IndyCar: Rahal hails new NOLA circuit, new RLL engineering group


After his first day at the NOLA Motorsports Park circuit on Tuesday where he completed 91 laps, Graham Rahal took the opportunity to praise what he feels will be one of if not the fastest road courses on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

“It is fast. It’s gonna be a cool place to race,” Rahal said in an interview with 1070 The Fan’s “Trackside” program in Indianapolis, with NBCSN IndyCar pit reporter Kevin Lee and the Indianapolis Star‘s Curt Cavin.

“(Juan Pablo) Montoya and I were talking. He was struggling to hold his head up end of the day. It’s a physical place. It should be the highest average speed of any road course we do. The Indy GP may or may not be there.”

Rahal, who raced at the old Edmonton and whose father Bobby was a regular winner at the old Cleveland airport courses, compared the track to both of those in that its wide-open nature will allow fans to see all of the circuit at once.

“There is a lot of grip in the surface,” he said. “There’s good top speed. The front straight is very bumpy. So it will be hard to manage that.

“It should be a great show. You can see everything. Every corner you can see from one spot. They’re building grandstands. You can literally see all 13 corners, no problem.”

Rahal didn’t give away any details on the new manufacturer aero kits other than to call the Honda kit “extremely radical looking.”

He did, however, take the opportunity to reflect upon the new engineering staff in place for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2015. Rahal will work with engineer Eddie Jones, Mike Talbott on vehicle dynamics program and Martin Pare, head of the vehicle ride control development program.

“We take responsibility for everything… but it was a difficult working environment (last year),” Rahal said. “Dad felt it was very important to take it into his hands and make a difference.

“After 2013, we threw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall and hope it stuck… and we were worse off. We rebooted. I haven’t worked with Eddie directly, but he was good with (James) Jakes. Martin was my lead engineer at Newman/Haas. Mike Talbott worked with me at Newman/Haas, and then went to HPD.

“All of these guys have worked together before which is the key. I’ve had relaitonships with all of them. Finally the guys wrenching on the car have a smile on their face.”

Rahal seeks to improve upon a 19th place finish in the 2014 standings, with a single second place at Detroit his best result.

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead


With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.

In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
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