IndyCar: Hawksworth drives from last to third for first career podium

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Starting 23rd and last on Sunday, there wasn’t much in the way of odds on Jack Hawksworth scoring his first career podium finish in the No. 98 Integrity Energee Drink BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian Honda.

Then again, this was a Verizon IndyCar Series weekend in Houston where nothing seemed to go according to odds and plan. And thus, the English rookie who’s shown so much speed in qualifying and some races this year delivered a dynamic comeback drive from the rear of the field up to third by the checkered flag.

A methodical drive forward coupled with being in the right position on pit strategy left Hawksworth in the top five despite a flurry of mid-race cautions. From there, his final stint of the race saw him, Juan Pablo Montoya and Charlie Kimball locked in an intense battle for fourth place, with Hawksworth doing everything within his power to hold the other two off.

Fourth became third when Will Power had a mechanical issue with two laps remaining, and suddenly Hawksworth made it through to the podium behind the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates.

It betters his Saturday result of sixth, after he’d started 21st, which had been his previous best result. Additionally, it’s the team’s first podium finish since the team’s first and thus far only career victory achieved by the late Dan Wheldon at the 2011 Indianapolis 500. In two full seasons of 2012 and 2013, the team captured several top-fives but had not returned to the top three.

“Just a fantastic day really. We’ve started at the front so many times but it’s not happened for us. Today we were terrible qualifying and ended up on the podium,” Hawksworth said to NBCSN post-race.

“We passed cars at the right time. It’s been tough, we’ve been so good this year but it hasn’t come together. I’m just so delighted for the whole team. Just really proud of all the guys, totally deserved.”

Hawksworth is the fourth rookie and 16th driver overall to score a podium this season. He praised the level of competition as well.

“The competition in the whole field has been strong all year,” he said. “Really anyone can stick it on the pole or win a race. And each weekend it seems to change. So you have to be perfect every weekend.”

And on a weekend where he had a practice crash and two of his worst starts of his young career, Hawksworth made his results count.

Malcolm Stewart sidelined from Supercross by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.