Seattle Supercross: Marvin Musquin penalized, keeps win

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Marvin Musquin has been allowed to keep his win in Saturday’s Round 12 of Monster Energy Supercross at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, but was penalized seven points for jumping in a medical (red cross) flag segment of the track. The red cross was flying so that medical attention could be performed on Justin Brayton and Chad Reed.

“I was leading and all the nerves and excitement,” Musquin said at the time. “You can see on the video that right there I am slowing down, but then I’m jumping. We’ll see what’s going on with that, but nothing I can do right now.”

Under Section 4.16 of the AMA Supercross rulebook, riders must keep their wheels on the ground when they are going through a medical flag. For violating the rule, Musquin was penalized the points and purse equal to two positions in the final results, plus two points.

“Here’s the thing. As the red cross flag was coming out, I was rolling and I saw (Musquin) doubling through,” second-place finisher Ken Roczen said after the race. “And I was like, ‘Oh. That’s not ok.’ I knew right there and then. That’s when he gapped me quite a bit.”

Eli Tomac crossed under the checkers third.

Musquin’s penalty means that instead of cutting Cooper Webb’s points lead in half, he leaves Seattle 14 points back of him. It could be a critical moment in the 450SX championship, especially since Webb didn’t have a great night.

At the beginning of the Main, Webb was as far back as sixth on Lap 10. He continued to lose ground to the leader, but steadily began to pick up positions as the riders in front of him made mistakes. He finished a distant fourth – 8.673 seconds behind Tomac.

“It was a tough main event,” Webb said. “I’ve been really good on my starts and I didn’t execute, so it’s pretty frustrating.”

Joey Savatgy rounded out the top five.

During qualification, Roczen announced he has been battling with his energy level over the past two weeks.

On Lap 1 Chad Reed had a hard off his bike and was landed on by Kyle Chisholm.

Complete Results
Points Standings

When Dylan Ferrandis found the rhythm to quadruple jump one on the straights, he shed the role of bridesmaid and earned his first career 250SX victory after finishing second four times already this season. He took the lead on Lap 3 from James Decotis, but when he looked over his shoulder one lap later it was the points leader Adam Cianciarulo chasing him.

Ferrandis stretched his advantage to nearly two seconds in the middle stage of the race, but Cianciarulo would not go away. The red plate loomed large in the closing laps and Ferrandis won by .571 seconds.

“It was crazy,” Ferrandis said on NBCSN. “It’s been a while since I led a race; AC (Adam Cianciarulo) was really fast. He pushed me. … I just tried not to make a mistake.”

“Congrats to Dylan,” Cianciarulo said afterward. “He’s been so close all year, and really just a world class rider.”

James Decotis emerged from a three-rider snarl on the first lap to take the early lead, but he could not hold it for long. Colt Nichols passed Decotis, but then dumped his bike in the rhythm section when he landed awkwardly on a second triple. Once the two points leaders got around, Decotis faded to a distant third, more than 22 seconds back.

Michael Mosiman and Chris Blose rounded out the top five.

The last time the riders were on the track in the East/West Showdown in Atlanta, Ferrandis finished second behind Cianciarulo.

Third in the points entering Seattle, Shane McElrath’s title hopes took a hit when it was announced just prior to Heat 2 that he would miss the night with a back injury. He was 17 points out of first and two points away from second.

Complete Results
Points Standings

450 Heat 1: After back-to-back features outside the top five, Ken Roczen scored his fourth heat win of the year. … Marvin Musquin emerged victorious during a handlebar-to-handlebar battle with Blake Baggett in the opening laps to finish second. … Zach Osborne rounded out the top three after Baggett faded to fifth at the checkers.

450 Heat 2: Cooper Webb struggled in qualification (11th), but as he’s shown on several occasions this season, he found his rhythm when it mattered most. He grabbed the holeshot and led flag to flag. … Eli Tomac made him work for it, pressuring Webb for the entire heat. The difference came in the whoops, where Webb jumped effortlessly through them as Tomac tried to blitz. Tomac consistently lost momentum at the end of the straight. … Dean Wilson held off a determined challenge by Joey Savatgy as the pair finished third and fourth respectively.

