Nitrocross Kicks Off With New Season, New Venue, New Format

Jay, OK – The new Nitrocross season kicked off in Jay, Oklahoma last weekend with a thrilling event on a new track at Mid America Outdoors, home of the Visions Off-Road festival.

Designed by Travis Pastrana to be his ultimate dream track, the course featured a tarmac starting grid followed by an immediate descent, a steep climb into the biggest banked turn the series has ever run, then snaking hairpins and huge jumps, all encompassed in over 150-feet of elevation change.

As well as it being a new season and a new venue, there was a new format to contend with: one that instantly delivered mixed results for Vermont SportsCar. Travis Pastrana topped his group in the new single timed lap qualifying session to be crowned ‘Top Qualifier’; Conner Martell, however, fared differently, with multiple electrical issues ensuring he didn’t set a lap time.

The ‘Battle’ round, a group of races preceding the main event, was also a mixed affair with both drivers getting away well to lead early on, before issues – punctures for Martell and a boost issue and bent steering from a subsequent collision for Pastrana – ended both drivers’ first day early.

Saturday got off to a stronger start, with Martell making light work of Bennett in his opening preliminary race, while Pastrana edged out IndyCar racer Conor Daly in a surprisingly close battle between the veteran and the series rookie. 

In the following Heat race, a mix-up for Pastrana led to him starting on the wrong power setting. Nevertheless he recovered to finish fourth behind Martell, who had a solid run to third. Martell backed that up with a clear win in his Last Chance Qualifier to lock himself into the final, while Pastrana rolled after a coming-together with Kevin Eriksson in his LCQ. Despite the roll, Pastrana was classified third and advanced, with the VSC team working flat out to recover and repair the car in time for him to start the Final.

The Final came after the track had been watered to help control the dust levels, a common hindrance over the weekend. Martell played his joker to perfection to remain in the thick of the fight in what was a hugely competitive eight-car final, eventually finishing just one spot off the podium in fourth. Pastrana had to contend with being pushed wide multiple times, finally getting by Kris Meeke’s wounded FC1-X late in the race to recover to fifth.

The result was the team’s second double top five in the last three races, and the best start to the season for the team in the all-electric Group E discipline, ensuring the team has a solid springboard to build upon for the rest of the season.

Next up, Nitrocross returns to its birthplace, the Utah Motorsports Campus, for a double-header event on August 18-19.

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