The restart zones will still be in effect, and the race leader will have the responsibility to accelerate within the zone to bring out the green flag. When the green emerges, the leader must be ahead of the second-place car.
However, once the leader accelerates at the green, the second-place car can also accelerate and beat the leader to the start/finish line. Additionally, drivers must stay in their specific lanes until they reach said line.
Restarts have been a recurring issue this season, and they were such again last weekend at Richmond International Raceway. While it was buried by the controversy surrounding Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing, the final restart of last Saturday’s Sprint Cup race saw second-place Carl Edwards beat race leader Paul Menard to the start/finish line and then go on to win.
Edwards maintained that Menard had spun his tires, and NASCAR opted not to penalize Edwards, who is one of the 13 Chase contenders set to begin their drive toward a Sprint Cup championship this afternoon at Chicagoland.
One day before, the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at RIR also ended with a restart controversy. Television replays appeared to show Brad Keselowski moving ahead of Brian Scott before the two crossed into the restart zone with six laps remaining in the event. But NASCAR did not penalize Keselowski, who then pulled away for the victory.
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.
Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.