Sports car stars shine in chaotic NASCAR Xfinity Mid-Ohio rain race

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In the first 20 NASCAR Xfinity Series races of the year, only five were won by Xfinity Series regulars – Erik Jones with three, and Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez with one apiece.

By contrast, Kyle Busch has more Xfinity wins than that this year by himself – seven in 12 starts.

Round 21 of the year though at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, one of three road course races for the series in the month of August (Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and Road America at the end of the month) presented an opportunity for those who don’t run in NASCAR full-time to wheel it and wheel it well with the absence of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars (Ryan Blaney was only Sprint Cup regular in the field).

And while it was a chaotic race with rain throwing a monkey wrench into the normal script, with some drivers and certainly tires that were lesser tested in rain conditions than others, it allowed a number of drivers with plenty of talent but rarely an opportunity to shine through.

Chief among them were race winner Justin Marks and seventh place finisher Andy Lally, both of whom are sports car veterans but who have also plied their trade off-and-on in NASCAR when they’ve had the opportunity.

Looking at Marks first, one of racing’s modern day renaissance men (besides racing, Marks also co-owns the Larson Marks Racing World of Outlaws team, and is also an investor, entrepreneur and owner of the Drylake Group) had his best shot to win a NASCAR race in his No. 42 Katerra Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing.

And he seized the moment in his 12th start of the year, and 25th of his Xfinity career. His win wasn’t just his first win of his career but it was also his first top-10 finish of the season; his prior best result this year was 11th at Talladega.

Marks led 43 laps in the rain – his first NASCAR Xfinity laps led – en route to the victory. He then dedicated the win to the late Bryan Clauson, a friend and fellow competitor he’d raced on short tracks around the country.

His sports car accolades primarily came in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, where he has eight career wins, including the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Most recently, he’s driven Lamborghinis with Robby Benton’s Change Racing team. He raced in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America series last year in an Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo car and this year was part of the lineup along with Spencer Pumpelly, Corey Lewis and Kaz Grala in Benton’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut with the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 at Daytona.

Lally, 41, was the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie-of-the-year with TRG but has been a sports car star for the better part of 15 years and more than 200 starts. He’s won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in class five times, including this year in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS he shared with John Potter, Marco Seefried and Rene Rast.

In a one-off NASCAR outing though entered by Mario Gosselin – Gosselin graciously giving up the seat – Lally drove the popular “underdog” effort with support from Doug Peterson’s 3Dimensional group and with Jordan Taylor, a IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship ace for his dad Wayne’s team and Le Mans winner for Corvette Racing, gathering donations for Camp Boggy Creek to support the effort. Taylor’s equally epic/infamous mullet made a re-appearance on Lally’s No. 90 Chevrolet as a result.

Lally led three laps and notably came back from the low-20s to the lead despite getting clipped earlier in the race. But his greater effort came in the final 20-odd laps of the race when he essentially drove blind to the finish out the side window. Check out his Instagram post below:

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4 days ago, almost to the hour, I had zero idea I would be racing the #NASCAR #XfinitySeries at Mid Ohio. Now, back home and unpacking I have some great memories of a wild ride. Mario Gosselin & the guys did a great job on our #90 this weekend and it was fun to mix it up with the guys I watch every weekend. For those wondering why we faded, we lost the defogger on top of the wiper and when I passed the jet dryer in turn 13 it blew. Ton of water in the car onto the inside of the windshield. As soon as we went green it fogged the windshield so bad it may as well have been painted. I drove out the side window and my spotters Michelle and Jeff let me know when I got to a specific marker going into the turns so I knew when to start braking. Craziest feeling. A 7th place finish in what is probably my only NASCAR race of the season. Tune in to SiriusXM channel 90 at 12:30 if you want to hear more!

A post shared by Andy Lally (@andylallyracing) on

Looking down the order and others like Alon Day, who made a brief Indy Lights appearance in 2012, Australians Owen Kelly and Kenny Habul, sports car driver-turned-NASCAR driver Ryan Ellis and “I’ll seemingly race everything with four wheels on it” veteran Nelson Piquet Jr. also turned heads during the race. Ellis is working hard on making a NASCAR career but the others could aptly be considered “road course ringers,” a term that’s fallen out of the Sprint Cup arena but not Xfinity.

Marks and Lally were the standouts and what they did was showcase that if given an opportunity, they can star.

Plenty of others in the world of sports car racing could do likewise if given the chance.

It also made for a fun race to watch, knowing the outcome was in doubt until the end and without the likelihood of a Sprint Cup regular winning an Xfinity race.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton


Another crash while leading at Seattle dropped Chase Sexton from the top of the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings while solid performances by Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac allow them to climb the chart and threaten to make this a two-rider battle with six rounds remaining in the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Cooper Webb wags his finger at Chase Sexton after winning his heat in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

During the race, Webb knew he had ground to make up. Riding behind both Tomac and Sexton early in the Main, he was as far back as fifth on Lap 7 at Seattle. That position would cost him the red plate and give away the advantage he began to build with his first win of the season in Tampa. Sexton is often at his best as he battles from the back and he methodically worked his way through the field. At the end of the feature, he was nearly five seconds off Tomac’s pace, but during the past 45 days, he holds the advantage. A resurgent Tomac that could erase that advantage quickly though.

