Images via Nitro Rallycross
Travis Pastrana became the first driver in the history of rally sports in the United States to claim both stage rally and rallycross title in the same season on Sunday.
The action sports legend and Nitro Rallycross founder locked up the series’ inaugural full-season championship over Subaru Motorsports USA teammate Scott Speed and former World Rallycross champion Timmy Hansen at The FIRM Rally School. The margin couldn’t have been any slimmer between the trio: Pastrana won over Speed on a tiebreaker with two wins to Speed’s one, while Hansen (also a two-time winner) was one point behind despite winning Sunday’s final.
another look at turn one 👀 pic.twitter.com/ZwMiz4lxpy
— Nitro Rallycross (@NitroRallycross) December 5, 2021
The title wasn’t without controversy, though. After being pushed off line by Kevin Hansen in the start, an out-of-control Pastrana careened into Speed in the first corner. The entire group continued on, with Kevin Hansen second, Speed third, and Pastrana fourth after everyone had used their Joker laps. On a weekend where penalty calls had been made multiple times for heavy contact, including one on Timmy Hansen against speed in Saturday’s battle bracket final, the penalty to Pastrana never came.
It ended up being a surprisingly bittersweet moment for Pastrana, whose celebration for his first rallycross title (and Subaru’s first driver’s championship) was tempered by his concern as a promoter for the future of the sport. Pastrana’s post-title comments were more apologetic towards Speed, a driver who he admitted helped him improve his skills immensely, than anything else.
Meanwhile, 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott had a modest if eventful performance in his rallycross debut. Subject to a penalty in his first Saturday battle for significant contact with Tanner Foust—a big part of the reason for the excess scrutiny on officials over the weekend—Elliott recovered to claw his way into a main event appearance. While he finished that race in eighth, failing to surpass the fourth place run that fellow ex-NASCAR champ Kyle Busch had at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Pastrana was quick to give Elliott plenty of credit for making rapid improvements all weekend long.
In NRX Next, Casper Jansson secured the championship with a second place finish on Sunday, as Sage Karam’s DNS in the first event proved too much to overcome for the title even as the IndyCar veteran swept both rounds. The return of the popular UTV races saw Kory Willis and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky trade first and second place, with Willis on top on Saturday and Ahlin-Kottulinsky winning on Sunday. Scottie Lawrence and Robbie Maddison earned the third place finishes.