing them to gap the field, but Willis continued to hold a comfortable lead.
Behind him, Maddison was pressuring Åhlin-Kottulinsky for second, but the Extreme E podium finisher held firm. Maddison then lost third to Blake ‘Bilko’ Williams after pitching up onto two wheels while pushing.
Bilko then assumed the role of Åhlin-Kottulinsky’s biggest challenger, but she was also hunting down Willis for the race lead, taking half a second out of the leader on the third lap.
By the fourth, the top three were covered by just 1.3s, but Bilko’s charge for the second spot would soon allow Willis to pull out a gap out in front as Åhlin-Kottulinsky had to defend. But on the final lap she would see Bilko’s challenge evaporate as he rolled while trying to pass her up the inside.
With Bilko out, Scottie Lawrence slotted into third behind Willis and Åhlin-Kottulinsky. Maddison recovered from his early race moment to take fourth, ahead of rising NASCAR star Deegan who rounded out the top-five.