Robotics rivalry on tap between Kimball, Newgarden

Kimball with the "Robowranglers" in Texas (LAT photo)
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Ahead of the first of two races in the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN), two of IndyCar’s young American stars will be engaging in a rivalry of a different kind: with robots.

Mid-Ohio race winner Charlie Kimball and Baltimore runner-up Josef Newgarden are competing for separate robotics teams based in Texas as part of IndyCar’s new STEM Initiative, which was announced earlier this year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kimball, of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, will be partnering with FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Team “Robowranglers,” from Greenville, TX. Meanwhile Newgarden, of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will join the League City, TX-based FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Team “Robonauts.” The robots, Viper and Apex, have been built by these award-winning individual high school teams and will have a showdown as the driver-controlled robots try to score as many flying discs into team goals as they can. The higher the goal in which the disc is scored, the more points received.

More important than who wins is who loses – we wonder what kind of punishment should be doled out to whichever Honda driver comes in second. It needs to be at least close to the level of crazy that Alex Tagliani hit at the Indiana State Fair, when he lost a wager with Scott Dixon and wore a beaver suit.

Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

Swoll Stewart injury
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.