Jeff Kardas, ProMotocross

WW Ranch Preview: A new track may reward fresh faces

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The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship returns to Florida for the first time since 1997 when Ricky Carmichael won in the 125 class with Jeff Emig triumphant in 250s. This time, the riders will navigate an inaugural trip around the WW Ranch Motocross Park in Jacksonville, Fla.

This week will test the endurance of the riders as they move south from Pennsylvania to the hot and muggy coast of Northern Florida.

Since it is on the coast, elevation changes have been added artificially and the relatively flatness of the circuit will make this track unique from the four that preceded it. The course will vary from the others in its makeup as well, and the sandy track should reward a different set of riders.

Last week witnessed the emergence of the field. And now that the series rounds the one-third mark fresh faces may emerge at the front of the pack.

Last week was the first time that a rider other than Eli Tomac or Ken Roczen won a Moto in the 450 class or that Adam Cianciarulo or Justin Cooper won in 250s. Blake Baggett’s Moto 1 victory was followed by a disappointing 15th in the second race, but Hunter Lawrence finished third in the 250 Moto 2 to earn his first podium in the series.

The field has their work cut out for them. In the 450 class, Tomac and Roczen hold a 32-point advantage over Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson, who are tied for third. Cianciarulo has a 26-point lead over Justin Cooper, who has managed to keep the leader in sight despite Cianciarulo’s sweep of the first four rounds.

Anderson will be a rider to keep a close eye on after scoring his second podium of the season last week at High Point. He is just now getting back into the groove after suffering an injury early in the Supercross season.

Justin Hill continues to sit on the sideline after undergoing surgery to repair a ligament in his shoulder. No announcement has been made about his return, but he is expected to be back for the final rounds of the season. Kyle Chisholm filled in at High Point and finished 21st overall (23-20). Chisholm is on the entry list again this week riding the No. 11.

In 250s, Killian Auberson rode this week after sustaining a concussion at Thunder Valley, but he will miss the Florida National.

MORE: Eli Tomac, Ken Rcozen’s two-man battle provides surprises

Schedule:

Qualifiers: 10:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Race: Live, 1 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold (Moto 1), Moto 2 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC and NBC Sports Gold.

June 15 – 2019 High Point Raceway

450: Eli Tomac (3-2) won over Ken Roczen (6-1) and Jason Anderson (2-5).
250: Adam Cianciarulo (2-1) won over Hunter Lawrence (1-3) and Chase Sexton (4-2).

March 2 – 1997 Gatorback Cycle Park

250: Jeff Emig (1-1) won over Jeremy McGrath (2-2) and Damon Bradshaw (5-3)
125: Ricky Carmichael won over Steven Lamson and Kevin Windham.

Overall Wins

450:
[2] Ken Roczen (Hangtown, Thunder Valley)
[2] Eli Tomac (Pala, High Point)

250:
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown, Pala, Thunder Valley, High Point)

Moto Wins

450:
[4] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & II, Thunder Valley II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)

250:
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley II, High Point II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)

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Karam, Daly get IndyCar rides with Carlin for Iowa

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NEWTON, Iowa – Sage Karam returns for the second-straight race and Conor Daly is back for another race with Carlin Racing at this weekend’s Iowa 300 NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway.

For Karam, it’s his third start of the 2019 season and his second straight with Carlin. In his five starts at Iowa Speedway dating back to 2010, Karam has never finished outside of the top three, recording four wins (USF2000 – 2010, Indy Pro 2000 – 2011 and 2012, Indy Lights – 2013) and scoring his first NTT IndyCar Series podium in 2015 with a third-place finish.

“I’m really excited to be back again this weekend with Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for the Iowa 300. Iowa Speedway has always been a good track for me in the past, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to work there,” Karam said. “Coming off of a very productive weekend in Toronto, I’m looking forward to applying everything I’ve learned and continuing to work with the team to get the best results possible. A huge thank you to everyone at Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for a great opportunity to race at one of my favorite tracks.”

Daly is back in a second Carlin entry. Earlier this year, the popular driver finished 11th for Carlin in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. At Iowa, he will drive the team’s No. 23 Gallagher Chevrolet.

Daly finished 10th in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for Andretti Autosport.

Daly raced at Iowa in 2016 for Dale Coyne Racing (finishing 21st) and in 2017 for A.J. Foyt Racing (finishing 19th).

The combination gives Carlin two more drivers to gather additional feedback on the car. Max Chilton remains the team’s primary driver but announced recently that he will forego all oval races to concentrate on street and road courses.

That created opportunities for Karam and Daly.

“We were very impressed with Sage’s steady progression throughout the Toronto race weekend and his willingness to learn and adapt,” said Carlin Team Principal Trevor Carlin. “The fact that he hadn’t been on a street course since 2015 and was still able to come right out of the gate confident and constantly improving every session was extremely impressive.

“The SmartStop Self Storage Chevrolet looked great out on track and their group has been a pleasure to work with, so we couldn’t be more pleased to have them back this weekend in Iowa. Sage has done really well in Iowa in the past, so hopefully we can use his experience and our past success at Iowa Speedway to come away with a good result for the team and our partners at SmartStop Self Storage.”

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway will take place on Saturday, July 20th at 7:15 pm ET and will be televised on NBCSN.