NASCAR, Indy testing plus F1, TUDOR launches make for busy January


The month of December is pretty much an off month for the entirety of the motorsports world. Most posts on MotorSportsTalk have been on quotes, with little in the way of actual on-track action. That changes in January, and here’s what there is to look forward to:

  • TUDOR’s big launch: The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship gets the ball rolling with the Roar Before the 24 test this weekend, January 3-5, at Daytona International Speedway. The Rolex 24 at Daytona, one of North America’s longest-running sports car races, drops the green flag on Jan. 25 to launch a new era in North American sports car racing as the combination of teams from the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and American Le Mans Series come together. Throughout the past 16 months, the process of merging the assets together has occurred, and final details are emerging this month. It should be interesting to watch.
  • NASCAR preseason testing: Six days of mostly primer-only cars and trucks going in circles doesn’t sound exciting on paper, but considering it’s the first on-track activity in six or so weeks, NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona always seems to wake fans from their offseason slumber. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams test Jan. 9-10, Nationwide Series teams Jan. 11-12 and Camping World Truck Series teams Jan. 13-14. The first three days will see 12 total hours televised on FOX Sports 1.
  • F1 comes close to filling its field, and begins launches: As of this writing, no Formula One team has yet announced its launch date for its 2014 car. But from renderings that have followed their way around the Internet, and based on the technical changes that come into play for 2014, they should be shaken up from what’s been out the last five years. The first launches will likely occur toward the end of the month, and run into February. Additionally, Marussia (second seat) and Caterham (its two seats) still need to confirm their drivers to round out the 22-car field.
  • IndyCar testing resumes: IndyCar testing is blacked out until January 8 and the first major bit of on-track action after it resumes will occur on January 17 at Sebring International Raceway with a Chevrolet manufacturer’s test. The Ganassi, Penske, Carpenter, KVSH and Panther teams are currently slated for that test.
  • IndyCar’s silly season continues: Since our last silly season update, the IndyCar driver market has quieted down. But over the next few weeks, there could be news from some or all of the Barracuda, Coyne, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, KVSH and Panther teams.
  • Elsewhere: The Dakar Rally commences soon, with TV broadcasts on NBCSN … NHRA testing will occur before its first race at Pomona Feb. 6-9 … the FIA World Rally Championship has its annual landmark event, Rally Monte Carlo, Jan. 14-19 … the Pirelli World Challenge Championships will likely see some driver and team announcements over the month considering its projected car count north of 80 cars across its five classes and one subcategory

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead


With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.

In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list