Kyle Busch ‘brought a little bit of NASCAR’ to Nitro Rallycross

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Travis Pastrana won his first Nitro Rallycross race at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix as Kyle Busch finished one spot short of the podium in his Round 3 debut of the five-race series that can be viewed live on Peacock TV, NBC’s streaming service.

It was a dream come true for Pastrana, who developed the series in 2018, but had to miss 2020 because of challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic just as Nitro Rallycross was hitting its stride.

For Busch, it was never about winning – well, except for the fact that this is ‘Rowdy Busch’ who expects to win anytime he climbs into anything with an engine.

Mostly, it was about learning a new discipline and having a little fun.

Gauging from the huge smile on his face after the race, he certainly accomplished the second criteria.

As for the first: Yes, he accomplished that as well.

On Saturday, Busch was set up in a head-to-head race with Scott Speed, who has immeasurably more experience in rally cars. Busch managed to keep pace with Speed throughout the three-lap race as he learned to navigate the corners and jumps.

“The biggest thing was obviously learning the car and the trade and trying to figure all that out,” Busch said after the race. “I certainly have a long way to go. We’re not even tip of the mountain yet, but I certainly would love the opportunity to come back out and learn some more – learn the tracks.”

On Sunday, Busch finished third in his semifinal to qualify for the Main.

He started that race sixth, fell back a position on the first lap, and then steadily worked his way forward. Busch was seventh on Lap 2, sixth on Lap 3, fifth on Lap 5 and then grabbed fourth in the second half of the final trip around the track.

“That was a lot of fun,” Busch said. “As soon as my guys were telling me ‘P4, good job’, I was like, ‘Damn it, it wasn’t third. At least be on the podium.’ There was a lot of attrition there. I passed two of them at least, so I feel like I fairly got fourth-ish.

“I brought a little bit of NASCAR here. Slowing down for the corner, figuring out how to go slow, (as) fast (as possible). That was kind of the biggest thing, especially in Turn 1.

“Turn 3, you try not to get too far into there, but then cutting the bottom and trying to get out of there and position yourself for the next turns. It’s just like typical road racing stuff that we have only with a lot more jumps in the way.”

Pastrana ranked the win as the most important in his rally career.

“It’s about time,” Pastrana joked on Peacock TV afterward. “If you design the track and create the rules, you should be able to win.”

From here, Pastrana will finish out the last two rounds of Rally Nitrocross at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernadino, California, Nov. 20-21 and The Firm Racetrack in Northern Florida, Dec. 4-5.

Both races will be streamed live on Peacock. Then it’s off to Sweden early next year to race alongside Jimmie Johnson in the Race of Champions.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.