Photo courtesy of Monster Energy AMA Supercross

2019 Monster Energy Supercross to visit Nashville; return to Detroit, Denver, Jersey

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The 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule will have a good mix of returning markets, one brand new market and three other markets that will see a return by the series.

“The 2018 season proved once again that Supercross is a very exciting sport,” FIM president Vito Ippolito said. “It kept us on the edge of our seats until the final round in Las Vegas.

“Supercross is also a demanding discipline and one that brings the best out of the riders and their teams. But most of all, it is an unpredictable sport that can take us all by surprise!”

The series will feature 17 events in 16 markets over 18 weeks. Nashville is new, while the series returns to Ford Field in Detroit and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., after both were last on the schedule in 2017.

And then there’s a long overdue return to Denver’s Broncos Stadium (formerly Mile-High Stadium), which last hosted the series in 1996.

Nashville’s Nissan Stadium will play host to the Supercross series for the first time in its 45-year history.

The five-month schedule kicks off, as is tradition, at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California on January 5, 2019 and concludes in Las Vegas on May 4.

“Much kudos goes to the 2018 AMA Supercross FIM World Champion Jason Anderson, who is a worthy successor to Ryan Dungey,” Ippolito said. “We are looking forward to a successful 2019 season.”

Technology both on and off the courses continues to be a hallmark of the Supercross series.

“We’re continuing to improve the fan experience and live entertainment aspect of the sport by using state-of-the-art technology, from spidercam footage and live heart rate monitor displays, to featuring a festival-like atmosphere in the paddock,” said Dave Prater, Senior Director of Operations for Two-Wheel, Feld Entertainment. “As we head into 2019 with a brand-new defending champion for the first time in four years, Jason Anderson will certainly be the one to watch.

“That, combined with the sport’s first-ever developmental platform for Supercross amateur racing, will ultimately set the stage for years to come.”

Jason Anderson won the Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX championship last season for the first time in his career.

Anderson earned his first career 450SX Class crown in the final round of the 2018 season this past May 5. It was also the first time that Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing has earned the 450SX Class title.

Also new to the schedule is the eight-race Supercross Futures, which culminates in an AMA Amateur National Championship. for the first time. The first Futures event will be Jan. 13, in Glendale, Arizona.

The Futures championship will be decided Oct. 20-21, 2019, following next year’s Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas.

Tickets for the 2019 season will go on sale on Tuesday, October 23 with a presale date of Tuesday, October 9.

Before that, though, the top Supercross riders will take part on Oct. 13 in the invitation-only Monster Energy Cup all-star event in Las Vegas.

Marvin Musquin won last year’s Cup event at Sam Boyd Stadium and is seeking to become the first rider in Supercross history to ever win the “Monster Million” twice.

“AMA Supercross is among the most impressive displays of two-wheeled motorsports in the world, and for many amateur AMA racers, it represents the pinnacle of their competitive dreams,” said AMA President and CEO, Rob Dingman. “Since the first AMA Supercross Champion was crowned in 1974, the sport and spectacle have grown and evolved, thanks in large part to the close cooperation with our promoting partner, Feld Motor Sports.

“Generations of some of the world’s greatest motorcycle racers have held high the AMA Supercross No. 1 plate, and I can’t wait to see who earns that honor in 2019.”

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Rahal determined to regain winning touch in 2019 IndyCar season

Photo by Shawn Gritzmacher, INDYCAR
INDYCAR
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AUSTIN, Texas – Graham Rahal entered the room with a smile on his face and a chip on his shoulder.

It was IndyCar “Media Day” and Rahal wasn’t happy with the way last season went at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He was less happy with the fact some aren’t considering him a serious threat in 2019. He playfully chided with one media outlet for failing to mention his team as one to watch in 2019.

“We use that as motivation to show everybody how we are viewed,” Rahal said. “We are here to win.”

Rahal just turned 30 in January but is entering his 13thseason in big-time Indy car racing. He entered the 2007 Champ Car Series season when he was just 17. He missed his high school prom because he was racing at Houston.

“That was the luckiest day of my life,” Rahal said. “I didn’t have to go to the prom. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“Plus, I got my second career podium that weekend.”

Rahal drove to victory in his very first race in the combined IndyCar Series in the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He was hailed as the “Poster Boy of Unification” and a future star. What followed was a seven-year drought before he captured his second-career win in a thrilling race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

He won two races in 2015, one in 2016 and two in 2017. He was expected to contend for victories and possibly the championship last year but struggled through a disappointing season and finished eighth in the standings.

“I’m looking forward for chance this year,” Rahal said. “Last year was a tough one for me and for the team. I’m looking forward to what my new engineer, Allen McDonald, has done so far. He is an accomplished engineer and brings a different mindset to our program this year from what we had last year. He and (fellow engineer) Eddie Jones are very close friends and that will help us from the standpoint they are on the same page.

“We needed a bit of life brought back to the team.”

Rahal believes his challenges are to get everything in order before the season starts. The team has defined the areas where it was lacking in 2019. The team needed to improve in research and development after starting behind last season.

“I’m excited for what I see, and I know in the end it will all pay off,” Rahal said. “It’s just a matter of when.

“There is a lot to be excited about for us. We are in a great position as a team. We have great sponsorship and that will allow us to push forward and do the things we need to do.”

Rahal believes at 30, he has a long time ahead of him to win races and championships and maybe even the Indianapolis 500. In order to reach those goals, however, Rahal’s team needs to regain the competitive level he displayed prior to last year.

“We’ve been fortunate to win six times,” Rahal said. “A lot of people come into this sport and never win. I fully recognize there is no reason we can’t win a lot. I don’t care what anybody writes, what anybody thinks – I really feel that when it comes to race day, we perform better than 99 percent of the other people out there.

“As a team and for myself, we have to qualify better. If we can qualify better, we’ll be a thorn in everybody’s side. We know the rear of our cars just aren’t good enough. When we need to find that extra tenth or two, it’s just not there but absolutely, we want to win.

“I don’t come here year after year to just drive around. Our sponsors don’t invest in us year after year to not see us win. We feel that. But our cars aren’t good enough and we know that.”

Rahal believes the team has identified the problems with the setup of its car. It has a deep engineering staff but hasn’t had a chance to develop the damper program and other important areas that provide a competition setup.

Takuma Sato, the winner of the 101stIndianapolis 500 when he was with Andretti Autosport, scored the team’s only victory in 2018 with a win in the Portland Grand Prix. The two are back this year and have built a respect for each other.

“He’s a good guy,” Rahal said of Sato. “Other than Helio Castroneves, Takuma is probably the happiest man on the planet. He’s a great guy and fits in well with our organization. We pride ourselves on being a family and he fits in extremely well to that.

“We need to do a better job for him as a team. He won a race last year, but we can both do better to win with both cars.

“The Andretti cars are the best right now and the Penske cars will be good. We have a lot of space to close up on those two teams but hopefully, we can do it.”