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Travis Pastrana becomes first repeat winner in Nitro Rallycross Round 5 at Wild Horse Pass

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross

Travis Pastrana led flag-to-flag under the lights in Round 5 of Nitro Rallycross at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Ariz. as two drivers ascended to the podium after advancing through the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). NASCAR drivers Austin Cindric and Chase Elliott were not able to advance from the LCQ, but they gained experience that could contribute to a stronger run in Round 6.

Pastrana became the first repeat winner of the 2022-23 season after taking the checkers at ERX Motor Park in Round 3.

“We’ve been quick all year,” Pastana said on after the race. “So many DNFs - so much stuff went the wrong way. The LCQ was like the final. Two of the drivers who had to come through the LCQ are here on the podium.”

And the LCQ was packed. Conor Martell and Andreas Bakkerud finished first and second in that race to make the big show. Elliott, Cindric, and Oliver Bennett also had one final shot after the heat races to make the main, but a slow start for Elliott and a modest run through the Joker for Cindric in that three-lap race derailed their effort.

For Martell and Bakkerud, the trip to the show was profitable but it came after substantial chaos on the first lap. The gap jump played heavily in the outcome of the race.

On the opening lap, Kevin Eriksson swung wide in Turn 1 from his outside-row starting position. He got crossed up over the jump, landed awkwardly and turned sideways in front of the field. Damage from the incident forced Eriksson to retire.

MORE: Chase Elliott and Austin Cindric join Pastrana’s Nitro Rallycross

On the same lap, Robin Larsson clipped the inside of the jump and lost several spots, allowing the drivers in the back to gain positions.

Kris Meeke took the lead early before giving it up to Pastrana on Lap 2 - and once again the gap jump came into play. Contact between his car and that of eventual winner Pastrana caused him to case the jump on the second hp. The hard landing forced Meeke to retire.

“I feel like everyone else on the track feels like I’m a good racer,” Pastrana said. “I race them clean and Kris and I come together every single time. We collided over the jump, came together. I didn’t know he was beside me until [NASCAR driver and race spotter] Noah [Gragson] was like, ‘he’s on your left’. And I was like, ‘oh no we’re in the air’.”

Martell crossed under the flag second to give Vermont Sportscar a 1-2 finish. It was Martell’s first podium of the season after scoring a previous best of sixth in Sweden.

“I’m not even proud of myself; I’m proud of my team,” Martell said. “They’ve been working so hard on this car all year after I’ve been beating the crap out of it all year, so I’m more stoked for them than I am for myself.”

Bakkerud rounded out the podium, but failed to wrestle the points’ lead from Larsson, who rebounded from his early incident to finish fifth.