One of the most valuable lessons and things a young driver can do coming through the ladder series – whether open-wheel, sports cars or NASCAR – is gain seat time and race experience in other formulas different from their normal disciplines.
And this weekend, a pair of Canadians fully maximized their time in other series.
In IMSA’s Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Presented by Michelin, Scott Hargrove managed to win both of the series’ first two races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, outside Toronto.
The even more impressive part? Hargrove, the 19-year-old from Surrey, British Columbia, who is the 2013 USF2000 champion and current driver for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in Pro Mazda, hadn’t so much as driven a sports car, ever, before this weekend. He was in a one-off entry in the No. 69 OpenRoad car.
“Two races, two wins,” Hargrove said, via IMSA.com. “I can’t ask for more than that. It’s phenomenal racing in these Porsche cars, and I can’t thank the OpenRoad guys enough for giving me a good car and being able to run up front all weekend. A phenomenal weekend for us, and hopefully we will be back and be able to run more races this year.”
After going two-for-two last weekend in Pro Mazda at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Hargrove now has four race wins in two weekends. He and Pro Mazda teammate Neil Alberico put together a race compilation of their Indy races as “Mario Kart.”
Meanwhile at another picturesque road course, this time in the Finger Lakes region of New York at Watkins Glen International, USF2000 driver Daniel Burkett did something other than putting on a hot dog suit in his quest for sponsorship: he won both Atlantic Championship Series races, to extend his winning streak to four wins in as many starts this season.
“Coming in here I knew it would be more difficult than Road Atlanta, we would have to be on our game. We knew Jimmy (Simpson) would be fast here with his past experience,” said the Winnipeg native, who drives for Belardi Auto Racing in USF2000.
These two weren’t alone in making headlines. Hargrove’s Pro Mazda sparring partner Spencer Pigot, who won the first four races of that season, finished sixth and third in the two Porsche races. Pigot is able to run a full season in both championships – he’ll be with Alegra Motorsports in the Porsche series – due to a favorable schedule of no conflicts. Pigot first ran a Porsche at the 2012 Porsche Young Driver Academy at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
Mazda Road to Indy alumnus Jason Wolfe, who raced in USF2000 last year, also had a big weekend at CTMP winning two of the three Pirelli World Challenge Championships races in the Touring Car A category, driving a Kia Forte Koup. Wolfe now leads that class’ points standings. Other PWC CTMP winners were Michael DiMeo, who swept the Touring Car triple header, with Ernie Francis Jr. taking the other TCA win, and Brian Price (2 wins) and Nathan Stacy (1 win) winning in TCB. Stacy, 14, becomes the youngest winner in series history and eclipses, ironically, Francis Jr., who achieved the feat as a 15-year-old in TCB in 2013.
Hargrove, Pigot and Burkett will be back in action this weekend as the Mazda Road to Indy heads to Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind., where Pro Mazda and USF2000 race their first oval event of the season in the “Night Before the 500.”
Another crash while leading at Seattle dropped Chase Sexton from the top of the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings while solid performances by Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac allow them to climb the chart and threaten to make this a two-rider battle with six rounds remaining in the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season.
During the race, Webb knew he had ground to make up. Riding behind both Tomac and Sexton early in the Main, he was as far back as fifth on Lap 7 at Seattle. That position would cost him the red plate and give away the advantage he began to build with his first win of the season in Tampa. Sexton is often at his best as he battles from the back and he methodically worked his way through the field. At the end of the feature, he was nearly five seconds off Tomac’s pace, but during the past 45 days, he holds the advantage. A resurgent Tomac that could erase that advantage quickly though.
Tomac struggled in Indianapolis with a neck strain. That contributed to his worst performance of 2023 and his second result outside the top five. He finished third in Detroit two weeks ago, but it was a distant third after finishing off the podium in his heat during that round. In Seattle, it appeared the same thing might happen when Tomac finished third in the prelim behind his two principal competitors Webb and Sexton. The Main was a different story.
Tomac dropped to fourth in the opening laps behind both of his rivals early in the race, but he got around Webb on Lap 2 and kept charging. When Sexton fell to the ground on Lap 11 and dropped to fourth, Tomac was in position to strike. He scored his sixth win of the season to tie James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list. He now shares the red plate with Webb as the rounds wind down.
Sexton has the speed, but he lacks the seasoning of Webb and Tomac. He’s pressing hard on every lap and that has bitten him several times this year. Sexton’s mistakes are costing him with a 10th-place finish at Indy, the loss of seven points at Detroit and a fifth in Seattle as the riders he’s battling stood on the podium. No one seriously questions Sexton’s talent or speed, but ultimately the results are what counts.
Justin Barcia is hitting his stride. He advances two positions this week after scoring his fourth consecutive top-five and second podium in that span of races. Barcia finished between sixth and eighth in five consecutive rounds from Anaheim 2 through Arlington, but he’s mostly avoided controversy and that puts him fourth in this week’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.
Jason Anderson had a solid performance in Seattle, but with a fifth-place finish in his heat and fourth in the Main he just keeps losing a little ground to the leaders. The biggest impact to his standing in the NBC Power Rankings is a 10th-place finish in Indianapolis that will take a while to age out of the 45-day formula. He’s tied for fourth in the championship points with Ken Roczen, who sits sixth in the rankings below. It’s important to be the rider “best in class” with Webb, Tomac and Sexton stealing the show.
The 250 West riders were back in action in Seattle and that gave Jett Lawrence the opportunity to break out of a tie with his brother Hunter Lawrence on the all-time wins list. It also provided Jett the opportunity to take back the top spot in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.
Jett has stood on the podium in every race this year with the exception of the second Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2 and that level of perfection gives him bragging rights. Rest assured that while the two brothers have a bond that is unapparelled in motorsports, there is no one they would rather beat. Neither has been particularly successful in Triple Crown rounds this year, however, and Jett could lose his advantage in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona under that format.
A rivalry is developing between Lawrence and Cameron McAdoo. Tired of losing to the affable Australian, McAdoo pushed the envelope last week in Seattle. He crowded Lawrence in the whoops during their heat race and sent both to the ground. That frustration could bubble over with four rounds remaining. One thing is certain, when these two riders are in proximity on the track, the cameras will be aimed in their direction.
A little means a lot this season. Finishing second to Lawrence in four of five rounds, RJ Hampshire would be losing ground to the leader no matter what, but an 11th-place finish in the overall at Anaheim 2 places him eighth on the chart below behind two of the 250 West riders and five 250 East competitors.
In the mains, Levi Kitchen has been all over the board with a win, one more top-five, two results on the high side of the single digits and a crash-induced 21st at San Diego. He’s really shown his speed in the heats, however, with a perfect record of top-fives and a win.
Mitchell Oldenburg makes the top five list among West riders with a perfect record of top-10 finishes. He’s heading in the wrong direction, however, falling from ninth overall to 11th after finishing outside the top five in both his heat and the Main last week.
Jett Lawrence – W
Hunter Lawrence – E
Nate Thrasher – E
Cameron McAdoo – W
Haiden Deegan – E
Jeremy Martin – E
Jordon Smith – E
RJ Hampshire – W
Levi Kitchen – W
Max Anstie – E
Mitchell Oldenburg – W
Max Vohland – W
Tom Vialle – E
Pierce Brown – W
Enzo Lopes – W
Chris Blose – E
Chance Hymas – E
Michael Mosiman – E
Stilez Robertson – 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).