Kimball equals career-best start; all Ganassis in top eight at PIR

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Two, four, six, eight… the qualifying for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix was fairly great.

Tony Kanaan took the No. 10 GE LED Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet to second on the grid with a two-lap average of 191.511 mph to led the Ganassi quartet, and his three teammates slotted in fourth, sixth and eighth behind them.

While you’d expect Kanaan and Scott Dixon to do well in qualifying – the two are two of the four drivers who’ve raced at PIR previously – seeing Charlie Kimball in fourth and Max Chilton in eighth were also welcome surprises.

Both set career-best starting positions within the Verizon IndyCar Series. Kimball had three top-five starts in 2013, but none since.

Kimball, in the No. 83 Tresiba Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, equals a career best also set at the 2013 season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana while Chilton, in his first IndyCar oval start in the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, has his best start in two races.

“I’m pretty happy. It looks like the Team Chevy guys have a solid handle on things,” Kimball said post-qualifying.

“Everyone went away and worked on it. It’s nice to see all the cars up front. Pretty solid. We worked on a couple qualifying sims in practice, but with yellows and incidents it was broken up.

“We’ll be in solid shape for tomorrow night. If the track races like it tested, (track position) will be critical. Passing is at a bit of a premium, will have to make it happen in qualifying and then run consistently, in and out laps. So, the obvious things!”

Chilton was also relatively happy with his maiden IndyCar oval qualifying effort.

“It feels smoother and I’m more comfortable. Naturally the second time back at a track, you’re more comfortable,” Chilton told NBC Sports.

“I felt that the first lap out of the box this morning. That’s not pole, but it’ll be decent.”

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

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
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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.