Power hopes to begin IndyCar championship charge at Texas

INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
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FORT WORTH, Texas – The last time the NTT IndyCar Series competed in a race in “The Republic,” Will Power was in charge at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) near Austin, Texas. He led 45 laps in the March 24 INDYCAR Classic with Alexander Rossi his only serious challenger.

But a near-certain victory turned into a unfortunate series of events. Power was preparing to make his final pit stop of the race, before James Hinchcliffe and Patricio O’Ward collided into each other in Turn 20 on Lap 44.

Practically every other car in the race except Power and Rossi had already pitted. Once Power came into the pits, his doom was sealed when a drive-shaft failed on his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.

He started on the pole and, had he won the race, could have earned $100,000. Instead, Power finished last in the 24-car field.

As for Rossi, he got booted all the way back to 15th place. After the race went back green with 10 laps left, he raced his way back to ninth.

Power returns to Texas for Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. He hopes for a much better time, as he told NBCSports.com that the trouble at COTA is why he’s not in the thick of the battle for the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

“I look at COTA and if we had won that race, that would put us way up in the points. Way, way up in the points,” Power said. “That was such a big hit from a potential win.

“Everyone has that in the year, it’s the other results in between.”

Power’s results “in between” include 11th at Barber; seventh at both Long Beach and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course; fifth in the Indianapolis 500, and a Detroit doubleheader showing of 18th in Race 1 and third in Race 2.

Add it all up and Power is sixth in the standings, 84 points behind leader and Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden.

But the third-place finish last Sunday in Detroit did help Power stem the tide to a season where he’s been held winless.

“It was massively important, honestly,” Power said. “We needed that result. I think we would have had that result the day before. It has actually been a consistent season with a lot of fifths, sevenths, a couple of podiums. If it wasn’t for that Detroit result on Saturday, we would have been looking pretty good.”

Power entered the “Month of May” at Indianapolis as the defending Indy 500 winner. That victory in 2018 was the crowning achievement of his career, which also includes the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

This May, however, Power was shuffled out of the storyline, although his fifth-place finish was a positive achievement.

“If you go there with a team like Penske, anything but a win is disappointing,” Power admitted. “I rue that mistake I made in the pits on my second stop. If I had known the penalty was a drive-through and you go 30 cars back, I would have never taken that risk and pushed it a little bit at the end. The back came out and brushed my fueler. It’s such a tough penalty.

“But I was very happy to get back to fifth. These results, these comebacks, have really kept me in the championship. The Indy road course, we were last and came back to seventh. In the 500, came back to fifth. In the wet race at Detroit, we came back to fourth and had the pit stop mishap. Then, the comeback on Sunday.

“A lot of comebacks this year have kept me in the game where otherwise we would be down and out.”

Power was fifth-fastest (217.196 mph) in Thursday night’s rain-abbreviated practice session at TMS, which was topped by Detroit Race 2 winner Scott Dixon (219.308 mph) in his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

“I think it’s good because it gives you a chance to really see the true condition it will be in the race that we haven’t had before,” Power said before the rain. “It’s going to be good to see which drivers after the practice want more downforce.

“It’s usually the guys that are struggling that want more downforce.”

Power is a two-time winner at Texas (2011, 2017).

“It’s been a very different race every year,” Power said. “I expect that again this year with a different tire. The track will have degraded a bit. Everyone improves over the offseason and it will be difficult to tell how it plays out.

“I’m looking forward to racing there and enjoying it.

“I think Firestone will fix the blistering problem and the tire will wear and degrade. That creates some good strategy and racing.

“My career at Texas, it’s like a one-year- on, one-year off deal. I always have a great year, then a bad year, then a great year, then a bad year. I’ve had some really good runs at Texas.”

Although Power is from Toowoomba, Australia, his wife, Liz, is from Plano, Texas – a suburb of Dallas.

It’s a big weekend for his wife’s family as Liz’s grandmother, Ann Sconyers, celebrates her 98th birthday with a party on Friday.

“I didn’t even know her name,” Power admitted. “I just know her as ‘Grandma.’”

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

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After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage