Some intriguing stats, movers and shakers out of Texas


A few stats and points notes to emerge after Saturday night’s Firestone 550 in the IZOD IndyCar Series:

  • Separation at the top, homes. We entered this manic IndyCar stretch of five races in four weekends after Indianapolis with the top 10 drivers separated by 60 points. Now, fourth-placed Tony Kanaan is some 64 points back of Helio Castroneves. What’s changed? Castroneves is the only driver in the last four races with four top-10 finishes, while Takuma Sato, who was second in points after Indy, hasn’t had a top-10 result since Brazil now four races ago. Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay have weathered the storm for Andretti Autosport to remain 22 and 27 points back of Castroneves.
  • Dario’s coming back. Although Dario Franchitti hasn’t won since the 2012 Indianapolis 500, he has scored the fourth most points (158 to Castroneves at 180, Andretti at 176 and Hunter-Reay at 166) since Long Beach, and has climbed from 26th to 10th in points. Milwaukee this weekend is one of his strongest tracks, and could be a track where he ends his winless drought.
  • Viso a qualifying master, but needs the results. Your best qualifier in the last five races? That would be E.J. Viso, who has five consecutive top-five starts. Unfortunately, due to a myriad of bad luck, he doesn’t have a single top-five finish in that stretch. He led 27 laps at Milwaukee a year ago and finished fifth, so he could break his string of poor results this weekend.
  • Best weekend yet for Newgarden. The Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing sophomore had his INDYCAR 36 premiere over the weekend, qualified in the top-15 for the first time this year (seventh) and drove solidly to eighth in a race with limited yellows and where car control and handling was paramount. He’s alternated top-10s and bad finishes this year, though, going into Milwaukee.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.