Ten with Townsend: NOLA debrief

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The third season of the MotorSportsTalk original series “Ten with Townsend” – a 10-question Q&A with NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell – premieres this week following the first NBCSN Verizon IndyCar Series race broadcast of 2015, the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana. A full archive of past posts is linked here.

Here’s the breakdown after Sunday’s race held in mixed conditions, and won by James Hinchcliffe.

-What were your thoughts on NOLA Motorsports Park as a track, facility and organization? How does it compare to other first-time venues?

I’m sure the owners were frustrated to have spent all that money to build a new venue and not have proper drainage for the racing surface. That shouldn’t happen at a new track.

I think the track flow is good, the drivers enjoy it, but I imagine they’ll look to adjust the layout  to create a longer braking zone (tighter corners at the end of the straights).  Figuring out how to get parking established on site for fans will also be important.

-When there was green flag running, do you feel the drivers handled themselves better than at St. Petersburg in the opener?

They were aggressive. Just as I hoped they would be.

-How did this race compare to other “flukey” type of races you’ve seen throughout your career?

This ranks up there with fluke wins. Max Papis at Laguna Seca (2001), Michael Andretti at Long Beach (2002), and Mario Dominguez at Surfers’ Paradise the same year. But they all count just the same on the record books!  Congrats to Hinch and SPM for taking a gamble, keeping it on the island, and riding off with those giant Mardi Balls.

Podium beads… in giant sizes. Photo: AP

-Through two races, how do you look at the job Juan Pablo Montoya is doing?

Fantastic. He’s fast, racy, and confident that he has his game working on all fronts. 

-Does it look like Team Penske has the clear edge thus far performance-wise in dry conditions?

I would give Penske the nod on street circuits right now and Ganassi the nod on permanent road courses.  It was a shame for Ganassi that they did not see a dry race track after Friday practice 1.  They were the team to beat, IMO.

-How do you rate the job the rookies/first-year drivers are doing so far?

So far, nobody is showing the kind of collective rookie talent that we saw in 2014 from Hawksworth and Munoz.

-What was your biggest surprise of the weekend? 

Probably seeing the Foyt team struggle after looking so strong in St. Pete on pace. I’m sure Long Beach will be different; they’ve won there before.

-Is there anyone you feel has punched above their weight and impressed the opening couple races? Anyone you’re looking to see improve heading into Long Beach?

Simona.  I’m not surprised because I don’t think we’ve fully seen what she’s capable of yet. For her to finish in the top-five, best of her team, with very little track time is remarkable.  I hope she runs all season because she deserves it, and I think the second half of her season would be very strong as she settles back in after quite some time away.

I think if Sage Karam gets to run Long Beach he clearly needs a solid weekend.  Not so much a result, but precise execution through all sessions and the race.  I’ve been there and didn’t manage to accomplish that my rookie year. I hope he can get through this tough phase because the other side looks very promising.  But he needs to buy himself some breathing room, and right now he’s short on that SK Money.

-With Long Beach next, do you expect a similar caution-fest event as occurred at St. Petersburg or just typical Long Beach in terms of accidents/surprise winner?

Weather looks to be great this weekend and I think the drivers have learned from St. Pete how big the perfromance penalty is for front wing damage in the ‘body kit era.’  Will Power will win in his sleep. 

-Collectively, you, Brian Till and Paul Tracy were all playing well off each other this weekend. How did it feel to get back in the booth after a long layoff since Auto Club? How do you stay fresh from a commentary perspective when it’s that long a break? 

I maintain a strict commentary training program which includes critiquing and yelling during other sports events on TV while at home on the couch. It’s quite popular with the rest of the family.

Saturday’s Supercross Round 5 in Houston: How to watch, start times, streaming info


The championship race has tightened up as the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series heads to NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, for Round 5 of the 2023 season.

With his 450 victory in the Anaheim Triple Crown, Chase Sexton has moved within four points of two-time and defending series champion Eli Tomac.

Jason Anderson is coming off a second place in Anaheim after crashing out of the first two rounds while racing in the top five. Ken Roczen earned his first podium last week since the 2022 season opener and the first for Suzuki since Chad Reed at Detroit in 2019.

Here are the pertinent details for watching Round 5 of the 2023 Supercross schedule at NRG Stadium in Houston on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023:

(All times are ET)

BROADCAST/STREAMING SCHEDULE: TV coverage of Round 5 will begin Saturday at 8 p.m. ET streaming on Peacock and will re-air Monday, Feb. 6 at 1 a.m. on CNBC. The Race Day Live show (including qualifying) will begin on Peacock at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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.

ENTRY LISTS: 450 division l 250 division

EVENT SCHEDULE (all times ET):

Here are the start times for Saturday, according to the Monster Energy Supercross schedule from the AMA:

2:05-2:15 p.m.: 250SX Group C Qualifying 1
2:20-2:30 p.m.: 250SX Group B Qualifying 1
2:35-2:45 p.m.: 250SX Group A Qualifying 1
2:50-3 p.m.: 450SX Group A Qualifying 1
3:05-3:15 p.m.: 450SX Group B Qualifying 1
3:20-3:30 p.m.: 450SX Group C Qualifying 1
4:20-4:30 p.m.: 250SX Group C Qualifying 2
4:35-4:45 p.m.: 250SX Group B Qualifying 2
4:50-5 p.m.: 250SX Group A Qualifying 2
5:05-5:15 p.m.: 450SX Group A Qualifying 2
5:20-5:30 p.m.: 450SX Group B Qualifying 2
5:35-5:45 p.m.: 450SX Group C Qualifying 2
8:06 p.m.: 250SX Heat 1
8:20 p.m.: 250SX Heat 2
8:34 p.m.: 450SX Heat 1
8:48 p.m.: 450SX Heat 2
9:22 p.m.: 250SX Last Chance Qualifier
9:33 p.m.: 450SX Last Chance Qualifier
9:53 p.m.: 250SX Main Event
10:27 p.m.: 450SX Main Event


Click here to view the track map


FINAL 2022 STANDINGS: 450 points standings | 250 East points standings250 West points standings


ROUND 1: Eli Tomac opens title defense with victory

ROUND 2: Oakland postponed by storms

ROUND 3: Tomac holds off Cooper Webb again

ROUND 4: Chase Sexton wins Anaheim Triple Crown


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Austin Forkner out for 2023 Supercross season

Malcolm Stewart aims for 450 breakthrough

A new attitude for Adam Cianciarulo in 2023

Ken Roczen signs with Suzuki

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a fine line with competition and fans

Three talented rookies move up to 450

Jett Lawrence wants to run 450 division for SMX playoffs