AP

Vettel downcast despite star turn from 14th to podium at USGP

2 Comments

AUSTIN, Texas – The sign of the good season Sebastian Vettel has had, his first with Scuderia Ferrari, is that a day where he rocketed from 14th on the grid up to third by the checkered flag has served as a “down day.”

Vettel started 14th following a power unit change and a subsequent 10-grid spot penalty. However by Lap 10, he was already up to sixth place.

What appeared to be a strategic masterstroke – switching onto Pirelli’s medium compound prime tires by Lap 29, with the top four ahead of him, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat all on softs – wound up coming unglued later in the race when two different Safety Car periods (one Actual, one Virtual) allowed the Mercedes AMG Petronas pair to come in for fresher tires.

Vettel and Hamilton pitted on the same lap after the Safety Car period when Daniil Kvyat crashed out. Vettel was able to switch onto softs and while he at least had the same tires as the Mercedes pair ahead of him, he was unable to hunt down either Hamilton or Rosberg in the final stages.

A valiant effort saw the German come up just short of his countryman for second, and thus lose the World Championship at that moment because he’d lost 10 points to Hamilton. He needed to stay within nine to keep his remote mathematical hopes alive heading into the Mexican Grand Prix next week.

“We have a great car. But it doesn’t feel great when you cross the line and know you can’t fight for the World Championship anymore,” Vettel told Sir Elton John on the podium, with Sir Elton conducting the podium interviews.

“Congrats to Lewis and his team. We’re getting closer.”

Vettel expanded on his missed opportunities during the post-race press conference.

Of the call to switch to mediums when they did, Vettel said it was the right thing to do.

“It made our chance last as long as possible,” he said. “But it was a shame to lose out.”

Vettel hailed Hamilton though once more during the press conference. Hamilton’s third World Championship puts him one shy of Vettel, who won four consecutive from 2010 to 2013 with Red Bull.

“It was a season we could have done better, but we squeezed out what we could. We want to be fighting for the World Championship.

“This is Lewis’ day. Congrats to him.”

Supercross: Tomac, Roczen square off in Arlington; Webb gives chase

Feld Entertainment Inc.
Leave a comment

The Monster Energy Supercross championship battle remains tight after Eli Tomac took the lead from Ken Roczen just last week at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Now the series heads to Arlington, Texas, and the AT&T Stadium for Round 8. (Watch on NBCSN or stream live.)

Tomac’s third win of the 2020 season and Roczen’s third-place finish at Tampa gives Tomac a four-point advantage in what is essentially a wide-open title fight with three races on tap in Arlington.

And while it is still much too early to call this a two-man battle, Cooper Webb is 11 points back with Justin Barcia 20 points out and Adam Cianciarulo 27 points in arrears – and all three cannot afford to lose any ground this week.

Tomac has the momentum. He allowed the field to get a jump after finishing seventh at Anaheim in the season opener, but finished fourth or better in the remaining events.

Roczen also got off to a slow start in Anaheim 1 with a sixth-place finish. He seemed to have a firm grasp on the red plate with four consecutive podium finishes until he slipped to sixth for a second time at San Diego.

Webb is coming into his own with three consecutive podiums in the last three events. If not for a 12th at St. Louis, he would be in immediate contention for the red plate.

This week is the second Triple Crown race of the season and Roczen hopes he has the same success as he did at Glendale. He won all three Mains that weekend and easily walked away with the overall victory. Tomac finished 2-2-3 for second overall. It is going to be imperative that a rider takes the early lead.

Blake Baggett qualified for last week’s Main, but chose to sit it out after experiencing sever muscle spasms. He will ride in Arlington.

Henry Miller will return to riding at Arlington after breaking a scapula in Australia.

Subscribe to the Supercross Pass for complete qualification and race coverage of the 2020 season.

For the third time in his career, Shane McElrath started the season with a victory. He won the season-opener in 2017 and 2018 in the West division at Anaheim, but failed to lock down a 250 title. His seventh career win moved him to 25th on the chart, however, with Travis Pastrana, Trey Canard, and a host of others.

Chase Sexton got his title hunt off to a strong start last week as well. He finished second to earn his 10th podium in 19 starts, but he will be hungry for a win. Despite the fact that he won last year’s 250 West championship, he has only one race victory to his credit.

Last week, Jeremy Martin looked like he had not been off his bike for more than a year. Returning from a 2018 injury, Martin snagged a podium finish in his first race back.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 1 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold
Race: 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSN

Last Week:

Eli Tomac beat Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen in the 450 class.
Shane McElrath beat Chase Sexton and Jeremy Martin in the 250 class.

Last Dallas race (February, 2019):

Cooper Webb beat Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin in the 450 class.
Austin Forkner beat Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton in the 250 class.

Points Leaders

450s:
Eli Tomac (155)
Ken Roczen (151)
Cooper Webb (144)
Justin Barcia (135)
Adam Cianciarulo (128)

250 West:
Dylan Ferrandis (135)
Justin Cooper (128)
Austin Forkner (122)
Brandon Hartranft (110)
Alex Martin (98)

250 East:
Shane McElrath (26)
Chase Sexton (23)
Jeremy Martin (21)
Garrett Marchbanks (19)
Jordon Smith (18)

Wins

450

(3) Eli Tomac (Anaheim 2, Oakland and Tampa)
(2) Ken Roczen (St. Louis and Glendale)
(1) Justin Barcia (Anaheim 1)
(1) Cooper Webb (San Diego)

250 West

(3) Dylan Ferrandis (Anaheim 2, Oakland, and San Diego)
(2) Austin Forkner (St. Louis and Glendale)
(1) Justin Cooper (Anaheim 1)

250 East

(1) Shane McElrath (Tampa)

Top-5s

450

(6) Eli Tomac
(6) Cooper Webb
(5) Jason Anderson
(5) Ken Roczen
(5) Justin Barcia
(3) Adam Cianciarulo
(2) Zach Osborne
(2) Blake Baggett
(1) Justin Hill

250 West

(5) Dylan Ferrandis
(5) Austin Forkner
(5) Justin Cooper
(4) Michael Mosiman
(4) Brandon Hartranft
(3) Alex Martin
(1) Christian Craig
(1) Jett Lawrence
(1) Jacob Hayes
(1) Luke Clout

250 East

(1) Shane McElrath
(1) Chase Sexton
(1) Jeremy Martin
(1) Garrett Marchbanks
(1) Jordon Smith

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter