PWC: O’Connell, Cadillac in search of redemption at Long Beach

O'Connell won on road, Parente inherited win last year. Photo: PWC
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Johnny O’Connell is the closest thing Pirelli World Challenge has to a “throwback” driver, and Long Beach is the closest thing PWC has to a “throwback” race.

Because as PWC’s race, driver and series format evolve, both O’Connell and Long Beach roll on in the manner that’s different from almost everything else.

At 54 years old, the four-time PWC GT class champion (2012-2015) is anywhere from 15 to 35 years the senior of most of his competitors in the GT class. PWC used to be an older driver’s game and as more factories and manufacturers have entered in, the overall caliber of driver has gone up while the average age has gone down.

“Back in 1986, I was a young punk in my career and I had a great enthusiasm for the sport,” O’Connell said heading into Long Beach, 31 years after his first start on these streets. “I still have that drive and will to win. But now I also have that experience and it helps us a lot against the young guys who remind me of myself 30 years ago. These kids are good and I still love racing going head-to-head with these guys.”

As mentioned don’t let “Johnny Red’s” age fool you; he’s focused and determined as ever, and after turbo boost spikes found during technical inspection took a win away from him last year at Long Beach and relegated him to second, winning is the only thing on the mind for the driver of the Velocity Red No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R this weekend – even though he gained significant respect for Alvaro Parente for how he handled the awkward situation of winning after the checkered flag.

“We won the race on the track last year and the officials moved us to second after a pre-race inspection for being over boost with our turbocharged engine which was a blink of an eye,” said O’Connell, the 20-time PWC race winner of Flowery Branch, Ga. “So, I want to get back to Long Beach and rectify that win. I want another first-place trophy from Long Beach.

“The cool thing last year was that I really respect all of my competitors but Alvaro Parente, who got the win after the race, did a very awesome deal. He finished second on the track but I went to him at the next race (Barber Motorsports Park) and gave him the winning trophy. But he said to me, ‘Dude, you won that race. Please keep the trophy.’ And that showed me a lot of honor from him.”

With only one race this weekend, Long Beach is now an anomaly on the PWC calendar. It’s the only race weekend of 2017 where PWC races only once, as opposed to twice.

And Long Beach will also serve as the beginning of the end of the beginning for the 2017 season, to quote the Smashing Pumpkins. After Long Beach, PWC vaults into three consecutive SprintX weekends for GT at Virginia International Raceway end of April, then Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Lime Rock Park on back-to-back weekends in May. That will change the dynamic of the season as GT lineups go to two drivers for the 60-minute races with a mandatory pit stop.

It makes Sunday’s 50-minute, one-driver dash all the more important to end the last race of the first Sprint portion on top. The Sprint portion is off for more than two months, returning at Road America in June. Parente and Patrick Long won the two races at St. Petersburg, O’Connell having come fourth and second in those two.

Within the rest of the GT class, there’s no shortage of drivers looking to star this weekend either. Some of the intriguing story lines to watch within the 23-car GT/GTA field include:

  • Parente (No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3) will look to win on the road this weekend after inheriting his first PWC victory here last year in adverse circumstances.
  • Patrick Long (No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R) lives in Manhattan Beach, Calif. has won in ALMS at Long Beach before, but not in PWC. He’ll look to change that.
  • O’Connell’s teammate Michael Cooper (No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R) had a toughish St. Pete weekend and looks for his first podium of the year.
  • Parente’s teammate, Bryan Sellers (No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3) and Ryan Dalziel (No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) will pull double duty this weekend between the PWC GT race and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 100-minute race Saturday afternoon.
  • Alex Riberas (No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3) enters into the car that won this race in 2015 with Olivier Beretta driving, a race that was memorable for all the wrong reasons with cautions, contacts and fines the prominent story lines.
  • With Honda Performance Development based in nearby Santa Clarita, Calif., the new Acura NSX GT3s of Ryan Eversley (No. 43) and Peter Kox (No. 93) seek results on the manufacturer’s home soil for RealTime Racing.
  • Magnus Racing and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing look for podium results. GAINSCO had a nightmare weekend with Jon Fogarty crashing his McLaren here last year. Now in a Porsche, this will provide Fogarty a shot at redemption.
  • Santa Ana, Calif.-based GMG Racing swept the GTA races at St. Petersburg with talented youngster Alec Udell; he’ll look to add to those stats this weekend, having now been updated to GT in his No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The race is at 10 a.m. PT and local time Sunday morning, as the last race before the Verizon IndyCar Series takes to the track for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Anaheim 2

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The Triple Crown format shook up the results in the Monster Energy Supercross round at Anaheim 2 with no rider dominating, but in the end two wins and a fifth-place were enough to give Chase Sexton the overall victory. It was the second 450 Supercross win of his career coming a little more than a year after he won his first in San Diego.

