Last year’s Indy 500 produced a record 68 lead changes thanks mostly to the mega holes punched in the air by the Dallara DW12, which effectively turned every leader into a sitting duck.
But Team Penske’s Will Power said Thursday that he wouldn’t mind being the leader with one lap to go in Sunday’s race despite the emphasis on the draft.
“I think I would like to be leading on the last lap because I think you can stay ahead, although you’ll work that out in the race,” he said. “You’ll have a good idea whether you’ll be in front or not.”
As for the 2014 running, Power – like just about everybody else – expects a similar race to last year.
“It’ll be exactly the same but everybody gets smarter every year, don’t they?,” he said. “They start to think, ‘Do I really wanna lead?’ Because they’ll be burning fuel. It constantly changes, and everyone turns up in better cars, so it’s that much tighter.”
Power entered the Month of May as the Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader but that battle is truly set to begin one week from now with the doubleheader at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park.
Right now, the focus in the ‘500’ and Power has been raring to go since the post-qualifying practice session on Monday that enabled teams to work on race set-up.
“We’re ready,” the front-row starter said. “We were ready Monday…I didn’t really want to start getting lost and be unsure going into the race. It was another session to try different things if you were unsure, but I was pretty confident in my car.”
“Not that many people have a chance to win this, but I’m just focusing on what I can do and put myself in position all day. That’s what I’m focusing on. Whether I can do it or not, I don’t know.
“But I’m absolutely putting everything into a solid, good race and being there at the end.”
Power has made significant strides in oval racing as his win at Fontana in last year’s season finale can attest. But his fortunes at Indy have been mixed, as he has just one Top-5 in six career ‘500’ starts.
Still, it seems like that Fontana victory gave him a whole new level of confidence when it comes to the speedways. It’ll be interesting to see if he can carry that over on Sunday.
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.