IndyCar Preview: Chevrolet Dual in Detroit

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With the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 come and gone, the focus now shifts to the summer championship stretch for the Verizon IndyCar Series.

In essence, the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit represents a second straight double-points event – with two races on the offer, that means 100 points are up for grabs race wins, not counting bonus points for poles, leading a lap, and leading the most laps.

With six events and seven races in the next nine weeks, the months of June and July also represent one of the busier stretches of the calendar, adding another dimension to the summer months.

Talking points ahead of this weekend’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit are below.

Championship Swing Can Start Now

Every race is critical in the championship chase, there is no doubt about that. But, the Detroit double-header can be especially critical.

Take last year as an example. Graham Rahal entered the weekend 15th in the championship, 101 points behind then championship leader Helio Castroneves. Rahal went on to score a pole in Race 1, lead the most laps in each race, and win both races in a near-perfect weekend.

Rahal’s point tally that weekend came in at 107 of a possible 108. The impact on his championship standing? He left the weekend in sixth, 52 points out of the lead. In other words, he cut the deficit very nearly in half.

And the year before that, Will Power used the Detroit weekend as a springboard to make a championship push of his own. After finishing 20th in Race 1, he scored a win in Race 2, and followed it up with finishes of first, second, first, second, and first.

In that seven race stretch, Power went from 114 points back of the championship leader – teammate Simon Pagenaud – to 20, shaving 94 points off that gap.

The current standings are very close at the top. Power’s Indy 500 victory vaulted him into the championship lead on 243 points. Alexander Rossi is two points back in second, with Josef Newgarden third, ten points out of the lead.

The rest of the top ten looks like this: Scott Dixon (218), Ryan Hunter-Reay (186), Graham Rahal (183), Robert Wickens (178), Sebastien Bourdais, (168), Simon Pagenaud (155), and James Hinchcliffe (144).

Coincidentally, Hinchcliffe is even fewer points out of the lead than Rahal was last year entering Detroit (99 to Rahal’s 101). And, as last year showed, this weekend presents an enormous opportunity to make headway, or make up for lost ground, as Hinch will be motivated to do after he failed to qualify for the Indy 500.

It all adds up to a weekend that can enormously impact the 2018 season.

Chevrolet Looks to Reclaim its Territory

Graham Rahal led a Honda domination at Detroit in 2017. Photo: IndyCar

Rahal’s sweep last year was also a sweep for Honda. In fact, Honda enjoyed a particularly successful weekend, even going 1-2-3 in Race 1 with Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe rounding out the podium.

Add in that it came at an event sponsored by rival manufacturer Chevrolet, and it was a weekend that surely left a few wry smiles on the faces of the Honda folks.

As such, Chevrolet and their teams will look to reclaim their “turf” of sorts. With four wins in 2018, including a stretch of three in a row between Power and Josef Newgarden – not the least of which being Power’s Indy 500 triumph – and they are riding a wave of momentum heading into the weekend.

Chevy won the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama in April (with Newgarden), and expect Chevy to have more revenge on their minds after losing out to Honda in this event last year.

Power Looks to Keep Things Going in Detroit

Will Power celebrates his Indy 500 win. Photo: IndyCar

Typically, Indy 500 winners have not fared well at the Detroit double-header. Results of the 2013-2016 “500” winners are below.

  • 2013: Tony Kanaan: Race 1, Started 19th, Finished 13th; Race 2, Started 19th, Finished 12th
  • 2014: Ryan Hunter-Reay: Race 1, 21st/16th (Accident); Race 2, 21st/19th (Electrical)
  • 2015: Juan Pablo Montoya: Race 1, 3rd/10th; Race 2, 1st/10th
  • 2016: Alexander Rossi, Race 1, 17th/10th; Race 2, 18th/12th

Montoya collected a third and a 10th in 2015, while Rossi ended up 10th in Race 1 in 2016, but the other results reveal a slew of struggles, mechanical woes, and on-track incidents that have inflicted the Indy 500 winner.

However, Takuma Sato solidly bucked that trend last year, finishing eighth and fourth across both races.

This year’s Indy 500 winner Will Power will look to build off that and be only the second 500 winner to make a Detroit podium since the event returned in 2012 – Franchitti finished second that year, with Montoya’s aforementioned third the only other podium.

Power has two wins at Detroit, so indications are that he’ll be strong there. And he is ready to get back rolling after basking in the glow of Indy 500 glory.

“This has been an amazing week so far,” Power said of his time since winning at Indy. “When you want something so much and it finally comes true, that your hard work has paid off, it is a great feeling. Now we have to focus on Detroit with the No. 12 Verizon team because I don’t want to experience a hangover from the win when we are leading the points. And this is such an important weekend for Roger (Penske) and Chevrolet. It’s great to come here as the Indy 500 Champion, but we want to win here too because this race means a lot to a lot of people. It’s such a tough circuit that you have to be in the game from the drop of the green flag or you can have a bad day pretty quick.

Misc.

  • Santino Ferrucci makes his Verizon IndyCar Series debut this weekend with Dale Coyne Racing, in the No. 19 Paysafe Honda. Ferrucci, a 20-year-old native of Connecticut, has been a test and development driver with the Haas F1 Team since 2016.
  • Rene Binder makes his return to Juncos Racing, having last competed at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
  • Several entries feature new liveries this weekend. Alexander Rossi has Ruoff Home Mortgage on his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda. Jordan King has Allegiant International on his Ed Carpenter Racing No. 20 Chevrolet. Takuma Sato’s No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda features Fifth Third Bank branding. Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Honda will have Autonation on it. Also, Simon Pagenaud has DXC Technology on his No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet.

The Final Word…

From Graham Rahal, who swept the Detroit races last year:

“Last year at Detroit was a great weekend for the United Rentals team, no doubt about that. Everything went according to plan; it was perfect.  We really need to try to replicate the performance.  This year has been really solid with top-10s every single race, completing every single lap but I would like to go to Detroit and find a way to win both of the races just like last year.  It was a dream weekend. We were fastest or second in every single practice or qualifying session and then in the race; it was just a perfect weekend. We need to find a way to make magic happen again. Looking at the long-range forecast, it looks like it will be in the low 70’s so it will be a nice and a good change from what we had in Indy. From a physicality standing point for me, it’s one of my strengths compared to others so we’ve just got to try to take advantage of that. I think our street course car is our best package that we have currently so I definitely feel really good about our situation.  I really feel Detroit should suit us extremely well. Clearly, coming off of last year, everybody in our team has a lot of confidence that we can go there and have a great weekend.  We’re going to try our best.”

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule:

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, June 1
11:20 a.m.-12:05 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 1
3:10-3:55 p.m.  – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 2
4:00-4:20 p.m.  – Verizon IndyCar Series pit stop practice

Saturday, June 2
10:55-11:25 a.m. – Race 1 qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award, IndyCar.com (live)
3:30 p.m. – Broadcast begins (ABC, live)
3:50 p.m. – Chevrolet Dual in Detroit 1 (70 laps)

Sunday, June 3
10:45-11:15 a.m. – Race 2 qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award, IndyCar.com (live)
3:30 p.m. – Broadcast begins (ABC, live)
3:50 p.m. – Chevrolet Dual in Detroit 2 (70 laps)

Here’s last year’s top 10: 

Race 1

1. Graham Rahal
2. Scott Dixon
3. James Hinchcliffe
4. Josef Newgarden
5. Alexander Rossi
6. Mikhail Aleshin
7. Helio Castroneves
8. Takuma Sato
9. Ed Jones
10. Spencer Pigot

Race 2

1. Graham Rahal
2. Josef Newgarden
3. Will Power
4. Takuma Sato
5. Simon Pagenaud
6. Scott Dixon
7. Alexander Rossi
8. Charlie Kimball
9. Helio Castroneves
10. Tony Kanaan

 

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2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

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After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

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