450 Last Chance Qualifier: Ben Lamay is making a career out of winning LCQs. He took the lead at the gate drop and held it till the checkers for his third win. … Ryan Breece finished 2.78 seconds behind. … Alex Ray and Austin Politelli had a spirited battle for third and fourth, but both transferred. … Joshua Grant was challenging for the lead, but he stalled in the whoops and fell to fifth. With two laps remaining, he was gaining on fourth until the whoops bit him again. This time he went down hard and shook his head in resignation.

250 Heat 1: Adam Cianciarulo grabbed the holeshot the field and yarded James Decotis by more than six second to earn his third heat race of the year. … Cameron McAdoo rounded out the top three.

250 Heat 2: Colt Nichols got off to a slow start and finished the first lap in third. He worked his way past Chris Blose by Lap 4. … Dylan Ferrandis moved into second a few laps later and held on for the finish. … Blose rounded out the top three. … The holeshot went to Jacob Hayes, but he slipped to fourth at the checkers. … RJ Hampshire went down in the whoops on a bike that pitched and bucked like a wild horse; he recovered to finish sixth.

250 Last Chance Qualifier: Robbie Wageman passed Jerry Robin on the last lap to win the LCQ. … Killian Auberson rounded out the top three. … The battle for the final transfer heated up on the final lap when Chris Howell bumped Mathias Jorgensen off course. Jorgensen kept the throttle twisted and reentered the course at the end of the straight. He finished fourth, but was penalized for accelerating off track. … Gage Schehr went down hard early in the LCQ to bring out the red flag; he walked to the medical cart under his own power with a splint on his right arm.

Points Leaders

450SX
Cooper Webb (262) (5 wins)
Marvin Musquin (248) (2 wins)
Eli Tomac (243) (3 wins)
Ken Roczen (239)
Blake Baggett (200) (1 win)

250SX West
Adam Cianciarulo (163 points) (4 wins)
Dylan Ferrandis (151) (1)
Shane McElrath (123) (1)
Colt Nichols (121) (1)
RJ Hampshire (103)

250SX East
Austin Forkner (151 points) (5 wins)
Chase Sexton (125)
Justin Cooper (123)
Alex Martin (92)
Martin Davalos (89)

Top 5s

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

250SX West
Adam Cianciarulo: 7
Dylan Ferrandis: 5
Shane McElrath: 5
Colt Nichols: 4
RJ Hampshire: 3
James Decotis: 3
Jacob Hayes: 1
Garrett Marchbanks: 1
Jess Pettis: 1
Michael Mosiman: 1
Chris Blose: 1

250SX East
Austin Forkner: 6
Justin Cooper: 6
Chase Sexton: 6
Jordon Smith: 3
Martin Davalos: 3
Alex Martin: 2
Mitchell Oldenburg: 2

Next race: March 30, NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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Ryan: Stressful second title is a soup good for Josef Newgarden’s soul

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MONTEREY, Calif. – At her family’s home in Nashville, Tennessee, Tina Newgarden always keeps an extra stash of corn chowder in the freezer.

She never knows when her son, Josef, unexpectedly might drop by in desperate need of his go-to comfort food.

“It’s just in case I’m not at home, and he just goes in and grabs it himself if he’s coming home from out of town,” Tina said with a knowing smile. “And then you’ll catch him down there eating his favorite soup and watching a movie.”

When he gets done this week with the whirlwind of media obligations required after becoming an NTT IndyCar Series champion for the second time, you probably will find Newgarden curled up on the couch with a warm bowl of old-fashioned goodness in his lap and an inspirational flick on the TV (perhaps a screening of “Return of the Jedi” for a Star Wars fan).

He was crowned Sunday as the best driver on a highly competitive circuit after a season of excellence (average start of 5.5, average finish of 5.6), but Josef Newgarden really has had a tough couple of months.

