American Le Mans Series stalwarts Muscle Milk Pickett Racing will be sticking around the sports car ranks as part of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. But with their P1 cars not eligible for the new TUSC, they’re going to do things a bit differently.
The team will field a full-time Prototype Challenge program, which will mark its second foray into the class after a part-time run alongside its P1 program in 2012. Its first outing with the ORECA FLM09 will come this weekend during a test session at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.
“Entering a PC car made a lot of sense to us on many different levels,” team owner Greg Pickett said in a statement. “We know this car and we’ve had success with it in the past and we’re looking forward to more of that. It will once again be a very competitive season in the PC ranks and we’re happy to be able to be a part of it.
“This gives us a chance to get an up close and personal look at some up and coming talent. These are big, powerful, fun to drive cars and they require the kind of engineering set-up support and race strategy we have shown to be so successful with over the last couple of years in P1.”
More details on the team’s 2014 plans, including its driver lineup, will be announced at a later date.
As this past season played out, the team explored venturing into other series such as the IndyCar Series. In that series’ event this past August at Sonoma Raceway, Pickett directly provided support to a second Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry for one of his drivers, Lucas Luhr (although the entry was not one from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing).
But in the end, Pickett felt that, in his words, “our heart is in sports car racing.”
“This is only one piece of the puzzle that has fallen into place for us,” he said. “All I can say is that we’re very excited about the future at Muscle Milk Pickett Racing.”
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.