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Early season success is on the line for Supercross at St. Louis

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Early season success is on the line as the Monster Energy Supercross series heads east for their first trip to St. Louis and the Dome at America’s Center in two years. Surprise winners in both the 450 and 250 class looking to build on their momentum. Meanwhile, two of the riders who took the 2019 points’ battle to the bitter end need a strong showing to overcome their deficit.

Last year Justin Barcia entered Week 2 of the Supercross season with the points’ lead and finished sixth at Glendale. If he wants to stay in contention for the 2020 title, he is going to have to ride well this week and threaten for a podium or his season may start to unravel once more.

Finishing sixth and seventh last week Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac cannot afford to give up points in back to back weeks. They need to challenge for the podium as well.

The 2019 champion Cooper Webb and the remarkable rookie Adam Cianciarulo also look to sustain momentum. Unfortunately, there are only three steps to the podium.

Cianciarulo has had an impressive two races leading up to St. Louis. He shocked the field with his Monster Energy Cup win at Las Vegas during the offseason and came up just a few minutes short of winning his first official 450 race last week. That would have made him only the third rider in history to win his first attempt. He finished second

Third-place Webb had his best Anaheim 1 race of his career.

Adam Enticknap did not line up for last week’s LCQ and will miss Round 2 with a wrist injury. He is expected to return for Week 3 as the series returns to Anaheim. Max Anstie remains out with an ankle injury.

In 250s, Austin Forkner has something to prove. He threw away his chance to win the opener by jumping wide right into the Tuff Blox and lost two positions to penalty after cutting the track. He will not be too pleased by the fact that an early altercation with Justin Cooper saw that rider recover for the victory.

Michael Mosiman is expecting a magical year and he got off to a strong start with his fourth-place finish, but he knows he needs to ride better in order to challenge the 250 West superstars.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 2:00 pm on NBC Sports Gold
Race: 8:00 on NBCSN, or stream live by clicking here

Last Week:

Justin Barcia beat Adam Cianciarulo and Cooper Webb in the 450 class.
Justin Cooper beat Dylan Ferrandis and Christian Craig in the 250 class.

Last St. Louis race (March, 2018):

Eli Tomac beat Jason Anderson and Marvin Musquin in the 450 class.
Zach Osborne beat Jeremy Martin and Jordan Smith in the 250 class.

Points Leaders

450s:
Justin Barcia (26)
Adam Cianciarulo (23)
Cooper Webb (21)
Blake Baggett (19)
Jason Anderson (18)

250 West:
Justin Cooper (26)
Dylan Ferrandis (23)
Christian Craig (21)
Michael Mosiman (19)
Austin Forkner (18)

Wins

450

(1) Justin Barcia (Anaheim 1)

250 West

(1) Justin Cooper (Anaheim 1)

Top-5s

450

(1) Justin Barcia
(1) Adam Cianciarulo
(1) Cooper Webb
(1) Blake Baggett
(1) Jason Anderson

250 West

(1) Justin Cooper
(1) Dylan Ferrandis
(1) Christian Craig
(1) Michael Mosiman
(1) Austin Forkner

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A Rolex 24 winner whose love of Daytona began as a NASCAR fan

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Like many foreign-born drivers in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Nick Tandy’s first trip to the United States was to Florida in wintertime.

The native of Bedford, England, though, didn’t come to race a sports car at Daytona International Speedway. He journeyed to watch stock cars at the World Center of Racing – as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500.

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“I’ve been watching racing at this place since I was 3 or 4 years old,” Tandy, 35, said a few weeks ago while back at Daytona during the Roar before the Rolex. “I’m still a huge NASCAR fan. When I was a kid, Monday mornings were for watching the stock-car racing in America. I haven’t missed a Cup race for probably 15 years.”

The Porsche driver, who will be driving the 911 RSR-19 in the GTLM class this weekend in kicking off a full 2019 season n IMSA, has carved out quite a niche in sports cars as a factory driver since 2013.

Porsche driver Nick Tandy (courtesy of IMSA).

Tandy was part of the team that won the overall title in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, has a GTLM class victory in the 2014 Rolex 24 and 13 class wins in IMSA (including the 12 Hours of Sebring the past two years and three Petit Le Mans victories).

But he remains a major NASCAR fan at heart. After the Oct. 12, 2019 IMSA season finale, Tandy took his Porsche directly to Talladega Superspeedway, where he turned a few demonstration laps and executed a burnout before the Cup race.

“It was organized through Mr. France; he invited us,” said Tandy, referring to NASCAR CEO Jim France, who also helped spearhead the rebirth of IMSA in recent years. “It didn’t feel as banked as Daytona because it’s a lane wider and is just enormous.

“I’ve driven the oval here (at Daytona) lots and lots (in a sports car). Sometimes we have a bit of fun in testing but never 100 percent flat out.”

It’s a throwback to the start of his career, which began on his home country’s many short tracks. A loose confederation of grass-roots series on asphalt and dirt offer several points championships in race cars that resemble the Modified series (BriSCA F1 is among the most well known sanctioning body).

“There’s a big quarter-mile short oval scene in the U.K.” Tandy said. “This is what I grew up racing. Me and my brother raced stock cars and knew all about the Winston Cup long before I knew what a Formula One car looked like or even what Le Mans was. That’s my background.

“Of course in Europe, there is no professional oval racing scene. If you want to be a professional racer, you go road course racing. So that’s what I did.”

But his passion for NASCAR didn’t wane. After racing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on July 25, 2014, Tandy stayed in Indy the next two days to watch the Xfinity race and Brickyard 400 as a fan.

“I got my kids some Kyle Busch clothes,” said Tandy, who also counts himself as a fan of Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt. “Got myself a Kyle Busch hat and went and sat in the stands and watched the race.”

Now he’ll be racing this weekend against the driver has been cheering for years.

“I think it’s cool that he wants to come over here and has got the opportunity to race with us, especially after he’s just won his second championship,” Tandy said. “It gives the whole race and our side of the sport a little bit more coverage and turns out some other people who might not have noticed.

“If I see him, I’d like to shake his hand and say congratulations on a good job last season.”

The Porsche 911 that Nick Tandy will drive with Matt Campbell and Fred Makowiecki this weekend in the Rolex 24 at Daytona (Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).