Graham Rahal doubles up in Detroit

Photo: IndyCar

DETROIT – Graham Rahal called his shot at the start of the weekend, saying he could dominate if he got the pole ahead of this weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Presented by Lear.

He did just that in race one. And he did it again in race two.

The American became the first to wave the flag as a U.S. winner at the Raceway on Belle Isle Park since 1996 (Michael Andretti) on Saturday, becoming the seventh winner in as many races in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

And on Sunday, he became the first driver to double up in 2017, and also became the first driver to win both races of the Detroit doubleheader since the format was introduced in 2013, surviving a late red flag for a pair of mechanicals to do it. Scott Dixon swept Toronto in 2013, the only other doubleheader sweep race winner in the format’s history.

The No. 15 SoldierStrong/ Honda won today’s race by 1.1772 seconds after leading 41 of 70 laps in this race, once again almost completing a perfect weekend. All he missed today was a point for being the fastest qualifier in his group.

Rahal got into the net lead after the first round of pit stops, because he was on a two-stop strategy while others were on a three-stopper. Rahal was second on the road to Josef Newgarden but net first after getting ahead of Takuma Sato by Lap 25. Once Newgarden pitted on Lap 29, that moved Rahal to the lead on Lap 30, and that was where he’d stay the rest of the race except during the pit stop cycles themselves.

On a three-stop strategy, Newgarden pushed early to get up to fifth place in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, and then leap-frogged past polesitter Sato, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud on his final stop to get up to second on track.

It marks Newgarden’s first podium in Detroit and caps off a weekend where he was the top finishing Chevrolet, and top finishing Team Penske driver, in both the manufacturer and team owner Roger Penske’s home race.

Power took third place in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet after getting ahead of Sato on the last stop with a quicker final exit.

Sato fell to fourth in the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport after scoring his first pole position in three years in the morning.

Pagenaud took the No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet to the final top-five position.

There was not a caution that interrupted the race, which looked set to be the second time in the last three road or street races this has happened (INDYCAR Grand Prix at IMS road course), until Lap 66 when James Hinchcliffe stopped on track exiting Turn 2.

It got worse when Spencer Pigot’s Chevrolet engine blew up in spectacular fashion also exiting Turn 2, and that brought out a red flag to clean up the track. That lasted 18 minutes.

While contact was expected, it didn’t come on the restart – and Rahal held on over Newgarden and Power in what was an anticlimactic finish.

There was some contact earlier throughout the race – notably involving front-row starter Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves where Castroneves had a left rear flat and Hunter-Reay required a front wing change – and also when rookie Ed Jones and JR Hildebrand collided.

Jones hadn’t looked a rookie all season but that contact coupled with a stall on exit left him in a season-worst 22nd and last place after starting only 17th.

Results are below. More to follow.

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead


With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.

In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list