Preview: Pocono provides the penultimate challenge in IndyCar’s 2015 campaign

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This weekend’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, the penultimate round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, carries arguably more weight than next weekend’s season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Even with double points at Sonoma, you say? Yes.


The reasoning? You can position yourself as best as possible for Sonoma by way of banking a big result at Pocono this weekend. And you don’t want to lose more ground by virtue of a tough Pocono result that leaves you needing a double points-aided miracle in order to make things happen next week.

Heading in, Juan Pablo Montoya leads Graham Rahal by nine points (465-456), with Scott Dixon (431), Helio Castroneves (407) and Will Power (406) all in striking distance.

While Rahal has been on a roll of late in 2015, Pocono has been a bogey track for both he and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team the last two years since it has returned to the schedule.

A look at Rahal’s Pocono results in comparison to the other four main title contenders shows a clear disparity:

Driver 2013 2014 Average
Montoya 1 1.0
Rahal 18 19 18.5
Dixon 1 5 3.0
Castroneves 8 2 5.0
Power 4 10 7.0

So Rahal needs a turnaround at the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle” in order to keep his roll of results going. But given how he and the team have performed of late, and especially considering he won the most recent 500-mile oval race at Fontana, don’t put it past them.

On the subject of 500-mile races, here’s how the title contenders have done at Indianapolis and Fontana this year:

Driver Indianapolis Fontana Average
Montoya 1 4 2.5
Rahal 5 1 3.0
Dixon 4 6 5.0
Castroneves 7 23 15.0
Power 2 19 10.5

The poor results for Castroneves and Power at Fontana were due to accidents largely not of their own doing. Otherwise, the five championship contenders have been some of the strongest runners at the superspeedways.

Who else could play a major role at Pocono this weekend?

The easy pick is Tony Kanaan. Kanaan dominated last year’s race, also won the last 500-miler last year at Fontana, and has been well positioned on speed to win both of Indianapolis and Iowa. Neither event saw him finish though, Indy due to a crash and Iowa a mechanical failure. If the racing gods feel like it, Kanaan will get his this weekend, although his – and for that matter fellow Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Sage Karam and Charlie Kimball – must focus first on ensuring Dixon scores maximum points.

Josef Newgarden is another to watch, having finished fifth and eighth in two Pocono starts. Newgarden’s future is a hot topic of late but in the present, he’ll look to become the first of five possible drivers (along with Montoya, Dixon, Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais) to reach three wins on the season.

Both of their respective teammates – Sage Karam (Ganassi) and Ed Carpenter (CFH Racing) – enter Pocono with something to prove in their final scheduled starts of 2015, before handing their cars over to Sebastian Saavedra and Luca Filippi at Sonoma. Karam’s future is also unsettled and he’ll look to maximize a result on home soil, just 20 minutes outside Nazareth, while avoiding the controversy. Carpenter – his Iowa sparring partner – looks for one mega result in what’s been a tough year driving wise, at a track he should be in win or podium contention.

Race sponsor ABC Supply is more likely to see Takuma Sato in contention than his teammate Jack Hawksworth; in Hawksworth’s case, merely starting this year would be an improvement over 2014, when a practice crash sidelined him for the weekend.

The top sleepers in the field are Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti, respectively. Munoz has starred at Pocono with an Indy Lights win and a third place finish in the last two years; Andretti was desperately unlucky not to win two years ago at the race that also serves as his home race. Teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud have had less success at Pocono the last two years and look for a turnaround this weekend.

Others in the field – from Bourdais through the Dale Coyne teammates – have tended to struggle on the large ovals this year and are less likely to contend. Bourdais or Charlie Kimball could be drivers to watch depending on their qualifying. Another to keep an eye on is rookie leader Gabby Chaves, who won last year’s Indy Lights race at Pocono and has been quietly consistent for the single-car Bryan Herta Autosport all year.

The action begins with a one-hour practice for rookies Saturday morning before an all-skate, all-car 90-minute practice to follow immediately thereafter.

The drama will begin to build at that point as well, given the stakes of the championship chase entering its final two races.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb


For the fifth time in 10 rounds of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season, the three riders at the top of the championship standings shared a podium and while those points tell one story, the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit tell a slightly different tale.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Cooper Webb is peaking at the right time. – Feld Motor Sports

Chase Sexton has been all but perfect during the past 45 days with podium finishes in each of his heats and Triple Crown features. His only stumble during this period was a 10th-place finish in the Indianapolis Main. Last week, Sexton was perfect with wins in both his heat and the feature, although he needed a little help from an Aaron Plessinger mistake to take the top spot on the podium at the end of the night.

Cooper Webb finished fifth at Houston and was beginning to worry ever so slightly about his position in the points. Prior to the race in Tampa, he told NBC Sports that it was time to win and like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence, Webb went out and captured it. Following that race, Webb has swept the podium and earned the red plate two weeks ago in Indianapolis. At Detroit, he added two more points on Eli Tomac as the season begins to wind down.

