LOUDON, N.H. — Travis Pastrana powered his way to an impressive win in Saturday’s Sylvania SilverStar zXe Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, which was presented live on ESPN.
Pastrana won his heat handily to start third in the 10-car final and then masterfully wheeled his No. 199 Red Bull Rallycross Dodge Dart around GRC championship point leader Tanner Foust on the wood hairpin to take the lead on the second lap of the six-lap race.
“Man, it’s been a long time coming. It’s been so long I almost forgot how it felt to win,” said Pastrana, who pulled double-duty at New Hampshire by competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race before running the SilverStar zXe GRC event. “This Dodge Dart is an awesome car. These guys gave me what it took to win and I just want to thank each and every one of them. Thanks to the guys for believing in me and thanks to all the fans that kept backing me, because I tell you what, it’s been tough. But, I feel like we had the best car, we have a great crew, and we finally showed where this Dodge Dart should be.”
Pastrana crossed the finish line 1.431 seconds ahead of runner-up Samuel Hubinette, who also finished second to Pastrana in his heat race.
“It was me and Travis fighting back and forth,” said Hubinette after scoring his career-best GRC finish. “I was fortunate to have a good run in the Eneos Oil/Scott-Eklund car and I got second place. The fact that I joined this team the night before the race at Charlotte and I didn’t have a ride on Thursday, and then Friday we were competing – I think I got fifth-place that day – to be on the podium in such a short time makes us all very happy. The team has done a fantastic job and I’m so happy for them because these guys work so hard.”
Hubinette’s No. 77 Eneos Oil Saab 9.3 was trailed to the stripe by Brian Deegan’s No. 38 Rockstar Energy Metal Mulisha Ford Fiesta.
“It was a good race,” said Deegan, 2012 X Games bronze medalist. “I went out and battled. I had some business meetings with Metal Mulisha and I came in last night, got a few laps and that’s all I had. So today, I was still learning the course. Went out, laid it down and Travis was just fast today. He just beat everyone. That’s the bottom line.”
Foust came home a solid fourth in his No. 34 Rockstar Energy Etnies Ford Fiesta to maintain his GRC point lead with still two races remaining. Foust holds a 12-point advantage over second-place Hubinette and a 13-point margin over third-place Deegan.
“I had a really comfortable lead, but then stalled the engine on the wood hairpin. It’s very slippery and I locked up the brakes enough to kill the engine,” said Foust, who set fast time in qualifying for the Sylvania SilverStar zXe GRC event on Friday. “Luckily, Travis gave me a hit from behind and that re-fired the engine, but it was a big enough mistake to lose a couple spaces. This keeps me in first place in the championship, but it will continue to be a really strong challenge because there are still two more events to go. It could be a pretty tight finish.”
The course – a nearly 1-mile layout that included a 70-foot gap jump and a table-top jump – was given rave reviews by GRC drivers.
“This track was way gnarlier,” Deegan said. “It was the closest thing to Rallycross that we’ve run – sand on the track, big jumps – we’re actually tuning the cars to work out here. We were like, thrown off because the jumps were so big. There was one time I had a good tank-slapper over the table-top. I almost missed the landing. I was all crossed up.”
“This was a big show here,” Foust added. “The track was probably the best out of the three SMI tracks we’ve had so far – Charlotte, Texas and this one. What a blast. I mean, it was awesome. Lot of big jumps. Lot of crossed up cars. Lot of crashes.”
“This course actually is Rallycross,” Pastrana said. “There’s an over-under cross jump, there’s pavement, dirt and there’s new challenging obstacles. We had a hard time in Charlotte because we couldn’t have any dirt and there were no jumps. Really, we were parking-lot racing. I love parking-lot racing, but when we come out here to this big stage, you know we’ve got so many new obstacles that we’ve never seen before. Sliding around the dirt into the jump across the water hazard and we’ve got no wipers on these cars. Couldn’t see anything sliding up the bank and then launching the table-top. I don’t even know what that roundabout thing is after the finish, the U-turn. I tell you what, no one thought there was going to be passing done and there was a lot of passing done.”
Ken Block rallied to finish fifth after an opening-lap crash in his heat race sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). The Gymkhana 5 star got his car repaired and finished third in the LCQ to advance to the final.