The North American open-wheel race season gets going this week, with the three Mazda Road to Indy championships participating in the Cooper Tires Winterfest two-track event.
The Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 championships will be at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, before shifting to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. next Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 25-26.
For Indy Lights, it’s four days of preseason testing. Meanwhile the other two series will participate in races. Pro Mazda will have four races, with two apiece at each track, and USF2000 will have six races, with two triple headers.
USF2000 and Pro Mazda each will start out with a practice session and a qualifying session on Day 1, followed by one race later in the afternoon. Day 2 at each track will comprise two practice sessions and one race for Pro Mazda and one practice plus two additional races for USF2000.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has four cars entered, with series veteran Juan Pablo Garcia joining in one of the cars. The No. 8, currently listed as a TBA, has had ex-GP2 driver Luiz Razia testing this winter.
Andretti Autosport has the other TBA of the 12 cars, with its third car not listing anyone. Italian Vittorio Ghirelli tested in that car earlier this winter.
Team Pelfrey adds a third car for Brandon Newey, a USF2000 competitor in 2013 and son of Bryan Herta Autosport team co-owner Steve Newey.
Danilo Estrela, formerly of Belardi Auto Racing, makes his official debut with Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, as second driver alongside Jake Eidson at the three-time defending championship-winning team.
Afterburner Autosport’s fourth car is the only “TBA” listed of the 20 cars entered.
INDY LIGHTS (12)
Team Moore Racing: 2 Zack Meyer (CAN)
Belardi Auto Racing: 4 Alexandre Baron (FRA), 5 Gabby Chaves (COL)
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: 8 TBA, 10 Juan Pablo Garcia (MEX),
42 Jack Harvey (GBR), 77 Juan Piedrahita (COL)
Fan Force United: 24 Scott Anderson (USA)
Andretti Autosport: 26 Zach Veach (USA), 27 TBA,
83 Matthew Brabham (USA)
BHA/Jeffrey Mark Motorsport: 28 Lloyd Read (WAL)
PRO MAZDA (16)
Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 2 Neil Alberico (USA), 3 Scott Hargrove (CAN)
Juncos Racing: 5 Jose Gutierrez (MEX), 6 Julia Ballario (ARG),
7 Spencer Pigot (USA), 18 Kyle Kaiser (USA)
World Speed Motorsports: 13 Bobby Eberle (USA), 16 Michele Bumgarner (PHI)
Andretti Autosport: 27 Garett Grist (CAN), 28 Shelby Blackstock (USA)
M1 Racing: 37 Jay Horak (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 54 Michael Johnson (USA), 91 Kyle Connery (USA)
Team Pelfrey: 80 Dalton Kellett (CAN), 81 Pipo Derani (BRZ),
82 Brandon Newey (USA)
Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 2 Jake Eidson (USA), 3 Danilo Estrela (BRZ)
Belardi Auto Racing: 4 Daniel Burkett (CAN), 14 Florian Latorre (FRA),
41 Nico Jamin (FRA), 44 Michael Epps (GBR)
Team E Racing: 7 R.C. Enerson (USA)
Afterburner Autosport: 11 TBA, 15 Gustavo Myasava (BRZ),
17 Victor Franzoni (BRZ), 18 Jeroen Slaghekke (NED)
M2 Autosport: 13 Juan Carlos Maldonado (COL), 79 Santiago Lozano (COL)
Pabst Racing Services: 23 Will Owen (USA), 77 Austin Cindric (USA)
ArmsUp Motorsports: 24 Peter Portante (USA), 51 Aaron Telitz (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 93 Scott Andrews (AUS), 97 Clark Toppe (USA)
JAY Motorsports: 96 Henrik Furuseth (NOR)
For the fifth time in 10 rounds of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season, the three riders at the top of the championship standings shared a podium and while those points tell one story, the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit tell a slightly different tale.
