Dalton Kellett heads to Road America hoping to build off first podium

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

As one of six Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires drivers with past race experience at Road America, Dalton Kellett has a slight leg up on some of his competitors entering this weekend’s pair of races.

He also has a little bit of momentum. Kellett had a front row seat to the Dean Stoneman/Ed Jones photo finish in the Freedom 100 from third place, where he took his No. 28 K-LINE Insulators USA, Inc. Dallara IL-15 Mazda for Andretti Autosport to his first series podium.

Kellett enters the weekend 12th in Indy Lights points but with a good opportunity to move up into the top 10, as he sits five points behind both Scott Hargrove and Andre Negrao. Hargrove isn’t racing this weekend; instead, Garett Grist makes his series debut.

Alas, Kellett raced at the track four years ago in USF2000 and posted a best finish of 10th in a 20-plus car field in three races.

He’ll be hoping for an encore of his passing performance at the Freedom 100, when he started 14th but gained 11 positions to end in third.

“It was really nice because one sort of line that was back there was in the process of making it through the field. When it came down to the final laps I had already made a bunch of passes so I knew how to set everyone up and get my runs coming out of the corners,” Kellett explained post-race after Indianapolis.

“When you’re in the car, you’re just focusing on what you’re doing. I don’t think I had anyone trying to get clean laps, make passes, but this is definitely one of the greatest races I’ve ever driven in and the fans here are awesome. There are just tons of people here showing their support. We’re very grateful for that.”

Kellett has been training in Indianapolis in the interim, and was at Detroit driving pace cars there with a handful of others.

“I live here in Indianapolis so I’ve been training with the guys,” he said. “I credit them with my physical fitness, the training. Those guys do a great job. I don’t think we have any testing coming up, so I’m looking forward to getting back on the Cooper Tires road course compound and I’m really looking forward to Road America. It’s a fun track.”

Kellett’s part of a three-driver Andretti Autosport lineup, along with Shelby Blackstock who finished a season-best fourth in the Freedom 100 in his No. 51 Starstruck entry, and the team’s leading driver Stoneman, in the No. 27 Stellrecht car, who is on a roll having won both at the IMS road course and the Freedom 100. Stoneman ranks second in points, 29 back of Jones, with Blackstock in ninth.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.