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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Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

‘THEY’VE STUCK BEHIND ME’: Kyle Larson comments on future, Outlaws plans

“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.