DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It was one year ago at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca that Nate Stacy burst onto the scene in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
Making his series debut with KohR Motorsports, the 18-year-old finished third on the podium alongside Scott Maxwell and Jack Roush, Jr. in a four-hour enduro that also doubled as his first time in the Ford Mustang GT4 racecar.
“I almost expected the team to do well because I know how good the team is,” said Stacy. “I knew how good Scott Maxwell and Jack were, so it wasn’t a crazy surprise we got on the podium. It was just like man, we accomplished what we wanted to do. We had a goal to reach and that was to win or to get on the podium. We ended up meeting that.”
Even with the outstanding first impression, Stacy has come a long way since his debut.
Now paired with Kyle Marcelli in the No. 60 Mustang, the duo has won a class-high three races entering the ninth and penultimate round of the 2018 Grand Sport (GS) class championship. Their success has helped skyrocket Ford into the lead of the manufacturer’s championship by 13 points over Mercedes-AMG. Stacy and Marcelli also currently sit second in the driver’s championship, 17 points behind Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb.
“I would say it’s a little bit surreal because this field is nothing short of impressive,” said Stacy. “There are crazy good drivers in every single car. I get to the Continental Tire Challenge and every team in the top five to the top 10 is just ridiculous. We’re talking A-List drivers, silver-ranked drivers. There’s a lot of really good drivers here and it’s just like, okay this is a challenge.”
Taking on the challenge has been a little easier for the Oklahoma native, as he’s leaned on Marcelli – a full-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship co-driver in the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 in the GT Daytona (GTD) class – and team owner Dean Martin.
“I was pretty happy with where I was, but Kyle was on a whole other level,” said Stacy. “It was insane how fast he was. I had never been to Watkins Glen, Daytona, and a couple other tracks on the roster this year and it was fun to go try new tracks with him because he knew so much about them. The guy is a vault of knowledge. He’s the smartest, fastest, most humble guy I know. Having him as a teammate is really cool.”
“And having KohR behind me, it’s a super good team. Really good pit stops and awesome strategy calls because Dean is just a freak of nature on the box. It’s honestly just a really good team, a really good set of drivers and I think we can do a lot of good things. If I win in my rookie season, that would be pretty fantastic.”
Stacy hopes that history can repeat itself this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and is eager to return to a track that particularly suits his driving style.
“Everything is always changing at that track with the dust,” said Stacy. “It’s kind of a good feature of the track honestly. Everything can change in a quarter of a second. Whenever you come into a corner, you don’t know if there’s going to be dirt there, you don’t know if there’s going to be dust there, if you’re going to stick, if you’re going to slide.
“You’ve just got to improvise a lot and that’s how I specialize in driving, when it’s sheer chaos at the start of the race and everyone doesn’t know what they’re doing. That’s kind of when I thrive a little bit. I like to go into a situation and instinctually attack it.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
Max Anstie – E
Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
Haiden Deegan – E
Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
Mitchell Oldenburg – W
Michael Mosiman – E
Jeremy Martin – E
Tom Vialle – E
Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
Chance Hymas – E
Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
Max Vohland – W
Cullin Park – E
Chris Blose – E
Derek Kelley – W
Enzo Lopes – W
Pierce Brown – W
* 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.