SupercrossLIVE.com

The 2019 Supercross champion will have a tale of perfection to tell

Leave a comment

Unless Cooper Webb or Marvin Musquin stumbles massively in the final four weeks of the Supercross season, Houston will likely be a microcosm of the season.

We just don’t know if it will be Webb’s early season perfection of Musquin’s come-from-behind charge that will carry the day.

Webb pushed his teammate off course in the first Main of the Triple Crown format, putting Musquin in a hole from which he could not climb for the remainder of the night. As Musquin found himself mired in traffic, Webb went on to finish second in that Main. Webb then won Main 2 – giving him a points lead to lean upon.

In Houston, Musquin steadily improved throughout the night. Finishing fifth in Main 1, he stood on the podium in Main 2 and won the final feature.

And that is how the season has played out for both riders.

Webb was winless on a 450 entering this year and when he left Anaheim II with that first victory, few thought he had a legitimate shot at the championship. What followed was a run of near-perfection with three more victories and a second-place finish in the next five races – interrupted only by the muddy conditions of San Diego.

Athletes are defined by the obstacles they overcome. The bigger the challenge, the greater the achievement.

And if Musquin wins the 2019 Supercross championship, he will need to have his own tale of near-perfection to tell.

Through Houston, Musquin has 10 podium finishes in 13 rounds, but only two of these have been victories.

Even with a 17-point advantage for Webb, it is too soon to count Musquin out. Houston’s final result aside, he has been outriding his teammate in recent weeks. While Webb slipped from the top of the podium in Atlanta to second at Daytona, third at Indianapolis and fourth at Seattle, Musquin steadily improved.

Musquin won back to back races at Indy and Seattle before finishing second last week. If Musquin had been able to make the pass that Webb’s contact denied him, Musquin would have won last week as well. That change in position was worth six points Musquin could ill afford to lose at this stage of the season.

For Musquin to win the championship, he has to win a couple of the final four races while Webb finishes at least two positions back. Musquin needs to shave off 4.25 points per race and his saving grace is that he has ridden well enough to do that in the last three weeks.

The only problem is Webb has finished worse than second only three times in the last 11 races.

Make that two problems: Musquin has gained four or more points only three times this year (he gained five points at Glendale, eight in San Diego and five in Indy). Musquin would have shaved another seven off in Seattle if not for his penalty.

As for Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen, they need to make up 6.5 and 9 points respectively while leap frogging Musquin. And that will turn out to be too steep of a hill to climb even if either rider winds up with a perfect end to their season.

Supercross and Motocross season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Tony Kanaan says his message of IndyCar-NASCAR unity aimed at fans

Leave a comment

Over a 22-year IndyCar career featuring its share of adversity, Tony Kanaan has learned to embrace trying to find the positives in a negative situation.

He believes NASCAR and IndyCar will find a tiny silver lining from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The series will race together at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a July 4 doubleheader, which he believes sends a message of unity he’d like to see from the world during this dark period.

“It’s time to send that message (of unity),” Kanaan told “Happy Hours” hosts Kevin Harvick and Matt Yocum in a Wednesday afternoon interview on SiriusXM’s NASCAR Channel. “If we don’t come out of this situation as better people, globally, in every way, shape or form … it’s just being kind to people. Hopefully, we’ll be sending the right messages, doing radio shows together, doing live on Instagram together, doing races together.

ON NBCSN: IndyCar at virtual Barber Motorsports Park, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

MORE: Jimmie Johnson wants to run IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader

“I was bugging Jimmie Johnson to say, ‘Can I be a guest in NASCAR on iRacing?’ I think the misperception, and probably a little our fault as well, is that people don’t know how (IndyCar and NASCAR drivers) respect each and how we think each other’s jobs are so cool.”

It was Kanaan’s comment last week that “it’s not us and them. It is the motorsports world’ that prompted Harvick to ask the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner about his views on past IndyCar and NASCAR divisions.

Harvick noted that “over the years, IndyCar and NASCAR have that separate stigma as far as the fans, but the racers in the middle, we talk with each other. We’re just racers. I think it’s absolutely great” the doubleheader will happen.

Kanaan said he felt it was the right message to send because of the fans. “For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way,” he said. “We always respected each other and thought each other’s jobs were cool. That tweet was for our fans who say, ‘Those cars are too fast. Those cars are too slow.’ It’s time for us to stop. It’s a racing family.

“For people who don’t understand about racing, any race car is cool. Doesn’t matter if it’s a go kart, a sprint car, a  Cup car, it doesn’t matter. … The situation, we’re in, we’re all equal. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. We’re all in the same boat now. We can’t do what we love. It just clicked. I said it’s time to send that message. Hopefully this will be the end for ‘you guys and us’ for the fans. For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way.”

The GMR IndyCar Grand Prix is scheduled to be run July 4 on the IMS road course ahead of the Xfinity race, which will mean that the NTT Series’ Firestone rubber will be on the asphalt before the Goodyears of NASCAR hit the track.

Recalling a NASCAR test many years ago at Nazareth Speedway when he turned laps a second faster because there’d been an IndyCar race the previous day, Harvick asked Kanaan whether the varying tire compounds might present a challenge.

“I don’t there is a solution for that,” Kanaan said. “It’s part of the job, and we need to realize that you guys run different tires. We run softer tires. It’s no different than (IndyCar) racing with the trucks at Texas. It’s probably harder on an oval than a road course.

“But I like it. It’s part of the challenge and makes the race weekend more interesting, the people who can manage that as well.”

Even though he is sidelined, Kanaan still will stay busy this weekend, racing in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. IndyCar iRacing Challenge event at virtual Barber Motorsports Park on NBCSN. He will be tuning in Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox and FS1 as NASCAR hits Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Last Sunday I had my alarm set for 12:40 p.m., because at 1 o’clock (NASCAR was) on,” Kanaan said with a laugh. “I told (wife) Lauren, ‘Let’s turn the TV on and watch the NASCAR race!’ I was excited, and it wasn’t even real. She’s like, ‘Man, look at you … I said, ‘That’s what we got.’ It’s been a weird year.”

Harvick also will be racing Sunday, having recently joined Kanaan in installing a new racing simulator at home.

“Let’s do this Kevin: Come do an IndyCar race on iRacing,” Kanaan said. “I’ll do NASCAR. Now that you have a sim. What do you think?”

“Well, I’ll have to go to my 7-year-old to figure out how to drive it fast,” Harvick said.

“He’s been practicing. I’m really good at crashing.”