Justin Barcia, Colt Nichols win Anaheim Supercross opener

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On a heavy, rutted track Justin Barcia scored the 450 win at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. to claim the first of 17 rounds. It was his third career victory in 450s and his first in six years.

No one quite knew what to expect since for the first time since 2008, the season opening Supercross race was run under very muddy conditions. And as the gate dropped on the 450 feature, rain that began with the last chance qualifiers fell as hard as it had all day.

Barcia took the lead with about three minutes remaining on the clock and stretched his advantage to almost five second at the checkers.

Ken Roczen finished second after overcoming an injury last year.

Eli Tomac grabbed third in the final laps.

But the heartwarming story of the race belonged to the rider in fourth. Earlier in the week, Dean Wilson was selling t-shirts and hoodies to raise money simply to make the race. He took the lead on the opening lap and held it for more than 10 minutes until he succumbed to the pressure from Barcia.

Getting the action started, Cooper Webb went down in Turn 1.

Defending champion Jason Anderson was aiming for the hole shot, but pulled up when it got crowded. That handed the lead to the privateer Wilson.

Webb got back on his bike to salvage a fifth-place finish. Anderson faded a lap off the pace to 14th.

In 250 action, Colt Nichols grabbed the hole shot when Adam Cianciarulo slid off track in Turn 1. Nichols was uncontested for the remainder of the race and scored his first Supercross 250 win in his 23rd career start.

With time running off the clock, the battle intensified for second. McElrath held the spot, but Dylan Ferrandis had chased him down from behind. The two riders swapped crossovers with Ferrandis taking the spot before the final lap began.

Cianciarulo’s night should not have been that difficult. He looked like he was going to get the hole shot in the 250 feature. Unfortunately, he overcooked the first lap and drove off course in Turn 1 – falling to 12th in the process. He was back up to sixth (14.204 seconds behind leader Nichols) after five minutes elapsed.

With a little more than seven minutes remaining, Cianciarulo caught RJ Hampshire for fourth and ran him high in a turn. Hampshire repaid the move at the end of the whoops and put Cianciarulo on the ground.

Hampshire finished fourth; Cianciarulo survived in fifth.

450 Heat 1 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Ken Roczen won over Dean Wilson

450 Heat 2 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Justin Barcia won over Malcolm Stewart

450 Last Chance Qualifier (5 minutes + 1 lap): Carlen Gardner won over Chad Reed. Ben Lamay and Kyle Chisholm also advanced through the LCQ. Reed made the season-opening A-Main for the 18th straight time – a Supercross record.

250 Heat 1 (6 minutes + 1 lap): RJ Hampshire won over Shane McElrath

250 Heat 2 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Adam Cianciarulo won over Colt Nichols

250 Last Chance Qualifier (5 minutes +1 lap): Bradley Lionnet won over Matthew Jorgensen. Logan Karnow and Jerry Robin also advanced through the LCQ.

Next race: January 12, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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