Kerry Madsen held on in a green-white-checkered finish to win the 31st annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway on Saturday night.
The Kings Royal is considered one of the most important races on the sprint car calendar, and Madsen walked away with a $50,000 winner’s prize.
Madsen took the lead on Lap 13 after starting seventh on the grid. The Australian was able to hold it until Lap 38, when a caution turned into an open red flag after the field reached max laps.
That set up a green-white-checkered, giving Donny Schatz and David Gravel one last shot to get past Madsen.
But Madsen was able to stay ahead of them in G-W-C to not only earn his fourth World of Outlaws win of 2014 but also become the first Aussie to capture a Kings Royal crown.
“When you have a champion like Donny behind you, you know you can’t make a mistake… and obviously David was strong all weekend and he was going to be a presence at some point as well,” Madsen said to the series’ website.
“Fortunately for me, [my team] gave me that good a car that it just did its own thing anyways.”
After the race, Madsen was declared ‘King’ in a ceremony that saw him bestowed with all the little things that a monarch needs: A robe, scepter, crown, and finally, a throne.
Schatz, who finished second behind Madsen in the A-Main, was gracious in defeat.
“Kerry was definitely a better racecar,” Schatz said. “He got up there and went and was awful fast. When he got there, it was hard to even keep up with him.
“Hats off to those guys, they did a phenomenal job. He’s been knocking at the door of this race for a long time so I’m glad to see him win it.”
Gravel finished third, with Kevin Swindell and Paul McMahan completing the Top 5.
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.