Las Vegas Supercross Preview: Cooper Webb wants to win in style

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Last week’s race at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey was a microcosm of the 2019 450 Supercross season. Cooper Webb struggle early, but had strength and luck on his side once points were on the line.

Webb was only fifth fastest in combined qualification, but when it came time to race he picked up the pace. He finished second in his heat. He lacked dominance in the first few laps of the Main, allowing first Eli Tomac and then Zach Osborne around him. But he stayed close enough to both riders to force them to ride just a little harder than they wanted.

Webb watched as the riders around him made mistakes and easily rolled past them to score his seventh win of the season.

The 2019 season began with a winless Webb. It didn’t take long for him to establish himself as a favorite with a victory in the Triple Crown Anaheim II race. He’d go on to win three more times in the next four rounds. Since his win at Minneapolis in Round 6, he’s failed to stand on the podium only one time and that was a fourth at Seattle.

Now all Webb needs to do in Las Vegas is finished 20th or better to claim his first championship.

Tomac has one shot to win the championship – and it’s a longshot.

Tomac must win while Webb finishes 21st or worse. A second-place finish – even if Webb crashes in prelims and fails to advance to the Main – would result in a tie that would be broken by the most wins. Webb’s seven victories this season is guaranteed to be the most. Tomac enters Vegas with five wins.

Everyone else was mathematically eliminated from competition last week.

Webb’s incredible season overshadows his competition, but notably five riders have scored top-fives in more than half the events this year. Webb’s 14 leads the pack, followed by 13 for Tomac and Marvin Musquin, 10 for Ken Roczen and nine for Blake Baggett.

The difference in the championship has come down to consistency. While Webb has been on his current 11-race, top-five streak Tomac finished outside that mark three times in a span of four races from Minneapolis through Atlanta. Musquin finished sixth at Detroit and Nashville. Meanwhile, Roczen has only one top-five in the last seven Rounds of the season.

Zach Osborne got around Cooper Webb for the lead at New Jersey, but rode too hard into a corner a few laps later. SupercrossLIVE

MORE: Austin Forkner out for the season

Schedule:

Qualifying: 4 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold
Race: Live, 10 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold and USA Network

Last Week:

Cooper Webb scored his seventh win of the season over Zach Osborne and Eli Tomac.

Last Year:

Eli Tomac ended the season with a win over Marvin Musquin and Blake Baggett

Winners

[7] Cooper Webb (Anaheim II, Oakland, Minneapolis, Arlington, Atlanta, Houston, and New Jersey)
[5] Eli Tomac (San Diego, Detroit, Daytona, Nashville and Denver)
[2] Marvin Musquin (Indianapolis and Seattle)
[1] Justin Barcia (Anaheim I)
[1] Blake Baggett (Glendale)

Top-5s

Cooper Webb (14)
Marvin Musquin (13)
Eli Tomac (13)
Ken Roczen (10)
Blake Baggett (9)
Joey Savatgy (5)
Dean Wilson (4)
Chad Reed (2)
Justin Barcia (2)
Justin Bogle (2)
Jason Anderson (1)
Justin Brayton (1)
Aaron Plessinger (1)
Cole Seely (1)
Zach Osborne (2)

Points Leaders

Cooper Webb (358)
Eli Tomac (335)
Marvin Musquin (327)
Ken Roczen (300)
Blake Baggett (274)

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

Road to Indy
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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter