Three days after getting hit in the helmet by a piece of bodywork during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and being diagnosed with a concussion, James Hinchcliffe is “progressing well” according to INDYCAR medical director Dr. Michael Olinger but has not yet been cleared to drive.
In a medical update released this afternoon by INDYCAR, it was disclosed that the Andretti Autosport driver was evaluated today by the series’ medical team in conjunction with its neurosurgical consultant.
While Hinchcliffe was not cleared to return to the cockpit of the No. 27 United Fiber and Data Honda, Olinger said that he has been cleared to resume “light training” with his athletic trainer.
The update states that Hinchcliffe will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
On Lap 57 of Saturday’s Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Hinchcliffe’s helmet was struck while he and the rest of the field were going down the Hulman Boulevard back stretch.
He was able to turn his car off-course at Turn 7 and after stopping, he was taken away on a stretcher while holding his head. He was then transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis but was released later that night.
Hinchcliffe made a brief appearance on Sunday at IMS during the start of Indianapolis 500 practice before heading back to his home in the city for more rest.
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.