The NASCAR Nationwide Series’ 250-mile race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has picked up a title sponsor in a multi-year deal.
Eli Lilly and Company, an Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company that also sponsors Nationwide Series rookie and Type 1 diabetic Ryan Reed, will back what’s now known as the Lilly Diabetes 250.
The Nationwide Series moved to IMS in 2012 after a 30-year run at nearby short track Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly Indianapolis Raceway Park) in order to join the Brickyard’s “Super Weekend” – which also features the Brickyard 400 for the top-tier Sprint Cup Series and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
But the first two NNS races at IMS, won by Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, did not have a title sponsor.
As you can likely gather from the race’s new name, Lilly and its driver are both keen on using the race to raise awareness of diabetes, which affects more than 380 million people around the world.
“…We know the reach NASCAR has and we are honored to join our neighbors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to sponsor this race,” Lilly’s U.S. vice president Mike Mason said in a statement.
“We hope our involvement will provide the awareness that is essential to prevention and management of this disease. By working with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we hope to get people talking about diabetes with their doctor, as well as their friends and family.”
Reed, who races for Roush Fenway Racing and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 17, had this to say: “To have the opportunity to race at the home of Lilly’s corporate headquarters in Indianapolis is a great honor and something I’ll never forget.
“I’m grateful to everyone at Lilly Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association for the opportunity to join them in promoting diabetes awareness with the hope of someday eliminating this devastating disease.”
The Lilly Diabetes 250 will go off on Saturday, July 26.
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.