Rossi, Kanaan slice, dice en route to sixth, seventh in Iowa

Photo: Tony DiZinno

NEWTON, Iowa – Alexander Rossi was making his Iowa Speedway debut while Tony Kanaan was becoming one of four drivers to continue his streak of starting all 10 Iowa Verizon IndyCar Series races.

Their two worlds collided around the halfway mark in the Iowa Corn 300, when Rossi ran high coming off Turn 2 and nearly collected Kanaan. Rossi was a lap down while Kanaan was sixth at the time.

Kanaan, on the radio, was less than pleased with the moment at the 0.894-mile bullring.

The drivers of the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda and No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet ended sixth and seventh, respectively, but after chaotic races to get there.

Rossi made it up to sixth late after getting back on the lead lap, although he’d ran outside the top 10 for most of the day.

Kanaan, meanwhile, was caught out on a yellow flag, lost two laps and finished a lap down.

We spoke to both drivers after the race to get their respective sides of the stories. As you’ll note in the picture, they spoke after the race on their own.

“Yeah, that was my bad, I need to go talk to him, for sure,” Rossi told NBC Sports. “The low line had been fine for me and on that lap, I got down there and I guess the marbles had built up. When I passed him on the inside, the front just took off. I was immediately on the radio, saying sorry. That was definitely 100 percent on me.

“He apologized, I think,” Kanaan told NBC Sports. “On a short track like that, that’s the way it is. I don’t think it was necessary because it wasn’t even for position. At that time, he was a lap down. But I can see what happened, it could have happened to anybody. Obviously, you can’t avoid it. It is what it is. The good side is none of us crashed, so it could have been a lot worse.”

Rossi, who now adds this sixth place to his famous win at the 100th Indianapolis 500 and a hard luck 14th at Phoenix, has noted his increase in comfort level – although he noted racing at the fellow short oval of Phoenix bore no similarities to Iowa. He also led four laps from Laps 61 to 64, running longer on the first stint.

“This is a whole different ballgame. That’s the beauty of this championship,” Rossi said. “Every track is different. I guess what was different for me from Phoenix is I wasn’t scared s***less on Lap 1!”

Kanaan, who led both practices and was unlucky to end only seventh, rued his lost opportunity.

“To get caught in the pits like that, it is what it is. It’s the same for everybody,” Kanaan said. “I like to go racing and then you get caught and are two laps down just because came into the pits on a different strategy, I guess.

“It’s not fair, but all in all, we didn’t have a car to win today. Newgarden was the class of the field, but I think we had a car to finish in the top three, for sure. We battled with (Scott) Dixon and Will (Power) all day, but when we went two laps down, my day was over.”

Unofficially Kanaan is sixth, Rossi seventh in the points standings – so their championship positions are nearly perfect reflections of where they sit overall.

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.