Chase Elliott will race Nitro Rallycross, adding Travis Pastrana’s series to diverse schedule

Chase Elliott Nitro Rallycross
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Continuing to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, Chase Elliott will add Nitro Rallycross to a burgeoning list of moonlighting endeavors over the past year.

The NRX Series announced that Elliott will be racing in the series’ inaugural season finale Dec. 4-5 at The Firm in North Florida. The series’ events are broadcast live on Peacock Premium.

Elliott will be following fellow Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, who just missed finishing on the podium on Travis Pastrana’s rally circuit in Round 3 at Phoenix on Nov. 13-14.

“I’m really looking forward to racing in Nitro RX at the season finale in Florida,” Elliott said in a release. “I enjoy the challenge of trying out other forms of racing and have recently taken up dirt racing, so getting in a rallycross car is really appealing. Nitro RX is thrilling to watch and from what Travis Pastrana and some of the other drivers have told me, it is just as thrilling to be behind the wheel. I can’t wait.”

Said Pastrana: “It’s absolutely awesome for our sport to see NASCAR Cup champions like Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch compete in Nitro Rallycross. Kyle had so much fun and a very impressive fourth-place finish at Nitro Rallycross in Phoenix. Chase is bar none one of the greatest driving talents in motorsport, and having an elite driver of his caliber opens Nitro RX to a new audience. Chase joining us for the Florida finale is a great way to close out the 2021 series.”

Elliott has been branching out since winning the 2020 Cup Series championship, adding dirt racing and sports cars to his resume.

“I think getting outside your comfort zone is huge,” Elliott said during last week’s Next Gen test at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I feel like that’s what I’ve really tried hard to challenge myself in doing the past year or so.

“Everything you get in is a little different. Everything you get in has a little different sweet spot of that perfect balance, kind of what you’re trying to achieve on asphalt or dirt, I feel like.”

The NRX Series features turbocharged 600-horsepower, all-wheel-drive vehicles on a course with jumps of more than 100 feet. Elliott will be competing against an experienced field of rally champions such as Pastrana, Tanner Foust and Scott Speed, a veteran of NASCAR and Formula One.

“The track is being built right now so Chase will have as much time on it as anyone coming into this race,” said Pastrana, the NRX points leader after Round 4 at Glen Helen Raceway last weekend in Southern California. “And with so much tarmac in Florida I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chase end up on the podium, but I would be very impressed. I look forward to seeing how his skills transfer over to all-wheel drive Supercars and can’t wait to go door to door with one of the youngest NASCAR Cup champion of all time.”

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”