Brian Vickers potential adds to SPM’s month of May intrigue

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In recent days and weeks, speculation has been rife over who will fill one of two likely final entries for the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil: the third Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

Last month, and this came as a shock to many, but RACER.com discovered that NASCAR race winner and current part-timer Brian Vickers had entered the frame of discussion for the seat.

Vickers followed up on the possibility during a media availability at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, where he is filling in for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“I would love to have something to announce [but] unfortunately there is nothing to announce at this point,” Vickers said.

“It is still on the table. It’s not done, but it’s not off the table yet either.”

The connection makes more sense when you realize Vickers and Jay Frye have worked together before at Red Bull’s NASCAR operation; Frye is now INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations.

Other candidates revealed publicly include Stefan Wilson, Gabby Chaves and Oriol Servia, as noted in this Motorsport.com piece.

If it’s those four who are in the frame for one seat, inevitably three of them would be left high, dry and disappointed.

And while storyline-wise all four of them make sense, only one and maybe two are feasible from a realistic helping the team for this month of May standpoint.

Vickers would draw the most attention from a 10,000 feet above, national standpoint. Everyone loves a comeback story and Vickers’ return to racing after persistent blood clots has been one of the more remarkable in recent memory.

With Kurt Busch having ruled out a run a couple weeks ago, if NASCAR wanted a driving link to this year’s 500, they’d have one in Vickers.

Realistically though, Vickers, 32, is the riskiest option. He’s never driven an IndyCar and would need to adapt quickly to his new environment, and the style of driving.

That said, he’s certainly capable of it, given what he’s done in sports cars and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans before. He’s done well in NASCAR despite adverse circumstances facing him; he’s been picked for fill-in roles for several years over others. That speaks to his adaptability in short time frames.

Wilson would tick the emotional boxes for several reasons. The 26-year-old Englishman has been working feverishly on a program working to introduce solar to the Speedway for several months, and is keen to get back behind the wheel after an extended hiatus of his own.

Naturally, there’s also the desire of him wanting to be on the grid to fulfill the family legacy at the first ‘500 since his older brother Justin lost his life at Pocono. He’d be a heartwarming story, and he also has the talent and relevant open-wheel experience to jump in. He has raced at the Speedway before in Indy Lights, and has one career IndyCar start (2013 at Baltimore).

Chaves, 22, would measure up nicely from a perseverance standpoint. The Colombian-American did everything right last year despite running with a single-car team and a smaller budget. That Bryan Herta did nearly everything to keep him even as he was trying to ensure his team stayed in the sport, now partnered with Andretti Autosport, spoke volumes of what he thinks of Chaves.

And Gabby’s got the most recent team experience of these four, too. He tested nicely for Schmidt Peterson at both Phoenix and Sebring to help get the car more in the window for the opening rounds of the season. Mikhail Aleshin finishing fifth at St. Petersburg probably doesn’t happen without Chaves’ data and feedback from the Sebring test. He’s also kept his face out there at both events, ensuring he’s staying in the frame without being in a car. Few realize how truly talented he is.

Lastly, there’s Servia, 41, who doesn’t have the huge story line angle but would be the best of the bunch from a pure feedback and development standpoint – especially with new aerodynamic components coming into play this year the Speedway.

Servia would be the rock to aid Hinchcliffe and Aleshin back to stability and comfort after both drivers return for their first big oval races since devastating, near-fatal accidents – Hinchcliffe in practice last year at Indianapolis, and Aleshin, in night practice in 2014 at Fontana.

It’s no disrespect to the other three, but there’s a reason Servia has made a career in this series for the better part of 15 years with 13 different teams, for 198 career races. He is as plug-and-play as you get, and when your last three starts have been for three different teams (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Andretti Autosport, Team Penske), the latter two with barely more than 24 hours notice, you know you can install him to do the job.

SPM is going to be a story line at this year’s Indianapolis 500 to begin with, given both drivers’ big oval race returns.

The team’s storyline may only go greater depending on who gets the nod in the team’s third car.

Chase Sexton wins Triple Crown Anaheim 2 Supercross: Levi Kitchen unseats Jett Lawrence in 250s

Supercross Anaheim 2
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Chase Sexton won two of the three races in the Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, which was enough to overcome a fifth-place finish in Race 2 and give him the overall victory. It was the second Supercross win of his career.

“Super big night for me,” Sexton told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “After last weekend with that being a struggle, I just need to come out here and stop the bleeding a little bit and I did that tonight.”

Sexton suffered a crash on Lap 1 of his heat, sending him into Last Chance Qualifier. The bad gate pick put him in a difficult position to start the race and he was able to climb to only fifth at the checkers.

At Anaheim 2, three riders entered the final race of the Triple Crown in a winner-take-all scenario. Sexton, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac each had a shot at victory. It raised the intensity level for all riders in an evening that featured a lot of comers and goers.

Jason Anderson took the early lead in Race 3, which set him up for the overall victory. Sexton stalked and passed him midway through the race and then a minor mistake late allowed Webb to slip around as well. Anderson’s 5-1-3 gave him second overall.

“I had a tough couple of rounds, getting off that Anaheim 1 crash and then last week weekend I fumbled a little bit, but I’m excited to get back on the box and start moving forward,” Anderson told Jason Thomas.

Anderson finished seventh in the first two rounds of 2023.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Ken Roczen was the model of consistency in the opening rounds and at Anaheim 2. In three races so far this year, he’s gotten progressively better each time with a fifth in A1, a fourth last week in San Deigo and a third this week.

With results of 2-3-4, he earned his first podium of the season, which lands him fourth in the standings.

“This was hard earned,” Roczen said after the race. “I completely botched the start and then to have to work my way up. I only happen on the very last lap to step up here on the podium.”

Webb’s solid second-place finish in the third race allowed him to leapfrog several riders and finish fourth overall, but a seventh in Race 1 kept him off the podium. He improved in each race in Anaheim, however, with a 7-4-2.

With a 4-6-5, Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top five.

The intensity of the race was a little too much for Tomac.

While battling side-by-side with Webb in Race 3 at the one-third mark, Tomac jumped wide and crashed hard. He fell to 14th, doing some damage to his bike in the process. He advanced only one position in that race to 13th. His first two races, a third and second, were strong enough to give him sixth overall. He retains the points lead, but it has shrunk to a gap of only four over Sexton and Webb.

Malcolm Stewart injured late in the week and was not able to mount.


Levi Kitchen became the first rider to unseat Jett Lawrence in the Triple Crown format at Anaheim 2 and won the overall with consistency. In his three races, Kitchen finished 4-2-2 to narrowly edge the winner of the first two races.

“This whole day; this is unbelievable. I took a few good slams in practice and I was down on myself,” Kitchen told NBC Sports Jason Thomas afterward. “The first moto I got a good start and got shuffled back, then I knew I just needed to be consistent.”

Jett Lawrence saved his best for last – which wasn’t hard given the struggles he experienced in the first two races.

Despite those problems, he entered Race 3 of the Triple Crown three points behind Kitchen after suffering a pair of disappointing races by his personal measuring stick. In the first and second 250 races of the night, Lawrence hit the ground. He dropped to the final rider in the running order in Race 2 with a Lap 1 fall. But in both races, he was able to overcome his mistake and close the gap so that he had a chance to take his first Triple Crown win of his career.

Click here for full 250 West Main Results

Lawrence rode to third in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. In the final race of the night, Lawrence did all he could. He earned the holeshot, but when Kitchen fell in behind him, Lawrence’s fate was sealed. His 3-6-1 tied him in points with Stilez Robertson, but the tiebreaker goes to the final round and his win secured second-place.

“I can definitely say Triple Crowns are not my thing,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Will Christien. “We have one more to try and fix this, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Lawrence will move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Motocross outdoor season and his 250 record book will be closed.

The best news for Lawrence is the other riders who entered this round in the top three had a worse night, so Lawrence leaves Anaheim with a 16-point gap on Cameron McAdoo and 17 over RJ Hampshire.

Roberston finished 6-1-3 to take the final step of the podium.

“Getting that win in the second Main meant a lot,” Roberston told Thomas. “I wish I could have done a little better in the third one, but we’re still up here on the box.”

Mitchell Oldenburg used consistency to earn fourth in the overall. He finished 5-4-6.

After missing the Main last week in San Diego, Max Vohland finished 7-8-4 to round out the top five.

RJ Hampshire set himself up as the early favorite with his Race 1 win. In Race 2, it all fell apart. He fell in the sand section and damaged his bike, finishing last in that race. The final event of the night for the 250s provided only a 13th-place finish, leaving Hampshire deep in the points.

Cameron McAdoo hard crash in qualification, which was scary news for a team that has seen three of their riders sidelined with injury. McAdoo was never quite able to get his rhythm with an 8-7-5.

2023 Race Recaps

San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Anaheim 2 coverage

Power Rankings Week 2
SuperMotocross tightens playoff schedule
Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence go two-for-two in San Diego
Results and points after San Diego
Seth Hammaker to miss 250 E season opener with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner with injury
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX