Fraser McConnell used the inside line earned from his heat win to nudge points’ leader Robin Larsson wide in Turn 1 and lead all six laps of Nitro Rallycross Round 4 at Glen Helen, Calif. and become the fourth winner of the 2022-23 season.
“I approach every weekend with the same mindset: Trust preparation, execute as best I can,” McConnell told Katy Osborne on Peacock.tv. “It helps when you have really good support like I did this weekend.
“I was good to bounce back from last week and have a good round, trust the team.”
McConnell finished third behind Travis Pastrana and Larsson in Round 3 at ERX Motor Park in Minnesota.
One of the most important bits of strategy in short course rally racing is when to take the Joker Lap – an extended trip around the track that is designed to allow competitors to create separation between the cars. Larsson was the first driver to Joker, an indication that he believed he had a faster car than McConnell and could gain ground by staying out of the leader’s rooster tail of dust.
As Larsson rejoined the main track, he trailed the leader by a little less than six seconds, which might have been close enough to grab the lead when McConnell was forced to take the longer line around the track. Heavy pressure from behind by Kevin Eriksson trimmed fractions of seconds off Larsson’s lap times over the next five laps.
Meanwhile, McConnell held off Round 2 winner Andreas Bakkerud at the front of the field with a margin that was just enough to keep the pressure from building.
Running first through third, McConnell, Andreas Bakkerud and Oliver Eriksson waited until the last lap to Joker. For McConnell, it could have gone terribly wrong. He clipped the inside berm as he made a sharp left turn to slip under the gap jump, losing momentum slightly.
With Larsson coming with a head of steam, slight mistakes get multiplied.
McConnell rejoined the main track with inches to spare and gained a little advantage when Bakkerud lightly nudged Larsson’s right rear fender.
Any mistake on the final lap would have been disastrous since they were covered by a slim margin of three seconds and in the final turns, McConnell almost over rotated twice as he found and pushed the edge of grip of the Dryer Reinbold No. 35.
big Fraz took his first win 🥇 what a great weekend for the flying Jamaican 🇯🇲 pic.twitter.com/zUMIPFy1D1
— Nitro Rallycross (@NitroRallycross) October 31, 2022
Larsson’s second-place finish was enough to allow him to keep the points’ lead.
“I was so sure I got a puncture in Corner 1 on Lap 5 right when I needed to do the push,” Larsson said. “I had to get really defensive with Kevin [Eriksson] behind me for that whole lap. I’m so disappointed and hopefully no one watches the on board after the finish line, because there were some Swedish ‘words’. ”
Bakkerud rounded out the podium in third.
The winner of Round 3 Pastrana was unable to take the final spot in the feature.
Brian Deegan joined the field for Nitro Rallycross’ side by side race and won ahead of Pastrana on Saturday by less than .04 seconds.