Preview: MAVTV 500 in Fontana a test of survival, heat and tire management

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The three upcoming races for the Verizon IndyCar Series are all on ovals, but they couldn’t be more diverse.

Essentially, you’ve got provolone, cheddar and Swiss cheese all in a row. Are they all cheeses? Yes. Are they the same in any way, shape or fashion beyond the fact they’re cheeses? Nope.

The first in the “ovals as cheese” trifecta is this weekend’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), which has been done no favors in terms of scheduling since it came back on the schedule in 2012.

It was in mid-September in ungodly heat, moved to a more reasonable mid-October date the following year, then moved back up to end of August last year.

Its reward for 2015? A new track president, in the form of Dave Allen to replace the departed Gillian Zucker, and another new date – it’s now the end of June in a Saturday afternoon race.

Conditions might be miserable but the drivers will all have to make do. Here’s a decent explanation of what drivers will face, as outlined by Takuma Sato, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda.

“Running the race during the heat of the day will be very tough,” Sato said. “You lose tons of downforce from the high ambient temperature and you lose significant mechanical grip due to the high track temperature, as tires are given a very hard time. So there will be not enough grip and the race will be a tough one to deal with as a driver.”

Sato – and the other 22 drivers competing in the MAVTV 500 – will look to survive the heat, tire wear and the seams that make Auto Club Speedway so treacherous. While there have been disconcerting rumors put out this could be the race’s finale, MAVTV did sign a two-year sponsorship extension at last year’s race through 2016.

As for this year, it would seem fairly likely the winner will come from Team Penske or Chip Ganassi Racing. Is that a surprise? Hardly.

On the Penske side, Juan Pablo Montoya is a 500-mile master and looks to add an ACS win to his already stellar 500-mile resume, while Will Power’s arguably best ever oval race came here two years ago. Helio Castroneves will be motivated as ever to get his first win of the year, while Simon Pagenaud has what should be a much better wagon underneath him after a trying Fontana last year in his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports swansong.

It’s Ganassi that enters as defending race champions. Tony Kanaan finally earned his first win as a member of CGR last August, and Scott Dixon gave chase the rest of the night. Charlie Kimball is a sleeper and has been very solid the last two years at Fontana; Sage Karam returns to the site where he won his Indy Lights title two years ago after a one-race absence.

Of the other Chevrolet-powered teams, the KVSH Racing entry of Sebastien Bourdais and KV Racing Technology entry of Stefano Coletti both struggled at Texas, as did CFH Racing’s pair of Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden, somewhat surprisingly. On outright performance you’d expect both teams to find their form this weekend, and Newgarden told MotorSportsTalk earlier this week he expects CFHR to be on better terms than they were after a disastrous Texas.

Coming to the Honda teams, and it was Andretti Autosport’s pair of Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti, Schmidt Peterson’s Ryan Briscoe and James Jakes and Bryan Herta Autosport’s Gabby Chaves who all banked top-10 finishes in Texas. Briscoe and Andretti, of that quintet, you’d figure to do well in Fontana this weekend.

Of the other Honda runners, Andretti’s Ryan Hunter-Reay needs an exorcism or something similar to erase what’s been a brutal 10-race stretch from the start of the season. Fontana has good memories for him as it’s where he clinched his 2012 title.

The others – Graham Rahal of RLL, Coyne’s Pippa Mann and Tristan Vautier and Foyt’s Sato and Jack Hawksworth – all seek trouble-free runs and better finishes than they had at Texas.

On paper it’s likely Montoya or Dixon’s to lose. Of course with it being 500 miles, nearly anything is possible.

Motocross 2023: Results and points after SuperMotocross Round 18 at Hangtown


For the second consecutive week, Jett Lawrence had perfect results in the Pro Motocross round at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova, California with a pair of moto wins and the overall victory, only this time he didn’t have Chase Sexton, who sat out the round with a concussion, to keep him honest in the second race.

Jett Lawrence’s performance in the first two Motocross rounds has him thinking of a rookie championship. – Align Media

Lawrence led all 16 laps of both races after taking the holeshot in the second moto and grabbing the lead from Dylan Ferrandis in Turn 2 of Moto 1. Lawrence claimed a four-second lead in Moto 1 and five seconds in Moto 2, but as dominant as it seems on paper, there were some exciting moments during the weekend. In the second race, Lawrence wanted to build an advantage that would allow him to maintain his pace and he nearly high-sided a couple of times in heavy ruts.

