Travis Pastrana and Robin Larsson broke Nitro Rallycross’s run of a new winner at every round by capturing victories at the double header event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix.
Pastrana’s win under the lights made him the first repeat winner of the year, and he headed home team-mate Conner Martell who scored a breakthrough maiden podium finish for the team.
Pastrana topped the first qualifying of the weekend with a heat win and battle bracket victories over Kris Meeke, Andreas Bakkerud, and Oliver Bennett who made the head-to-head final for the first time. Pastrana then won his heat before launching into an early lead in the first final of the weekend.
Meeke mounted an early challenge, but an unspecified technical issue ended his race early. Martell followed home Pastrana in a formation finish, with Andreas Bakkerud beating Oliver Eriksson to third.
Larsson finished off the podium for the first time this season after sustaining a puncture after sliding into a bank on the first lap and sustaining a puncture. He was at least able to finish though, with Fraser McConnell retiring with damage.
Missing the podium for Larsson, however, proved to be something of an anomaly as he was back to the fore when the race schedule took its more traditional trajectory on Saturday and Sunday.
While it was Oliver Eriksson who wound up top qualifier, beating Larsson in the bracket final after winning his seeding heat and defeating Bakkerud and Pastrana, it was Larsson who took the round win after getting by the younger Eriksson mid-way through the final.
Oliver Eriksson made a strong start to the second main event, capitalizing on the advantageous left side of the grid and breaking away from the field out of turn one, but a roll, which became an end-over-end flip for Bakkerud soon halted proceedings.
Bakkerud made contact with Bennett over the gap jump, and the sideways landing pitched him into a roll, before he was collected by a fast-moving Kevin Eriksson which sent him end-over-end. While Bakkerud emerged unscathed, his car was finished for the day.
The second restart was much of the same, with Oliver Eriksson snatching an early lead, while the rest of the field fought over real estate behind. It was Larsson who emerged from the pack, and soon hunted down Oliver Eriksson, getting by him on lap three.
Oliver Eriksson couldn’t find a way back past, his view obscured by a loose hood, and he had to settle for second, ahead of Kris Meeke, who after being spun by Kevin Eriksson on the first start, saved his joker until later in the final to overhaul Pastrana – who slipped down the order to take sixth, ahead of Bennett, but behind Kevin Eriksson and McConnell.
NASCAR Cup series regulars Chase Elliott and Austin Cindric progressed throughout the weekend, with Elliott seemingly on-course to take a dominant LCQ victory in the second round of the weekend until he was halted by damage. Cindric could have also advanced, only for him to receive a penalty that prevented him from making the second final.
With the 2022 portion of the 2022-23 Nitro RX season now completed, Larsson holds a 45 point lead over Bakkerud, with McConnel a further 21 back in third. Oliver Eriksson’s strong weekend moves him up to fourth, while Pastrana moves up a spot to fifth.
In NRX Next, Casper Jansson and George Megennis shared the spoils, while it was Scottie Lawrence and Greg Michaud who took the victories in Side-by-Sides.