MRTI: Six-pack of races set at glorious Road America

USF2000 at Road America in 2010. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

After nearly a full month’s hiatus, the Mazda Road to Indy resumes in full force this weekend at Road America with a six-pack of races at beautiful Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

It’s the fourth such “six-pack” of the season after all of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda had doubleheaders at St. Petersburg, Barber Motorsports Park and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Adding to the craziness at Road America is that five of the six races will take place on one day, on Saturday. The only exception is the Indy Lights second race, which is Sunday.

That basically means if you have any sort of problem in the first race, your team is going to have a mad scramble for the second race.

Here’s some of the story lines heading into this weekend:

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires

Urrutia, Jones, Stoneman. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Urrutia, Jones, Stoneman. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

As the only series that has its races spread over two days, there’s a little more room for error for Indy Lights, which surprisingly hasn’t raced at Road America since 1990 – a year in which most of the Indy Lights field wasn’t even born yet.

Of the 14 drivers entered, six do have past Road America experience, all in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda:

  • Zach Veach and Felix Serralles in 2010
  • Veach and Juan Piedrahita in 2011
  • Neil Alberico, Shelby Blackstock and Dalton Kellett in 2012

Additionally, 2015 Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot still holds the USF2000 Road America qualifying record.

Shifting to current day, and the battle heading into the weekend is undoubtedly the one between points leader Ed Jones of Carlin and Dean Stoneman of Andretti Autosport.

Jones holds a 29-point lead over Stoneman but Stoneman is riding the hot hand of back-to-back wins and four straight podium finishes. Another win or two here could well position the rookie Englishman ahead of the sophomore Englishman and Jones will be keen to avoid that.

Interestingly all four of their teammates have past race experience here. In Jones’ case, it’s Serralles and Alberico while Stoneman can draw on tips from Blackstock and Kellett. If experience is to count for anything even though the cars are different, bigger and faster this time around, look out for those four drivers to have good weekends.

Belardi Auto Racing is also determined going into this weekend. Brian Belardi is from nearby Grafton and he actually will have two of the more experienced drivers in the field, in Veach and Indy Lights debutante James French.

How, you say, is French experienced despite this being his first Indy Lights start? The Sheboygan native has logged thousands of laps at the track in vintage machinery and sports cars, and after testing an Indy Lights car at Circuit of The Americas last fall he’ll step into the No. 14 Dallara IL-15 Mazda usually driven by Felix Rosenqvist.

The absence of Rosenqvist is a shame as the talented Swede would have likely done well at Road America, but is tied up with a European racing commitment this weekend. But at sixth place in the points standings, 65 back of Jones, he was facing an uphill climb back in the title race and so he’ll be out this weekend.

Rosenqvist isn’t the only notable absence this weekend; so too is RC Enerson, whose No. 7 Lucas Oil/Curb Records Dallara IL-15 Mazda won’t be making the trip to Road America.

Enerson’s absence, along with the fourth Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car, leaves that team with just two cars for Santiago Urrutia and Andre Negrao this weekend. Neither has race experience and without Enerson’s veteran guiding, it may be a tougher weekend for them.

Of the remaining four entries from Juncos Racing and Team Pelfrey, only Pelfrey’s Juan Piedrahita has past race experience. Piedrahita’s new engine at the Freedom 100 gave him a new lease on life; he was in win contention before being bumped back from second to eighth on the final lap.

His teammate’s an intriguing story this weekend, as Garett Grist steps up from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights in the No. 3 car previously driven by Scott Hargrove. The young Canadian was a star on the natural terrain road courses in Pro Mazda and even though he’s new to the series this weekend, could surprise with a result or two in the Buy Gap Guard/Lander Property Management/Mac Tools entry.

Juncos’ pair of Kyle Kaiser and Zachary Claman De Melo almost enter under the radar since neither has race experience or a huge run of form at the moment. Kaiser’s impressive start to the season has gone away a bit with finishes of sixth or worse in four of the last five races, and a rare 2015 type mistake occurring on the first lap at the Freedom 100. The cool Californian needs a bounce back this weekend in a big way, entering fourth in points and locked in a three-way battle for third (Urrutia 146, Kaiser 144, Serralles 140).

Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires

Hometown boy Aaron Telitz. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Hometown boy Aaron Telitz. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

There’s not a ton to report in the Pro Mazda ranks heading into this weekend outside of Team Pelfrey, which has one dominator, one hometown boy and one new driver in its three cars, as well as an ownership change.

Pato O’Ward has won six of the seven races to date for Dale Pelfrey’s team and leads teammate Aaron Telitz by 55 points (221-166). Telitz, out of Birchwood, Wis. who drives the Rice Lake Weighing Systems entry, is the unquestioned hometown favorite and will no doubt carry that pressure on his shoulders this weekend.

Meanwhile the other news of note on the driver front here is TJ Fischer’s debut in the third car, the No. 81 car. Fischer ran the opening USF2000 races through the IMS road course and has moved up to Pro Mazda starting with this weekend.

On the team side, Dale Pelfrey has taken over team ownership of the entire Team Pelfrey organization in the interim since Indy. Nigel Tuckey had ran the Pro Mazda, USF2000 and F1600 Pelfrey programs but no longer does.

The remaining entries will look to spoil the Pelfrey party at the top of the podium. Juncos Racing has come close with each of its four drivers – Garett Grist, Will Owen, Nicolas Dapero and Jake Parsons – having scored at least one podium this year. But with Grist moving up to Indy Lights, it’s just three drivers now at Juncos.

The Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing pair of Nico Jamin and Jake Eidson look for a bit of form to match their ability; Jamin tested Eidson’s car recently at Mid-Ohio and found a bit of pace, so that may translate this weekend.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda

The Cape twins, Thompson and Martin. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
The Cape twins, Thompson and Martin. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Following Pabst Racing’s sweep at St. Petersburg, Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing has responded in a big way with the last five wins on the trot in USF2000.

And the question now begins about the mind games within the team. Does the win for Anthony Martin did at Lucas Oil Raceway last month after a late-race pass of Parker Thompson propel the Australian onto a hot streak? Or can the Canadian rebound and shake off the frustration there? Thompson leads Martin by 26 points entering the weekend.

Those two lead what will be a four-car Cape team at Road America, with Nikita Lastochkin set to return after sitting out at at Lucas Oil Raceway, and with Jordan Cane joining after moving over from Team Pelfrey. The young English teenager has tested at Road America.

Drivers hopeful of making inroads are the remainder of the top five drivers in points, Jordan Lloyd (Pabst), Victor Franzoni (ArmsUp Motorsports) and Yufeng Luo (Pabst). Both Pabst (Oconomowoc) and ArmsUp (Sheboygan Falls) have this as their home race and have logged quite a bit of laps at the circuit over the years, so they could have a leg up.

Max Hanratty of Hartland, Wis., who now lives in Milwaukee, flies the flag as Wisconsin’s hometown driver within the series.

Additionally, the new Tatuus USF-17 will test on Monday at the track. The car was revealed at IMS last month.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb


For the fifth time in 10 rounds of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season, the three riders at the top of the championship standings shared a podium and while those points tell one story, the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit tell a slightly different tale.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Cooper Webb is peaking at the right time. – Feld Motor Sports

Chase Sexton has been all but perfect during the past 45 days with podium finishes in each of his heats and Triple Crown features. His only stumble during this period was a 10th-place finish in the Indianapolis Main. Last week, Sexton was perfect with wins in both his heat and the feature, although he needed a little help from an Aaron Plessinger mistake to take the top spot on the podium at the end of the night.

Cooper Webb finished fifth at Houston and was beginning to worry ever so slightly about his position in the points. Prior to the race in Tampa, he told NBC Sports that it was time to win and like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence, Webb went out and captured it. Following that race, Webb has swept the podium and earned the red plate two weeks ago in Indianapolis. At Detroit, he added two more points on Eli Tomac as the season begins to wind down.

Tomac struggled with a stiff neck at Indianapolis and after a modest third-place showing in Detroit, he revealed he was still suffering a little. Webb and Sexton have been able to close the gap on Tomac in the past 45 days, but one of the main reasons he is so close in the points was a pair of wins that started the year. Seattle is going to be important for the defending champion because Tomac cannot afford to lose any more momentum with seven rounds remaining.

