Supercross: Adam Cianciarulo’s perspective is speed

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Racing is about speed. If a rider has that, everything else falls into place. At least that is what Adam Cianciarulo believes heading into Round 7 of the Monster Energy Supercross season this Saturday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. that will air live on NBCSN at 7 p.m. (Stream live by clicking here.)

“Definitely the learning curve has been steeper than anticipated, but the speed I’ve had is pretty surprising compared to the other guys,” Cianciarulo told NBC Sports.

Cianciarulo’s move to the 450 class was a tale from a storybook. He won the Monster Energy Cup last October in a star-studded race and then stood on the podium in the first points paying event at Anaheim.

The next three weeks told a different story. In the unfinished novel of his rookie season, a seventh in St Louis, sixth in Anaheim 2 and eighth in Glendale are only chapters that Cianciarulo believes will reveal him as the hero at the end.

“The first six rounds have been a little up and down, but overall I’m really happy with where we are,” Cianciarulo said. “I feel like I’ve left some good results out there with silly mistakes, but for the most part I’ve surprised myself with how my speed has been.

“Coming out and getting a podium at Anaheim was super cool – and having a chance to win that race. Even some of the obstacles we’ve faced. We crashed at Glendale – a couple of bad starts thrown in there along the way, but I’ve been able to manage it for the most part and pull out some decent results no matter what.”

Adam Cianciarulo earned his second podium at San Diego in his sixth 450 start. Vanessa O’Brien (KawasakiUSA)

Success is about perspective.

It is only as a matter of perspective that his three results of sixth through eighth are less than expected. Those expectations came from the media and industry insiders. Ultimately it is Cianciarulo’s perspective that makes the difference this early in his 450 career.

Currently fifth in the points standings with fourth only three away, Cianciarulo has a lot of time to move up in the order. A lot of points are on the line in the next 11 rounds. But even that is not his primary concern. For the rookie, it is about learning to manage races with greater consistency.

“Obviously (my competitors) are all world class talent. To be able to be up there with them in my first year – with two podiums in six races I don’t know if I expected that,” Cianciarulo said.

Cianciarulo knows the speed is there. He set the fastest qualification time in all six rounds so far.

He knows he has the talent. Cianciarulo beat his teammate Eli Tomac and Malcolm Stewart in the Monster Energy Cup the first time he raced a 450. His two podiums were scored ahead of both riders at the top of points, Ken Roczen and Tomac.

He raced against last year’s Supercross champion Cooper Webb for both of his podiums. Cianciarulo finished five seconds ahead of him with his second-place finish in Anaheim 1. He was three seconds behind Webb last week.

Finding the limit means stepping over it from time to time. That is true in any form of racing. For a Supercross rider the razor’s edge of disaster lurks on every jump and in every corner.

“The adversity I’ve faced – the mistakes I’ve made – have all been basically caused because of not settling,” Cianciarulo said. “Just trying to get the absolute most I can out of every race. I guess in a way you can look at that and say it was inexperience or a rookie being a rookie.

“But from my perspective I don’t want to settle. I want to be winning now that I’ve proved to myself that I can go as fast as these guys. I don’t see any reason that I can’t win and be on the podium every time. I’ve been trying to maximize every result.”

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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.