Penske’s quartet pushes each other en route to qualifying dominance

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ST. PETERSBURG – If there is an intra-team rivalry at Team Penske between its four drivers, it hasn’t yet come to the surface.

In the wake of an unprecedented 1-2-3-4 sweep in the team’s first qualifying session as a four-car operation, ahead of Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, all four of “The Captain’s” men took the opportunity to praise each other rather than taking any shots.

Well, almost all the time.

“We’re having a good time,” said new recruit Simon Pagenaud, to which Juan Pablo Montoya replied, “Are we?” to much laughter.

Other than that, the compliments were flowing like the furious, fast lap times on the 1.8-mile street circuit.

“We basically worked a little bit harder than what we thought,” said Helio Castroneves, who qualified third behind polesitter and defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power and Pagenaud. “I have three other very good guys in the team which is good because each one tries something different.”

“Really, we pushed each other so hard in testing,” added Montoya, who in fourth was actually the lowest placed of the quartet.

The Penske dominance rubbed off so much that it even caused a Freudian slip by INDYCAR PR ace Kate Guerra, who accidentally referred to KVSH Racing driver Sebastien Bourdais as a Team Penske driver in introducing him to the dais.

“I don’t drive for Team Penske… if I did I’d be slowest of them, and that wouldn’t be good,” Bourdais joked, after qualifying sixth and the best non-Penske Chevrolet in the field.

It was that kind of day.

Pagenaud praised the immediate and instant team chemistry.

“What Juan said is true,” said the Frenchman. “It’s almost easier for us because there is a lot of data available to us.”

Power continued his St. Petersburg qualifying dominance with his fifth pole in the last six years, and his 37th overall in IndyCar. He seeks his third win at the track Sunday.

For the others, though, the qualifying was a marked improvement over recent years in St. Petersburg.

Pagenaud – for whatever reason – has struggled in qualifying at St. Pete with starts of 16th, 19th and 14th in the last three years. The first of those three was actually a sixth place qualifying effort, but with a 10-spot grid penalty for an unscheduled engine change.

Montoya could be excused for an 18th place qualifying last year, in his first open-wheel race in eight years and his first IndyCar start since 2000.

Castroneves, a three-time St. Petersburg race winner, qualified only 10th a year ago, so he made a seven-spot leap year-on-year.

It’s likely game on between the Penske quartet on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET), although as Power noted, the timing of yellows can often alter the complexion of the race.

“It’s like a drive-through you get hit with if a yellow comes out and the pits close,” Power said, “so maybe I need to run away and hide.”

If Penske can end as they qualified, they’ll emulate the feat achieved by Andretti Green Racing – now Andretti Autosport – 10 years ago at St. Petersburg in 2005. The late Dan Wheldon led Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta, to complete the only 1-2-3-4 race sweep in IndyCar history.

Saturday’s Motocross Round 3 at Thunder Valley: How to watch, start times, schedules, streams

Watch Motocross Thunder Valley
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The Pro Motocross series heads to Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado for the 19th consecutive year with no active winners in the 450 division but with plenty of storylines to watch.

Jett Lawrence has set a blistering pace in the first two rounds of the season by winning all four motos and as the most recent winner in the 250 class on this track, Thunder Valley has been incredibly kind. In fact, this week’s Hangtown by the numbers points out this is his fifth-best track.

Chase Sexton will sit out another round as he battles a concussion and illness, which gives Cooper Webb an opportunity to grab the No. 1 seed in the SuperMotocross World Championship that debuts this September. Last week, Webb made up 40 of the 68 points needed for the top spot after missing two rounds at the end of the Supercross season with a head injury suffered at Nashville.

JETTING TO THE LEAD: Jett Lawrence wins second Pro Motocross race in second try

The 250 class continues to be dominated by Hunter Lawrence. He has swept the podium in moto finishes and won both overall races of the season. Last year, he was second in the 250 Motocross race at Thunder Valley and will be a fun rider to watch.

Here are the pertinent details for watching Round 3 of the 2023 Motocross season at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado:

(All times are ET)

BROADCAST/STREAMING SCHEDULE: TV coverage of Round 3 will begin Saturday at 12 p.m. ET streaming on Peacock with an encore presentation Monday at 2 a.m. ET on CNBC. The Race Day Live show (including practice) will begin on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET Saturday.

