Traditionally rallycross tracks have a mix of 60% pavement and 40% dirt, but Nitro Rallycross’ approach to the discipline so far has flipped the balance.
That’s all set to change in the season finale at The Florida International Rally and Motorsports Park, with a winding course that will not only be the longest of the season, but feature the most sealed surfaces too.
“We’re trying to use as much pavement on that track as possible and the pavement’s not extremely wide,” Pastrana revealed to DirtFish. “But that’s what I want from Nitro Rallycross.”
Pastrana also divulged that the joker lap at The FIRM will be a stage rally-esque dash through the woods that “is going to be absolutely awesome”.
“The visual on that and how long that joker is is going to be something just absolutely spectacular,” he said.
But despite the inclusion of more asphalt, The FIRM, which serves as a rally school and testing venue for the rest of the year, won’t be devoid of loose sections.
In fact, the track near Jacksonville will bring a whole new challenge to the table, something that the Nitro and Subaru crews tested to breaking point during preliminary visits to the venue.
“What I really like about Florida is that it is so unique, and it has sand,” Pastrana said.
“We went and tested at The FIRM – obviously we didn’t have the jumps or anything in there, and we didn’t do anything to the dirt, we just ran laps and laps and laps and saw what we could, what the car could withstand, what it couldn’t, tried to roll the tires off the rims, tried to do everything basically to break the vehicle.”
That groundwork also showed that The FIRM is likely to be less tough on machinery than other tracks we’ve seen this year.
“We found that the sand was really cool because not only did it not rip the bumpers off or break the vehicles, even when it got pretty rutted, but you could keep the dust down really well because you can literally water it and drench it and it doesn’t get super-slick like we were seeing in Utah,” said Pastrana.
I’m like, s***, if Chase Elliott comes out and wins, that’s not going to look good for usTravis Pastrana
“So there’s going to be a lot of unique aspects that’s going to make Florida a really fun track with a mixture of sand and pavement, and going from sand to pavement to lime rock all in one corner, it’s going to be interesting.”
Nevertheless Pastrana, who leads the championship points going into this final event, is expecting to face a tough challenge at The FIRM, and thinks its road course-like characteristics could also help a certain wildcard driver shake up the competitive order too.
“Yes, that’s going to be my toughest track, I’m not a pavement driver and you’ve got a NASCAR Cup champion jumping into their first round which is completely different to the other rounds – I’m like, s***, if Chase Elliott comes out and wins, that’s not going to look good for us, but still it’s so cool that those guys are coming out.”
Speaking in a recent press release, Subaru driver Pastrana added that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Elliott go one better than fellow NASCAR convert Kyle Busch and reach the podium.
“The track is being built right now so Chase will have as much time on it as anyone coming into this race, and with so much tarmac in Florida I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chase end up on the podium, but I would be very impressed.”