With aero kits homologated and Rolex 24 this weekend, IndyCar could be poised for flurry of news

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You might remember back on November 25 (OK, you may not, but that works as a convenient setup to link back to this post), that with a couple GP2 veterans announcing they’d be testing in December, I examined just how many free agents there were vying for the roughly seven or eight remaining Verizon IndyCar Series seats for the 2015 season.

In short, there’s an overload. And there will be way more drivers left without a seat when the music stops.

However, there has been zero official movement on new full-time seats since late October, when Jack Hawksworth was confirmed in a second car for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, and for any seat overall early November, when Jay Howard was confirmed in a second Indianapolis 500 entry for Bryan Herta Autosport.

With James Hinchcliffe confirmed at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports back in early October, we have to go back to September to find the last driver without “JH” initials confirmed in IndyCar – and that was Simon Pagenaud to Team Penske.

Technically, yes, the first three drivers at Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball) were all confirmed over a series of days in December. But those were more formalities than surprises, and none of them involved team movement.

The month of February is now setting up to cram nearly an entire offseason worth of news – or close – in the span of three-four weeks.

Here’s what still needs to come down the pipeline for IndyCar before the March 8 season opener in Brasilia, Brazil:

AERO KITS, AERO KITS, AERO KITS

You probably wouldn’t have realized this otherwise because it was NFL Championship Sunday, but Sunday marked the homologation date deadline for Chevrolet and Honda. INDYCAR is yet to confirm an official launch date for the kits, but figure news on when that launch date is could be imminent within the next week or two.

INDYCAR’s Will Phillips posted about aero kits on Twitter on Sunday.

INDYCAR DRIVERS/TEAM OWNERS IN OTHER DISCIPLINES

Sarah Fisher made her competitive racing return this past week at the Chili Bowl. And now, a boatload of drivers from the 2014 IndyCar season will be in action at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

More than a third of the starters from the 2014 Indianapolis 500 are on the grid, and a handful more were pounding the pavement during the week seeing if they could get anything done. It didn’t seem to happen.

THE REST OF THE GRID

Back in November, the available seats still outstanding were: Chip Ganassi Racing #4, Andretti Autosport #4, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports #2, CFH Racing’s road/street course #2, Dale Coyne Racing’s #1 and 2, and Bryan Herta Autosport’s #1.

Two months later, exactly all of those seats are still yet to be filled. There is literally no point to writing another silly season update beyond the one I penned in November because almost nothing has changed.

With IndyCar’s media day set for Feb. 17 in Indianapolis, the next month figures to be prime signing time to ensure each driver/team gets at least one or two days of testing in before the season opener.

So, basically, if you cover IndyCar, get a template ready that reads “Driver signs with team for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season,” and go from there depending on each driver’s respective resumes over the years.

TRACK, AND CAR, PREP

As noted in the last week, Brazil’s track construction in Brasilia is finally underway. Between finishing that up, then bolting on the aero kits, testing them at Barber and heading to St. Petersburg, IndyCar will have its own version of “March Madness” awaiting it.

The long and short of the above: after an offseason with little to no news, really, over the extended gap since last August’s season finale, IndyCar is finally set for a flurry of it that should occur – that really has to occur – between now and the March 8 season opener.

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