Red Bull Straight Rhythm preview: James Stewart the favorite, but tough matchups await


With motocross silly season in full swing, a field of active riders and retired legends will descend upon Southern California for the inaugural Red Bull Straight Rhythm event today.

Straight Rhythm is a first-of-its-kind event. The typical mix of rhythm sections, huge jumps, whoops and sand sections that you would see on a typical supercross track are all present, but the turns are not. Instead, the Straight Rhythm track is a half-mile long and built on a straightaway.

The competition format is unique too. Rather than sending 20 riders out on the track at once, the invite-only event pits two riders at a time head-to-head within a bracket. Each rider is required to stay in their lane as they race side-by-side down the track.

On Friday, all 16 riders in the Open Class hit the track to put down their fastest lap times and earn their seeds. All the riders were then placed into a bracket for today’s competition, with each matchup being a best-of-three.

Open Class Seeds and Qualifying Times (view the bracket)
1. James Stewart, 50.766
2. Dean Wilson, 50.926
3. Justin Brayton, 51.313
4. Malcolm Stewart, 51.424
5. Josh Hill, 51.533
6. Kyle Partridge, 51.638
7. Shane McElrath, 51.938
8. Travis Pastrana, 52.264
9. Josh Hansen, 52.271
10. Jake Canada, 52.840
11. Kyle Chisholm, 52.987
12. Vince Friese, 53.263
13. Brett Metcalfe, 53.496
14. Ryan Morais, 54.169
15. Grant Langston, 54.365
16. Scott Champion, 54.617

There’s plenty of intrigue around Travis Pastrana’s return to motocross racing, but he’ll be challenged right out of the gate. As the eight-seed, a first-round matchup with Josh Hansen is no lock, and a win would likely have him facing off with James Stewart – the fastest qualifier and the overwhelming favorite – in the quarterfinals.

While Stewart is expected to contend for victory, he knows how important it is to be flawless through the track on every run. “It’s hard to make up time when [you] make a mistake,” Stewart said. “If you make one mistake, you might as well turn around and go back to the start.”

James isn’t the only fast Stewart in the competition. Assuming he makes it past Scott Champion and the winner of the Pastrana/Hansen battle, James could be matched up with his brother Malcolm in the semifinals. The two raced together during qualifying yesterday, and while both were blazing through the course, James was getting the better of the sibling rivalry, repeatedly beating Malcolm to the finish line.

Should chalk hold up, a matchup between the top two seeds – James Stewart and Dean Wilson – would make for an electrifying final. Wilson made one of the biggest moves of the offseason, leaving Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki to jump up to the 450 Class with Red Bull KTM. This is only his fourth day on the KTM 450, but he seems to have adapted quickly. Wilson’s first event with the new ride could be a memorable one.

Another rider debuting a new bike this weekend is Justin Brayton, who switched from JGR Yamaha to BTO Sports KTM. He qualified third and also looked strong in Friday’s practice. Partnered with Pastrana throughout the day, Brayton was consistently finishing ahead of him.

The 250 Class will also have its own 16-rider main event today, with a pair of Red Bull KTM teammates – Marvin Musquin and newcomer Justin Hill – earning the top-two seeds in the division. You can view the full 250 Class bracket here.

To see how the brackets play out, watch Red Bull Straight Rhythm live online starting at 5:30 p.m. ET today on

NBC will also air television coverage of the event on December 20.

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports