Sebring weekend, Friday notes

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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SEBRING, Fla. – Here’s a mix of news and nuggets from the ground at Sebring International Raceway, ahead of this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.

The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Sebring 150 is now underway.

Other sessions that have already taken place this morning include the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship fourth practice and second races of the weekend from the Mazda Prototype Lites presented by Cooper Tires and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.

For Thursday’s notes, click here.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

  • Action Express’ No. 31 car, CORE autosport’s No. 54 car, the No. 25 BMW and the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini led fourth and final practice. Times are linked here. The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda returned to the track after its accident yesterday with repaired bodywork.
  • Both Action Express and CORE led all four practice sessions in P and PC. BMW led three of four sessions in GTLM, while Dodge led twice with Aston Martin and Lamborghini leading once apiece in GTD.
  • John Edwards of the No. 100 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM car made an intriguing note: the BMWs appear to be better at night than they do in the day and indicated the Porsche 911 RSRs were quicker in the day than they are at night. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
  • Fresh reminder that the “Rock the Grid” concert happens tonight at the track. Here’s a link with more.
  • Ferrari debuts its new 488 GT3 worldwide this weekend, both here at Sebring in the GTD class and also in Melbourne at the Australian GT Championship.
  • Mobil 1 held its annual dinner to honor Corvette Racing on Thursday night. This year, there was a perfect occasion to celebrate – Corvette’s 1-2 finish in GTLM in a photo finish at Daytona.

Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge

  • Three cars moved to the rear of the grid prior to today’s race. The ST class polesitter, Tyler Cooke, moved to the rear in the No. 84 Bimmerworld BMW 328i in the car he shares with James Clay, per an engine. Meanwhile two other ST class Porsche Caymans, the No. 8 Rebel Rock Racing entry and the No. 18 Rennsport One car, had technical violations and were penalized all loss of times.
  • Early issues have struck the No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman and No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, two of the contenders for the ST class title. Eric Foss tweeted the No. 56 car he shares with Jeff Mosing was stuck in fifth gear, while Andrew Carbonell told IMSA Radio that apparent brake line issues have sidelined his co-driver Liam Dwyer.

IMSA Development and Single-Make Series

  • Lucas Catania took the win for NGT Motorsport in the second Porsche GT3 USA race of the weekend. Results are linked here.
  • JDC Motorsports took its second Mazda Prototype Lites win of the weekend with Austin Versteeg taking his first series win. Teammate Clark Toppe won on Thursday. Friday results are linked here.

More to follow later today.

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

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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

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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