Scott Pruett (P, overall) and Jan Magnussen (GTLM) have taken the poles for Saturday’s Patron Showcase in Long Beach, the third round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.
Pruett’s best time of 1:15.325 edged Ozz Negri in the similar Ford EcoBoost Riley; Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates held the edge on Michael Shank Racing in this session. Christian Fittipaldi was best of the Corvette DPs in third for Action Express Racing.
“Thats one of the things about Long Beach, you get faster and faster the longer you go around the track,” said Pruett, who last raced at Long Beach in the 2006 GRAND-AM Rolex race. “You get a little braver, a little braver, until you start scraping the walls. It took a time for us to get going this season, Daytona was a bit disastrous, then we went to Sebring and got the win, and now the pole.”
In GTLM, Magnussen threw down a flier to secure Corvette Racing’s first pole for its new C7.R, edging the pair of expected pace setters, the BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTEs.
“I found a good gap, but I had to back off once to find myself a better gap, and after that it was a matter of trying to work a little bit to find a corner,” he said. “At one point we were p3, at this point I was eight tenths faster than when we did the qualifying simulation, I didn’t know if there was any more to come. I pushed hard and it stuck and didn’t hit any of the walls and that was the pole position.”
The 100-minute race goes green just past 3:00 p.m. PDT/6:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday.
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.