It’s not often you hear just pure joy on one end of a phone conversation in racing, but that was entirely the case this evening upon speaking to the Verizon IndyCar Series’ newest driver, RC Enerson.
The 19-year-old out of New Port Richey, Fla. will make his debut in next week’s Honda Indy 200 – fittingly – in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda, and is possible to run at Watkins Glen and Sonoma as well.
Enerson has carried Lucas Oil support in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires ranks and the family’s new Lucas Oil School of Racing has quickly risen in the industry this year, so although we’ll wait to see how the car looks next week, it would not be a surprise to see either or both bits of signage on the car.
Enerson paused his Indy Lights campaign after the Freedom 100 due to persistent electrical issues, which limited the likely preseason title contender to just one podium finish in the first eight races of the year.
Asked how his first IndyCar test went, after completing an estimated 118 laps of the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Enerson simply stated, “It. Was. Awesome!!!”
There was obviously more to come from the driver who’s likely going to surprise some people next week in his IndyCar debut.
“It went way better than I expected,” Enerson said. “There was a huge amount I learned today. Driving a car, is driving a car, and I got up to speed straightaway.
“But it goes by so fast. You do two stints right there. Then getting used to the things you’re not used to, like pit stops and fuel saving. So we spent a fair amount of time on pit stops, and hitting the marks right. You’re doing extra things like pit entry, exit, in laps and out laps. You learn a ton.”
Enerson’s track experience at Mid-Ohio will undoubtedly pay dividends. He’s won there in both Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition – the Indy Lights race serving as his first win in that series – and knows the track rather well.
“In USF2000, you’re running maybe 1:24 or 1:25 laps there. Then, Lights is 1:12. That’s a 13-second jump!” Enerson said. “Now in IndyCar we’re running another five or six seconds quicker.
“I had the basic line down. I know the driving style. What I didn’t know was the ridiculous amount of grip we’d get from the Firestones!”
Enerson also has quickly hailed the Dale Coyne Racing team. He made his seat fit in the team’s Illinois headquarters earlier this week before heading to Mid-Ohio.
“The team is awesome. I love this team,” he said.
“The vibe around the whole team is just amazing. There’s not a lot of pressure on me. They basically came in and said, ‘You’re not expected to set the world on fire.’
“But today we made great use of our time. It was great to not only test, but be able to make changes to the car and make setup tweaks.
“We learned a lot of valuable information that will help us for our debut.”
Cooper Webb scored his fourth win of the season in a photo finish over Ken Roczen in Round 7 of Supercross competition.
It was a remarkable end to a barn burner race.
Roczen was still looking for his first win since San Diego in 2017. He took the lead from Eli Tomac on Lap 4 as the pair came out of the whoops. Roczen held the lead for the next 21 circuits. On Lap 4, Webb was mired in sixth – the worst position among the top four contenders that entered the event with only two points separating them.
Webb mounted his charge at that point, meticulously picking off the competition until he was embroiled in a heated battle with Marvin Musquin. Webb knew that his only shot at catching Roczen was to get past Musquin as quickly as possible, but he could not run the risk of taking his teammate down. Webb passed Musquin on Lap 19 and began picking at Roczen’s lead.
With time off the clock and the final lap underway. Webb was on Roczen’s back tire hoping to force a mistake. When that did not come, Webb dove into the final turn to get side-by-side with Roczen and break the leader’s momentum. The two crossed under the checkers in a virtual tie. Webb beat Roczen by two-hundredths of a second – the closest margin in Supercross history.
“That was just insanity,” Webb told NBCSN after the race. “It was clicking I guess.”
Webb’s win gave him the points lead and the red plate.
Musquin rounded out the top three to keep the points battle tight. This is Musquin’s fifth consecutive finish of either second or third.
On Lap 1, the race had a completely different storyline. Tomac took the early lead ahead of Roczen and Musquin. Webb was seventh and it appeared he would be the first of the top four to blink.
Instead, it was Tomac that bobbled. He went down on Lap 6 and kept falling until he landed 12th. This was the first time he’s failed to finish among the top 10. The disappointing finish dropped him 16 points off the pace, fourth in the standings.
Blake Baggett and Joey Savatgy rounded out the top five.
