What to Watch For: IndyCar at Toronto (2:30 p.m. ET, CNBC)

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TORONTO – Following an interesting weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto, today’s race – the 11th of 16 in the Verizon IndyCar Series season (2:30 p.m. ET, CNBC) – represents a good opportunity for the field to get jumbled considering strategy, cautions and surprises often tend to dominate proceedings.

The top four on the grid is predictable with Scott Dixon ahead of three Team Penske drivers, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, but with Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe in fifth and sixth there are some hungry drivers ready to overtake the Penske/Ganassi quartet.

PREVIEW
QUALIFYING REPORT

Here’s what to look for ahead of today’s 85-lap race, which you can see live on CNBC at 2:30 p.m. ET (re-air is 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

THE START…

Considering the new tight, slower Turn 11 and most of the other races have been able to get the cars lined up side-by-side prior to the start, it will be interesting to see how many rows can get lined up out of the slow corner. That will then see the cars launch going into Turn 1, where there’s at least a good funnel effect.

…THEN TURN 3

Toronto’s most legendary and perhaps notorious corner is Turn 3, the tight right-hander at the end of Lake Shore Blvd.

“Being up front means you’re less likely to get caught up in a mess in Turn 1 and Turn 3, which is almost inevitable here. So we’ll see how it turns out,” said Hinchcliffe.

Bourdais joked, of any possibility of INDYCAR moving the start to the backstraight, “Let’s have a crack at it on the back straight, see how many cars we can take out in Turn 3. It would be awesome.”

Thus far this weekend Turn 3 hasn’t been the trouble spot. Instead, it’s been…

…AND THEN TURNS 9, 10 AND 11

The final complex of the circuit has been the complex under the most scrutiny this weekend, following Turn 8, which was moved back to its original configuration on Saturday.

Of Turn 8, polesitter Dixon said, “It’s where it should have been to start with, I think. It’s a place I think more for racing. It’s always difficult to pass there, but it’s always another option. On street courses you need as many options as possible.

“It would definitely help the racing. It helped the corner a little bit. Wherever the concrete is here, especially on the apexes, one,three, five, eight, even through the last section now, just gets polished. It’s very slippery.”

Here’s Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport on Turn 11: “For sure the track is much different than last year. It’s much harder for the drivers, especially in (Turn11 – we saw a lot of problems there.”

Turns 9, 10 and 11 will be the most difficult corners to master because they’re tighter and have produced a number of accidents throughout the weekend.

PIT LANE

As noted in the preview, the pit lane may well be a mess – some drivers have it worse than others trying to enter their respective boxes.

If a full course caution occurs and most of the field pits at once, it could get chaotic, quickly.

CARNAGE ON TAP? 

There have really not been a lot of cautions this year, because the depth of field is so strong from drivers 1-22 and the reliability from both Chevrolet and Honda has been largely impressive albeit with some hiccups (Chevrolet is seeking to improve though after some recent component failures).

But while the number of cautions has gone on road and street courses this year, in order, 2, 0, 1, 2, 2, 3 and 1, it just feels like we’re due for a race of derpage.

The Toronto course has proven to be more challenging than normal owing to the above course changes, and the fact we’ve had two crashes already with Juan Pablo Montoya and Charlie Kimball at Turn 11 in Friday practice portends a race where the pace car is due to be circulating more frequently than normal.

The law of averages simply dictates we’re due here in Toronto, where cautions usually come fast and furious. In the race’s history (hat tip to my colleague Steve Wittich for this), the average is 3.6 yellows for 14.81 laps.

In 2014, race two, there were seven yellows for 20 laps and in 2011, there were eight for 32 laps. Since 2012 and the introduction of the Dallara DW12 chassis, there’s only been more than four yellows once – that aforementioned 2014 race.

HINCH…

It’s James Hinchcliffe’s home race and with it comes the necessary pressure of wanting to perform. He’s been asked a similar question about it being his home race countless times. How will he do today? It’s always a story.

SEABASS…

Arguably Bourdais, in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet, has been the best driver outside of the Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing stables at Toronto. He was disappointed in some respects to be fifth but that’s because if he and his car were even further dialed in, he’d have been on the front row. Definitely one to watch.

…AND THE REST OF THE NON-GANASSI/PENSKE BRIGADE

Beyond the top four drivers, there’s these outstanding questions:

  • How does Josef Newgarden fare from P8 on the grid after acknowledging this hasn’t been his strongest weekend?
  • What to make of the Dale Coyne Racing teammates after their strong qualifying positions?
  • Can Andretti Autosport spring a strategy surprise to overcome a poor qualifying performance?

HERE’S YOUR GRID AND PIT WINDOWS

We shall wait and see.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston

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Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart


The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s