Carl Edwards isn’t the least bit surprised that his former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth has put himself in contention to win his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
“I’m not surprised by (his success), and that’s because I’ve seen how much Matt pours into his driving, and over the years I’ve seen how fierce of a competitor he is,” Edwards said in a media teleconference Tuesday. “I mean, he’s a relatively quiet guy, and he’s pretty understated, but man, he really, really drives the wheels off a race car from the start of the race weekend until the checkered flag falls.”
Edwards and Greg Biffle have been RFR’s “lead dogs” this year but neither has been able to mount a serious challenge in this year’s Chase. Biffle earned some headlines this week for his coming-together with Johnson and a post-race argument they had on pit road; Biffle, however, clarified what happened yesterday in a separate teleconference.
But there’s no denying the impact that Kenseth’s loss to Joe Gibbs Racing has had for RFR. All due respect to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but as a rookie, he’s simply not going to be able to provide the same setup feedback or help push a team forward in its first year.
“I think that we were as good of teammates as I’ve ever had,” Edwards said. “I think a lot of Matt, and I think he was a huge asset to our team.
“It is interesting to watch him in this championship battle, and there are times where I still feel like – it’s hard for me to think of him as not my teammate because of how much time we spent under the same roof. So yeah, to me, as much as I hate to see him do well at another organization – I wish he was doing it here – I think it’s good to see him have the success because he definitely works hard and has given his life to racing.”
Edwards added that while Johnson may beat Kenseth to the title – the pair are tied in points heading into Texas this weekend – Kenseth won’t find a way to lose it.
“I can tell you one thing: Matt won’t make mistakes. He will not lose the championship. He’ll be one of the strongest parts of that team in my opinion.”
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.