Supercross 250 East and West will now come down to the wire

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As the Supercross world sits and waits for an update on Austin Forkner’s knee, the consequence of his practice incident is that both Supercross 250 battles have grown white hot.

Forkner rode into Nashville with a 26-point advantage over the field – the equivalent of one full race. No matter what happened at Nashville, no one could catch the red hot rider who had beaten his 250 East competitors at literally every turn.

At Nashville, Forkner “got sketchy in the whoops and stuck my leg out and did something to my knee in second practice,” he posted Sunday on Instagram. He tried to ride again in Practice 3, but only made matters worse.

At Nashville, the only rider who could catch Forkner was Chase Sexton, but he had to win in order to do so.

Justin Cooper had the ability to pull to within two points of the lead and both rode the new track with wild abandon. After both riders scored podium finishes in their heats, they battled for the lead in the Main. Overly enthusiastic, they crashed on Lap 1 when Cooper rode Sexton wide.

Forkner’s teammate Martin Davalos mitigated the damage as best he could by winning, while Sexton made the most of the race to finish second. Cooper was third.

Forkner’s lead over Sexton is now only three points. He holds a seven-point advantage over Cooper.

What was supposed to be a runaway season is now about as close as it can get.

In the 250 West division, Adam Cianciarulo appeared to be almost as dominant as Forkner. In fact, he was the only rider to win a 250 race against Forkner when he scored the overall victory in the East/West Shootout. Forkner finished third, which was best among East riders.

Dylan Ferrandis picked the right time to heat up. He also placed ahead of Forkner in Atlanta with a second-place finish.

Ferrandis was able to cut only three points off Cianciarulo’s lead at Seattle, but that stopped a three-race winning streak for the points leader.

The Triple Crown at Houston proved to be much more fruitful when Cianciarulo suffered multiple issues in the second Main to score a 10th-place finish. Ferrandis won that Main and finished second in the other two.

To win the championship, Ferrandis needs a little help. With two races remaining in the West and a three-point gap between first and second, he not only needs to outride Cianciarulo, but the leader has to finish at least third in one of those two races. Cianciarulo finished fifth in both races at Anaheim, but since then he’s been worse than second only that one time in Houston.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”