Alexander Rossi back into second for IndyCar Series championship with one race left

0 Comments

PORTLAND, Oregon – It’s down to the NTT IndyCar Series points race that everyone has wanted to see all season – Josef Newgarden of Team Penske against Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport with just one race remaining.

Newgarden, the 2017 NTT IndyCar Series champion at Team Penske, has a 41-point lead over Rossi, who moved back to second place in the standings with a third-place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland. Team Penske driver Will Power won that race with Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing second.

“It’s great with two Americans still fighting for it,” Rossi told NBC Sports.com. “But Simon Pagenaud is only one point behind, and Scott Dixon is still mathematically alive, so there are still four guys in it, and you can’t discount the other two.”

Pagenaud, this year’s winner of the 103rdIndianapolis 500, is just one point behind Rossi, setting up a three-driver battle heading into the season’s final race at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca on September 22.

Newgarden started 13thand fought his way back to a fifth-place finish. It was the second time in the last three races Newgarden had finished fifth. He was seventh last week in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.

In spite of missing the podium for the fourth-straight race, Newgarden’s lead in the NTT IndyCar Series championship has remained firm as other drivers battling for the title have made mistakes.

2019 Portland GP at Portland International Raceway

“It’s disappointing because we were on the podium from seventh and Josef finishes fifth,” Rossi said. “It’s a credit to Team Penske but it’s hard when you start seventh, get on the podium and Josef finishes fifth.

“Now, we just have to win Laguna Seca. None of us have any preconceived notions about what it will be the team that can adapt the most through Thursday and Friday, honestly if you put it on pole, you can still win the championship because it’s so hard to pass there. Qualifying could be the deciding factor.

“I’m closer right now than that I was yesterday and that’s fine. With the double points, we saw what happened in 2015. You have to go in and win. If we do that; we might be all right.”

Rossi believes he still has a good shot at the championship, 41 points back, with double points paid for the final race of the season.

“Ultimately, it wasn’t an awesome day for us, but it was still genuinely good for us when you look at where we finished compared to the others,” Rossi told NBC Sports. “Regardless, it’s great to be on the podium from seventh. Ultimately, we didn’t have the pace of the front two, which was disappointing.”

Rossi was able to avoid a near-incident involving his Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay and Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey.

“There was never a time I was concerned,” Rossi said.

 

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

0 Comments

Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2