Andretti Autosport drivers won the Indianapolis 500 and rookie-of-the-year honors in 2014, but the team fought through various inconsistencies during the campaign. They’re next up on our list of teams to look at in our Verizon IndyCar Series 2015 team-by-team preview.
Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Indianapolis 500, in a popular and overdue triumph. Additionally, Carlos Munoz earned Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors over three deserving others. Those two items went right but all told the rest of the 2014 season was largely one to forget for Andretti Autosport, which fought inconsistency throughout the year and regressed in qualifying.
RHR is always a title contender and Andretti and Munoz should each be better this year than last. Rob Edwards has been hired as new overall team manager, and should provide additional leadership. The trump card Andretti could hold is Honda’s aero kit, if that proves a better package than does Chevrolet’s. Simona de Silvestro has been confirmed for the team’s fourth car for St. Petersburg; it’s a car which, along with a potential fifth, has been the subject of much discussion this winter. She’s a nice add to a solid lineup, and makes Andretti also a fearsome foursome on par with Penske and Ganassi’s quartets.
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. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. 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.