NBC Sports will have exclusive live coverage of races, qualifiers and heats for the record 31 events in SuperMotocross. The main events will be presented on Peacock, NBC, USA Network, CNBC, and NBC Sports digital platforms.

Peacock will become the home of the SuperMotocross World Championship series in 2023 with live coverage of all races, qualifying, and heats from January to October. There will be 23 races livestreamed exclusively on Peacock, including a SuperMotocross World Championship Playoff event. The platform also will provide on-demand replays of every race. Click here for the full schedule.


Track Map

ENTRY LISTS: 450 division l 250 division

EVENT SCHEDULE (all times ET): 

Here are the start times for Saturday’s Motocross Round 3 at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado, according to the Monster Energy Supercross schedule from the AMA:

9:15 a.m.: Riders Meeting at AMA Semi
9:20 a.m.: Chapel Service at AMA Semi
10:00 a.m.: 250 Class Practice Grp B- 15 minutes (1 Lap Free)
10:20 a.m.: 250 Class Practice Grp A- 15 minutes (1 Lap Free)
10:50 a.m.: 450 Class Practice Grp A- 15 minutes (1 Lap Free)
11:10 a.m.: 450 Class Practice Grp B- 15 minutes (1 Lap Free)
11:40 a.m.: 250 Class Grp B Start Practice (Off Gate) 5 minutes
11:45 a.m.: 250 Class Practice Grp B- 15 minutes – Timed
12:05 p.m.: 250 Class Grp A Start Practice (Off Gate) 5 minutes
12:10 p.m.: 250 Class Practice Grp A- 15 minutes – Timed
12:30 p.m.: 450 Class Grp A Start Practice (Off Gate) 5 minutes
12:35 p.m.: 450 Class Practice Grp A- 15 minutes – Timed
12:55 p.m.: 450 Class Grp B Start Practice (Off Gate) 5 minutes
1:00 p.m.: 450 Class Practice Grp B- 15 minutes – Timed
1:45 p.m.: 250 Consolation Race
2:00 p.m.: 450 Consolation Race
3:00 p.m. 250 Class Sight Lap
3:10 p.m.: 250 Class Moto #1
4:00 p.m.: 450 Class Sight Lap
4:10 p.m.: 450 Class Moto #1
4:50 p.m.: Halftime
5:15 p.m.: 250 Class Sight Lap
5:23 p.m.: 250 Class Moto #2
6:00 p.m.: 250 Winners Circle
6:16 p.m.: 450 Class Sight Lap
6:24 p.m.: 450 Class Moto #2

MOTOCROSS 2023 STANDINGS: 450 points standings | 250 points standings


ROUND 1: Jett Lawrence wins in first 450 start at Pala
ROUND 2: Jett Lawrence remains perfect at Hangtown


ROUND 1: Eli Tomac opens title defense with victory
ROUND 2: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael on Supercross wins list
ROUND 3: Eli Tomac holds off Cooper Webb again
ROUND 4: Chase Sexton wins Anaheim Triple Crown
ROUND 5: Eli Tomac leads wire to wire in Houston
ROUND 6: Cooper Webb breaks through in Tampa
ROUND 7: Cooper Webb wins again in Arlington
ROUND 8: Eli Tomac wins Daytona for the seventh time
ROUND 9: Ken Roczen scores first victory since 2022
ROUND 10: Chase Sexton inherits Detroit victory but docked points
ROUND 11: Eli Tomac wins in Seattle, ties Cooper Webb for points lead
ROUND 12: Eli Tomac earns 51st career victory to break tie with James Stewart
ROUND 13: Chase Sexton dominates Atlanta to continue surge
ROUND 14: Justin Barcia triumphs in the New Jersey mud
ROUND 15: Chase Sexton wins as Cooper Webb is injured
ROUND 16: Eli Tomac sidelined by injury as Sexton wins
ROUND 17: Chase Sexton caps off championship with finale win


Thunder Valley by the numbers
Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross
Jeremy Martin injury update
Power Rankings after Hangtown
Results and points after Hangtown
Jett Lawrence wins second consecutive at Hangtown
Enzo Lopes re-signs with ClubMX

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