Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney on front row for Friday’s NNS race at Richmond

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Kyle Busch will start from the pole in Friday night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway.

Busch earned the top starting spot with a speed of 120.903 mph in an abbreviated qualifying session Friday afternoon that included two rain delays that resulted in red-flag conditions.

With Sprint Cup qualifying coming up shortly after, NASCAR officials decided to shorten the two qualifying sessions to just one 30-minute session.

“The last couple of times we’ve been here, we haven’t been as good as we wanted to be,” Busch told ESPN. “We’ll see if we can keep it up front from where we start.”

Ryan Blaney will start on the outside pole with a qualifying speed of 120.498 mph.

Blaney has won two races in the last two weeks, the NNS race at Bristol two weeks ago, and last week’s Camping World Truck Series last weekend at Atlanta.

“I think we have a great Ford Mustang for tonight,” Blaney said. “It’s nice to be starting on the front row and knowing we have a little more speed in it.”

The Busch-Blaney front row is the same as the front row for the Bristol NNS race two weeks ago.

NNS points leader Chase Elliott was third-fastest and the only other driver over 120.155 mph, and Kyle Larson was fourth-fastest (119.941 mph).

Brian Scott saw his bid for a third straight NNS pole at Richmond fall short, managing only the fifth-fastest speed at 119.931 mph.

Sixth through 10th were Matt Kenseth (119.713 mph), Brendan Gaughan (119.591), Ty Dillon (119.554), Trevor Bayne (119.532) and Dylan Kwasniewski (119.495).

Other key drivers included Kevin Harvick (15th-fastest at 119.342), followed by Elliott Sadler (119.305) and Regan Smith (119.279).

A total of 42 drivers made qualifying attempts. Failing to qualify were Joey Gase (115.385 mph) and Josh Reaume (114.650).

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Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.