De Silvestro set for her best chance yet in IndyCar with Andretti in St. Pete


Simona de Silvestro will arrive at the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as fourth driver for Andretti Autosport, unsure of her future in the team beyond the first race.

The above sentence was written in a similar way five years ago, with a few different words:

Ryan Hunter-Reay will arrive at the IZOD IndyCar Series’ season-opening Sao Paulo Indy 300 as fourth driver for Andretti Autosport, but unsure of his future in the team beyond the first few races.

Indeed, de Silvestro will try to emulate what Hunter-Reay did when she makes her team debut in a few weeks, because the American was in a similar situation when he got his shot ahead of the 2010 season.

Hunter-Reay was one of America’s top open-wheel prospects in Formula Atlantic and overachieved in a Reynard chassis as a rookie in the 2003 CART season. But two years with midlevel teams – HVM being one of them – followed before he was tossed out just before the end of 2005.

He made it back in with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, won a race and lost a ride when a sponsor departed. An eleventh hour deal with Vision Racing and an injury fill-in role with A.J. Foyt Enterprises kept him afloat in 2009, but those were both temporary.

This leads us nicely to 2010, when Andretti had a fourth car to fill, and the team provided Hunter-Reay the opportunity of a lifetime for an early season deal that was not confirmed for the full season, at least initially.

Hunter-Reay promptly finished runner-up on his team debut in Sao Paulo – a race where de Silvestro made her series debut – won at Long Beach a couple races later and had a full season confirmed by midseason.

De Silvestro enters Andretti’s fourth car having followed a similar career path. The Swiss driver raced in the U.S. for the first time in 2006, notably scoring a podium in Formula BMW on the Formula 1 weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Three seasons in Atlantics followed and like Hunter-Reay, she won races but came up just shy of a title.

Her first three IndyCar seasons were spent with HVM Racing, a team which Hunter-Reay drove for and overachieved with. Several races marked her a potential future standout, notably her qualifying seventh her first year at Edmonton, finishing fourth at St. Petersburg and setting the fastest race lap in Sao Paulo in 2011.

But her year with a Lotus-powered sled in 2012 did her no favors; she won over fans even more with her class and resiliency in the face of driving a car with an inferior powerplant.

A chance with KV Racing Technology in 2013 was a roller coaster campaign. Several highs occurred, including her overdue first career podium in Houston, but a rough middle portion of the season and general inconsistency made it a mixed year in total. By the end of the season, her future in the sport was in doubt, more due to a lack of seat vacancies than a lack of ability level.

Her F1 dream fizzled before it ever truly had a chance to materialize. Sauber’s financial woes meant an early end to her planned testing program. She also announced a split from her longtime manager, and began targeting a return to the U.S.

Wednesday’s announcement for de Silvestro with Andretti was only confirmed for one race, but, it likely will be the start of a relationship for further races provided it goes smoothly.

For years, observers have noted her talent level and said if she had the right opportunity, she could be a race winner in IndyCar. She’s been hailed for her strength level to handle the high downforce (particularly now with the new aero kits) cars that lack power steering.

She’ll have a support group of teammates that is two more than she’s ever had in IndyCar. Tony Kanaan was her only teammate in 2013 at KV; with Andretti, she’ll have Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz and, naturally, Hunter-Reay to compare data and notes with.

She steps into the team that has worked to find additional sponsorship for its drivers. For example, DHL, Hunter-Reay’s primary sponsor, is on board for a three-year extension through 2017.

She has a big volume of fan support, as witnessed by the seemingly endless explosion of congratulatory posts hitting on Facebook and Twitter this morning.

She’ll also have no excuses, and with a lot of eyeballs on her, a fair bit of pressure to perform. This is a seat that has been linked with Justin Wilson all winter, among others, and while de Silvestro is still one of IndyCar’s more capable shoes, she’s not quite at Wilson’s level. Yet, anyway.

But this is a driver who has been defined by resilience, and refused to be defeated. She’s smiled after walking away from two fiery crashes. She’s garnered “Iron Maiden” as one of her nicknames.

She’s been in the U.S. for the better part of 10 years, save for last year, working tirelessly to advance into a seat of this caliber.

And in a one-shot deal, she’s got the best opportunity of her career, by far.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston


Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart

The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s