Tomac struggled with a stiff neck at Indianapolis and after a modest third-place showing in Detroit, he revealed he was still suffering a little. Webb and Sexton have been able to close the gap on Tomac in the past 45 days, but one of the main reasons he is so close in the points was a pair of wins that started the year. Seattle is going to be important for the defending champion because Tomac cannot afford to lose any more momentum with seven rounds remaining.

MORE: Chase Sexton inherits the win in Detroit

It appeared Jason Anderson was turning things around. He earned his fifth heat win at Detroit, which was also his sixth consecutive race (including features) in which he scored a top-five. A fall in the Detroit Main dropped him a lap off the pace and sent him home with a season-worst finish of ninth, causing a ripple effect in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Justin Barcia was a huge part of the show last week in Detroit. He swapped positions with both Webb and Tomac in the middle stage of the race, which allowed Sexton to close the gap. Barcia finished fourth in that race to earn his third consecutive top-five. He’s been outside the top 10 only once in the first 10 rounds.

Adam Cianciarulo had a great start to the Main. He led a couple of laps before losing a lap and slipping back to eighth in the final rundown. That run was strong enough to elevate him three positions in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit.

450 Rankings

Driver Percentage
1. Chase Sexton
[2 Main, 6 Heat wins]
87.00 1 0
2. Cooper Webb
[2 Main, 1 Heat win]
86.71 2 0
3. Eli Tomac
[5 Main, 6 Heat wins]
84.57 3 0
4. Jason Anderson
[5 Heat wins]
80.71 4 0
5. Ken Roczen
[1 Main, 1 Heat win]
80.50 5 0
6. Justin Barcia
[1 Heat win]
79.07 7 1
7. Aaron Plessinger 77.14 6 -1
8. Adam Cianciarulo 69.75 11 3
9. Christian Craig 68.86 10 1
10. Justin Cooper 63.90 9 -1
11. Justin Hill 58.57 15 4
12. Dean Wilson 51.50 12 0
13. Colt Nichols 51.25 13 0
14. Shane McElrath 46.86 17 3
15. Josh Hill 46.79 16 1
16. Benny Bloss 45.31 18 2
17. Jared Lesher 39.00 NA
18. Joey Savatgy 38.63 14 -4
19. Cade Clason 37.50 21 2
20. Grant Harlan 35.54 23 3

Supercross 450 Points

The NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings look at the past 90 days in the 250 class in order to have a balanced comparison between the East and West divisions and Hunter Lawrence has been all but perfect this year. At Detroit, he earned his fifth win of the season and kept alive a streak of podium finishes in six rounds. He tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 250 wins one week before the West riders take to the track for back-to-back races at Seattle, Washington and Glendale, Arizona.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Nate Thrasher is settling into a comfortable role as ‘best in class’. – Feld Motor Sports

The Lawrence brothers are dominating the points in each of their respective divisions, which means the remainder of the field is battling to be best in class.

In the East, that rider is Nate Thrasher, who beat Hunter in a head-to-head matchup in their heat only to finish second in the main when the majority of points were awarded. Thrasher seems to have accepted his position in the championship standings, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep trying for wins.

Haiden Deegan showed a lot of aggression in his heat last week. He threw a couple of block passes at his teammate Jordon Smith and set up a series of events that kept Smith from making the big show while Deegan settled into second in the preliminary. Deegan was unconcerned about how he raced his teammate and would not let a little controversy keep him from celebrating his second career podium in Detroit.

Supercross 250 Points

Jeremy Martin just keeps clicking off solid results. He won his heat last week by making a pass on Deegan and Smith while they were in the heat of their battle. Martin finished fourth in the Main, which means he continues to have only one finish worse than sixth in any of the features or mains.

Smith fell one position in the points standings, but the damage was even worse in SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit. Crash damage in his heat contributed to a last-place finish in that race, for which he earned minimal points. He was not able to advance from the Last Chance Qualifier after stalling his bike in heavy traffic.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Hunter Lawrence – E
[5 Main, 5 Heat wins]
90.43 1 0
2. Jett Lawrence – W
[3 Main, 3 Heat wins]
90.30 2 0
3. Nate Thrasher – E
[1 Main, 3 Heat wins]
84.00 5 2
4. Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat win]
79.80 9 5
5. Haiden Deegan – E
[1 Heat win]
78.21 7 2
6. Jeremy Martin – E
[2 Heat wins]
78.00 8 2
7. Jordon Smith – E
[3 Heat Wins]
76.77 4 -3
8. Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main]
75.30 3 -5
9. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 75.20 11 2
10. RJ Hampshire – W
[4 Heat wins]
74.50 17 7
11. Max Anstie – E 74.43 6 -5
12. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 0
13. Max Vohland – W 71.56 10 -3
14. Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
69.22 14 0
15. Chris Blose – E 67.43 18 3
16. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 15 -1
17. Enzo Lopes – W 66.00 20 3
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 16 -2
19. Pierce Brown – W 65.78 13 -6
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 21 1

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage