It seemed as if we were waiting forever for the inaugural full Nitro Rallycross season to get underway, yet here we are getting ready for the final round of the year. Four rounds of flying cars have, ahem, flown by, and now we’re onto the fifth and final chapter.
Here’s everything you need to know as we wrap up the season at the Florida International Rally and Motorsports Park in North Florida:
We’ll leave Travis Pastrana to properly talk you through this weekend’s venue but here are the headline statisticss: 1.2 miles in length with a 342ft joker lap shortcut that slices that lap length to 1.099 miles; 13 turns on the standard lap, a 120ft crossover gap jump (of course), and a 210ft stage rally-like forest section, and a bit of sand too.
Oh, and there’s more asphalt than the rest of the season’s venues combined, which ought to please the rallycross traditionalists but is something that in the world of Nitro RX presents a relatively new and different challenge.
The title contenders
A total of 54 points remain on the table in the Supercar class with one point on offer for each battle win (the top qualifier will lock in four wins) and 50 points going to the main event winner.
That means that three drivers remain in contention for the championship crown, and therefore have an opportunity to join 2018 and ’19 Nitro World Games event winners Timmy and Kevin Hansen on the roll of honor.
The one who conceived the series currently leads the points. At face value that might seem pretty obvious, but the reality is this year’s American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National Champion has really upped his game this season – so much so that he’s managed to triple his rallycross wins career tally in the most recent two rounds alone.
But he arrives in Florida swimming against the tide. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and Glen Helen Raceway played to the motocross icon’s strengths with big leaps in the dirt. However, The FIRM will be asphalt-heavy – something that Pastrana himself admits may catch him out.
Nevertheless, he is in the best possible position in the standings, and let’s not forget that his first-ever rallycross win in Loudon way back in 2012 wasn’t exactly in a mud pit. Plus, with extensive Gymkhana and hillclimb experience over the last year, it’s not as if he’ll be completely out of his depth.
Scott Speed, a championship underdog? Well, believe it or not, it’s not the first he’s had to come from behind at a finale weekend to claim the title. He did so in 2016 when he overhauled then-team-mate Tanner Foust for his second rallycross crown.
Back then the circuit racing convert was racing on a mostly asphalt track too, albeit a temporary parking lot layout, but given Pastrana’s public skepticism of his sealed surface abilities, could second placed Speed be the real championship favorite?
Timmy Hansen comes into this final round with many points to prove. After winning the season opener in Utah, he’s only been back on the podium once (the two Subaru drivers have three apiece), and finally lost the points lead last time out in California after a trying weekend.
What’s more, he arrives back in the US after a torrid weekend in which he lost the world championship title that he’d been in control of for much of the year, cruelly on countback, equalling the number of points that champion Johan Kristoffersson took.
So he’ll want to steady his Nitro RX campaign, while making up for his disappointment back home in Europe. All three of the protagonists will be motivated, but perhaps none as much as Timmy Hansen.
And while the Subaru team-mates are going up against each other, Hansen’s own team-mate, brother Kevin, is out of contention so is perfectly placed to act as his rear-gunner and rob points from Pastrana and Speed while they also take points off each other.
The only potential team player the Subaru duo will have will be discipline rookie Chase Elliott who, despite his talent, likely won’t have the experience to immediately hamper the Hansens.
In NRX Next, a lack of battle brackets means that there’s four less points on offer per round, but the development classes’ double-header format means that there’s actually 100 points available in Florida.
That means that leader Casper Jansson (320 points) will be under threat from Martin Enlund (305), while Sage Karam (285), George Megennis (280), Lane Vacala (275) and Eric Gordon (220) all remain in mathematical contention.
With a 15-point lead, it’s hard to look past Jansson at the moment, but Enlund’s worst finish of the year is better than any of the other top six.
Karam, a three-time winner this year, will also be a credible threat this weekend, and had he not failed to start the season opener he’d likely be higher up the order.
And then there’s the hard-charging Megennis who is always a threat for race victory no matter where he starts in the final.
Vacala and Gordon, while still in contention according to the numbers, are very much outsiders as neither have won a round this year, and Gordon hasn’t made the podium so far this season either.
The support act
As Nitro RX tests the waters in its various markets during this first full calendar of events, we’ve seen a revolving line-up of support events with Sierra Cars and Side-by-Sides both featuring alongside the light-hearted happy hour ‘Van Prix’ and PT Cruiser races.
After previously appearing at ERX Motor Park in October, SxSs will be back in Florida with an all-star cast of drivers.
Headlining the entry list is rising NASCAR star Hailie Deegan, whose father Brian did the last Nitro RX SxS races.
She’ll be joined by Extreme E podium finisher Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, freestyle motocross icon Robbie Maddison, influencer Cleetus McFarland, Supercar driver Tanner Foust and Andrew Carlson.
SxS regulars Scottie Lawrence, Kory Willis, Jason Luburgh and Jack LeTourneau have also been confirmed for the support class.