Will Power keeps Team Penske’s hot streak rolling with pole position


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It was the 55th pole position of Will Power’s IndyCar career, but the Team Penske driver still surprised himself in continuing car owner Roger Penske’s impressive run in auto racing.

In the closing seconds of qualifying Saturday for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (12:30 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN), Power knocked off teammate Josef Newgarden from the top qualifying spot.

“I was really surprised when they said, ‘P1,’ I said, ‘What?’ ” said Power, who has started on pole in eight of the past 10 races on the 1.8-mile street course. “But it was a really good lap.  Awesome job, awesome job. To get pole the first race of the season is awesome. Really great start.”

The 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner’s prowess on street and road courses is well documented, but this is his first street-course pole since St. Petersburg two years ago, after Team Penske’s strength on ovals last season didn’t translate on street and road circuits.

“Chevrolet has done a fantastic job with the engine,” Power said. “Our street course performance was not good enough last year. It’s great work from the whole team. We worked hard to get the result.”

Will Power turns a lap on the streets of St. Petersburg. (Karl Zemlin/IndyCar)

Power has two wins at St. Petersburg, most recently in 2014 when he won the championship, but his fortunes in the season opener have been less than stellar lately. In 2016, he wasn’t cleared to race at the track after a wreck in practice.

He crashed and finished 19th in 2017 after starting on pole and finished 10th last year after qualifying second.

“You have to remember it’s a long race: 110 laps,” Power said. “I wasn’t smart last year. Being on pole really helps. We’ll get through the first turn and try to win another race.”

Newgarden made it a 1-2 qualifying effort for Penske, which also has won eight of the past 15 races in NASCAR’s premier series. Ryan Blaney qualified on pole Friday for Sunday’s Cup race at ISM Raceway.

“I’m only disappointed in myself,” Newgarden said. “I didn’t put together the best lap when it counted. (With a) 1-2, we can’t be dissatisfied, but it’s hard to not be disappointed when you’re quick.”

Other drivers who advanced to the Fast Six were rookie Felix Rosenqvist, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi.

Dixon, who still is seeking his first victory at St. Pete, nearly failed to advance after spinning in the first round, but a penalty to Takuma Sato put Dixon back in pole contention. Rosenqvist, Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, also benefited from a penalty to Colton Herta (for impeding Charlie Kimball) that put him in the Fast Six.

Some big names were knocked out early in the session, particularly two in Group 1 that was slowed by two red flags.

With limited time to post a fast lap, Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was seventh and just missed advancing.

“What can I do?” Pagenaud, who is coming off a winless 2018, told NBCSN with a laugh. “I’ve got a lot of positives out of this weekend. I’ve worked really hard this winter for this moment. It’s disappointing. But I’m in a good space. We have a good race car and tomorrow we’ll be strong.”

Sebastien Bourdais, the two-time defending winner of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, also will start from near the rear of the field, but at least it’s a familiar feeling. The Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan driver won on this circuit from the 21st starting position in ’17 and 14th last year.

“It’s going to be our only way of doing it,” Bourdais told NBCSN. “It’s just a shame. I feel we owe it to the fans and everybody to show something that is representative. The rules don’t provision something like that with barely any green-flag time. I feel really bad. I guess we should have gone right away. But we have plenty of sticker tires, red and black, for the race.”

Click here for the full results from Saturday’s IndyCar qualifying session.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston


Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart

The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s