Jimmie Johnson cycled back to the front following a caution at Lap 59 and currently holds the top spot at the halfway mark of today’s Brickyard 400 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Pole sitter Ryan Newman led Johnson for the first 28 laps, but the five-time Sprint Cup champion was able to take the lead after the first round of pit stops under green. Johnson then led the second stint by roughly half a second over Newman until he took his second stop at Lap 56.
However, on Lap 59, the first caution of the afternoon came out for rookie Timmy Hill, who slowed on the track. At the time of the yellow, the Top 5 – Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski – had not yet made their own second stops under green. Those five subsequently pitted under yellow, allowing Johnson to regain the point.
On the restart at Lap 64, Johnson was able to fend off a brief attack from Newman, who then fell back to fourth as Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne both managed to get by him. Since then, Newman has been able to take third back from Kahne.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had an eventful first half at Indianapolis. A loose wheel caused him to pit on Lap 12 under green, knocking him one lap down. He then ran off-sequence for a while until the Timmy Hill caution enabled him to get back on cycle with the leaders.
At the Lap 80 halfway point, Johnson had stretched his lead over Edwards to three seconds. Newman runs third, followed by Kahne in fourth and Tony Stewart in fifth.
Jeff Burton’s car has now apparently lost power, triggering the second caution of the day at Lap 81.
In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.
Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.
Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.
The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.
“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”
Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.
SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.
When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.
SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.
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