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Nitro Rallycross Race Preview: Glen Helen Raceway

Last weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park couldn’t have gone much better for Travis Pastrana. The Subaru Motorsports USA driver and Nitro Rallycross founder had a perfect weekend for the first time in the series he spearheads, winning the battle brackets, his heat race, and the main event in the third round of the inaugural NRX season. Now, he gets to build on that momentum at Glen Helen Raceway as he tries to chase down the series’ first title.

Glen Helen is the fourth round of the five-race 2021 championship, and the latest addition to the schedule after replacing the shuttered Wild West Motorsports Park earlier this year. At roughly half a mile in length, the California track will be one of the shortest on the schedule, and similar to last month’s round at ERX Motor Park in that it’ll stay fairly close to the layout used for short course. The biggest difference from ERX is that NRX’s signature crossover jump has been added to the layout; it’ll come shortly after the first turn, similar to its placement at Utah Motorsports Campus, although it’ll only feature two lanes as opposed to the three at that track.

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Timmy Hansen, Travis Pastrana, and Scott Speed celebrate on the podium during Nitro Rallycross in Phoenix AZ, USA on 14 November, 2021

It’ll also be a pivotal locale for determining who this year’s champion is. Pastrana is currently five points back of championship leader and Utah winner Timmy Hansen, but only one ahead of his teammate and ERX winner Scott Speed. With an unforgiving points format to those who miss the final—there’s a 15-point gap between last place in the eight-car feature and missing it entirely—and only one point available per battle bracket win, the slightest mistake could completely turn the championship battle on its head.

After putting NASCAR champion Kyle Busch in its Go Nitro Star Car last week, the third Vermont SportsCar-prepped machine will see a familiar face back behind the wheel in California. Andreas Bakkerud, who ran the car as a third Subaru Motorsports USA driver at Utah and ERX, will step back into the car for his third start of the season. The two-time European Super1600 champion scored his first European Supercar title before the NRX season began with a win in the ERX season finale in Loheac before making two final appearances in two attempts in NRX.

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Scott Speed, Oliver Eriksson, and Robin Larsson compete during Nitro Rallycross in Phoenix AZ, USA on 14 November, 2021

The NRX Next class has an intriguing points battle of its own, with Martin Enlund up 20 on Casper Jansson and Lane Vacala, 25 on George Megennis, and 40 on Sage Karam, who won the last three races in the division. That gap may be a bit more manageable to deal with, though; with smaller fields in the development class, most drivers making the feature, and two features per weekend, finishing ahead of your title rivals enough times can bring the gap down to zero or flip it on its head.

Nitro Rallycross action from Glen Helen Raceway will stream live on Peacock at 3PM ET/12PM PT on Saturday and Sunday in the United States, and on YouTube for the rest of the world. The series then takes a one-week break for Thanksgiving before returning to action at The FIRM in Florida for its season finale on December 4-5.

Chris Leone

A veteran of the motorsports industry (both physical and digital), Chris Leone contributes coverage of race events of all types to Off-Road Racer. Elsewhere, he is the marketing/communications manager at iRacing, media director of Jim Beaver's Down & Dirty Show, and a frequent contributor to UTV Underground.