Supercross Preview: Indianapolis will be pivotal to 2019 season

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Round 11 of the Supercross season at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis could be the defining moment in the 2019 championship – unless Cooper Webb stumbles, that is. In the past five weeks since Minneapolis, Webb has finished first or second while his three principle rivals have all finished outside the top five at least once. That has allowed him to build up a 19-point advantage over the field, which equates to 2.7 points per round for the remainder of the year.

Eli Tomac’s win last week at Daytona put him in a tie for second with Marvin Musquin, but he has not been able to back up one of his three victories with a top-five finish. That leaves his future in question.

Round 1 winner Justin Barcia will climb back on his metal steed after sitting out two weeks with a concussion. His return comes just in time because the team is losing Aaron Plessinger to a broken heel for an indeterminate period. Jason Anderson (various injuries), Vince Friese (knee) and Malcolm Stewart (leg) are also out for the foreseeable future.

The 250 East division is back in action and so far none of the Eastern riders have been able to catch Austin Forkner. If hometown advantage means anything, Chase Sexton could upset the points contender after coming up just one spot shy in the last two weeks.

Blake Wharton will be out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. This is the second straight season that has been abbreviated with this injury.

MORE: Eli Tomac’s wins have come with cost
MORE: Aaron Plessinger breaks heel in Daytona Supercross

Schedule:

Qualifying: 1 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold
Race: Live, 7 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold and 11 p.m. on NBCSN

Last Week:

Eli Tomac climbed to second in the points with his third win of the year over Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin in the 450 class.
Austin Forkner remains perfect in the East with a win over Chase Sexton and Justin Cooper.

Last Year:

Marvin Musquin won over Dean Wilson and Justin Brayton in the 450 class.
In 250s, Jeremy Martin won over Adam Cianciarulo and Luke Renzland in the 250 class in an East/West Showdown.

Winners

450s:
[5] Cooper Webb (Anaheim II, Oakland, Minneapolis, Arlington, and Atlanta)
[3] Eli Tomac (San Diego, Detroit and Daytona)
[1] Justin Barcia (Anaheim I)
[1] Blake Baggett (Glendale)

250 West:
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Glendale, Oakland, San Diego and Atlanta)
[1] Colt Nichols (Anaheim I)
[1] Shane McElrath (Anaheim II)

250 East:
[4] Austin Forkner (Minneapolis, Arlington, Detroit and Daytona)

Top-5s

450s:
Ken Roczen (9)
Marvin Musquin (8)
Cooper Webb (8)
Eli Tomac (7)
Blake Baggett (6)
Joey Savatgy (3)
Dean Wilson (2)
Chad Reed (2)
Justin Barcia (1)
Jason Anderson (1)
Justin Bogle (1)
Justin Brayton (1)
Aaron Plessinger (1)

250 West:
Adam Cianciarulo (6)
Shane McElrath (5)
Colt Nichols (4)
Dylan Ferrandis (4)
RJ Hampshire (3)
James Decotis (2)
Jacob Hayes (1)
Garrett Marchbanks (1)
Jess Pettis (1)

250 East:
Austin Forkner (5)
Justin Cooper (5)
Chase Sexton (5)
Jordon Smith (3)
Martin Davalos (2)
Alex Martin (2)
Mitchell Oldenburg (1)

Points Leaders

450s:
Cooper Webb (222)
Eli Tomac (203)
Marvin Musquin (203)
Ken Roczen (201)
Blake Baggett (161)

250 West:
Adam Cianciarulo (140)
Dylan Ferrandis (125)
Shane McElrath (123)
Colt Nichols (120)
RJ Hampshire (86)

250 East:
Austin Forkner (125)
Justin Cooper (102)
Chase Sexton (102)
Alex Martin (78)
Brandon Hartranft (71)

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

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.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter