INDIANAPOLIS – Simon Pagenaud has led 36 of the first 41 laps in the 82-lap Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the third edition of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ road course race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but he won’t lead at Lap 41 following the second full-course caution of the race.
That honor will fall to Helio Castroneves, who pitted just before the yellow and then leapfrogged the field once they pitted in his No. 3 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Same story was true for Conor Daly, in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda, who moved up to second.
During the second pit sequence, James Hinchcliffe moved around Pagenaud on the stops, thanks to quick work from his No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda team.
The second yellow flew for a couple reasons. Sebastien Bourdais stalled on course in the No. 11 Team EUROPA – KVSH Chevrolet at Turn 2, then JR Hildebrand stopped out of fuel on driver’s left on the run to Turn 7 in the No. 6 Preferred Freezer Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. Additionally, the Holmatro Safety Team removed some loose signage exiting Turn 14.
The polesitter and driver of the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet controlled the race until the first pit sequence, then emerged behind second-starting Charlie Kimball in the No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet once Kimball completed his stop after running longer on the first sequence.
Pagenaud proceeded to blow by Kimball on the backstraight into Turn 7 on the outside once Kimball came out, which was for second at the time behind Graham Rahal but the net lead overall.
Rahal, who started 24th, led two laps and made it up to eighth by the halfway mark in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Rahal Letterman Lanigan with Theodore Racing Honda. He’s been fighting a cold all weekend and was one of two drivers to get bounced in post-qualifying technical inspection.
The other big movers of the first half have been Alexander Rossi, who’s starred early in the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda and ran as high as sixth, and Spencer Pigot, in the No. 16 RLL/Mi-Jack/Manitowoc Honda, who made it into the top 10.
Rossi pressured Will Power into a lazy spin at Turn 7 that dropped the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and defending race winner down to 23rd; fellow rookie Matthew Brabham in the No. 61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet also passed Power for position on course.
The opening turn saw chaos as it usually does here with Scott Dixon moving in the middle of the track, then Tony Kanaan merged up the lane into Bourdais. It caused a multiple-lap caution. Kanaan was done on the spot while Bourdais resumed, albeit many laps down.
After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.
Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.
Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.
Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.
Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.
After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.
The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.
Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.
It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.
Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.
Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.
Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.
Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.
Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
Max Anstie – E
Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
Haiden Deegan – E
Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
Mitchell Oldenburg – W
Michael Mosiman – E
Jeremy Martin – E
Tom Vialle – E
Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
Chance Hymas – E
Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
Max Vohland – W
Cullin Park – E
Chris Blose – E
Derek Kelley – W
Enzo Lopes – W
Pierce Brown – W
* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.