Power denies Newgarden Gateway pole at end of qualifying (VIDEO)

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MADISON, Ill. – For the second consecutive weekend, the final driver to qualify in the Verizon IndyCar Series snatched pole from a competitor.

Last week it was Takuma Sato over Simon Pagenaud at Pocono Raceway and tonight it was Will Power toppling Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden for the pole for Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Newgarden had what looked to be an unassailable speed of 188.316 mph for his two-lap average in his No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet.

That was until Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, smashed it with a two-lap average of 189.642 mph.

Power’s two laps were 189.709 mph (23.7206 seconds) and 189.575 mph (23.7373 seconds) to give him that average speed.

The previous pole speed in 2003, the year of IndyCar’s most recent trip to Gateway, was set by Helio Castroneves at 175.965 mph. The all-time record was set by Raul Boesel in 1997 at 187.963 mph.

For the second consecutive session, all four Team Penske cars swept the top four. Castroneves and Pagenaud are on row two.

The four Penske cars all qualified at 186 mph or greater. Ed Carpenter, best of the rest in fifth, was only at 184.528 mph – a full five mph off the pole pace, and nearly six tenths off over the two-lap total.

It’s Carpenter and Takuma Sato next, Sato the top Honda, with Scott Dixon in seventh, Carlos Munoz in eighth, and Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe completing the top 10.

RESULTS

MADISON, Illinois – Qualifying Friday for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, and speed:

1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 189.642
2. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 188.316
3. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 187.457
4. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 186.747
5. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 184.528
6. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 184.186
7. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 183.848
8. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 183.620
9. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 183.578
10. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 183.528
11. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 183.283
12. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 182.900
13. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 182.830
14. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 182.529
15. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 182.499
16. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 182.271
17. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 182.195
18. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 182.137
19. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 181.846
20. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 181.191
21. (7) Sebastian Saavedra, Honda, 177.700

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

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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
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Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2