INDIANAPOLIS – Beyond the top five and the couple other stories of note for drivers that ran in the top five yesterday (Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud), here are a few other results of note at the end of Sunday’s 99th Indianapolis 500:
Marco Andretti ended sixth in the No. 27 Snapple Honda, for his seventh Indianapolis 500 top-10 finish in 10 starts. It led the five-car Andretti Autosport contingent on a tough day; teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simona de Silvestro, Carlos Munoz and Justin Wilson ended 15th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, with the latter two coming up short on a late-race fuel gamble. Said Andretti, “It was a frustrating 500 miles, we lost some track position in the pits and I lost some more out on the track. It was just a hard fight to keep the car balanced, let alone try to win.”
JR Hildebrand ended eighth to lead the one-off drivers, in the No. 6 Preferred Freezer CFH Racing Chevrolet. Hildebrand ebbed and flowed between sixth and 17th after starting 10th. “I, along with a lot of other guys, was just hanging on for the first couple of stints. We had some dicing around in the pits, the stops kind of went both ways for us as we got through the race,” he said.
Hildebrand’s teammate Josef Newgarden ended ninth, for his best Indianapolis 500 result. Charlie Kimball (third) and Takuma Sato (13th) also either set or equaled their best ‘500 result.
Gabby Chaves ran as high as 10th and ended 16th to be top rookie (of two) in the field. A further post on him will come later this week.
The other one-off or month-of-May only results: Ryan Briscoe 12th, Townsend Bell 14th, Alex Tagliani 17th, de Silvestro 19th, Wilson 21st, Pippa Mann 22nd, Sebastian Saavedra 23rd, James Davison 27th, Tristan Vautier 28th, Bryan Clauson 31st and Conor Daly 33rd.
Daly is the first race starter to retire from a mechanical failure before the green flag since, ironically, his team owner Sam Schmidt (blown engine) and Alessandro Zampedri (oil leak) in the 35-car, rain-delayed 1997 Indianapolis 500 (race also featured an accident involving Affonso Giaffone, Stephane Gregoire and Kenny Brack before the green flag).
Meanwhile Sage Karam is the first driver to retire on the first lap from an accident since Davey Hamilton in 2010. Karam’s wreck was more reminiscent of the Mario Moraes/Marco Andretti crash exiting Turn 1 a year earlier, in 2009.
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.
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.