Rossi dominates ABC Supply 500 for third win of 2018

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Alexander Rossi drafted by pole sitter Will Power on a Lap 6 restart, and then proceeded to utterly dominate Sunday’s ABC Supply 500. The Andretti Autosport driver led 180 of 200 laps and withstood a second-half charge from Power, who even briefly took the lead on lap 138 following a round of green flag pit stops, and gapped Power by as much as eight seconds in the final stint on his way to winning by over four seconds.

Power tried keeping Rossi honest, but his challenge was thwarted when he caught the lapped car of Max Chilton in Turn 3 just before making his final stop on Lap 171. Power drifted high, costing him valuable time and allowing Rossi to easily clear him to re-assume the lead, which Rossi never surrendered from there.

Of their Lap 138 battle, Rossi allused to traffic as the cause of him briefly losing the lead, but credited the Andretti Autosport with giving him a fast enough car to get back around. However, he was subdued in Victory Lane given the serious accident earlier in the race involving Ryan Hunter-Reay, Robert Wickens, James Hinchcliffe, and others.

“We came out in some traffic. It was really, really hard to be behind cars for some reason today. But, the No. 27 Napa Auto Parts Honda was better than everyone else. So, it’s an exceptional day, but right now Rob, James, and everyone involved in that, are in our thoughts and it’s really tough to celebrate after what happened,” Rossi said in Victory Lane to NBCSN’s Kevin Lee.

Rossi credited his teammates as well, particularly Zach Veach Marco Andretti, who allowed Rossi by late in the race as he worked through traffic.

“It’s a team, man. I have amazing teammates. Speaking of them, Zach (Veach) and Marco (Andretti) really helped me out there in traffic so I owe them a beer or a case of beers or something like that,” Rossi quipped. “But, it’s just been leaning on Ryan and Michael and Bryan ever since Day 1 to help me really overcome the challenge that is super speedways. And you can’t do any of this without an amazing team. So, very thankful to be on Andretti Autosport have this great group of people.”

Power detailed that a combination of lapped traffic cost him the lead to Rossi, and then more lapped traffic and misfortune on his out lap cost him a chance to challenge Rossi in the final stint.

“Just got a couple of bad runs out of Turn 1, to be honest,” Power said in discussing how Rossi got back by him during the post-race press conference. “Kind of beside me going into Turn 2. Yeah, that was that. Then in the last pit stop, we had a great shot at getting him again. I caught Max Chilton at the worst possible spot in Turn 3, washed right up into the marbles, almost got into the wall.”

Power added, “On the out lap (after the last stop), got a mid shift in second. Lost a second in that whole exchange. That was our only shot to close the gap to him. If we didn’t jump him in that exchange, it was going to be very difficult to get him.”

Rossi and Power were by far the two fastest drivers on the day, and finished ahead of third place runner Scott Dixon by nearly a full lap. Dixon ultimately drove a quiet, but strong race to round out the podium, with Sebastien Bourdais finishing fourth – he was also the final car on the lead lap at race’s end.

Josef Newgarden rounded out the top five, followed by Zach Veach (sixth), Marco Andretti (seventh), Simon Pagenaud (eighth), Charlie Kimball (ninth), and Ed Carpenter (tenth).

Sunday’s race was delayed nearly two hours for a frightening wreck triggered by contact between Ryan Hunter-Reay and Robert Wickens in Turn 2, with Wickens launching into the catchfence. James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato, and Pietro Fittipaldi were also collected.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Fittipaldi, and Sato were all checked, cleared and released, while Wickens was airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest, though he was reported as being awake and alert following the crash. Further updates on Wickens’ conditon will be forthcoming.

The race also got off to a somewhat clumsy start, with Graham Rahal and Spencer Pigot spinning after the field jammed up prior to the green flag.

Remarkably, though, the remainder of Sunday’s 500-mile race was completed without a caution.

Of note: Tony Kanaan dropped out on Lap 15 with a broken throttle sensor. It ended a weekend that began with promise – Kanaan was sixth fastest in Saturday morning practice – and continued a frustrating season in which his best finish is sixth at the Honda Indy Toronto.

Also: Despite being far back from Rossi and Power, Dixon, Bourdais, Newgarden, Veach, and Andretti engaged in a closely fought battle for third during the entire race.

Andretti had worked his way into third during the first half of the race, but needed start conserving fuel around the halfway point, which Dixon and the others to close in. Andretti was also consistently the first driver to pit during cycles of stops, and doing so ultimately cost him dearly, as he fell from third to sixth during one cycle before falling to seventh at race’s end.

Veach, meanwhile, had his best race since the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, where he finished fourth. The Andretti Autosport rookie qualified a solid seventh and ran in the top six for most of the day, eventually making a late pass on his teammate Marco Andretti to secure sixth place.

Results are below. The victory is Rossi’s third of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, and his second in a row – he won the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, the race preceding Pocono.

 

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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

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Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
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Results and points from Anaheim 2