Kyle Busch without question is one of the most decorated American racers of his generation. Among active drivers in the world of stock car racing, few if any drivers can match his resume, but this weekend he is taking on a whole new challenge. The former two-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion is making his debut in Nitro Rallycross. The series in its maiden season is the brainchild of the iconic Travis Pastrana. Busch has dirt experience to his name but nothing like this. How will Rowdy Busch fare in a whole new world?
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) November 12, 2021
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The Wild Horse
Busch’s Rallycross excursion comes in round three of five in the NRX tilt. The battleground is none other than Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. It was a staple in the now-defunct Lucas Oil Off Road Racing series for years and got the iRacing treatment before the series folded. If you have seen the traditional course layout from either, you’ll likely find the NRX layout unrecognizable, in a good way that is.
— CraigsCache (@CraigsCache) November 13, 2021
Like on most Rallycross courses, there is a joker section here, however, it is one that is quicker rather than slower. The split-off to the joker lane resides in a similar spot to the final corner on the LOORS layout. A pair of 180-degree turns await the drivers, before a straight where they re-enter the track after the finish line jump. The standard route is exiting the track near the original final turn, then jumping back in before the finish jump.
All things considered, the NRX folks did a superb job with this track. No asphalt present, but this is not the first case of this. The most recent round before this was held at ERX Motorsports Park. A stop on the Champ Off-Road Series, more or less the spiritual successor to both LOORS and TORC. Some excellent racing should go down later today.
The completion that Busch is facing is stout, to put it lightly. Along with Pastrana, another pair of instantly recognizable names include Tanner Foust and Scott Speed. No introduction feels necessary for either, both are wheelmen in every sense of the word. Other big names in the Rally/Rallycross realm are present as well. 2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen is running NRX. In addition to his brother Kevin Hansen, a former RX2 World Champion. Another former RX2 Champion in the field is Oliver Eriksson, winning in 2018 and 2019. In short, Busch has his work cut out for him here.
The way that qualifying is handled in NRX is nothing short of phenomenal. After practice/qualifying, drivers are then seeded into a one-on-one elimination bracket. The one-on-one affairs are three laps each and set the qualifying order for Sunday. Busch, as the nine seed, ended up matching with Speed, the eight seed, in Round 1. Despite a solid effort, the more experienced Speed picked up the win. In regards to the championship, drivers get one point for each win, with a maximum of four up for grabs.
For the main show on Sunday, things are more traditional in a Rallycross sense. Two heat races open things up, with eight drivers in each. The top two in each advance to the final, with everyone else headed to a pair of semi races. Four more drivers make it to the main, leaving everyone else for an LCQ race. Only two drivers advance, with everyone else being done for the day. The final/Main Event closes things out with a 10 car field. Lap amounts for the first three races of the day have varied, but both finals so far have been six laps each.
First place in the Final gets 50 points, second place 45 points, then it goes down by five points down to seventh where it plateaus. This guarantees all final starters points by default. It also goes without saying, but drivers are required to take one joker lap in each race. That also includes the knockout bracket on Saturday. A big plus with this series is that everything happens quickly and there is a ton of action. Not perfect just yet, but Pastrana and his people are for certain on to something.
How will Busch fare?
Busch will likely only be satisfied with a finals win today, it’s just who he is as a competitor. That being said, however, he looked solid given that this is his Rallycross debut. He ended up running inside the Top 10 in the final practice session on Saturday. Then later, he ended up keeping Speed honest in his knockout race. For context, Speed is currently tied for the series points lead with Timmy Hansen. A win would be unlikely, but if Busch can possibly sneak his way into a Top 5, that would be mighty impressive.
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