Zach Osborne’s return to Supercross was not what he expected. Osborne was running eighth when he got crossed up and went over the tough blocks on Lap 8. He could not return to the race and finished 22nd after a dramatic showing in his heat.
Round 2 of 250s East started where Round 1 ended – with Austin Forkner in the lead. This was the first time in more than a decade that a rider had perfect nights in the first two rounds. Forkner had to overcome mistakes in timed practice after going off track once and nearly landing on another rider on a separate occasion. That contact might have ended his night before it began.
Instead, Forkner posted a lap of 50.899 – his fastest of the night – on the second trip around the track in the Feature. As he got into traffic, the lap times slipped into the 52-second range.
Helping Forkner to his dominant win was the fact that no one seemed to want second place.
Chase Sexton was Forkner’s closest competition for the first half of the race. He stalled and lost second to Jordon Smith at the midway point. On Lap 15, he went down and fell to fourth. Now 13 seconds behind the leader, his chance of winning was done. Sexton recovered to finish third and land on the final step on the podium
On Lap 18, Jordon Smith laid his bike down while running second; he ultimately crossed under the checkers fourth.
Their mistakes allowed Justin Cooper to climb into the runner-up position and secure the second position in the points standings.
450 Heat 1: Ken Roczen led every lap on his way to a 4.8-second win over Justin Hill. … Joey Savatgy rounded out the top three. … Zach Osborne got off to a tough start on his return to Supercross. He went down on Lap 1 after burying the front wheel. Osborne almost saved his bike, but got run over from behind by Aaron Plessinger. Osborne fell to 18th on the first lap; improved to 15th by Lap 2. He kept rolling, picking off one spot per lap. Osborne grabbed the final transfer spot from Kyle Chisholm just as time ran off the clock.
450 Heat 2: Cole Seely took the lead from Chad Reed on Lap 1 and held it to the checkers. After Roczen took the Heat 2 win, the battle for the championship was previewed in Heat 2, however; Eli Tomac caught up to Seely’s back wheel, but came up about a half second short. … Cooper Webb showed he is not going to be overshadowed in the playoff battle with a third-place finish. … Marvin Musquin finished seventh.
450 Last Chance Qualifier: Justin Barcia flat out dominated the LCQ with a 12.5-second win over Alex Ray. … Kyle Chisholm finished third. Ronnie Stewart lost the final transfer spot to Scott Champion on the last lap – but not for long. Champion went down as he was headed for the checkers and gave the position back to Stewart. … Tyler Bowers was disqualified before the beginning of the LCQ for running into Barcia during their heat race.
250 Heat 1: Mitchell Oldenburg blazed into the lead with the holeshot and grabbed a 1.4 second lead by the end of Lap 1. It was Oldenburg’s first heat win of the season. … He held that advantage through the end of the heat and beat Justin Cooper and Alex Martin. … With time running off the clock, Lorenzo Locurcio took the final transfer spot of ninth.
250 Heat 2: Austin Forkner and Jordon Smith went side by side on Lap 5 with Forkner blasting past on the whoops to win the heat. … Smith held on for second with Martin Davalos rounding out the top three. … Kyle Peters almost provided the drama of the night exiting Turn 1. He got wiggly in a big pack and bunched up the riders from seventh on back. Peters recovered to finish fifth. … The final transfer spot came down to a three-man battle between Brandon Hartranft (eighth), Joshua Cartwright (ninth) and Steven Clarke just missing in 10th. … Joey Crown joined Clarke in the LCQ after finishing 11th.
250 Last Chance Qualifier: Kyle Cunningham was seventh at the end of Lap 1, but he picked up two positions per lap until he was third on Lap 3. He took the lead on Lap 5 and held it till the end over Ramyller Alves and Steven Clarke. … TJ Albright grabbed the holeshot, but lost the lead to Clarke on Lap 3. He fell back to fourth and was under heavy pressure from Jayce Pennington until the two riders made contact with on the final lap. Albright survived to finish fourth; Pennington finished a distant 16th.
Cooper Webb (150) (4 wins)
Ken Roczen (148)
Marvin Musquin (144)
Eli Tomac (134) (1 win)
Dean Wilson (110)