MRTI Toronto Notebook: Sunday

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Sunday’s races for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda were significantly more chaotic than Saturday’s, as big crashes took out several cars in both races and several heavy hitters encountered trouble.

In the end, each series saw a driver survive the carnage to complete a weekend sweep. Reports for both races are below.

 

INDY LIGHTS: KAISER SWEEPS AS TITLE RIVALS FALTER

Kyle Kaiser was atop the podium again in Race 2 at Toronto. Aaron Telitz was second with Zachary Claman de Melo third. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Kyle Kaiser had been the model of consistency during the 2017 Indy Lights campaign, but admittedly felt like he needed more race wins to build momentum heading into the season’s home stretch. And that’s exactly what happened, as Kaiser won Race 2 on Sunday to back up his Race 1 victory on Saturday, completing a sweep of the weekend at Toronto.

In Victory Lane, Kaiser revealed that he had high expectations ahead of the weekend, but was still beside himself with sweeping both races. “I knew this would be a good weekend for us because the team has always had a good setup here – Spencer won both races two years ago. But it’s really been a dream weekend – I’ve never had a double win weekend before. Actually, I can’t believe it,” Kaiser quipped afterward.

However, Sunday’s outing was not nearly as straightforward as Saturday’s. Colton Herta led from the pole to start race 2, with Kaiser going three-wide with Santi Urrutia and Nico Jamin entering turn one. Jamin, on the outside, was the odd man out and got pushed into the outside wall on corner exit. Shelby Blackstock then rear-ended Jamin and went up and over the right side of Jamin’s car, resulting in an immediate full course caution. Neil Alberico and Garth Rickards also were collected, with Jamin, Blackstock, and Alberico all falling out.

A lap 7 restart saw Herta lead Kaiser while Urrutia battled Aaron Telitz and Zachary Claman De Melo for third. Urrutia’s day would soon come to an end, though, as his car rolled to a stop on the front straightaway on lap 12 with mechanical issues, forcing a second full course caution.

Herta again kept Kaiser at bay on the restart and seemed poised to claim his third victory of the year. But, a damaged rear suspension that surfaced early in the race came back to bite Herta, as it finally broke as he was venturing through turn 6 on lap 26. He dropped out on the spot and was credited with 10th.

Herta’s problems left Kaiser all alone out front. Kaiser described afterward that he was content riding in second, with the knowledge that he would score good points be in position to capitalize on any mistakes.

“I know it sounds weird, but I was OK with the points for second,” Kaiser revealed. “But I saw Colton getting close to the wall a couple times and I thought if he made a mistake, I would be ready. I’m usually on the bad end of luck but this year I was rewarded. I am definitely more confident and more relaxed heading into Mid-Ohio, having a little bit of a cushion in the championship.”

Behind him, Telitz outdueled Claman de Melo in the battle for second, while Claman de Melo hung on for third, his second podium of the weekend. Juan Piedrahita was fourth while Matheus Leist rebounded from early trouble to finish fifth. Leist, running inside the top ten at the time, gently nosed into the turn 3 tire barrier on lap 10, but was able to quickly rejoin the fight without losing much time.

Kaiser now leads Leist by 51 points leaving Toronto, with Herta still in third. Claman de Melo has climbed all the way up to fourth, while Telitz sits fifth. Coverage of Indy Lights from Toronto airs on NBCSN Monday 7/17 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Full results for Indy Lights Race 2 can be viewed here.

 

USF2000: THOMPSON SWEEPS AS ASKEW GETS COLLECTED IN PILEUP

Parker Thompson flew the Canadian flag again in Victory Lane on Sunday. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Race 2 was a case of “Right place, right time” for Parker Thompson. Running fourth in the early laps, he made it through a big pileup in front of him as Alex Baron, David Malukas, and Oliver Askew all crashed out together while battling for the lead.

Malukas tried an inside pass on Baron in turn 3, but the two made contact and crashed up against the inside wall on corner exit. Points leader Askew, running third at the time after both Baron and Malukas passed him in the opening laps, was left with nowhere to go and piled into the back of them. Malukas and Baron were out on the spot, while Askew managed to drive his wounded Tatuus USF-17 back to the pits, only for the team to find too much damage to continue. Askew was credited with 12th, with Baron and Malukas 13th and 14th.

Up front, Thompson held off Rinus van Kalmthout on the restart, while a big scramble for third place between Robert Megennis, Devin Wojcik, and Kaylen Frederick saw Frederick eventually emerge in third after making a pass on Wojcik in the final laps. Darren Keane came home fourth after a late charge, with Megennis coming home fifth as Wojcik fell back to sixth.

