Vasser, “Sulli” shooting for more wins, possible KVSH title in 2016

Photo: IndyCar

If last year Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing proved one-car teams can be thorns in the side of the four-car behemoths from Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Team Penske and Andretti Autosport, then KVSH Racing is hoping that 2016 is its turn to upset the formbook and convert its undoubted potential into a similar RLL-type single-car title-contending run in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

You’re probably wondering how a team that’s only won four races in the last three years – Sebastien Bourdais’ two wins last year and one in 2014, and Tony Kanaan’s Indianapolis 500 triumph in 2013 – can pull that off.

The key, as team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan say (Kevin Kalkhoven is third team co-owner), is continuity in personnel and a reduction to the one-car effort with Olivier Boisson remaining as engineer.

“We wanted to keep two cars open for economies of scale on the financial side,” Vasser told NBC Sports at Phoenix International Raceway for the Test in the West last weekend.

“We talked about it all through the offseason. We had a couple options. But the last few years, the second car hasn’t lived up to what it could be financially and performance wise.

“We put everything behind the ‘11 arrow’ from the sponsor side. Then we always looked for the second car, whether it was (Sebastian) Saavedra or (Stefano) Coletti last year to really add to it, and it just didn’t. It seemed to suck everything away. We’re all pretty excited for just one car.”

Sullivan added to it, noting the team’s preparation throughout the winter even despite limited testing (just Road America and Phoenix).

“That’s certainly the plan. In all the interviews we had at the end of last season and in the offseason, this was a one-directional focus year for us,” Sullivan told NBC Sports.

“The car itself, I think, is probably one of the best cars we’ve ever built from a preparation perspective coming in, as far as how the car has been put together and been built, the weight savings and the fuel flow work.

“We’re probably putting one of the best cars on the track we ever have put on. And if you couple that with the fact that we have one focus, and that’s KVSH and all around Seb, and I’m hoping this is going to be a good season for us.”

Saavedra (21st in 2014) and Coletti (19th last year) both years finished as the last place full-time driver in points.

Bourdais has been a misleading 10th both of the last two years, because he’s had top-five potential.

Sullivan’s efforts this winter have been nothing short of tireless to even ensure the No. 11 HYDROXYCUT Chevrolet continued into 2016.

Some key changes within HYDROXYCUT meant a delay in the completion process, and Bourdais’ one-year contract extension was only finalized in the days leading up to the Phoenix test.

“It’s a one-year extension to what we have, and hopefully we’re able to add to that and build for multi years in the future,” Vasser explained. “But that’s going to come from us securing commercial partners to do so and then Sebastien deciding if he wants to stay with us and this is a team that he wants to be with in the future. It’s certainly a goal. We’re not ready to put him out to pasture.”

Vasser noted there’s still a lot of commercial partner continuity for 2016.

“It’s everything, really,” Vasser said. “We’re going on our eighth year with Plantronics; our seventh with GEICO; American Racing Wheels is another one we’ve had for a long time, and then having Mouser back on board after being gone a couple years. We won Indy with Tony Kanaan with a HYDROXYCUT and Mouser car. So that should be cool for the 100th running.”

Vasser said until the final four races last year, Bourdais was theoretically in title contention, hence the high hopes for 2016.

“For the season, first, we’re keeping the nucleus of our team together with Seb,” Vasser said. “We really believe we’re in a position to fight for the championship, for the first time, maybe, in the history of KV Racing.

“We won two races last year and one the year before. I think we can win four races this year.

“I really think… we were in the championship until Mid-Ohio. But we got caught out when they closed the pits.

“We just s–t our pants the last four races. Seb crashed at Pocono. Pocono was a disaster all around with (losing) Justin (Wilson).

“Then we were actually fifth in points until Seb got the penalty for hitting Rahal (at Sonoma), and at that point, we were fifth.

“We feel going into this year we can win the championship.”

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston


Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

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

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart

The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s