IndyCar: Rossi, Kanaan, Hunter-Reay quickest in final warmup for today’s race in St. Pete

Photos: IndyCar

Alexander Rossi, penalized for a qualifying infraction on Saturday, made up for it in Sunday morning’s warmup and final practice for IndyCar’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The Andretti Autosport driver covered the 1.88 temporary street course layout with a best lap of 1:01.6182. Overall, Rossi ran 22 laps during the session. He’ll start 12th on the grid for today’s race.

Alexander Rossi was quickest in this morning’s warmup session prior to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, scheduled to take the green flag around 12:40 p.m. ET. (Photo: IndyCar)

A.J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan was second quickest (1:01.6650), followed by Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:01.7338), Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves (1:02.0030) and Penske driver and defending series champion Josef Newgarden (1:02.0438) rounded out the top five drivers.

Sixth through 10th were Scott Dixon (1:02.0806), defending race winner Sebastien Bourdais (1:02.1511), James Hinchcliffe (1:02.3681), Will Power (1:02.3817) and Spencer Pigot (1:02.5262).

11th through 15th were Simon Pagenaud (1:02.5534), Zack Veach (1:02.6113), Jordan King (1:02.6279), Matheus Leist (1:02.6286) and Marco Andretti (1:02.6366).

16th through 20th quickest were Ed Jones (1:02.6633), Max Chilton (1:02.6730), Takuma Sato (1:02.7527), Graham Rahal (1:02.9290) and pole-sitter Robert Wickens (1:02.9568.

Lastly, 21st through 24th were Jack Harvey (1:03.2674), Charlie Kimball (1:03.5847), Zachary Claman De Melo (1:03.9533) and Rene Binder (1:04.4071), who continues to search for speed.

Four drivers ran the most laps – 24 each: Chaves, Dixon, King and Harvey. The drivers running the fewest laps were Leist and De Melo, both totaling just 17 laps each.

There was only one incident during the session. A banner got loose with about 6:30 remaining, briefly bringing out a red flag practice stoppage, but the banner was removed and cars quickly returned to action.

There is a threat of rain around 11 a.m. ET, but forecasters predict it will only last about an hour. It could impact pre-race introductions, but the green flag is expected to go off as scheduled around 12:40 p.m. ET.

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


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

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

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

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Results and points from Anaheim 2