Chase leader Joey Logano looks ahead to Sunday, talks Texas post-race fight

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In his most recent visit to Phoenix International Raceway, Joey Logano converted a front-row start into a fourth-place finish this past March.

If he can do that again Sunday at PIR, he’ll be racing for the Sprint Cup championship next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Logano is tied with Denny Hamlin for the Chase lead with a 13-point cushion over the cutoff to advance. A finish of 11th or better for him on Sunday will make him one of the four drivers battling for the title in South Florida.

But while he knows what he must do, Logano says he has to push that out of his mind during the Eliminator Round finale and keep focused on the task at hand like he and the No. 22 Team Penske crew did last week at Texas.

Late in the running, a slow pit stop and a spin could’ve spelled disaster for Logano’s Chase hopes. But he was able to rally and finish 12th, which was enough to get him to the top of the Chase Grid.

“We didn’t finish where we wanted to going into the day, but after losing that many spots toward the end of the race and being able to come home 12th – all things considered – it was a decent day,” he said. “We’ll have to do the same thing here – go out there and try to win the race and roll with the punches no matter what happens. No pun intended (laughs).”

In Logano’s mind, the strategy remains unchanged: Be aggressive to get up front and stay there. However, with his points lead in mind, he acknowledges that there may be a limit to his aggression late in the race.

“Maybe we won’t go three or four-wide for the win knowing you may wreck,” he said. “That’s probably not worth it, but, at the same time, I think we have to stay on the attack mode throughout the race to keep our track position and make sure we’re up towards the front.

“We proved it last week because as soon as we lost track position we got hit in the door, we had a flat tire, and it just snowballed the wrong way. So you’ve got to be up towards the front to feel safe, so you’ve got to be aggressive to be up there in the first place.”

As for the latest imbroglio involving his Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski (-5 points behind cutoff), Logano said that he would be as good a partner as he can be to the beleaguered Michigander.

He also said it wasn’t his place to judge Keselowski or anyone else that played a role in the post-race scuffle at Texas, which ended with Keselowski and an angry Jeff Gordon in the center of a brawl that also involved their respective crews.

“You don’t really know the situation unless you’re in the situation yourself,” Logano said. “I wasn’t driving the 24 [Gordon] or the 2 car [Keselowski] last week. I don’t really know what happened. We can all watch the film as much as we want and say, ‘Oh, it looks like this happened or it looks like that happened.’

“We’re all gonna have different opinions and most likely, both drivers are not gonna have the same opinion either because we all have big egos here and we’re all right. That’s how we think, but deep down inside they probably know what happened.”

NASCAR has since penalized multiple crew members on the teams of Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, as well as their respective crew chiefs. All three drivers involved in the Texas fight – Gordon, Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick – escaped punishment of any kind.

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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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.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

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.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

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.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

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.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2