Cooper Webb, Jason Anderson face turning point in Anaheim

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Round 3 of the Supercross season kicks off with qualification on NBCSports Gold at 4:00 PM eastern at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. and it could be a turning point for the two most recent champions Cooper Webb and Jason Anderson. Time is running out: The past four championships have gone to riders who won during the first three rounds.

The past two seasons have also gone to surprise winners. While Anderson had strong points finishes in two of his previous three seasons in 450 competition, he wasn’t on many radar screens entering 2018. Anderson finished third in the standings in 2016 and fourth in 2017, but most eyes were trained on Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac at the time.

That is until Anderson swept the podium in the first three races with a win in Round 2 at Houston.

Last year, Anderson’s bid to repeat as champion got off to a slow start with a 14th-place finish in Anaheim 1 and it came to an abrupt halt with a practice crash following a disappointing ninth-place finish in Anaheim 2. The highlight of 2019 was a second-place finish at Glendale.

Anderson has performed well in the first two rounds of 2020 with a fifth-place finish at Anaheim 1 and a third-place podium at St. Louis.

Both riders have earned podium finishes in their first two races, but neither has dominated.

MORE: Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen off to a slow start

Webb battled flu-like symptoms in the season opener before putting in one of the gutsiest performances of the year so far. He finished third in Anaheim 1. Round 2 was not nearly as kind. Webb struggled throughout the race and managed only a 12th-place finish at the Dome at America’s Center.

Anaheim 2 proved to be the turning point of his season last year. Webb started 2019 year with a fifth in Anaheim 1 and a 10th at Glendale. With an average finish of 7.5 that is identical to his 2020 performance, Webb came back to Anaheim in Round 3 and scored his first career win.

Ryan Dungey won the three previous championships. In his last two he also won during the first three rounds. Dungey’s first win of the 2017 season came in Round 3 at Anaheim 2. In 2016, Dungey won Rounds 2 & 3 at San Diego 1 and Anaheim 2. He would also win Round 4 at Oakland.

In 2015, Dungey had to wait for his first win until Round 5 when the series returned to Anaheim for a third time that year. He stood on the podium in the three races immediately preceding, however.

If the pattern holds and the 2020 champion wins in the first three rounds, Justin Barcia and Ken Roczen have the inside line.

Barcia won Anaheim 1 in a surprising development, but he proved that was not a fluke with his second-place finish last week. Barcia would not make much noise for the remainder of the season, however, and with only a handful of 450SX wins to his credit, he would certainly keep the surprise champions streak alive as well.

Roczen has emotion and momentum on his side after breaking a three-year winless streak at St. Louis. He finished sixth at Anaheim 1.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.