By Laurette Nicoll
Departing the Pacific Coast for the Atlantic Coast, the Nitro Rallycross crew left round four in San Bernardino, California and descended into North Florida to race The Firm for the last round of the 2021 Nitro Rallycross season. For the three drivers at the top of the Championship points table, everyone knew what was at stake and everyone gave it their all. Let’s look at some memorable moments of the weekend.
Casper Jansson, Nitro Rallycross Next Driver is your new NEXT Champion
In his rookie season, Casper Jansson came blazing into the NEXT Championship and with consistency and three wins out of ten events (they raced their main events on Saturday’s and Sunday’s during each round), he was crowned Champion. He is a man of few English words, but we feel he let his driving do the talking.
Fraser McConnell, had a brutal weekend
Fraser had high hopes and a large contingent of Jamaican friends, family and fans in the grandstands supporting their best guy. Unfortunately, Florida was not kind to McConnell as he suffered four broken bolts in the flywheel housing before timed practice. In the battle brackets, Fraser was sent out with three bolts in the housing which caused engine damage. Frazzz knew he was heading out to campaign for position with a hurt car, but in his estimation, it was better than not showing up at all. Saturday night, the team performed an engine change, and everything was fresh (engine and housing) for his heat race on Sunday afternoon. He finished third and moved into the semifinal, but after two red flags, Frazzz was disheartened and questioned the steward’s decision to put a driver that caused the red flag back in his original, front row position. In that same semifinal, he had contact with Ollie Bennett in the merge which sent him wide and resulted in a puncture that he drove with for two laps. He was able to finish second which would have advanced him into the main, but he was assessed a harsh penalty and dropped to the LCQ. There his drivetrain broke, and his day was done.
He seemed frustrated but never lost his grateful and optimistic spirit. With his progression and speed, we are certain the podium results he is capable of will come during the 2022 season. Big ups, Frazzz!
In San Bernardino, Kevin was fast, bright-eyed and looked like he was going to be a championship player but after the controversial contact between him and Liam Doran, it dashed his hopes of a title. So, the skilled driver came into Florida with the intention of protecting his big brother and hispotential crown. The brothers faced each other in the battle brackets on Saturday and Timmy crossed the finish line first. In the finals on Sunday, we watched as Scott Speed sat pole, while Timmy Hansen was next to him in second, Travis Pastrana and Kevin were row two and Kevin was outside. Whether Kevin was setting up for turn one or squeezed Travis, heavy contact allowed Timmy to shoot out to the lead while the Subaru’s bashed each other. Kevin protected his brother and finished the day in P2 and was fourth overall in the championship. Without a doubt, Kevin displayed incredible and polished proficiency every time he sat behind the wheel. And at 23 years-old, his veteran effectiveness during the five rounds of Nitro RX brought a much-appreciated European spiciness that was a joy to watch and we hope to see them back with us in 2022.
Liam Doran and Robin Larsson, can someone get them an exorcism?
These two skilled drivers could not catch a break this season and it wasn’t for a lack of effort. They were committed and dedicated every round… but someone needed to burn some sage around the RX Cartel.
In Florida, Robin’s luck looked like it was finally turning around as he advanced out of round one in the battle brackets but then was defeated in round two, so the team looked ahead to Sunday. And, in what must have been one of the wildest and most aggravating (to the competing drivers), heat two saw two red-flag starts. Liam re-racked in the last row and after the green light, slammed into a stalled Oliver Eriksson which ripped his suspension and wheel straight off his Audi S1. His team worked until the last second to get the car to grid and Liam made it to the line for his LCQ, but without a win was retired. Robin on the other hand, advanced out of his semifinal and started on row three and finished with a respectable fifth for the day. He ended his 2022 Nitro RX season seventh overall. We know the potential these two incredible drivers have so we’ll bring our smudge sticks into next season so things can get back into balance for these two.
Timmy gave his best effort against Scott Speed in the battle brackets but was edged out by the veteran driver. The next day, Timmy advanced out of his heat race and secured a front row position for the final, right next to Scott once again. Before the green light extinguished, Timmy was only sixteen points behind Travis Pastrana when he lined up for the final event. With his younger brother Kevin on the second row acting as a supporting and protective character, contact ensued in turn one and Timmy threaded the needle and launched himself to the front of the pack. Timmy drove an incredible race and took the checkers first and *justbarely* missed the championship by one point. On the podium, he gratefully celebrated and thanked Travis and the entire Nitro Rallycross crew for an incredible season. Love them or like them, the Hansen’s added a ton of excitement and color to the inaugural Nitro RX season and I for one am keeping my fingers crossed they join us again.
Nascar’s 2020 Champion was asked by Travis to come in and race the last round of Nitro Rallycross and he bravely said yes. On Friday, it seemed the asphalt expert was second guessing his decision-making skills when he arrived at The Firm and stood atop the gap jump for the first time. In practice, he had no choice but to launch himself and the Zip Recruiter GoNitro car over the 120-foot jump and landed a little short and then too long on his first few attempts, but quickly figured it out. In one of the best battles of the day, Chase followed Tanner Foust around the longest track of the season in the battle brackets and threw elbows out of the forest section and center-punched Tanner’s door. Race control assessed him a five-second penalty and Chase went on to qualify for the main through his semifinal and finished eight for the day. His swift progress was what you would expect from a world-class driver, and we sincerely hope he joins us for many more rounds next season.
On Saturday, Scott said, “The goal all year was to get Subaru this Championship, and Travis and I have one of the tightest relationships I’ve ever had with a teammate, and we share that care for the brand and are in this for Team Subaru.” He continued, “We both have different styles and mostly different experiences that we can work on together.” While Scott was very complementary of his teammate helping him to dial in the jumps throughout the season, Scott focused and zeroed in on the championship. He won his heat race which put him on the front row of the final with Timmy Hansen. In turn one, he received the brunt of a shunting by Travis who was hit by Kevin Hansen but recovered and jokered first. At the checkered flag, Scott finished third and tied for the championship but missed out on the count back – Travis’s two wins, to Scotts’ one – and wrapped up 2022 in second.
Travis wore many hats this season – driver, teammate, promoter, track builder, driver wrangler, rule book writer, among many other responsibilities – and feels that this season has exceeded most expectations. He is optimistic and honest in his assessment and knows there is more work to be done to really polish the future series. His genuine and sincere nature were on full display this weekend
which shaped up as he took a L against Subaru teammate Scott Speed in the battle brackets, but a win in his heat. Starting on the second row in the finals were the top three title contenders, plus Kevin Hansen doing what he could to protect his brothers bid. We all know what happened in turn one and when the checkers fell and the champion announced, there’s never been a more solemn celebration. Disappointingly, Scott wouldn’t look at him and Travis asked the stewards to review the footage for a potential penalty. They already had done that, and no action was taken.
Travis created Nitro Rallycross and searched for a podium finish in 2018 and 2019 who became a reticent champion in 2021 and at the end of the day has always conducted himself with integrity. This year, he has heavily weighted the series, drivers, teams and fan experience as equal and his transparency and guardianship of it all is astounding. No one is more deserving of the first ever Nitro Rallycross Championship Title, so congratulation to Travis Pastrana!
Updates will be forthcoming on the 2022 Nitro Rallycross season, so stay tuned to Nitrorallycross.com and all our social media channels.
The Firm, Starke, FL. Nitro RX Supercar results, round 5:
1. Timmy Hansen
2. Kevin Hansen
3. Scott Speed
4. Travis Pastrana
5. Robin Larsson
6. Tanner Foust
7. Steve Arpin
8. Chase Elliott
Supercar Championship Standings Points
1. Travis Pastrana 219
2. Scott Speed 219
3. Timmy Hansen 218
4. Kevin Hansen 157
5. Steve Arpin 123
6. Tanner Foust 82
7. Robin Larsson 73
8. Andreas Bakkerud 71
9. Fraser McConnell 71
10.Kevin Eriksson 38
11.Kyle Busch 35
12.Cabot Bigham 30
13.Oliver Eriksson 27
14.Ronalds Baldins 20
15.Chase Elliott 15
16.Oliver Bennett 1
17.Liam Doran 1