Chase Sexton has been all but perfect during the past 45 days with podium finishes in each of his heats and Triple Crown features. His only stumble during this period was a 10th-place finish in the Indianapolis Main. Last week, Sexton was perfect with wins in both his heat and the feature, although he needed a little help from an Aaron Plessinger mistake to take the top spot on the podium at the end of the night.
Cooper Webb finished fifth at Houston and was beginning to worry ever so slightly about his position in the points. Prior to the race in Tampa, he told NBC Sports that it was time to win and like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence, Webb went out and captured it. Following that race, Webb has swept the podium and earned the red plate two weeks ago in Indianapolis. At Detroit, he added two more points on Eli Tomac as the season begins to wind down.
Tomac struggled with a stiff neck at Indianapolis and after a modest third-place showing in Detroit, he revealed he was still suffering a little. Webb and Sexton have been able to close the gap on Tomac in the past 45 days, but one of the main reasons he is so close in the points was a pair of wins that started the year. Seattle is going to be important for the defending champion because Tomac cannot afford to lose any more momentum with seven rounds remaining.
It appeared Jason Anderson was turning things around. He earned his fifth heat win at Detroit, which was also his sixth consecutive race (including features) in which he scored a top-five. A fall in the Detroit Main dropped him a lap off the pace and sent him home with a season-worst finish of ninth, causing a ripple effect in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings.
Justin Barcia was a huge part of the show last week in Detroit. He swapped positions with both Webb and Tomac in the middle stage of the race, which allowed Sexton to close the gap. Barcia finished fourth in that race to earn his third consecutive top-five. He’s been outside the top 10 only once in the first 10 rounds.
Adam Cianciarulo had a great start to the Main. He led a couple of laps before losing a lap and slipping back to eighth in the final rundown. That run was strong enough to elevate him three positions in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit.
The NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings look at the past 90 days in the 250 class in order to have a balanced comparison between the East and West divisions and Hunter Lawrence has been all but perfect this year. At Detroit, he earned his fifth win of the season and kept alive a streak of podium finishes in six rounds. He tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 250 wins one week before the West riders take to the track for back-to-back races at Seattle, Washington and Glendale, Arizona.
The Lawrence brothers are dominating the points in each of their respective divisions, which means the remainder of the field is battling to be best in class.
In the East, that rider is Nate Thrasher, who beat Hunter in a head-to-head matchup in their heat only to finish second in the main when the majority of points were awarded. Thrasher seems to have accepted his position in the championship standings, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep trying for wins.
Haiden Deegan showed a lot of aggression in his heat last week. He threw a couple of block passes at his teammate Jordon Smith and set up a series of events that kept Smith from making the big show while Deegan settled into second in the preliminary. Deegan was unconcerned about how he raced his teammate and would not let a little controversy keep him from celebrating his second career podium in Detroit.
Jeremy Martin just keeps clicking off solid results. He won his heat last week by making a pass on Deegan and Smith while they were in the heat of their battle. Martin finished fourth in the Main, which means he continues to have only one finish worse than sixth in any of the features or mains.
Smith fell one position in the points standings, but the damage was even worse in SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit. Crash damage in his heat contributed to a last-place finish in that race, for which he earned minimal points. He was not able to advance from the Last Chance Qualifier after stalling his bike in heavy traffic.
Hunter Lawrence – E
[5 Main, 5 Heat wins]
Jett Lawrence – W
[3 Main, 3 Heat wins]
Nate Thrasher – E
[1 Main, 3 Heat wins]
Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat win]
Haiden Deegan – E
[1 Heat win]
Jeremy Martin – E
[2 Heat wins]
Jordon Smith – E
[3 Heat Wins]
Levi Kitchen – W
Mitchell Oldenburg – W
RJ Hampshire – W
[4 Heat wins]
Max Anstie – E
Tom Vialle – E
Max Vohland – W
Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
Chris Blose – E
Chance Hymas – E
Enzo Lopes – W
Michael Mosiman – E
Pierce Brown – W
Phil Nicoletti – W
* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).