Shows podium pace, scores third and fourth consecutive top-fives to start season
Professional off-road racer Gray Leadbetter made her return to Nitrocross’ action-packed SXS class on Friday and Saturday at Utah Motorsports Campus, scoring a pair of fourth place finishes across her two final appearances. Leadbetter was part of a three-driver SXS entry for Top Liner, the revolutionary new bed liner formula from LineX and Bullet Liner creator Claudio Burtin, teaming up with Nitrocross founder Travis Pastrana and viral video sensation Cleetus McFarland for the race weekend.
Friday saw Leadbetter start strong with a pair of third place finishes in the heat and semifinal, before coming home fourth in the main event. She turned it on further as the race moved on, posting her fastest two laps of the final on the last two, and scoring a season-high 47 points across the three race rounds. She then remained towards the front of the pack in the prelims on Saturday with finishes of fourth in the heat and third in the semifinal.
Saturday’s final swung the door wide open when the points leader suffered an incident on the initial start and couldn’t continue. Leadbetter had been third on the grid, but quickly settled into second place on the restart. Unfortunately, she took contact from teammate McFarland while defending the spot on the third lap of the five-lap race, dropping her to the back of the pack. Undeterred, she pushed forward and climbed back to fourth by race’s end, avoiding the issues that befell other drivers later in the race.
When all was said and done, Leadbetter found herself third in the championship standings through the first four events of the season, with a comfortable advantage over fourth place. Combined with her pair of fourth place runs in the season-opening Visions Off-Road at Mid-America Outdoors, she remains one of the most consistent racers on the tour.
“I can’t thank Top Liner, Travis, and everybody else enough for getting me back on track with Nitrocross at UMC,” said Leadbetter. “The new layout was a bit closer to other rallycross tracks I’ve driven with more pavement, but it still had the epic feeling that sets Nitrocross apart from what I’ve run in the past. It was great to have the pace to run for the podium, and between Travis, Cleetus, and me, the Top Liner squad managed to put on a great show!”
Following her Nitrocross appearance at Utah, Leadbetter will return to Ryan Beat Motorsports and the Championship Off-Road Pro Spec class on Labor Day weekend for the World Championship Off-Road Races at Crandon International Raceway. Tickets for the race are available here. The Nitrocross season continues on November 10-11 at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Arizona.