Oriol Servia in for warm-up, Will Power TBD for St. Petersburg

© INDYCAR
0 Comments

Oriol Servia will replace Will Power in the no. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet for Sunday’s warm-up ahead of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Power stormed to his sixth Verizon P1 Award in seven years at St. Petersburg with a dominant display in qualifying on Saturday, but confirmed after the session that he had been feeling ill throughout the day.

“I’ve been feeling pretty ill all day. It was a struggle to get through qualifying, honestly, but we were able to do it and after the Verizon P1 Pole Award presentation I just started feeling a lot worse,” Power said in a quote distributed to the media.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be at the press conference afterward. The car was great today and a big credit to the guys for doing a terrific job in qualifying. I’ll try to get some good rest tonight and come back ready to race on Sunday.”

MotorSportsTalk editor Tony DiZinno spotted a crew member walking into the no. 12 transporter with Servia’s helmet early on Sunday morning.

Servia himself then made an appearance in the Verizon Team Penske suit before undergoing a seat fitting in the no. 12 car ahead of taking part in warm-up at 9am ET in place of Power.

Servia confirmed to IndyCar writers Brant James of USA Today Sports and Dave Furst of WRTV in Indianapolis and IndyCar Radio that he would be in for warm-up, with a decision on Power’s participation in the race to be taken later in the day.

The news was then fully confirmed by INDYCAR and the team just before warm-up.

The full release from the team is as follows:

Despite suffering from nausea throughout the day on Saturday, Team Penske’s Will Power fought through three rounds of qualifying and won his sixth career pole position at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to lead a Team Penske 1-2-3-4 qualifying result.

With Power still feeling the effects of his ailment on Sunday and not knowing if he will be able to compete in today’s 110-lap race, Team Penske has turned to experienced IndyCar veteran Oriol Servia to step in if needed. Servia, who has made 197 IndyCar starts in his career, will drive the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet in the 30-minute morning warmup session Sunday in order to get familiar with the car should he be needed in the race. If Power is feeling better by race time, he will start the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. However, if Power is unable to compete, Servia will race for Team Penske.

Servia most recently raced in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway where he earned a 12th-place finish.

While Power’s status remains uncertain for the race, team principal Roger Penske seemed less optimistic Power would be able to race in a brief conversation with James and I on site. Servia has been called on on short notice at numerous occasions throughout his career.

Servia would move to the rear of the field if he starts the race, per the 2016 INDYCAR Rulebook and confirmed by a series spokesperson.

Rule 8.1.8.6: If after qualifications and prior to the  start of a Race, a Car has had its qualifications time, and/or original starting grid position disallowed, INDYCAR shall assign the Car a revised starting grid position at the rear of the starting field based on the following order:

a) Provisional starting Cars;
b) Unapproved Engine change (Rule 16.6.2.1);
c) Technical violations;
d) Competition violation; and
e) Substitute starting Driver.

In order for Servia to have participated in the race, he would need to complete at least one official session, as INDYCAR does not permit driver changes after the race start:

Rule 5.1.2.2.2: Another Driver who has qualified for the same Oval Event may be substituted for the original Driver, provided notification is given to INDYCAR and INDYCAR approves the substitution. No Driver substitutions will be approved during a Race after the conclusion of the parade and pace laps.

Spoke to Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing and Power’s race strategist.

While Cindric did not confirm Power would not start today’s race, he did agree with Mr. Penske that Power appears less likely to start, just over two hours from the green flag time.

“We know he’s nauseous; beyond that, I am not going to speculate on Will’s condition,” Cindric told NBC Sports. “But I don’t see it changing given the short time.”

Oriol Servia was also on site on Saturday, and the team was working to ensure his equipment arrived in time for Sunday.

Tony DiZinno contributed to this report

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

0 Comments

Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2