MORE: Chase Sexton inherits the win in Detroit

It appeared Jason Anderson was turning things around. He earned his fifth heat win at Detroit, which was also his sixth consecutive race (including features) in which he scored a top-five. A fall in the Detroit Main dropped him a lap off the pace and sent him home with a season-worst finish of ninth, causing a ripple effect in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Justin Barcia was a huge part of the show last week in Detroit. He swapped positions with both Webb and Tomac in the middle stage of the race, which allowed Sexton to close the gap. Barcia finished fourth in that race to earn his third consecutive top-five. He’s been outside the top 10 only once in the first 10 rounds.

Adam Cianciarulo had a great start to the Main. He led a couple of laps before losing a lap and slipping back to eighth in the final rundown. That run was strong enough to elevate him three positions in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit.

450 Rankings

Driver Percentage
1. Chase Sexton
[2 Main, 6 Heat wins]
87.00 1 0
2. Cooper Webb
[2 Main, 1 Heat win]
86.71 2 0
3. Eli Tomac
[5 Main, 6 Heat wins]
84.57 3 0
4. Jason Anderson
[5 Heat wins]
80.71 4 0
5. Ken Roczen
[1 Main, 1 Heat win]
80.50 5 0
6. Justin Barcia
[1 Heat win]
79.07 7 1
7. Aaron Plessinger 77.14 6 -1
8. Adam Cianciarulo 69.75 11 3
9. Christian Craig 68.86 10 1
10. Justin Cooper 63.90 9 -1
11. Justin Hill 58.57 15 4
12. Dean Wilson 51.50 12 0
13. Colt Nichols 51.25 13 0
14. Shane McElrath 46.86 17 3
15. Josh Hill 46.79 16 1
16. Benny Bloss 45.31 18 2
17. Jared Lesher 39.00 NA
18. Joey Savatgy 38.63 14 -4
19. Cade Clason 37.50 21 2
20. Grant Harlan 35.54 23 3

Supercross 450 Points

The NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings look at the past 90 days in the 250 class in order to have a balanced comparison between the East and West divisions and Hunter Lawrence has been all but perfect this year. At Detroit, he earned his fifth win of the season and kept alive a streak of podium finishes in six rounds. He tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 250 wins one week before the West riders take to the track for back-to-back races at Seattle, Washington and Glendale, Arizona.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Nate Thrasher is settling into a comfortable role as ‘best in class’. – Feld Motor Sports

The Lawrence brothers are dominating the points in each of their respective divisions, which means the remainder of the field is battling to be best in class.

In the East, that rider is Nate Thrasher, who beat Hunter in a head-to-head matchup in their heat only to finish second in the main when the majority of points were awarded. Thrasher seems to have accepted his position in the championship standings, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep trying for wins.

Haiden Deegan showed a lot of aggression in his heat last week. He threw a couple of block passes at his teammate Jordon Smith and set up a series of events that kept Smith from making the big show while Deegan settled into second in the preliminary. Deegan was unconcerned about how he raced his teammate and would not let a little controversy keep him from celebrating his second career podium in Detroit.

Supercross 250 Points

Jeremy Martin just keeps clicking off solid results. He won his heat last week by making a pass on Deegan and Smith while they were in the heat of their battle. Martin finished fourth in the Main, which means he continues to have only one finish worse than sixth in any of the features or mains.

Smith fell one position in the points standings, but the damage was even worse in SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit. Crash damage in his heat contributed to a last-place finish in that race, for which he earned minimal points. He was not able to advance from the Last Chance Qualifier after stalling his bike in heavy traffic.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Hunter Lawrence – E
[5 Main, 5 Heat wins]
90.43 1 0
2. Jett Lawrence – W
[3 Main, 3 Heat wins]
90.30 2 0
3. Nate Thrasher – E
[1 Main, 3 Heat wins]
84.00 5 2
4. Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat win]
79.80 9 5
5. Haiden Deegan – E
[1 Heat win]
78.21 7 2
6. Jeremy Martin – E
[2 Heat wins]
78.00 8 2
7. Jordon Smith – E
[3 Heat Wins]
76.77 4 -3
8. Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main]
75.30 3 -5
9. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 75.20 11 2
10. RJ Hampshire – W
[4 Heat wins]
74.50 17 7
11. Max Anstie – E 74.43 6 -5
12. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 0
13. Max Vohland – W 71.56 10 -3
14. Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
69.22 14 0
15. Chris Blose – E 67.43 18 3
16. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 15 -1
17. Enzo Lopes – W 66.00 20 3
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 16 -2
19. Pierce Brown – W 65.78 13 -6
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 21 1

* 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 for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage