“I think it was good for me to lead laps,” said Kahne, who led a race-high 70 laps at Indy but finished sixth after losing the lead to Jeff Gordon on a restart with 17 laps to go.
“We hadn’t done a whole lot of that this season. To lead a lot of laps at Indianapolis and run up front throughout the whole race was good for my confidence. What I liked the most about the entire weekend was the team stepped up. It was the first time of the season we have put a full race together. From me driving to them on pit road to pit calls, everything about it was right.
“That is something that we haven’t done this year. We haven’t even come close to doing that. It was a big weekend for all of us and we got some momentum out of it, some confidence I think on all of our parts. Hopefully, we can carry that into this weekend and especially Sunday.”
Kahne would later qualify 12th on Friday for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400, which he won one year ago. That victory proved vital in him making last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Now, Kahne hopes that the Tricky Triangle will once again help him get into the post-season. With six races remaining in the regular season, Kahne is four points behind Austin Dillon for the 16th and final spot on the Chase Grid.
But while Kahne will be putting everything he has into winning on Sunday, he does feel confident of his chances in the rest of the regular season races – save for perhaps the road course at Watkins Glen International, which comes up next weekend.
“Not counting wrecks or any bad luck or that stuff, just straight-up average finish, I think Watkins Glen is one of my tougher tracks,” he said of the Glen, where he’s never finished in the Top-10 in 10 career Cup starts (top finish of 13th in 2012). “It’s going to be a place that we need to work really hard on to perform next week.
“After that, Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, Richmond…All those tracks, we have won at and ran really well at. I look forward to each one of those and feel like we can definitely still make the Chase if we don’t do it this weekend.”
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.