Glen Helen Raceway marked the fourth stop of the Nitro Rallycross 2022-2023 season. Since the switch to the FC1-X, each race has delivered a new winner. NRX Glen Helen would prove to continue the trend as Fraser McConnell claimed his first trip to the top spot on the podium. Let’s go over all the racing action from this exciting event!
Nitro Rallycross Battle Brackets: One By One They Fall
When the “SEND IT” light went green on day one, the drivers were ready to battle it out. Championship points and securing the pole for day two was the goal of every driver. Race number one set the pace for the day with Travis Pastrana and Oliver Eriksson making contact coming out of the first turn. Oliver would continue for the win, taking Pastrana out of the bracket.
As the first round of bracket battles continued, it was more tight racing. Bakkerud advanced by defeating Martell in an all-out war of a race. Season Points Leader, Robin Larsson, was knocked out by Kevin Eriksson, who took the lead early and never looked back. Oliver Bennett was a little too aggressive on lap one of his race, punting McConnell and himself off course. This gave McConnell the go-ahead to the semis.
And Then There Were Four
McConnell advanced again in the first race of the semifinals as Kevin Eriksson came out of the gate hard and was instantly out of shape off the line. That rough start led to a puncture in one of his Yokohama Tires, taking him out of the bracket. With the last spot in the final up for grabs, it was the other Eriksson brother, Oliver’s turn to battle it out with Bakkerud. Struggling to read the freshly watered track, Bakkerud would have a few costly slides early and not keep pace, seeing Oliver advance.
With that, the final grid was set. Now it was time for the drivers to earn that pole spot for Sunday’s race. On the green, Eriksson relied on his Yokohama Tires to take an early lead over McConnell. Able to take the position and make a perfect block on the front straight, Eriksson shut the door on Fraser’s first attack.
Not to be denied, McConnell landed deep off the gap jump, delivered a lesson in racecraft, and stole the inside line on the third turn. From there it was a chase that Eriksson could not win. Fraser McConnell had taken his first win in the battle brackets and the top qualifying spot for Sunday.
Nitro Rallycross Day 2: The Race To The Final
The heat races started on the second day of racing with the same intensity as the day before. Heat one put Pastrana against a trio of Swedes, all fighting for the first row in the final. The Eriksson brothers in their OSME machines, led the pack out as Pastrana and Larson battled for the third spot.
At the Joker section, Kevin and Larson both swung wide to get their longer laps out of the way early. This left Pastrana and Oliver battling for the lead. As that battle heated up, both would overcook turn four and back into the wall. After that, Oliver continued to lead and Pastrana’s car would stall a few turns later and sit motionless on the track for the rest of the race. That early contact was costly for Eriksson though, and on the final lap, Larsson would come out ahead at the merge and secure a front-row start in the final.
Race two had McConnell ready to use his day-one prize of the pole to fend off Bakkerud, Martell, and Bennet. That advantage was exactly what he needed to stay in clean air as the race unfolded. As the strategy played out, Bakkerud utilized a run on lap two to make his Joker lap, betting he could make up some time with an open track ahead. Unfortunately, that bet didn’t pay off, when he merged back to the main line Bennett was right there and the two made contact. That slowed their pace enough to give McConnell the pole for the final.
Last Chances To Secure A Spot
The second row of the final would soon be determined as the cars gridded up for the semis. With the first six-car field of the weekend, each driver had to devise a new strategy to make up ground at the start. Martell’s plan seemed to work, making a big move early. Diving inside and slotting in behind the pole sitter, K. Eriksson, he advanced two positions. Like in earlier races, the pole proved to be a huge advantage, and Kevin maintained that lead from start to finish. Bakkerud was able to beat out Martell, securing the last spot of the second row in the final.
A smaller-than-normal field meant each car had already earned a spot in the final, as long as the remaining four started in the last chance qualifying race. Unfortunately, Pastrana’s car was beyond a quick repair and couldn’t make that start. His race day was over. With the starting order sorted out, we were set for our seven-car final.
Nitro Rallycross Main Event
With team DRR holding the first three spots on the grid, it would be McConnell’s race to lose. When The light went green, teams no longer mattered though and all three pushed and shoved for the position. McConnell held the lead, but not by much, with Larsson on his heels. A choice to hit the Joker lap early from the number two spot would be Larsson’s strategy to make up some time.
That gamble put him right on pace for a lead. With Fraser still needing to finish his Joker lap, Larsson was within striking distance. On the last lap, and still yet to complete the Joker, all three of the lead cars turned off the main line. All eyes were on where the two lines merged back into one. As Larsson came flying over the gap jump, it was McConnell just squeezing by to keep his lead as the two Monster Energy RXCartel cars of Larsson and Bakkerud reached the merge at the same time and took the corner slamming door to door. With Larsson and Bakkerud now locked in a side-by-side fight, it was Fraser’s chance to take the checkered flag.
Larsson squeezed out ahead in his battle with Bakkerud and claimed second-place points for the race. Only three seconds separated the spread for first through sixth, making for a ridiculously tight final race. Overall, the weekend started and ended with some of the hardest racing imaginable.
Four Races And Four winners
What else needs to be said about how competitive the series is? Now all eyes are turned towards Phoenix for round five of the NRX season taking place on November 11-13. To catch up on all the action from the other classes you can check out the Nitrorallycross.com results. You can also go to the NRX Youtube page to catch full race replays of each of the heats.
Nitro Rally Cross Round 5 is set for Phoenix, Arizona at Wild Horse Pass. The action starts on Friday, November 11 and goes through Sunday November 13. It should be another exciting event with a host of new drivers coming in. Chase Elliott, the 2020 Cup series champion, and this year’s Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric are joining the fun for not one, but two Group E championship rounds at Wild Horse Pass. The 2022 Best In The Desert Trick Truck Champion, BJ Baldwin will also be racing in the Can-An SxS class.
You can check all the action on Peacok TV and YouTube.