An elated Thompson was beside himself in victory lane after his weekend sweep. “I’m surprised I still have a voice! What a feeling, to get two in ‘TO’ in front of the Canadian fans! I’d say this is unbelievable, but it’s passed that now and into its own new realm,” Thompson quipped.

Thompson detailed that he was confident he had the pace to challenge Baron, Malukas, and Askew, but elected to play it safe early on. “I knew I had the pace so I hung back to let things string out before I attacked,” he explained. “I saw the three of them lock up so I backed off and I had just enough of a gap to squeeze through. And after yesterday, I was really calm on the restart. I had my team owner, Michael Duncalfe, talking to me on the radio keeping me prepared, so I just got a good jump on the restart and worked to keep Rinus behind me the rest of the way.”

Van Kalmthout, meanwhile, was enveloped in a battle for second that prevented him from mounting a challenge on Thompson. However, he was happy to end the day with a strong points haul.

“Once we went green, I had a good restart and I wanted to pass Parker for the points, but Robert (Megennis) had a great restart and he was right on my gearbox,” detailed the 16-year-old Dutchman. “I had to defend, and there was some wheel-banging, and that let Parker get away. I had the speed, getting the quick lap late in the race, but I got the most points I could and that’s what’s important.”

Leaving Toronto, Askew’s once insurmountable points lead is down to 18 over van Kalmthout, while Thompson now sits third, ahead of Kaylen Frederick and Calvin Ming.

Full results for USF2000 Race 2 can be viewed here.

Indy Lights and USF2000, along with the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, are back in action at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 28-30.

Follow Kyle Lavigne.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Anaheim 2: Ken Roczen is consistency’s king

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Strength is found not only in outright wins, but also through consistency, which contributed to the rise of Ken Roczen in the SuperMotocross Rankings after Anaheim 2.

Roczen ended the 2022 Supercross season with the knowledge that he urgently needed change, so he declared himself a free agent, signed with Suzuki during the offseason and set upon 2023 with renewed determination. It worked. Roczen is one of three riders in the 450 class with a sweep of the top five and that consistency has given him the lead in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

SuperMotocross Rankings Anaheim 2
Like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield wall, Ken Roczen pointed his way to the Power Rankings lead. – Feld Motor Sports

This formula rewards riders who compete at the front of the pack at the end of the Mains, in their heats, or in last week’s case, the three motos that make up the Triple Crown. Roczen has improved his overall performance each week with a fifth in Anaheim 1, a fourth in San Diego and his first podium of 2023 in Anaheim 2. Can he keep the trend alive with a first- or second-place finish in Houston?

A fall is all it takes sometimes. Last week, Eli Tomac tumbled hard when he pushed wide on the exit of a turn and jumped on top of a Tuff Blox. He remounted after that incident in Race 3 of the Triple Crown, but could only manage a 13th-place result in the moto. It could have been much worse and resulted in an injury, but coupled with a sixth in the overall standings at Anaheim 2, it pushed him down a spot in the SuperMotocross Ranking.

Along with Roczen (and Chase Sexton), Cooper Webb swept the top five in Supercross’ first three rounds. He is knocking on the door of a win and it won’t take long for him to ascend to the top of the box. Webb has two victories in Houston and each of them came during a championship season.

If there is a more determined rider than Jason Anderson, get out of his way. His path to the front of the pack is not always lined with primroses since he often has to pass multiple riders with whom he has had a run-in during his path, but the SuperMotocross Power Rankings are concerned only with raw results – not intention – and Anaheim 2 was Anderson’s best race of the season. He earned his first top-five and first podium with a second-place finish that was aided by a moto win.

MORE: Triple Crown format shakes up A2’s finishing order

Dylan Ferrandis has also been a model of consistency. Last week his Triple Crown effort of 4-6-5 gave him an overall finish of fifth. That came on the heels of a fourth-place result in the season opener and a sixth in San Diego. With no result worse than sixth this season, the numbers add up quite well.

