Blake Baggett, Adam Cianciarulo win Glendale Supercross

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With 1:30 remaining on the clock in Round 2 of the Supercross season at Glendale, Ariz., Blake Baggett swept past Jason Anderson to score his first career win. Prior to tonight, Baggett had three podiums – all of them third-place finishes.

Baggett finished fourth in his heat, which gave him a less-than desirable gate pick. He was running nearly five seconds off the pace in fourth when a red flag four laps into the race for a hard crash involving Malcolm Stewart allowed the field to close the gap.

“I’ve had weekends when I could run with those guys and weeks when they leave me in the dust,” Baggett said on NBCSN after the race. “”It feels good to finally get my program together and be able to run with those guys.”

After being passed by Baggett, Anderson lost his rhythm and fell 5.847 seconds behind and only 2.301 seconds ahead of a hard charging and highly-amped Ken Roczen.

Roczen was riding like a man possessed.

With 10:30 to go in the Main, Anderson banzied Roczen and clipped the then-leaders front tire – sending Roczen to the dirt. Roczen lost six seconds as he climbed back on his bike. Once he regained his rhythm, he was embroiled in a battle with Marvin Musquin and Eli Tomac.

Roczen’s disappointment was palpable. He seemingly had the race in hand until Stewart’s crash.

Roczen grabbed the hole shot from the far right side of the gate and had visions of his first win in two years. He had a comfortable three-second lead over Anderson that had stabilized until Stewart went down hard with 14:30 remaining in the Main. It took a few seconds to alert the field and a stunned Stewart watched as five riders flew over his prone body – some clearing him by mere inches.

The red flag was displayed with 13:25 remaining. Stewart was running sixth at the time.

Tomac finished fourth, which was an incredible feat considering the hole that was dug in his heat. Tomac had a rear wheel lock up on the start and fell to 17th. He was only able to ride to 10th in the six-minute heat and was forced to pass through the Last Chance Qualifier. This is only his second trip to the LCQ and first since St. Louis in 2013; he won that race.

In the LCQ, a major incident erupted right behind Tomac in Turn 1 that wiped out more than half a dozen riders. Tomac emerged with the hole shot and the lead. Tomac won and remains perfect in regard to his LCQ performance.

Musquin rounded out the top five with last week’s winner Justin Barcia finishing sixth.

In Heat 1 Joey Savatgy went into the pits at the four-minute mark and climbed carefully off his bike. He was unable to continue in the event.

250s

In the 250 class, Adam Cianciarulo got the hole shot and drove away from the field, winning his seventh career race by nearly 10 seconds over points leader Colt Nichols.

Cianciarulo was given a little distance between himself and the field when Dylan Ferrandis high-sided at the two-minute mark. Ferrandis fell to 16th.

Shane McElrath rounded out the podium.

RJ Hampshire backed up last week’s fourth-place finish in Anaheim with another fourth at Glendale, while James Decotis rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis had perhaps the gutsiest performance of the Main when he rebounded to finish sixth and salvage a ton of points that allowed him to hold onto the fourth position in the points, nine behind the leader Nichols.

450 Heat 1 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Marvin Musquin won over Cole Seely

450 Heat 2 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Justin Brayton won over Chad Reed

450 Last Chance Qualifier (5 minutes + 1 lap): Eli Tomac won over Kyle Chisholm. Ronnie Stewart and Cheyenne Harmon also advanced.

250 Heat 1 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Adam Cianciarulo won over Shane McElrath by 5.487 seconds.

250 Heat 2 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Colt Nichols won over James Decotis

250 Last Chance Qualifier (5 minutes +1 lap): Enzo Lopes won over Jim Pettis. Dylan Merriam and Devin Harriman also advanced.

Points Leaders

250s
Colt Nichols (49 points) (1 win)
Adam Cianciarulo (-5) (1)
Shane McElrath (-7)
Dylan Ferrandis (-9)
RJ Hampshire (-11)

450s
Ken Roczen (44 points) (1 win)
Justin Barcia (-1) (1)
Eli Tomac (-4)
Blake Baggett (-7)
Dean Wilson (-10)

Next race: January 19, Angel Stadium, Anaheim, Calif.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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IndyCar’s ‘Phoenix’ flying into 2023 season: Romain Grosjean enjoying the pilot’s life

IndyCar Romain Grosjean pilot
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The IndyCar driver known as “The Phoenix” already has taken flight before the 2023 season, and newly licensed pilot Romain Grosjean also got a head start on the opener.

Fulfilling a dream several years in the making, the Andretti Autosport plunged into aviation training over the offseason. Since beginning with online studying last August, Grosjean quickly progressed to earning his licenses for multiengine planes and instrument ratings while completing 115 hours of flight time.

He has landed twice at Albert Whitted Airport, whose primary runway also doubles as the front straightaway on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course.

“Just to land on the start-finish line, that was pretty cool,” Grosjean said during IndyCar Preseason Content Days ahead of the Feb. 2-3 test at The Thermal Club. “The air traffic control guy was like, “Yeah, left on Acre Five, turn, and then back. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the last corner of the racetrack, I’ll take it and go back to the pit lane. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, that’s true.’ So it was quite funny.”

Grosjean, 36, said he had wanted to become a pilot since he was 30 but was discouraged by Europe’s complicated and time-consuming licensing process (“to go to ground school twice a week, and with our life, it’s impossible”). He was inspired again last year by (now former) teammate Alexander Rossi, who flew to some 2022 races after earning his license a couple of years ago.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” said Grosjean, who had grown “bored of waiting in the airports.”

He plans to fly to nearly all the races this year (“if the weather is good enough, I’ll be flying”) and jokes about being “commercial by the end of the year, so then I can take Roger (Penske). Roger can pay me to fly him around to races if things go bad with racing.”

Grosjean’s social media has been filled with posts about his new hobby, which afforded him the opportunity recently to take his wife to Key West for lunch from their home in the Miami area. The trip took 37 minutes there and 41 minutes on return and highlighted why Grosjean loves flying: “Freedom. Freedom to go anywhere you want, anytime you want. It’s the beauty of it. We can go to the Bahamas for a day if we want to. Anywhere. I think that’s just great to know that you can do whatever you want.”

It’s reminiscent of the cross-country trip across the Midwest in an RV that Grosjean took with his family during the summer of his 2021 rookie season.

“There’s one thing that I told my kids, and I told my friend about America, and for me, that’s the biggest difference between Europe and here, is here everything is possible,” said Grosjean (whose “Phoenix” nickname was derived from a brush with death in his final Formula One start). “If you have the wish, if you give yourself the possibility of doing it, everything is possible. It is different in Europe. Much more boundaries on the way. Much more steps that you need to do in a certain order. But if you want to be extraordinary (in the United States), if you want to do something different, you don’t need to do those steps because you can work through.

“Yeah, I like doing things, and when I do them, I like doing them well. But here I think just the opportunity of driving the RV, flying planes, for my kids to do whatever they want to do, we love that here. Yeah, it’s been the best discovery for us.”

The Swiss-born Frenchman already has flown himself to a race this year, jetting up the Florida coast for his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut last month. It was his debut as a Lamborghini factory driver, and his new deal will continue with the Twelve Hours of Sebring and possibly the Petit Le Mans while he also helps develop the automaker’s new hybrid prototype (LMDh) for next year.

Grosjean, who finished a disappointing 13th in the 2022 points standings with one podium for Andretti in his first full season, said IndyCar will remain his priority in 2024.

But he hopes the IndyCar schedule will afford racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance races and perhaps another his longest plane flight yet — a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed like that we get the weekend off from IndyCar,” said Grosjean, noting that 10 IndyCar drivers were in the Rolex 24. “I think it would make a lot of sense. I think for both series it’s amazing. If we can get Le Mans, it’s also amazing because it’s just cool.

“I remember Mario flying across the Atlantic doing Monaco and the Indy 500, and those guys, they were racing everywhere, Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula 1. They were doing the races in opening of the Formula 1 race, and I think that’s very cool for us. So yeah, looking forward to the project. There’s going to be a lot of development coming on. By the time we finish the IndyCar season, the LMDh will be here in the States, and that’s when I’m going to spend a lot of time on it.”