Robin Larsson pads points lead with Nitro Rallycross Round 6 win at Wild Horse Pass
After finishing more than 17 seconds off the pace in Round 5 on Friday night, Robin Larsson took the lead on Lap 3 of Nitro Rallycross Round 6 at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Ariz. and padded his points’ lead with a second win on the season.
Oliver Eriksson led the first two laps with Larsson on his back bumper. Larsson made an aggressive pass the next time around the track when Eriksson ran a little wide in a corner. Slight contact between the leaders was not enough to draw any penalties from the stewards, however, and after Eriksson ran into the back of Larsson on the next straightaway, the two raced in lockstep.
Larsson won his heat, which meant that he sat on the sidelines as the Semifinals, Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), and the support classes ran. It was ample time for Larsson to reflect on four winless rounds since he last took the checkers in the opening Nitro Rallycross race at Lydden Hills in the United Kingdom.
Larsson’s fifth-place finish in Round 5 was the first time this season he finished worse than second.
“I’ve been waiting since the first heat, like three hours,” Larsson said on Peacock.tv after the race. “I was so nervous the last two hours. This one felt pretty good. It was a tough Friday, so coming back now, showing the pace [feels good]. I knew it was going to be hard on the outside.”
The contact with Larsson damaged the nose of Eriksson’s car, but he held on to finish second with his hood flapping in the breeze.
“For sure it was tough.” Eriksson said. “When the [hard-packed] blue groove came out, I tried to keep it tight, but I never quite got the grip down. Obviously [Larsson] did. I tried to get [the lead] back and he brake checked me. I ran straight into the back of him.”
While Eriksson was not happy about the abrupt maneuver that damaged his hood, he had nothing negative to say about the pass.
“I ran wide and he got all the way up to my front wheel,” Eriksson responded. “I don’t think there is much more to say.”
Friday night, the gap jump was the center of the action. It didn’t take long to repeat the carnage there as Andreas Bakkerud got sideways in a four-wide jump on the opening lap. He landed off kilter and flipped violently, bringing out the red flag. Bakkerud climbed from the car and waved to the crowd as the remaining seven cars headed back to starting grid.
Bakkerud’s misfortune was a break for Kris Meeke. He was also manhandled on the opening lap and spun after getting pinched into a tire barrier, but a complete restart allowed him to overcome the lost track position. Meeke’s third-place finish was his first podium of the season and the first time this year that he completed the distance.
Friday night’s winner Travis Pastrana finished sixth.
Chase Elliott and Austin Cindric failed to advance to the Main, but showed improvement during the round. Cindric briefly led Heat 1 through the sequence of Joker laps.
Elliott fared better. He got the holeshot in the LCQ and was in position to advance to the Main until Oliver Bennett knocked him out of the groove entering the Joker Lane. The contact was enough to damage Elliott’s car and drop him two laps off the pace.