PREVIEW: ABC Supply 500

Photo: IndyCar

The beginning of the final quarter of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season starts this weekend at Pocono Raceway for the ABC Supply 500 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Each of the next three races – which run in the next three weekends – are essentially wild card events for the championship.

A 500-mile race presents its own set of unique challenges and that’s what Pocono has to offer this weekend. Meanwhile the resumption of the Texas race next Saturday will be weird with the race being picked-up mid-stream, and Watkins Glen is different given the new repaving and the fact it will be the first race there in six years.

For what’s ahead at Pocono this weekend, though, here’s a few talking points:

2016 ABC Supply 500 – Talking Points:

Team Penske’s 2016 big oval package

With only the Indianapolis 500 as a reference point, it’s worth noting Team Penske was not the dominant team throughout the month of May. They were good at Pocono last year, with Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power the top three on the grid, but none of those made it home in win contention.

At Indy, Power, Pagenaud, Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya made it to the grid in sixth, eighth, ninth and 17th – hardly Penske perfect. And in the race, Power delivered their only top-10 result in 10th.

You would firmly expect them to be better than that this weekend.

The infamous domed skids

One of the big talking points in the run up to the Indianapolis 500 were the domed skids on the underside of the car, but while they certainly made driving more difficult for the drivers they also accomplished their goal from a safety perspective. Most of the grid tested here a couple weeks ago to attempt to get a handle on the cars in the second and last 2.5-mile oval race of the season, and there were no reported issues.

Honda’s next best hope

Honda is staring down the barrel at an 11-1 deficit in wins this year with four races to go, and even if they win out, that will only make for a best-case scenario of five wins. Put simply, they need a win on top of being competitive this weekend throughout all its entries.

Too many or too few cautions?

The last two years have offered quite a contrast in race styles. See below:

  • 2014: 1 caution, 6 laps, 202.402 mph average speed
  • 2015: 12 cautions, 74 laps, 146.245 mph average speed

That 12-caution race last year was a crazy one, and an outlier in some respects. Each of the other two 500-mile races in 2015 had six cautions apiece at Indianapolis in Fontana. This year’s Indianapolis 500 had a season-high six cautions for 46 laps.

If I had to guess, this year’s Pocono race should be in the three to four caution range, unless desperation and aggressive moves set in.

Any points shakeup?

We forecast earlier this week what could happen to the points standings. A lot of jostling figures to occur from third on back, but there won’t be movement at the top of the heap unless either or both of Pagenaud and Power hits trouble.

Heavy hearts, heavy minds

Two names no longer with us will be on the minds of many in the IndyCar paddock this weekend – Justin Wilson and Bryan Clauson.

The one-year mark of Wilson’s death occurs this weekend and his void in the paddock really hasn’t been filled since, in terms of a tall, genial, gentle giant who was fast as a cheetah behind the wheel.

It’s worth noting too in a roundabout way that Honda hasn’t had a development driver in the way Wilson was for them last year, either, and that may be a contributing factor to the manufacturer’s struggles this year.

For more on how the Wilson family is preparing for the anniversary, I’d recommend reading this Curt Cavin piece in the Indianapolis Star. Also, expect a good number of Wilson tribute socks from USWAGGEAR to be present this weekend (see below).

Clauson’s loss is more recent, and while the short track ace wasn’t a regular fixture in the IndyCar paddock, he made plenty of impact on those he did get the chance to meet and race against in his three Indianapolis 500s.

The 27-year-old particularly touched Dale Coyne Racing, his team for this year’s ‘500, and he’ll be honored by both team drivers this weekend.

Conor Daly takes on Clauson’s No. 88 and BC Forever on the sidepods of his Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Honda. Meanwhile Pippa Mann makes a comeback in the No. 19 car, and will have BC logos and signage on her car and helmet.

Coyne’s team is a likable underdog to begin with, and few if any would begrudge them having a strong weekend to “park it” for Clauson this weekend at Pocono.

The final word

From Takuma Sato, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda, whose sponsor is the race title sponsor and who finished sixth last year: “I like Pocono Raceway a lot. It is such a unique oval. It’s called the ‘Tricky Triangle’ because it has three different type of corners which are such fun to drive. Plus, it gives us great overtaking opportunities and we always provide an exciting show there. For example, we had an incredible seven-car-wide restart last year. I always enjoy this great track and I’m so looking forward to going back and having a strong run again.”

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule:

Saturday, Aug. 20
9 – 10:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, (Live)
1:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (single car/cumulative time of two laps), (Live); TV: NBCSN (Taped, Midnight, Aug. 21)
5-5:30 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series final practice, (Live)

Sunday, Aug. 21
11:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series systems check
2:27 p.m. – Driver Introductions
3:03 p.m. – Command to Start Engines
3:09 p.m. – ABC Supply 500 (200 laps/500 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Here’s last year’s top 10:

1. Ryan Hunter-Reay
2. Josef Newgarden
3. Juan Pablo Montoya
4. Will Power
5. Carlos Munoz
6. Takuma Sato
7. Simon Pagenaud
8. Ryan Briscoe
9. Scott Dixon
10. James Jakes
16. Helio Castroneves (pole)

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