Travis Pastrana may have departed Florida as the first full-season Nitro Rallycross champion, but he was left questioning his own success after he went unpunished for a first lap collision with Subaru team-mate Scott Speed that effectively ended the latter’s title hopes.
Following contact with Kevin Hansen approaching the first corner, Pastrana was unable to slow sufficiently to avoid running into the side of Speed, forcing the sister Subaru wide and dropping down the order.
Stewards chose not to penalize Pastrana for the incident, but in light of other calls this season for arguably less severe incidents both in Nitro Rallycross and the World Rallycross Championship, he couldn’t help but feel some sense of disappointment with the outcome of the final race of the season.
“It’s been an amazing year, it’s exceeded all of my expectations as a driver, but as a promoter, the last thing you want to have is something [like this],” Pastrana told DirtFish.
“I mean, I got bumped off track but it really hurt Scott Speed’s championship and with all the calls that have been going from World RX to everything that’s happened this year, to have a first turn where you take someone else [out] and you take their hopes of winning away, it just doesn’t feel right to me.
“The last thing that I want is people to go ‘oh it’s because it’s your championship’ or ‘it’s because of Subaru’. I’d rather have a third overall in the championship than to take a win that everyone says ‘oh this isn’t legit’.”
A number of calls from stewards at Nitro RX races this year that have been met with mixed responses from fans and drivers alike, and Pastrana hopes that can be reduced in future in order for the series to remain both fair and entertaining.
“We want to make – I want to make – the most legitimate racing,” he insisted. “I’ve been arguing all year [that] there should be more contact, but it can’t just be all of a sudden in the last turn when I’ve always been the one that says ‘look, contact’s good everywhere, but not in the first turn’.
“As a promoter, I want the most fair racing possible and I want to see Chase Elliott’s pass and some of the stuff that Fraser’s been penalized for, I want that gone.
“We have a series that was more successful than anyone that even committed to this believed it was going to be. We had the best drivers in the world, we got some NASCAR guys, this is going to be amazing for years to come. I just hope the non-call doesn’t affect that for the future.
“I want 50 cars on this grid in three years’ time, we want to build it up, and I just hope the non-call here when there’s so many calls all year doesn’t… I just want to be racing the best in the world and I want everyone to feel they can come here and they can get a fair shot at it, and it sucks.”
As well as questioning the call – or lack of – from race control in the context of the series as a whole, Pastrana was also particularly disappointed to have impacted Speed’s season after everything the four-time US rallycross champion has done this year to help Pastrana improve his own performance.
”[It was] the last thing I wanted to do,” he lamented. “The guy that’s helped me get here, that’s helped Subaru build the car; Scott Speed has done more for me this year than maybe anyone, except David Higgins, has ever done for me.
“And [I’m] almost crying right now, I just, I want to win as a driver but I want this championship to be the best championship that’s ever been out there.”