What went right: The younger Busch brother had a good, but not great season. For the second time in three seasons, he managed just one victory, compared to his four wins in 2013. But Busch’s lack of wins didn’t rest solely on himself. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin also only had one win, while fellow teammate Matt Kenseth had zero wins after earning a series-high seven triumphs in 2013. Busch faded in the Eliminator Round of the Chase and did not advance to the season-ending Championship Round at Homestead. On a side note, Busch and wife Samantha announced they will soon become parents for the first time.
What went wrong: While Busch insists racing in other series helps him with his day job in the Sprint Cup circuit, one must wonder if perhaps he’s racing too much and it indeed is affecting that same day job. Busch earned seven wins each in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series in 2014, but an argument can be made that by racing so much, he’s wearing himself out for Sunday’s usual main event. On a more specific note, Busch and crew chief Dave Rogers had communication problems that may have ultimately led to their divorce of sorts after the season. It’ll be interesting to see how Busch and new crew chief in 2015, Adam Stevens, work together. Or not.
2015 Prospectus: With a new crew chief, and likely with at least a few new pit crew members, it will be interesting to see how quickly Busch and Stevens jell in 2015. Of course, they’re not strangers, as Stevens was Busch’s crew chief the past two seasons in the Nationwide Series. If they can only have part of the success they’ve had on NASCAR’s junior circuit – 52 starts, 19 wins, 46 top-5 and 47 top-10 finishes – in the Cup series, it will be a good change. Busch still hasn’t won his first Cup championship. Will turning 30 and being a new father and having a new crew chief in 2015 all potentially help him to that goal?
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.