For drivers who took part in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice, it was a case of one and done.
With rain washing out both practices scheduled for Thursday, NASCAR expanded Friday’s final NCWTS practice to two hours.
Qualifying will take place at 5:40 pm ET Friday afternoon in preparation for Friday evening’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (scheduled to start at 8:30 pm ET), which follows the Sprint Showdown qualifying race for Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race.
Kyle Busch was fastest and quickest in Friday’s only Truck practice session, setting the pace with a best lap of 29.864 seconds at 180.820 mph.
Rookie Ryan Blaney was second fastest (29.953 at 180.282), followed by Timothy Peters (29.965, 180.210), Brad Keselowski (29.971, 180.174) and Matt Crafton (29.977, 180.138).
Sixth thru 10th were Darrell Wallace Jr. (30.004, 179.976), Ron Hornaday Jr. (30.025, 179.850), Johnny Sauter (30.047, 179.718), Brian Ickler (30.053, 179.683) and Max Gresham (30.053, 179.683).
Ben Kennedy, who was 11th-fastest at 179.605 mph (30.066 seconds), completed the most laps (50).
Only 33 drivers took to the track. Slowest were Charles Lewandoski (32.451 seconds, 166.405 mph), Willie Allen (32.744, 164.916) and Norm Benning (33.451, 161.430).
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. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. 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.