Sexton’s position just outside the top five this week is entirely attributable to his last-place result in the San Diego heat. The SuperMotocross Rankings looks at the past 45 days, so that will affect him for a while, but if he continues to ride like he did in Anaheim 2, he’s going to climb quickly despite that albatross around his neck.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Driver Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1. Ken Roczen 84.63 3 2
2. Eli Tomac
[2 Main; 2 Heat wins]
83.25 1 -1
3. Cooper Webb 82.25 2 -1
4. Jason Anderson
[1 Heat win]
80.63 5 1
5. Dylan Ferrandis 78.75 4 -1
6. Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat wins]
77.75 9 3
7. Justin Barcia 67.88 6 -1
8. Aaron Plessinger 67.63 8 0
9. Adam Cianciarulo 67.25 7 -2
10. Joey Savatgy 61.00 11 1
10. Marvin Musquin 61.00 12 2
12. Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat win]
58.75 13 1
13. Christian Craig 56.13 14 1
14. Colt Nichols 56.00 10 -4
15. Dean Wilson 47.50 15 0
16. Tristan Lane 41.00 18 2
17. Grant Harlan 40.67 19 2
18. Justin Hill 40.57 16 -2
19. Logan Karnow 36.50 20 1
20. Alex Ray 36.00 21 1

Supercross Points


The 250 West riders get a couple of weeks off before heading to Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 and several of them need the rest. Tough weeks for Cameron McAdoo and RJ Hampshire forced them to lose ground in the SuperMotocross points to Jett Lawrence at a time that could prove to play mental games.

Lawrence also had his share of issues at Anaheim 2, but overcame early falls in the first two motos and finished no worse than sixth. Considering that he dropped to the tail of the field in Race 2, that was a remarkable accomplishment and he entered the final race with a shot at the overall win. He narrowly missed that mark, but still has not finished worse than second in three rounds. His lead in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings is safe.

Cameron McAdoo rode with injury in all three Triple Crown motos, so his sixth-place finish was a moral victory. Cameron McAdoo, Instagram

McAdoo said it best in an Instagram post this week: “Woke up feeling grateful that I’m relatively healthy after my big mistake during qualifying yesterday. We made the decision that it would be safe for me to race so I did everything I possibly could to get through the night ending up [sixth overall]. We will work on getting healed up in these few weeks off to come back strong for Oakland!”

With results of 8-7-5 in the Triple Crown and his combined sixth-place result, McAdoo lost significant ground to Lawrence in both the points’ standings and our Power formula. The Oakland race is going to be critical if he wants to stay in the championship hunt because the series will have a long break before returning in Seattle for Round 11. No one wants to sit with negative feelings for that long.

Mitchell Oldenburg has quietly amassed some impressive numbers. His name has not been called a lot during broadcasts, but he has not finished worse than seventh in any of the first three rounds. Themes develop during a season and weekend – and for the moment, this one revolves around reliability. Oldenburg finished 5-4-6 in Anaheim 2 which means he has consistently amassed SuperMotocross Power Rankings points.

Stilez Robertson won his first race of the season in Moto 2 of the Triple Crown. Coupled with a third-place finish in the final race, he leapfrogged Hampshire and Enzo Lopes, both of whom had disappointing outings. He stands fifth in the points’ standing mostly due to a ninth-place finish in the season opener, but each race has been progressively better and that is a good sign.

Sometimes, all it takes is a taste of success. Prior to Anaheim 2, Levi Kitchen’s best Supercross finish was a seventh earned in this year’s season opener. He scored a ninth at Minneapolis last year, but that was not enough to put him on the radar. This early in the season, one strong run can sway the SuperMotocross Power Ranking significantly, but Robertson has earned his way into the top five. More importantly, he’s going to be the object of interest when the West series returns to Oakland.

Next week the 250 East riders mount up in Houston, Texas before they head to Tampa, Florida. The Power Rankings will combine the two divisions, so the riders below are likely to shift dramatically.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Driver Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1. Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat wins]
89.13 1 0
2. Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 3 1
3. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 5 2
4. Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
76.75 6 2
5. Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main win]
73.75 12 7
6. RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat wins]
70.00 2 -4
7. Max Vohland – W 69.29 8 1
8. Derek Kelley – W 63.75 10 2
9. Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 4 -5
10. Pierce Brown – W 61.29 13 3
11. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 7 -4
12. Dylan Walsh – W 56.00 9 -3
13. Cole Thompson – W 51.00 11 -2
14. Robbie Wageman – W 50.75 15 1
15. Anthony Rodriguez – W 49.00 14 -1
16. Ty Masterpool – W 47.50 16 0
17. Kaeden Amerine – W 47.50 16 -1
18. Dominique Thury – W 47.00 18 0
19. Austin Forkner – W 43.00 20 1
20. Derek Drake – W 42.33 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.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Ken Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage