Rossi relies on teammates’ feedback to score third on the grid at Monterey

0 Comments

MONTEREY, Calif. – It was during two practice sessions Friday at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca that everyone seemingly was concerned about Alexander Rossi’s slow speeds on the race course.

While others appeared to lose their cool, Rossi was able to keep his composure. He worked skillfully with race strategist and Andretti Autosport Chief Operating Officer Rob Edwards and engineer Jeremy Milless to find a solution.

They found it by working with the other three drivers at Andretti Autosport and the team’s satellite operation at Harding Steinbrenner Racing with Colton Herta.

Rossi was able to advance through every session of qualifications and rank third in the Firestone Fast Six with a lap at 1:10.2105 around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca. He starts alongside Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who qualified fourth at 1:10.6719 (114.003 mph) in a Chevrolet.

Newgarden leads Rossi by 41 points heading into the double-points Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

Watch Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on NBC Sunday at 3 p.m.

Herta won his third pole of the season at 1:10.1405 for a speed of 114.867 miles per hour in the No. 88 Capstone Honda.

For Rossi, his calm under Friday’s duress paid off with a fast effort in Saturday’s qualifications.

With three teammates plus Herta, Rossi’s crew was able to add a little of this and that to the setup, and the end result was a fast car in qualifications.

“Well, you always don’t plan on being last in qualifying,” Rossi told NBCSports.com when asked after the difference between Friday and Saturday. “It’s a new track, so we have the opportunity with such a big team to dedicate cars to roll through tons of different just setup philosophies. As long as you have a couple cars that are on a consistent platform that you know you can go back to and feed off of, I think it makes you more comfortable to do that.

“We made sure we went through everything that we could theoretically come up with that might work, and then, yeah, put it all together. Hopefully we were hoping we could put it all together this afternoon.”

Rossi said the team worked through various setups and philosophies before determining the setup used when it mattered on Saturday.

“We all work together every session,” Rossi said. “You have to when you have that many cars out on track. Everyone is doing a corner a little bit better or different than you, and you’ve got to put the puzzle pieces together.

“You definitely feed off each other for sure.”

There was a backup plan, just in case none of those changes worked.

“My engineer in his setup sheet has something with a drop-down item that says ‘Punt,’ so we punted a lot,” Rossi said with his typically dry wit. “That’s what we were doing.”

Simon Pagenaud, the driver from France who won the 103rdIndianapolis 500, looked quizzically at Rossi because he didn’t understand the term, “punt.”

“Like it’s fourth down and you need to give the ball away, and you just kind of,” Rossi began before saying, “You’re French, so…”

While that repartee drew a good laugh, one thing that is obvious is the top four drivers fighting it out for the championship are the four very best drivers in the series this season. They are ones that have won the most races and the biggest races of the season.

“Well, none of us got pole, so we clearly aren’t that good,” Rossi deadpanned.

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

0 Comments

With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
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