Hunter-Reay leads as times plunge in second practice at Sonoma

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SONOMA, Calif. – Ryan Hunter-Reay led an all-American top three in the second 45-minute practice session for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway, site of this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series season finale.

Hunter-Reay banked his ultimate lap flier early of 1:16.8702 in the No. 28 DHL Honda, a lap time that is nearly a full four tenths faster than Will Power’s track record around the 2.385-mile road course of 1:17.2393 set last year in qualifying.

Hunter-Reay edged Graham Rahal, whose No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake RLL Honda team made some significant rear wicker changes on the car and also sent him out on a fresh set of sticker Firestone blacks towards the end of the session. Rahal posted a 1:16.8989.

Josef Newgarden was third in the No. 67 GoPro CFH Racing Chevrolet at 1:16.9269.

Championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth with Scott Dixon completing the top five. All of the top five drivers have two wins this season.

All of sixth through 10th place were also under Power’s track record mark: Helio Castroneves, Carlos Munoz, Tony Kanaan, Power himself and Simon Pagenaud.

Sebastian Saavedra ended 11th despite losing most of the session after stopping on track at the Carousel, and then heading into the drag strip area. His car was retrieved by the Holmatro Safety Crew and returned to the pits. It brought out the only red flag in the session, roughly at the halfway mark.

Times came down more than a second from yesterday, with temperatures significantly cooler in the morning. A half hour prior to the session, temperatures were 72 degrees ambient and 85 on track; by the green flag time at 10:45 a.m. PT it was 84 and 93, respectively, per Firestone.

Times are below. Qualifying is at 3:05 p.m. PT, 6:05 p.m. ET and live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra at 3:30 p.m. PT, 6:30 p.m. ET, with the potential of starting earlier if the NASCAR Xfinity Series broadcast from Road America ends earlier.

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Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points

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Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

450s
2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

250s
2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Detroit
Indianapolis
Daytona
Arlington
Oakland
Tampa
Houston
Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

How to Watch Seattle Supercross
Dylan Ferrandis may return before SX finale
SMX develops “Leader Lights”
Power Rankings after Detroit
Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan
Results and points after Detroit
Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points