That was evident in the tears that flowed immediately after he exited his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet and seemed ready to collapse in a pool of relief from the mental exhaustion and high anxiety that had followed his quest to become a two-time champion.

“I don’t ever cry,” Newgarden, 28, said Sunday after gritting out an eighth-place finish that clinched the championship in the season finale at Laguna Seca Raceway. “Actually, it infuriates my fiancée because I don’t think I’ve ever cried in front of her. It disturbed her in some ways. She’s like, ‘You never cry! I don’t know why you don’t do that. You should cry at some point.”

If there’s anyone who knew how the 2019 points battle weighed on him, it was Ashley Welch and the rest of Newgarden’s family – the outlet that was emotionally invested and supportive of his career but also provides a release from the tension.

Josef Newgarden celebrates with his father, Joey (left), his grandmother Karen Rasmussen (front), his fiancee, Ashley (second from right), and mother Tina (right) after his second championship (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images).

They were all on hand Sunday (including his father, Joey, and his “Mormor” Karen Rasmussen, the 80-year-old maternal grandmother who came from Denmark to attend her second IndyCar race) and shared in the culmination of what’s been a very emotional and eventful year (which still has wedding bells ahead).

Josef Newgarden with his grandmother (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images).

Was it stressful?

“To say the least,” a beaming Welch said as she watched her fiancé hoist the Astor Cup on the championship stage. “The level of competitiveness in this sport is unreal. Any different guy can come in and win any different race.

“For him to be leading all of those different guys who had just as much potential, if not more sometimes. It means so much. We had a friend tell him after the first one, anyone can win one championship, but they remember you if you win two. So I think he feels like ‘Oh, it’s not just luck. I’m meant to be here.’ And that is …”

Welch paused and her voice briefly quavered as she watched Newgarden, whom she has been together with for seven years (they were engaged last October), hoist the Astor Cup above his head.

“Beautiful,” she smiled. “So I think you see all his emotion coming from it. I know him, and he’s thinking about how many people put their neck on the line to get him to where he is today. He talks about when he was little and starting to watch IndyCar racing, Penske was his pinnacle. Getting to drive for them but being able to perform and make an impact on their history, he feels it so much.

“You saw all the outpouring of “My dreams have come true! I’ve worked so hard, and they’re here!”

It certainly was a different feeling than two years ago when Newgarden won the pole position at Sonoma, led 41 laps and won punctuated his inaugural championship with a runner-up finish in the season finale.

Sunday’s drive was indicative of the weight – and wait — that Newgarden had endured while leading the championship standings for virtually six consecutive months since winning the season opener at St. Petersburg (he was out of the points only once – after a fourth in the Indianapolis 500 that now is the only void in his career).

“The first (championship), it was shocking and overwhelming,” Tina Newgarden said. “The second time it’s almost like he had this mark on his back because he’s been leading the points the whole season. So it would be really sad, devastating if he didn’t get it at the end of the season. But I’m so proud of him. He’s very disciplined. He just loves it so much.”

“If he’s down and has a bad day, then we’re down having a bad day as well. It’s terrible, but that’s just how it is. This is a good year, so now we can all breathe. The last two months has really been a little stressful. So yeah. We’ve been trying to keep the mood up, but God, I’m so happy!”

Newgarden, who qualified fourth and never had winning pace all weekend, said he felt “more nervous because I felt like this one was more ours to lose, and I thought we deserved (the championship). I didn’t want to make a mistake. I got a bit nervous in the middle of the race because I thought we were going down a rabbit hole we didn’t want to be down.”

But the very un-Newgarden-esque eighth – only the fourth time in 17 races he finished outside the top 10 this season – was the outcome of a sound pit strategy that delivered the title by 25 points over Simon Pagenaud, who proclaimed his Penske teammate “the most deserving guy” to win the title.

“It didn’t really start weighing on me until we got (to Laguna Seca),” Newgarden said. “I knew it would hit me here because it was double points. You know it’s going to be a very difficult situation. It’s just that intensity and that unknown, where if you make a small mistake, it can turn into a very big mistake. At another event, it wouldn’t be that way.”

Team owner Roger Penske noticed Newgarden had butterflies on the race morning before he would join Sam Hornish Jr. as the only American to win multiple IndyCar championships in the past two decades. “I think there’s so much emotion inside for someone like that because you’ve got to be perfect,” Penske said. “And I think the fact that he was able to execute the way he did, it was just a time to let it all out.”

Newgarden now is among lofty company on a list of multi-time champions at Team Penske that includes Rick Mears, Tom Sneva, Al Unser and Gil de Ferran. And his four-win season helped him take a critical step toward putting his name with true IndyCar legends such as A.J. Foyt (seven championships), Scott Dixon (five) and Mario Andretti (four).

“I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s harder to win a second championship than a first,” he said. “And I think in a lot of ways, that’s true. It’s very difficult to win a championship. But then to follow it up and make it happen again, it seems like a bigger mountain almost.

“I don’t know what causes that. But I just had it in my mind that if we could get this done, it’d be the achievement of the year.”

It’s especially impressive considering everything Newgarden is trying to accomplish in 2019. Besides winning a championship, he also:

–Will be getting married Oct. 26 to Welch in Nashville;

Moved from Davidson, North Carolina, (near Team Penske headquarters) to his hometown;

–Began building a house with Welch, who also brought home a rescue pup named Zoomer (or affectionately known as “Zoom” around home). “They say a year, but it’s going to be a year and a half” to finish, Welch said with a laugh. “We were in a one-bedroom apartment. I told him I don’t want to have kids in a one-bedroom apartment.”

–Underwent several oral surgeries to correct some improper dental work from childhood.

“We could have taken a couple things off the plate,” Newgarden said. “But you know what? Everything needed to be done. We wanted everything to get done, and we’re doing it all. I don’t know how the year worked out, because (racing) is the priority. You do all those things and decide, ‘Yeah, we’re going to make the plate this full.’ But something still has to take the cake at the end of the day, and the racing is what does that. And everyone knows that’s the program, and this is the most important part of the year, because you don’t get that back.

“If you have an opportunity to race and compete for a championship, when it’s there, you’ve got to take it. So I tried to keep that at the forefront of my mind all year, and I made it the priority, but it was just a little more difficult with all the other things going on.”

Josef Newgarden kisses his fiancee, Ashley Welch, after winning the NTT IndyCar Series championship (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images).

Welch, who knew nothing about racing while working as a princess cast member at Disney World when Newgarden “swept me off my feet,” provides a release valve. Though she is comfortable with being a knowledgeable member of the paddock (“I know what push to pass means. That was a big thing for me”), Welch also can help distract him from the pressure of IndyCar.

“I think it’s better to know less, because then he is able to escape at home and make home be home, and then work be work,” she said. “Because when you’re in a professional sport, you can’t really escape the work. It comes home with you whether in interviews or social media, or just obligations in general, or practice, or research. You’re always living in it, so I think it’s really smart to just have your home be home.”

In that sense, staying busy in his personal life has been good for the extremely affable Newgarden, a self-described introvert who gradually has withdrawn from social media in his late 20s.

Though he is as articulate and eloquent as any driver in auto racing, he also is happy to defer to his teammates on promotional opportunities because “I go home and am happy to be away from all of it. … I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just my introverted-ness that’s getting worse. I really try to do the best I can for the series and team and partners. It is so important to represent in the right way, but at the same time, it’s gotten harder” to be on social media in a professional setting.

“It’s all the racing,” Tina Newgarden said when asked about the source of her son’s stress. “Him building a house and all that, that’s nothing. That’s easy. (Winning a championship) is not easy. Anything else is easy.

“He got it, so I’m so proud of him. He’s one of the very lucky ones that made it here, because for every one, I’m sure there are 500 (drivers) looking in, wanting to have that. But he worked hard, and I just told him one time, ‘Don’t be so moody about it when it doesn’t go well.’ He’s still moody about it if it doesn’t go well! He’s still the same.”

That’s why the bowl of corn chowder still is waiting in her freezer.

A hearty meal for two-time champion who finally can relax.