Ten with Townsend: Red Bull GRC 4 races in, post-MCAS New River


NBC Sports Group motorsports analyst Townsend Bell does both Verizon IndyCar Series and Red Bull Global Rallycross analysis.

So we caught up with Townsend after this weekend’s Red Bull GRC round at the MCAS New River military base for a Red Bull GRC edition of the MotorSportsTalk original series “Ten with Townsend.”

Bell has been at both the Daytona doubleheader (June 20-21, shown right) and MCAS New River rounds as part of his hectic, driving and commentating schedule dating back to April.

A series archive is linked here and as always, we thank him for his time and insights:

-How would you compare this track, the MCAS New River military base, to Daytona as far as a Red Bull GRC circuit goes?

Pretty similar to Daytona but this track was unique for its big, wide, sections of the airfield. It’s similar to Cleveland airport back in the day.

-What was it like to be on an active military base for a race weekend? What is the closest comparable example of an event you’ve been to like this, or was there no comparison?

The active military at MCAS New River could not have been more hospitable. They were very excited to have GRC there and we were thrilled to see the installation up close and all of the amazing machinery at their disposal. I’ve never felt safer at a racetrack!

-What are the differences in calling a Red Bull GRC race versus an IndyCar race? Is the biggest thing the car difference, format difference or others?

Time! The races are so condensed with so much happening that it’s difficult to anything more than react. In some ways it’s hard as a commentator to not have a chance an offer analysis, telestrate, replay, etc… But as a fan, I love the concentrated action.

-What’s the single biggest thing you are surprised by on a Red Bull GRC weekend?

The amount of bodywork consumed…it’s pretty impressive at some venues… If that was my Ferrari IMSA racecar we’d be into the millions by now…

-Through four races, who has impressed you the most this season?

I like the way Ken Block has left the hooligan (hoonigan?) driving style behind and is competingwith poise and confidence as the guy to beat now, everywhere. But you have to single out Jeff Ward for what he did at Daytona, coming in as a one-off entry and almost taking the overall win. Very impressive and I’m looking forward to his series return as he alternated that Ganassi ride with Brian Deegan.

-There’s a lot of IndyCar teams (Ganassi, Andretti, Herta, SH RX) that have added a Red Bull GRC program. What are they gaining from their Red Bull GRC programs? What are they learning/how are they adapting?

I think they are gaining a platform that really appeals to the youth audience. I love seeing all of the guys and girls at GRC events that are in their late teens and early twenties- all jacked up on the 600+ HP crammed into a compact 4WD racecar. These are the cars (VWs, Fiestas, Subarus) they’re driving everyday and it’s cool to see the connection they have with the racecars and the heros that drive them.

-Was Ken Block lucky the restart happened to be able to get the win in the final? Or could he have caught up to Patrik Sandell and or Joni Wiman as the race went on?

Yes. Sandell looked to be set for a smooth, breezy trot to the win. I felt bad for him to have to re-rack to his original starting position and give up the lead he earned.

-As a rookie who now has a tough race, how does Sebastian Eriksson respond from this disappointment at the track?

Really no fault of his own (mechanical) so he simply needs to forget about it and get on to the next round. The DNF is painful in the points but he came into this round as the championship leader by virtue of strong pace and terrific race craft.

-How does Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross’ pair of Tanner Foust and Scott Speed rebound?

Scotch, or maybe Gin which I hear is making a real comeback. Seriously, they need to regroup and focus on reliability and strengthening their chassis to survive the warfare of a GRC weekend. Much too fragile right now. But they have all the resources to turn things around.

-Lastly, what is it like to have a guy like Foust in the booth, albeit unexpectedly? Had you two worked together before?

He was great to come up to the booth after a difficult DNF but he always manages to find a smile and provide great insight. No surprise as a two-time champion.

We worked together on the very first episode of Supercars- Exposed. I found the YouTube link here (see below):

It’s cool to remember I beat the champ on his home turf! (frankly I had to take way too much risk to pull that off on a wet mountain road).

Chase Sexton wins Triple Crown Anaheim 2 Supercross: Levi Kitchen unseats Jett Lawrence in 250s

Supercross Anaheim 2
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Chase Sexton won two of the three races in the Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, which was enough to overcome a fifth-place finish in Race 2 and give him the overall victory. It was the second Supercross win of his career.

“Super big night for me,” Sexton told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “After last weekend with that being a struggle, I just need to come out here and stop the bleeding a little bit and I did that tonight.”

Sexton suffered a crash on Lap 1 of his heat, sending him into Last Chance Qualifier. The bad gate pick put him in a difficult position to start the race and he was able to climb to only fifth at the checkers.

At Anaheim 2, three riders entered the final race of the Triple Crown in a winner-take-all scenario. Sexton, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac each had a shot at victory. It raised the intensity level for all riders in an evening that featured a lot of comers and goers.

Jason Anderson took the early lead in Race 3, which set him up for the overall victory. Sexton stalked and passed him midway through the race and then a minor mistake late allowed Webb to slip around as well. Anderson’s 5-1-3 gave him second overall.

“I had a tough couple of rounds, getting off that Anaheim 1 crash and then last week weekend I fumbled a little bit, but I’m excited to get back on the box and start moving forward,” Anderson told Jason Thomas.

Anderson finished seventh in the first two rounds of 2023.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Ken Roczen was the model of consistency in the opening rounds and at Anaheim 2. In three races so far this year, he’s gotten progressively better each time with a fifth in A1, a fourth last week in San Deigo and a third this week.

With results of 2-3-4, he earned his first podium of the season, which lands him fourth in the standings.

“This was hard earned,” Roczen said after the race. “I completely botched the start and then to have to work my way up. I only happen on the very last lap to step up here on the podium.”

Webb’s solid second-place finish in the third race allowed him to leapfrog several riders and finish fourth overall, but a seventh in Race 1 kept him off the podium. He improved in each race in Anaheim, however, with a 7-4-2.

With a 4-6-5, Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top five.

The intensity of the race was a little too much for Tomac.

While battling side-by-side with Webb in Race 3 at the one-third mark, Tomac jumped wide and crashed hard. He fell to 14th, doing some damage to his bike in the process. He advanced only one position in that race to 13th. His first two races, a third and second, were strong enough to give him sixth overall. He retains the points lead, but it has shrunk to a gap of only four over Sexton and Webb.

Malcolm Stewart injured late in the week and was not able to mount.

Levi Kitchen became the first rider to unseat Jett Lawrence in the Triple Crown format at Anaheim 2 and won the overall with consistency. In his three races, Kitchen finished 4-2-2 to narrowly edge the winner of the first two races.

“This whole day; this is unbelievable. I took a few good slams in practice and I was down on myself,” Kitchen told NBC Sports Jason Thomas afterward. “The first moto I got a good start and got shuffled back, then I knew I just needed to be consistent.”

Jett Lawrence saved his best for last – which wasn’t hard given the struggles he experienced in the first two races.

Despite those problems, he entered Race 3 of the Triple Crown three points behind Kitchen after suffering a pair of disappointing races by his personal measuring stick. In the first and second 250 races of the night, Lawrence hit the ground. He dropped to the final rider in the running order in Race 2 with a Lap 1 fall. But in both races, he was able to overcome his mistake and close the gap so that he had a chance to take his first Triple Crown win of his career.

Click here for full 250 West Main Results

Lawrence rode to third in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. In the final race of the night, Lawrence did all he could. He earned the holeshot, but when Kitchen fell in behind him, Lawrence’s fate was sealed. His 3-6-1 tied him in points with Stilez Robertson, but the tiebreaker goes to the final round and his win secured second-place.

“I can definitely say Triple Crowns are not my thing,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Will Christien. “We have one more to try and fix this, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Lawrence will move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Motocross outdoor season and his 250 record book will be closed.

The best news for Lawrence is the other riders who entered this round in the top three had a worse night, so Lawrence leaves Anaheim with a 16-point gap on Cameron McAdoo and 17 over RJ Hampshire.

Roberston finished 6-1-3 to take the final step of the podium.

“Getting that win in the second Main meant a lot,” Roberston told Thomas. “I wish I could have done a little better in the third one, but we’re still up here on the box.”

Mitchell Oldenburg used consistency to earn fourth in the overall. He finished 5-4-6.

After missing the Main last week in San Diego, Max Vohland finished 7-8-4 to round out the top five.

RJ Hampshire set himself up as the early favorite with his Race 1 win. In Race 2, it all fell apart. He fell in the sand section and damaged his bike, finishing last in that race. The final event of the night for the 250s provided only a 13th-place finish, leaving Hampshire deep in the points.

Cameron McAdoo hard crash in qualification, which was scary news for a team that has seen three of their riders sidelined with injury. McAdoo was never quite able to get his rhythm with an 8-7-5.

2023 Race Recaps

San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Anaheim 2 coverage

Power Rankings Week 2
SuperMotocross tightens playoff schedule
Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence go two-for-two in San Diego
Results and points after San Diego
Seth Hammaker to miss 250 E season opener with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner with injury
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX