Austin Cindric & Chase Elliott Face Steep Learning Curve in Phoenix

Chase Elliott

Getty Chase Elliott gained some Nitro Rallycross experience in Phoenix.

NASCAR Cup Series drivers Austin Cindric and Chase Elliott took part in the first two days of the Nitro Rallycross weekend on November 11-12. They each had some experience in rallycross, but they still faced a steep learning curve with the new FC1-X.

The all-electric car, which can produce the electric equivalent of 1,070 peak horsepower (800 kW), is a far cry from the vehicle Elliott drove in 2021 and the one that Cindric used in 2014. It handles the jumps and turns differently, and it forced the two drivers to try to learn as much as possible during the early practice sessions and battle brackets.

The result was that Elliott and Cindric were not overly competitive during the first two days of racing. They finished behind the series regulars in every race and failed to reach the final round on November 11. The main exception was an early race on November 12 when Andreas Bakkerud received a five-second penalty and Kevin Eriksson was unable to complete the four laps.

Despite having problems keeping pace with the more experienced Nitro Rallycross drivers, both Elliott and Cindric had moments when they stood out. The reigning Daytona 500 winner, in particular, used a slick crossover move to get underneath Bakkerud entering Turn 1 in the Last Chance Qualifier.

Pastrana Provided an Interesting Explanation

Austin Cindric

GettyAustin Cindric had some big moments in the first two days.

There are multiple reasons why the two NASCAR drivers didn’t have the same pace as those that have spent several race weekends adjusting to the new FC1-X. One of the biggest is that they were essentially learning on the fly how the cars handle. They gained a lot of information while flinging the FC1-X around the turns and over the jumps. They then went and debriefed with the team engineers.

Series creator Travis Pastrana provided another explanation during a brief stop in the broadcast booth on November 11. He said that both Cindric and Elliott were looking at their speedometers before hitting some of the jumps. He indicated that it was part of their NASCAR experience.

Pastrana noted that the other drivers were not taking this tenth of a second to look at the dials before hitting the jumps. This wasn’t a significant amount of time, but he explained that it was still holding them back during the races.

The 2 NASCAR Cup Series Drivers Have Another Day Remaining

While Cindric and Elliott did not win any races or reach the final rounds during the first two days, they gained crucial knowledge. This will potentially provide a benefit during the final day at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

The final day features multiple events for three series. The Side-by-Side, Group E, and Nitro Next drivers will all compete while battling for points, wins, unique hardware, and the ultimate bragging rights.

The day will start with heat races that will help two race winners move on. The action will continue with the semifinal round, the Last Chance Qualifier, and the all-important final race. Elliott and Cindric will both have the goal of reaching the final round, but they will first have to survive the early rounds while using all of the knowledge that they gained.

Peacock will provide all of the coverage of the final day of the Nitro Rallycross weekend. International viewers will be able to watch on YouTube. Coverage for the final day will begin at 4 p.m. ET.

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