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Cooper Webb is back with first 2020 win at San Diego

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Two weeks ago pundits were ready to write off the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross champion Cooper Webb. Then he passed Ken Roczen for second in the final corner at Oakland last week. He improved by one more spot in San Diego at PETCO Park in San Diego, Calif. to win his first race of the 2020 season Saturday night.

More rewarding still, he did it by passing Adam Cianciarulo – a rival that has plagued him since their amateur days.

“Sometimes I need to get pissed off and that’s what happened,” Webb said on NBCSN after the race. “I was mad as a hornet and came to the gate and just had that confidence.

“I got to the lead early and then Adam made a good, aggressive move to the inside. I just kind of let him go. I knew the track was going to be hard to pass. I knew it was going to be a long Main. I tried to make a pass earlier, but we played a little cat and mouse.”

Cianciarulo led 18 of 20 minutes. He fended off numerous challenges, but Webb had two advantages. He has more experience in the 450 class and he was able to study Cianciarulo for most of the race.

Cianciarulo could hear what was happening behind him, but could not quite visualize where Webb was making up ground. It was only after Webb made the pass that AC realized he was beating him in the whoops by jumping them 3-4-4.

“I’m really proud of myself because I made significant steps forward between the heat race and the main event,” Cianciarulo said afterward. “I felt super good up front. Cooper and I got a little spike of the heartrate in the beginning going back and forth. I knew it was going to be a long Main, but I felt I adapted well.”

That adaptation gave Cianciarulo his second podium of the season. He finished second in the opener at Anaheim.

Blake Baggett felt he left a little on the table, but it wasn’t much. He crossed under the checkers third for his first podium of the season. His previous best came in A1 with a fourth.

Meanwhile, Roczen and Tomac started outside the top five. Entering the race one-two in the points, it was expected that they would challenge for the win, but a bad start for both shifted the battle to deep in the field. For most of the race they sliced through traffic together, but at the end Tomac was able to position a rider between himself and Roczen and cut the points’ lead to one.

Tomac finished fourth; Roczen was sixth.

Justin Barcia slotted into fifth.

Jason Anderson scored his first poor finish of the season in 14th. That ended a perfect record of top-five finishes.

Ken Roczen finished just outside the top five at San Diego and held onto the points lead. Feld Entertainment Inc.

Riding under the cloud of probation for an incident earlier in the year with Christian Craig, Dylan Ferrandis cannot afford to be overly aggressive.

And if one does not believe that makes a difference, rewind the DVR to the middle of the 250 Main at San Diego. On a faster bike, Ferrandis made a determined charge on Austin Forkner for several laps. He peeked inside and dropped back when it appeared the only way to pass would involve contact.

But with one minute remaining on the clock, Ferrandis could not afford to be patient any longer. He took Forkner’s line away, pushed his competitor high in a corner and scooted away . How much faster was Ferrandis? With one minute remaining plus a lap, Ferrandis built a more than six second lead.

“I couldn’t find any place to pass Austin,” Ferrandis said from the top step of the podium. “I tried many times and for sure I didn’t want to be too aggressive because of what happened before. I got a good start and … he put me high in the corner and got by him. First lap, he already tried to take me out. I tried to be patient. … I was ahead of him when I passed him so I think there’s no problem.

“I tried to ride clean and I hope (AMA Supercross) will understand that.”

Ferrandis’ pass defined the edge of aggression, but seemed more intense because Forkner refused to give ground and had to take evasive action off course. Late in the 450 class, Tomac made a nearly identical pass on Roczen, but the more experienced rider checked up a fraction of a second and fell in behind Tomac.

For the second straight week, Forkner finished second to Ferrandis.

“I’ve just got to be a little bit better,” Ferrandis said on NBCSN. “I’m riding good, it’s just (a little difference). It was deja vu from last weekend.”

Justin Cooper maintained his second position in the points with his third-place finish.

Michael Mosiman finished fourth with Brandon Hartranft rounding out the top five.

450s

Heat 1: Sporting a new red mohawk, Ken Roczen scored an aggressive hole shot that caused Cooper Webb, Zach Osborne and Eli Tomac to bang bars. … Osborne survived to finish second. Webb was not as fortunate and went down later on the opening lap after getting pegged by a clot of dirt. … Tomac was mired in traffic with his bad start, but in his usual fashion, he climbed to third at the checkers. … Webb overcame his fall to finish sixth. … Chad Reed grabbed the final transfer spot in ninth. | Heat 1 Results

Heat 2: Adam Cianciarulo got the holeshot. In the short heat, he held on to the end. … Justin Brayton and Blake Baggett chased the rookie, but could not close the gap. … On the final lap, Jason Anderson flashed past Baggett, but earlier on that trip around the track the two made contact, strippping half the spokes off Anderson’s bike. He limped it home fourth. … Ryan Breece took the last transfer spot over Benny Bloss, who was just returning from concussion protocol; Bloss had a transfer position halfway through the race before he crashed. | Heat 2 Results

LCQ: After crashing in his Heat and failing to automatically advance to the Main, Benny Bloss made his comeback from concussion protocol complete with an LCQ win. … Kyle Chisholm finished 2.5 seconds back. … Jason Clermont almost lost his bike in the whoops, but stayed on top of the seat and finished third. … Alex Ray took the last transfer position. | LCQ Results

250s

Heat 1: It took a lap for Austin Forkner to find the lead, but he never lost it, passing Cameron McAdoo early in the heat. … Forkner built a 6.6 second lead by the checkers as he whipped his bike over the finish line. “Once I got out front, I was just breaking away,” Forkner told NBCSN. “That’s what I want to do for the race.” … Derek Drake grabbed the last spot on the podium. … Fourth in the points, Brandon Hartranft had a bit of drama. McAdoo pushed him off line in the first corner and nearly lost the transfer position; he finished seventh. … Killian Auberson finished ninth in the last transfer position. … Ludovic Macler was the first rider on the outside looking in. | Heat 1 Results

Heat 2: It was teammate against teammate in the first turn. Justin Cooper thought he had the hole shot only to have it stolen by Dylan Ferrandis – who held the lead to the checkers. … Michael Mosiman got around Cooper on the final lap to finish 3.5 seconds back. … Cooper held on to finish third. … Bryson Gardner just received his pro license and celebrated with an automatic berth into the Main via a ninth-place finish; he would go on to finish 19th in the Main. … Gardner was elevated to that position when Robbie Wageman fell from ninth on the final lap.  | Heat 2 Results

LCQ: Martin Castelo took the lead midway through the race and held on for the win. … But it was the battle for the final transfer that stole the show. … Cheyenne Harmon, Ludovic Macler and Lorenzo Camporese swapped positions over the final lap and advanced to the Main. … Robbie Wageman made a strong run in the final set of turns, but came up inches shy. | LCQ Results

Click here for 450 Main Results | Season Points
Click here for 250 Main Results | Season Points

Next race: February 15, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.