Atko Takes Dramatic First ARX Victory at Gateway

Australian driver Chris Atkinson won the second round of Americas Rallycross (ARX) 2019 for Subaru Motorsports USA by making a last corner overtake for the race lead at the World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois.

Atko won the ARX of Gateway from the back row of the grid in the final, but the holeshot was taken by front row starter Steve Arpin. The Loenbro Motorsports Canadian driver beat pole starter and Championship leader Scott Speed into the first turn and led the race until the very last corner when he was passed by Atkinson.

Although Arpin’s Ford Fiesta spun over the finish line, he finished second, as Sweden’s Patrik Sandell crossed the line third to take his first ARX podium and the first double-podium in ARX for Subaru. TQ (top qualifier) driver Speed challenged Arpin for the lead on the first lap but dropped back with technical issues and was passed by both of his team mates on lap three. But, he finished P4 due to problems for Loenbro’s Travis PeCoy and Andretti Rallycross’ Tanner Foust.

Former rallycross champion Foust made a fast start from row two of the grid but was spun by contact in the pack and retired. PeCoy got further in the race before he also had to retire. The Loenbro team had to work flat out between semi final two and the final after PeCoy retired on track in the semi from contact at the joker lap merge with Sandell that broke the Fiesta’s steering. He made it onto the final grid with seconds to spare. The other 2019 ARX Supercar freshman, Andretti’s Cabot Bigham, had a race long battle with Atkinson in the semis but just missed a place in the final. “I was closing the gap, there stuff going on everywhere, Steve slammed himself over the jump and I nearly got him there then he made a mistake second last corner and I just slid it up in the inside rally style. Man, from back row, that is so sick, so sick,” said Subaru WRX STI driver Atkinson. “It’s been a wild few races but I’m really happy with that.”

Reining ARX2 Champion Conner Martell took victory in his return to the series, this season with the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team. Like Atkinson in ARX, Martell started from the back row of the grid but took his joker lap early, got the hammer down and passed the cars in front when they also took their jokers.

Alex Keyes took the holeshot at the start to move ahead of pole starter Brad Deberti. The Buhl Sport driver led until he took his joker on the last lap, when he was passed by Martell, but at the joker exit he clipped the car of JR Hildebrand which rolled his car off the circuit. Cole Keatts took the advantage to finish second and Hildebrand recovered to make it a DRR 1-2-3. DirtFish Motorsports’ Deberti finished fourth and Keyes was classified fifth because on his ARX2 debut, Loenbro Motorsports’ Michael Leach had to retire on lap two. Round two winner Fraser McConnell spun out of contention in the semi finals and DRR’s Gray Leadbetter was slowed in her semi by a puncture. “That was incredible. We got a little bit of luck but I drove the wheels off this DRR car,” said Martell. “The team has been awesome, we started almost last but what an incredible race. I’m just happy to be back on the podium for the first race back.”

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