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

In his second race back from a concussion, Ferrandis finished in the runner-up spot with a second in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. While his finish of second overall goes into the record books, Pro Motocross points are rewarded for each individual race and that meant Ferrandis lost eight points in championship battle to Lawrence. With Sexton failing to mount up for the race, Ferrandis advanced to second in the standings with an 18-point gap to Lawrence. Equally important, Ferrandis gained ground in the SuperMotocross World Championship (WSX) points and now has a gap of 44 over 21st-place Justin Starling.

Cooper Webb is also in his second round since returning from a Supercross injury suffered in Nashville at the end of their season. Claiming results of fourth and second in the two races, Webb earned 40 SuperMotocross points at Hangtown and closed in on Sexton in the WSX battle. Sexton entered Hangtown with a large enough lead that he could not be overtaken, but he is now only 38 points up and could face a difficult decision next week at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado if he wants to hold onto his lead.

Moto 1 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Moto 2 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Consolation Race

Aaron Plessinger had an adventurous weekend in which he seemed to close on Lawrence in his second race before crashing and dropping to fourth. Coupled with a fifth-place finish in Moto 1, he earned 35 points and was credited with fourth overall.

Cashing in on confidence he gained in the final rounds of the Supercross season, Adam Cianciarulo earned his first top-five of the Pro Motocross championship after narrowly missing out last week with a sixth. He earned the distinction with consistent results of fifth in Moto 1 and fourth in Moto 2.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Hunter Lawrence showed his back to the competition at Hangtown, just as he did the week prior at Fox Raceway. – Align Media

The Lawrence brothers made history last week as the first siblings to win in two Pro Motocross divisions on the same day. Fans should get accustomed to seeing this happen with some regularity as Hunter Lawrence posted identical results in Hangtown to those he had at Fox Raceway in the season opener.

In both races, Lawrence got off to a slow start in Moto 1 and had to claw his way back to the podium. He dominated Moto 2 in both rounds to earn the overall victories.

Justin Cooper did not allow Lawrence to gain much of an advantage in the Motocross points’ standings, however. Finishing second in both motos, the earned only one point less than Lawrence. His modest showing in Round 1 of the outdoor season has him 12 points out of first in the championship standings.

Moto 1 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Moto 2 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Consolation Race

Haiden Deegan scored his first moto win in just his fourth start in the series. In the first race of the day, he had to withstand constant pressure from Cooper, but when his teammate closed in on him, Deegan reached down and found a little more speed. Now that he’s won one of these races, he has his sight set on challenging Lawrence for the title. Deegan is second in the Pro Motocross championship standings with a 10-point deficit to the leader.

Haiden Deegan scored podiums in both Motocross rounds of 2023. – Align Media

Tom Vialle tied his career-best finish of fourth overall with a seventh-place finish in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. Vialle was fourth last week in overall ranking and has one fourth-place finish in the Supercross series that came in the Triple Crown format at Arlington.

Click here for 250 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

RJ Hampshire rounded out the top five with a pair of fifth-place results and 32 points for the round. Even though the deficit is a whopping 61 points, Hampshire climbed to second in the SuperMotocross championship standings now that Jett Lawrence has moved to the big bikes.

Jalek Swoll struggled last week and finished 21st overall at Fox Raceway. This week, he finished on the cusp of 10th in both races with a ninth in Moto 1 and 11th in Moto 2. In the SuperMotocross standings, he has a lot of ground to make up. He currently sits 49th on the chart with a 70-point gap to Chance Hymas, who is on the bubble to earn a guaranteed position in the SMX Mains for the three playoff races that will be held on September.

2023 Motocross Results

Round 1: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win

2023 Supercross Results

Round 17: Chase Sexton, Jett Lawrence win
Round 16: Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire win
Round 15: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 14: Justin Barcia, Max Anstie win
Round 13: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 12: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Eli Tomac, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 18: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top
Week 16: Chase Sexton takes SX title
Week 15: Eli Tomac is back on top
Week 14: Justin Barcia, most of top 20, hold steady
Week 13: Barcia leapfrogs the Big Three
Week 12: Eli Tomac gains momentum
Week 11: Cooper Webb, Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
Week 10: Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Sexton unseats Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s