Megennis takes two Phoenix podiums in NRX Next title chase
George Megennis, #YellowSquad’s talented 16-year-old prodigy competing in the Nitro Rallycross support series NRX Next, showed his mettle with two hard-fought podium finishes in Phoenix.
Following the regular series format, Megennis took on two championship rounds in two days at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Arizona and was immediately competitive, winning his heat after an intense battle with Martin Enlund for the win.
That earned him a front-row start for the final and while he was pushed out wide to the start and demoted to fourth, George was quick to rebound.
Waiting until the midway point to take his joker lap paid dividends, not only repassing Conner Martell and Casper Jansson but also pulling off a stunning surprise overtake in the joker section on Sage Karam for the lead.
Megennis’ lead was unfortunately short-lived, as Jansson rolled his car over seconds later and triggered a race restart from the original grid. Starting on the outside meant there was space for Karam to dive down the inside into turn one, space which he duly took to resume the race lead.
Nonetheless it was an impressive second podium result of the season thus far – and there would be more silverware just a day later.
Megennis didn’t make it straight to the final from his heat race on Sunday so took the longer route through the semi-final race. Starting last on the grid he pulled off a sensational move around the outside of turn one, sweeping past both Eric Gordon and Lane Vacala to move into third.
That result earned Megennis a slot on the second row of the Sunday final and his path towards the podium was far from straightforward. While he sneaked past Jansson at turn one, Vacala was able to shove past and demote the #YellowSquad driver down to fourth once more.
It took only a lap for Megennis to retake the place from Vacala but time had already been lost, allowing Jansson to remain ahead once the New York native had taken the faster joker lap route.
Fourth became third when Martell spun on his own at the first turn and then a sensational last-lap pass moved him up to second place. A fast exit out of turn one gave Megennis a run on Jansson down the tight, slow and downhill turn three that he converted into an overtake – a move no other driver had pulled off all weekend.
Two second places has moved Megennis into the thick of the NRX Next title fight. While he remains fourth overall the gap has closed considerably, as he sits only five points behind joint leaders Jansson and Vacala with four rounds remaining.
There’s no rest for #YellowSquad as the team is heading straight to California for the next two NRX Next rounds at Glen Helen Raceway, which takes place on November 20-21.
George Megennis, #YellowSquad driver
“Starting from the outside was a tough place to be but we kept fighting and got a great result. It was all about taking advantage of the opportunities when they presented themselves, being neat and tidy and not overdoing it. My karting background helped a lot there; you lose a lot of time going sideways in that discipline and taking the same approach here worked really well.
“Getting to second in the final was such a good example; being neat in turn one meant I got a run on Jansson and was able to get it stopped just in time for the next turn. And it was the same thing getting past Vacala earlier in the race. I’d taken my normal line to enter the joker lap and he’d run very wide on entry, so wide I thought he was taking the regular lap. I unexpectedly found myself going past for third!
“Being able to come to new circuits like this one, along with most of the other tracks in Nitro RX this year, is a big help. I’m only 16 years old so everyone else starting on zero track experience as I am is so important; it comes down to who can learn the track fastest.
“My goal this weekend had been to come here, finish every race and keep it clean. So to get two second places out of that approach is awesome. And we get to go and do it all again next weekend which is mega. I can’t wait – and I don’t have to! Thanks to #YellowSquad, Eric, Kevin, and the entire Hansen family and team for working so hard with me this weekend.”
Kevin Hansen, #YellowSquad team principal
“George’s performance was absolutely insane this weekend. He took a slightly different approach this time, being a little more calm and patient with his approach. And it really paid off. His speed was really strong all weekend and the results have been fantastic.
“I’m very impressed and really happy his development curve has continued strongly upwards. We have to remember he’s still only 16 years old but he’s getting better every weekend, learning new tricks and techniques while facing brand new challenges.”