MRTI: Toronto preview

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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After only the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires was in action at Iowa Speedway, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda once again join Indy Lights to have all three series of the Mazda Road to Indy represented on the streets of Toronto.

Last year saw weekend sweeps in Indy Lights and USF2000 – Pro Mazda was not a part of the bill that weekend – as Kyle Kaiser put a stranglehold on the Indy Lights championship by winning both races that weekend, while Canada’s Parker Thompson thrilled the Canadian fans by winning both USF2000 races.

Indy Lights enters the weekend with the main title combatants separated by only eight points, while Pro Mazda sees 46 points between its top two drivers, and USF2000 has a whopping 94-point gap between first and second in their championship.

As such, Pro Mazda and USF2000 could see their championship leaders get closer to clinching before the season ends, while Indy Lights appears set to go down to the wire.

Talking points for all three series ahead of Toronto are below.

Indy Lights

  • Pato O’Ward’s pole and victory at Iowa Speedway, combined with leading the most laps, saw him cut Colton Herta’s lead to eight points. More importantly, it swung momentum back in his favor after Herta got on a hot streak – in the five races between May and June, Herta won four in a row (both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, the Freedom 100, and Race 1 at Road America) and finished second in the other (Race 2 at Road America). O’Ward is now even on wins with Herta – they have four apiece – and have distanced themselves from the rest of the field. The Indy Lights champion will likely be one of these two, and they both could end up in the Verizon IndyCar Series next year. The Andretti Autosport stablemates (O’Ward competes under the Andretti Autosport umbrella, while Herta is with Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing) are the prohibitive favorites entering Toronto.
  • Belardi Auto Racing’s Santi Urrutia and Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni rank third and fourth in the championship. While Urrutia may have expected to battle for an Indy Lights crown in 2018, he instead finds himself 49 points out of the lead and trying to fight off Franzoni for third. Franzoni, despite struggling at Iowa Speedway, has gotten stronger as the year has progressed, which culminated in his first career Indy Lights win in Race 2 at Road America. And while Urrutia had a strong run at Iowa – he finished third after battling with Herta the entire way for second, a battle that Herta eventually won – he has struggled at times since his win in Race 2 at St. Petersburg. Urrutia typically kicks things into gear in the second half of the season, and he’ll need to do so if he is to remain in the top three.
  • Last year, Canadian Zachary Claman De Melo finished second and third in the Toronto races, putting a Canadian driver on the podium in each one. This year, Andretti Autosport’s Dalton Kellett, a native of Stoufville, Ontario and the lone Canadian driver on the grid, will look to replicate that feat. Kellett has a podium this year (third, in the Freedom 100), and a podium at his home race is certainly doable.
  • Note: Indy Lights Race 2 will air on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. ET.

Pro Mazda

Parker Thompson leads Rinus VeeKay by 46 points entering Toronto. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson enters Toronto with a sizeable 46-point lead over Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay. And what’s even more daunting is that Thompson increased his margin during what was an “off” weekend at Road America at the end of June – Thompson dropped as low as sixth in Race 1, and was even outside the top 10 in Race 2 (he made contact on Lap 1 with RP Motorsport’s Raul Guzman). But, he rebounded to finish fourth in each race, even finishing ahead of VeeKay and his Juncos teammate Carlos Cunha in each race. Certainly, VeeKay and Cunha are not out of the running, but they must (emphasis on the word “must”) start gaining ground on Thompson at Toronto. Otherwise, this will become Thompson’s championship to lose.
  • David Malukas enjoyed a breakthrough weekend at Road America, sweeping the weekend to take his first two Pro Mazda victories. And, even though he might be a little too far back to mount a serious title challenge (he trails Thompson by 58 points and would need a mistake from Thompson to gain significant ground), he is only 12 points behind VeeKay for second. Malukas could well get on a hot streak that could see him vault all the way to the runnerup spot, and if Thompson were to have trouble, the door would be open for Malukas to mount a possible challenge.
  • There were four race winners in USF2000 last year, and they all moved up to Pro Mazda in 2018. Two of them are Thompson and VeeKay, and they have had strong seasons obviously. The other two, however, could use a trip to victory lane. Oliver Askew carries the soul red livery as last year’s USF2000 champion, but a second place in Race 1 on the IMS Road Course is his only podium. And Robert Megennis, who opened the 2017 season by winning Race 1 on the streets of St. Petersburg, has only two podiums to his name in 2018 (a pair of third place efforts in Race 1 at St. Pete and at Lucas Oil Raceway). Victories and/or podiums in Toronto would do a lot to help them right the ship.

USF2000

Kyle Kirkwood is running away with the USF2000 championship. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • With a staggering 94-point lead over Alex Baron, the USF2000 championship is Kyle Kirkwood’s to lose. He has five wins in total, including four in a row entering Toronto, and his worst finish is fifth in Race 2 at St. Pete, and the 94-point lead equates to over three races worth of points – he could literally sit out the weekend in Toronto and the first race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and still be in the championship lead. The former Team USA Scholarship winner is well on his way to securing another scholarship as the USF2000 champ, a Mazda driver development scholarship that would move him up to the Pro Mazda ranks next year. Rest assured, it would take something genuinely bizarre for Kirkwood to fall out of the championship lead in the final six races at this point.
  • Behind Kirkwood, the battle for second features a close battle between Swan-RJB Motorsports’ Alex Baron and the fast-charging Kaylen Frederick, of Pabst Racing Services. Baron started out strong, winning two of the first three races of 2018, but has since cooled – his last three finishes are 21st, seventh, and seventh. Conversely, Frederick has three straight second place finishes and is showing the impressive form he displayed last year. Both might need Kirkwood to falter if they are to challenge for a win, but if that happens, either of them could emerge as victors in Toronto…and a win would be a nice boon for them as they battle for second.

A full weekend schedule can be viewed here. Practice and qualifying begin on Friday, and each series races on Saturday (Race 1 for all three) and Sunday (Race 2 for all three).

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Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston

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Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart


The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s