Travis Pastrana and Nitro Rallycross feature SxS racing over two full days of racing at ERX Motorsports Park
Photos: Nitro Rallycross
For several professional drivers, the second stop of the Nitro Rallycross season presented an unique challenge, driving two different races in two different machines as several of the rally drivers brought their Side-by-Sides and raced them along with their rally cars.
But what would you expect from the mind of Travis Pastrana. Any chance he can race in anything he will.
While the racing was invite only, names such as Tanner Foust, Brian Deegan and hometown driver Andrew Carlson created a stacked field.
Day One Racing
“The track overall has been one of the funnest tracks that I have ever raced at, and I have raced at a lot of tracks.” – Brian Deegan
On Day one of racing, the track saw some rain in the morning which made for a slick track.
Drivers would race through opening heats with the top driver automatically going through to the main, the rest would have to qualify through the semi-finals or the LCQ.
Brian Deegan took the first semi-final heat win using a different approach than the other drivers by taking the joker lane on the first lap and it paid off since he was running second on lap 3 of 4 when Andy Ives took the lane and allowed Deegan to get by. Deegan used a power drift through turn 3 to take the lead and the checkered flag.
“The track overall has been one of the funnest tracks that I have ever raced at, and I have raced at a lot of tracks,” said Deegan. “There are a few places where the track can really reach up and bit you but it flows so well. The dirt was really good. It can be tough to pass due to the high speeds in which we are driving so you really have to pick your lines. Travis (Pastrana) has always been at the forefront to create unique smart events to continue the growth of racing across all platforms.”
In semi-final 2, Jack Letourneau (RZR) was a man on a mission to qualify for the main event as he drove the most aggressive lines sliding low to high and back low to hold off Jason Luburgh in his RZR.
Up and comer, 23 year old Catie Munnings, an Extreme E driver and European Ladies Rally champion raced and gave the boys a major push. Munnings ran right on the bumper of both Letourneau and Luburgh crossing the line in third, qualifying for the main event.
6 laps for the win once the green flag waved on the final and the pace was intense from the start as Kyle Chaney in his Can-Am went sideways in the second turn. After recovering, Chaney got right on the bumper of race leader Tanner Foust driving his RZR. Foust took the joker lap on lap 4 and fell behind Chaney who would need to build a big lead in order to maintain first when he would take the joker lap.
Building up an almost 4 second lead, Chaney dove into the joker lap where he ran up into the berm blowing dirt out sideways but still managing to cross the finish line first taking home the first ever Nitro SxS win ahead of Tanner Foust and Andrew Carlson.
“I knew Tanner was driving awesome, so when I saw him take the joker lap, I knew I had to get far enough ahead to hold my position when I took the joker myself on the final lap,” said Chaney. “We really pushed each other every single lap. It was so much fun to race against these guys, who are at the absolute peak of their sport. My Can-Am worked great and got me across that line. Huge thanks the Nitro Rallycross for putting this event on and hopefully we see my SxS racing at more of these events.”
Second place finisher Tanner Foust, pulling double duty of both rally and SxS thought the track was perfectly suited for the racing of both platforms.
“I thought it was perfect for the SxS. It suited the SxS more than the rally car. We are running slicks on the rally but with the SxS set up, you can run so fast and it performs just as well as a half a million dollar rally car. The flow was insane. It was an absolute blast. I love SxS racing. SxS can be the ultimate entry level race option affording more and more people to get into the sport.”
Day Two Racing
On Day 2 of racing, the drivers knew what to expect from the race course. And, without the rain earlier in the day, the track was dry and the sun was out which made for a very slick track.
After seeded qualifying was finished sending the top timed drivers to the finals, the racing turned to the semi-finals to see who else would qualifying for the main event.
It was clear from the opening lap of semi-final one, that the side-by-sides would have an advantage on the track due to their tires. With the dirt becoming packed after the rain and racing the day before, the tires played the biggest role in aggressive driving.
Scottie Lawrence, in her Can-Am, toyed with the other racers luring them into the slower joker lane before driving away from it to continue to build up her lead to where she could take the joker lane and not lose the top position. With an almost 5 second lead, Lawrence power slide through the lane exiting comfortably ahead of Corey Weller.
In semi-final 2, Jason Lurburgh had his hands full with an oncoming Mia Chapman who made numerous attempts to slide to the inside of Luburgh to make the pass. Behind the two drivers in the front, it was Jack Letourneau that provided the wild moment of the race when his front right tire dug into the ground, ripped off along with parts of the frame sending his RZR into an airborne roll. Letourneau got out safely and walked away, but it was the end of his race day.
Ten drivers lined up for the final SxS race of the day where Kyle Chaney is his Can-Am exploded off the starting line to lead the opening laps. Brian Deegan and Tanner Foust lurked in second and third and waited for Chaney to make a mistake and capitalize. On lap 3, Chaney landed short off the big jump. Deegan in his Monster Energy Can-Am pounced, taking over first. Seeing that Deegan pulled into first, Tanner Foust in his RZR took the joker lap immediately knowing that he was close enough to Deegan that he would pass him coming out of the joker lane. The two were neck and neck for the final two laps trading paint numerous times with Foust eventually driving away with the win.
“How fun was that?” said Foust. “Racing against Brian for the first time in a decade was a blast. I am such an advocate for more SxS racing. This absolutely needs to be a feature of NRX (Nitro Rallycross) moving forward. The track is insane. The Carlson’s did such a great job getting this track ready to go.”
“That was an awesome race, I had a ton of fun,” said Deegan. “To get behind the wheel after being away from it for a bit was absolutely epic. Tanner was so fast and drove the best lines, but to be back racing and in the dirt made for an awesome weekend.”