This year San Diego was not nearly as kind. Sexton crashed on the first lap of his heat and his Honda was center punched by another rider. The damage sent him into the Last Chance Qualifier and a poor gate pick contributed to his fifth-place finish last week.

Sexton showed he was more than ready to put that behind him Saturday night in Angel Stadium by winning the first of three races in the Triple Crown format. Entering Race 3 as one of three drivers who could have secured the overall win, he chased down Jason Anderson on Lap 4 and led the final 10 laps.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here 250 Results

Ultimately Anderson dropped to third in the final Supercross moto of the season in Anaheim 2, but strong results in the first two races secured second overall. Anderson won the second race and his 5-1-3 fell two positions shy of the overall win.

All questions about whether Ken Roczen would need an adjustment period as he switched from Honda to Suzuki have been answered: He did not. Sweeping the top five in his two Supercross Main events and in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown, he amassed enough points with his results of 2-3-4 to score his first podium of the season.

Click here for 450 Triple Crown Race 1 | Race 2 | Race 3

Cooper Webb steadily improved his results during the Triple Crown, but a seventh-place finish in the first race proved to be too much to overcome. He finished fourth in Race 2 and charged to second in the final race to secure fourth overall.

Dylan Ferrandis showed a lot of consistency with results of 4-6-5 to round out the top five.

Eli Tomac was one of the three riders who might have secured the overall victory by winning Race 3, but he pressed too hard while trying to pass Webb for second. He jumped wide midway through the race and landed on a Tuff Blox. After getting violently pitched from his Yamaha, he found that it was slightly damaged when he remounted and could only salvage sixth-place points with finishes of 3-2-13.

It was enough for him to maintain the overall lead in the points’ standings by four over Sexton and Webb.

Click here for Round 1 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points


Levi Kitchen didn’t win a battle on Saturday night, but he won the war. He established in the top five in Race 1 with a fourth-place finish and then swept the runner-up spot in the final two motos. That first SuperMotocross victory of his career with a previous best of seventh in Supercross this year in Anaheim 1 and a third in Motocross last year at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado. It was a much-needed morale boost for Kitchen, who finished 21st last week in San Diego.

The night was disappointing by Jett Lawrence standards. He suffered falls in the first two races and stalled one another occasion, but was able to overcome those problems each time with results of third and sixth. That put him in a position where he had a shot at the overall if Kitchen stumbled just a little in the final moto. Lawrence won Race 3, but still does not have an overall Triple Crown win in the Supercross 250 division. With only one more Triple Crown on the schedule before he climbs on a 450 for the outdoor season, time is running out.

Click here for 250 Triple Crown Race 1 | Race 2 | Race 3 | Last Chance Qualifier

The Triple Crown always shakes up the Supercross results and Anaheim 2 was no exception.

Stilez Roberston capitalized on mistakes by Lawrence, RJ Hampshire and Cameron McAdoo during Race 2 and won. That victory, coupled with a third in Race 3 and a sixth in the first main, was enough to give him the final position on the podium. In this format the results are added together and the lowest number wins. Robertson tied Lawrence with identical results of 10 accumulated points, but Lawrence’s win in the final race relegated Robertson to third.

With a total score of 15 (5-4-6), Mitchell Oldenburg was a relatively distant fifth. The 18 points he earned are enough to keep him fourth in the standings and with McAdoo and Hampshire experience trouble in the race, he was able to close the gap on second in the standings.

Click here for 250 West Overall results | 250 West rider points

After missing last week’s Main, Max Vohland finished with results of 7-8-4 in the Anaheim 2 Supercross race and rounds out the top five.

McAdoo and Hampshire both lost ground in the championship standings with difficult races.

McAdoo was able to salvage sixth-place points (17) and that allowed him to leapfrog Hampshire (12). Proving that even bad days are not that bad for last year’s 250 East champion, Lawrence left Anaheim 2 with a points’ lead of 16 over second-place.

2023 Results

Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

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