Tomac struggled in Indianapolis with a neck strain. That contributed to his worst performance of 2023 and his second result outside the top five. He finished third in Detroit two weeks ago, but it was a distant third after finishing off the podium in his heat during that round. In Seattle, it appeared the same thing might happen when Tomac finished third in the prelim behind his two principal competitors Webb and Sexton. The Main was a different story.

Tomac dropped to fourth in the opening laps behind both of his rivals early in the race, but he got around Webb on Lap 2 and kept charging. When Sexton fell to the ground on Lap 11 and dropped to fourth, Tomac was in position to strike. He scored his sixth win of the season to tie James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list. He now shares the red plate with Webb as the rounds wind down.

MORE: Eli Tomac gets rebound win in Seattle

Sexton has the speed, but he lacks the seasoning of Webb and Tomac. He’s pressing hard on every lap and that has bitten him several times this year. Sexton’s mistakes are costing him with a 10th-place finish at Indy, the loss of seven points at Detroit and a fifth in Seattle as the riders he’s battling stood on the podium. No one seriously questions Sexton’s talent or speed, but ultimately the results are what counts.

Justin Barcia is hitting his stride. He advances two positions this week after scoring his fourth consecutive top-five and second podium in that span of races. Barcia finished between sixth and eighth in five consecutive rounds from Anaheim 2 through Arlington, but he’s mostly avoided controversy and that puts him fourth in this week’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

Jason Anderson had a solid performance in Seattle, but with a fifth-place finish in his heat and fourth in the Main he just keeps losing a little ground to the leaders. The biggest impact to his standing in the NBC Power Rankings is a 10th-place finish in Indianapolis that will take a while to age out of the 45-day formula. He’s tied for fourth in the championship points with Ken Roczen, who sits sixth in the rankings below. It’s important to be the rider “best in class” with Webb, Tomac and Sexton stealing the show.

450 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Cooper Webb 87.77 2 1
2. Eli Tomac 86.23 3 1
3. Chase Sexton 85.77 1 -2
4. Justin Barcia 80.71 6 2
5. Jason Anderson 80.69 4 -1
6. Ken Roczen 80.46 5 -1
7. Aaron Plessinger 75.86 7 0
8. Adam Cianciarulo 71.13 8 0
9. Christian Craig 69.86 9 0
10. Justin Cooper 62.88 10 0
11. Justin Hill 59.86 11 0
12. Dean Wilson 52.86 12 0
13. Josh Hill 49.00 15 2
14. Colt Nichols 48.67 13 -1
15. Shane McElrath 45.62 14 -1
16. Benny Bloss 43.00 16 0
17. Grant Harlan 38.08 20 3
18. Max Miller 37.67 24 6
19. Lane Shaw 36.67 21 2
20. Cade Clason 34.67 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points

The 250 West riders were back in action in Seattle and that gave Jett Lawrence the opportunity to break out of a tie with his brother Hunter Lawrence on the all-time wins list. It also provided Jett the opportunity to take back the top spot in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Jett Lawrence regained the top spot overall in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings with a near-perfect race in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

Jett has stood on the podium in every race this year with the exception of the second Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2 and that level of perfection gives him bragging rights. Rest assured that while the two brothers have a bond that is unapparelled in motorsports, there is no one they would rather beat. Neither has been particularly successful in Triple Crown rounds this year, however, and Jett could lose his advantage in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona under that format.

Lawrence is now two wins away from capturing the fourth-most wins at this level.

A rivalry is developing between Lawrence and Cameron McAdoo. Tired of losing to the affable Australian, McAdoo pushed the envelope last week in Seattle. He crowded Lawrence in the whoops during their heat race and sent both to the ground. That frustration could bubble over with four rounds remaining. One thing is certain, when these two riders are in proximity on the track, the cameras will be aimed in their direction.

Supercross 250 Points

A little means a lot this season. Finishing second to Lawrence in four of five rounds, RJ Hampshire would be losing ground to the leader no matter what, but an 11th-place finish in the overall at Anaheim 2 places him eighth on the chart below behind two of the 250 West riders and five 250 East competitors.

In the mains, Levi Kitchen has been all over the board with a win, one more top-five, two results on the high side of the single digits and a crash-induced 21st at San Diego. He’s really shown his speed in the heats, however, with a perfect record of top-fives and a win.

Mitchell Oldenburg makes the top five list among West riders with a perfect record of top-10 finishes. He’s heading in the wrong direction, however, falling from ninth overall to 11th after finishing outside the top five in both his heat and the Main last week.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Jett Lawrence – W 90.75 2 1
2. Hunter Lawrence – E 90.43 1 -1
3. Nate Thrasher – E 84.00 3 0
4. Cameron McAdoo – W 80.50 4 0
5. Haiden Deegan – E 78.21 5 0
6. Jeremy Martin – E 78.00 6 0
7. Jordon Smith – E 76.77 7 0
8. RJ Hampshire – W 76.75 10 2
9. Levi Kitchen – W 76.67 8 -1
10. Max Anstie – E 74.43 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 73.67 9 -2
12. Max Vohland – W 72.55 13 1
13. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 -1
14. Pierce Brown – W 68.64 19 5
15. Enzo Lopes – W 67.83 17 2
16. Chris Blose – E 67.43 15 -1
17. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 16 -1
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 18 0
19. Stilez Robertson – W 64.45 14 -5
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 20 0

* 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 10 AT SEATTLE: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb
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 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