There aren’t too many “bogey tracks” on the Verizon IndyCar Series for Justin Wilson, but Barber Motorsports Park has been one of them.
Wilson hasn’t yet been at the front of the field at this circuit, and is yet to improve on his best finish set in the first Barber race of seventh in 2010. Contact took him out in 2011; in his first time at the track with Dale Coyne Racing in 2012, the team struggled on setup and started and finished 19th; a year ago, Wilson started and finished eighth.
In total, four starts have netted an average start of 10.8 and average finish of 13.3.
Armed with better pace from testing – Wilson ended second in the series’ official preseason test, only 0.0038 of a second off pace setter Will Power – and the motivation of wanting to bounce back from getting hit like a piñata at Long Beach (he was hit by both Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon), Wilson should be considered a podium contender this weekend in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda.
“I’m looking forward to Barber, we had a very good test there,” Wilson said in a pre-race release. “The car is working well and I’m looking forward to going back. Barber is always a fantastic race. It seems like it’s impossible to overtake there, but in the race as the tires start to wear out – we abuse them because of the high G-forces – there is a lot of movement and usually makes for an exciting and interesting race.”
Wilson’s last podium finish came on the series’ most recent road course event, Sonoma last August, where he finished a 2013 season-best second.
NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage of Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama starting at 1:30 p.m. ET.
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.