Wilson comes away with hard-earned podium

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He crashed during Friday afternoon’s practice and didn’t put down a lap during Saturday’s qualifying session, but Justin Wilson was still able to improve 21 positions — the most of anybody in Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — and finish P3 for his third career podium finish at the legendary street circuit.

The Englishman was unable to set a time in qualifying because the rear wing on his No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda was missing required vinyl wrapping that teams use instead of painting the cars and his Dale Coyne Racing team ran out of time to put the wrapping on. As a result, Wilson started 24th for today’s race.

But as it turned out, the qualifying problems turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Wilson since he didn’t use up as many alternate ‘red’ tires as he would have. He pitted on Lap 4 and managed to rise through the field before ensconcing himself in the Top 5 during the second half of the event. A pass on Dario Franchitti at Lap 56 would be enough to claim a podium position.

“We just went out there and pushed hard the entire race,” Wilson said. “I think that helped, having an extra set and being able to pick a few people off. It’s great to get this result for the Boy Scouts of America and everyone at Dale Coyne Racing. They worked hard to put the car back together on Friday, so I have to thank them. It’s also good for Honda here at Long Beach to get 1-2-3-4. I think it’s fantastic.”

Wilson’s third-place effort is his best since scoring an upset win last season at Texas Motor Speedway and his second podium since the 2010 season.

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.