Pastrana and Martell Finish the Nitrocross Season Under the Lights of Vegas

The 2023-24 Nitrocross season came to an end in Las Vegas last weekend with a showpiece event on the world famous Strip, where Vermont SportsCar scored a pair of top-five finishes to round out the campaign strongly.

It was the first time the team had raced in Las Vegas since the 2015 Global Rallycross finale, and like that venue a few miles up the road, the purpose-built ‘Nitrodome’ at Planet Hollywood was a mostly tarmac track, with only 25 percent of the course being dirt.

Weather and technical challenges were a theme of the weekend, and before the weekend’s racing even got underway, Travis Pastrana’s No. 199 car was subject to a motor replacement. That affected his preparation for the weekend while also meaning teammate Conner Martell and his No. 21 entry was drafted in for pre-event jump practice.

Nevertheless, the weekend kicked off strongly with a qualifying heat win for Martell, becoming the first driver of the weekend to lap in under 49 seconds. Pastrana followed him home, but mid-pack finishes for the duo in the subsequent preliminary races meant that their respective shots at a place in the final would come in the Last Chance Qualifier.

Only two drivers would advance from each LCQ, and with both VSC drivers lining up in the same place – and the field being the biggest and strongest it has been all season – the pressure was on. Pastrana started off on an equal footing with VMV Racing’s Guillaume de Ridder, but the majority of his race was spent resisting pressure from Martell. In a mixed result for the team, Pastrana advanced, finishing second behind de Ridder, while Martell’s third place meant there was no room at the inn for him in the Final.

There, Pastrana had a conservative race, starting towards the back of the grid and jokering early to find clear air in an attempt to avoid the chaos ahead of him. He would ultimately come home a respectable fifth.

Saturday was a similar story, with both drivers again progressing via the LCQ route. This time it was Martell who made the Final via a second place finish while Pastrana, again in the same race as his teammate, missed out.

In the Final Martell gained a spot to finish fifth, his fourth top-five result of the season, doubling the number he scored last year.

With the second Group E season now in the books, Pastrana ended the campaign sixth overall with a win in Utah, and another podium in Arizona. Martell ended up seventh, with a career-best-equalling podium result at Glen Helen Raceway in California.

Nitrocross now enters its off-season, with the 2024-25 season set to kick off in Richmond, Virginia, in September.

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