Ken Roczen wins Atlanta Supercross, Tomac and Webb battle back

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There is a reason riders don’t count the points until the race is over. Ken Roczen earned the most with his flag-to-flag win in Round 9 of the 2020 season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. And with his third win of the season, Roczen leaves Georgia with the red plate.

“Every time I win, I get happier and happier,” Roczen said on NBCSN after the race. “Each win gets more fun and more addicting.”

In the last three races, Roczen has finished third, second, and first.

With the win, he is tied with Eli Tomac atop the standings with 200 points. Tomac finished fourth in the race, which is a minor miracle in its own right.

While Roczen grabbed the holeshot, Tomac got a bad start. In heavy traffic, Tomac and Justin ‘Bam Bam’ Barcia banged into one another, throwing both off their rhythms.

Earlier this week, Barcia told NBCSports.com his plan for the race was to attack. And that is just what he did. Refusing to give ground when the two banged bars, Barcia came out the victor in that battle and then attacked the course.

“I made a good clean pass on (Tomac), and then he pounded into me,” Barcia said. “Got me pretty good. I was not happy with that racing. But I put that aside. What a great race; charged through the pack.”

Barcia finished second and put himself right back in the points battle. It is his first podium since he finished second at St. Louis in Week 2.

Barcia is third in the standings, 23 points behind the leaders.

Tomac got mired in traffic, and when he tried to make an aggressive pass on Blake Baggett, both riders went down hard. Tomac fell to 14th and lost more than 20 seconds. He was also in jeopardy of losing the red plate. In typical Tomac fashion, he charged through the field and finished fourth. At the checkers, one could have thrown a blanket over third through fifth.

Reflecting on the contact with Barcia that contributed to his slow start, Tomac said: “It was just battling. If I get bumped, I’m going to bump back. That’s just the way it is. Mine might have been a little bit more of a hit, but really I’m just giving it back.”

Battling back was the theme of the night.

Last week Cooper Webb crashed hard in the dragon’s back. Riding hurt is not new for Supercross stars, but it was impressive that Webb was in the Atlanta race after suffering a severe hematoma to his back.

“That was probably the hardest race I’ve ever had,” Webb said afterward. “I just put my head down and did the best I could. I got a few gifts from the guys up front, but man, it was painful.”

Webb took the final spot on the podium in third.

Martin Davalos was set to earn his first podium until he was caught by the determined and hard-charging Webb and Tomac. They caught him on the final lap and blazed past, but Davalos scored his first career top-five.

The 250 East season started with intensity.

Hard riding by RJ Hampshire created some hard feelings in the first two races, but the storyline that developed after Tampa and Dallas was how evenly matched last year’s champion Chase Sexton is with Shane McElrath.

They entered the race with red plates affixed to both of their bikes as co-leaders in the standings. But at Atlanta, Hampshire made certain everyone remembers he is in the battle. He entered the race eight points out of first and grabbed the holeshot.

The three title contenders got a great start. Hampshire was best among them, but he could not get away from Sexton.

Halfway through the race, Sexton had a decision to make. A small bobble by Hampshire allowed him to pounce – and he was only the least bit reluctant to make some contact as he came through.

“It was really hard to pass out there,” Sexton said on NBCSN after the race. “The track was pretty much one line. … RJ was riding good. He wasn’t really making mistakes. … I decided I just have to make this pass, saw him case that triple a little bit and I just dove to the inside. I didn’t want to hit him, but he committed to the corner and I was there.”

Hampshire was gracious about the contact during the pass for the lead, acknowledging that aggression is part of the sport.

His focus was on the run, however; not any incidental contact.

“Each week we’re going to continue to get better,” Hampshire said. “That was a good glimpse. We got the holeshot. I felt good; got a good flow.”

McElrath lost five points to Sexton but held onto second in the points. He stood on the podium, but he was not happy with the result.

“It was a rough Main altogether,” McElrath said. “I actually locked bikes with RJ going into the first corner and it bent my clutch a bit. I struggled to find a flow that time.”

Jordon Smith finished fourth.

Rookie Jo Shimoda impressed the field with his first top-five finish in his career. His previous best was a pair of 10ths at Tampa and Dallas last week.

450s

Heat 1: Ken Roczen lost ground to Tomac during the past two weeks. He needed to establish his position as a contender and did so with his sixth heat win of the season. “The heat race really sets the tone for the night,” Roczen said from the top of the podium. “We’ve been hammering those out.”… Jason Anderson settled into second early. He finished two seconds behind Roczen and 1.6 seconds ahead of Justin Brayton. … Third-place Brayton was happy to get out of this heat without eating some dirt. Last week he crashed multiple times in the Triple Crown. … Justin Barcia told NBC this week that he needed to improve his starts. He came out of the gates strong and was riding fourth at the end of the first lap. … Aaron Plessinger rounded out the top five. … The final transfer position came down to a heated battle by Tyler Bowers and Kyle Cunningham. Bowers finished ninth, sending Cunningham to the LCQ. | Heat 1 Results

Heat 2: After Roczen handily won the first heat, Eli Tomac had to respond. He did with an 8.8-second win over Justin Hill. … Cooper Webb rides hurt after landing hard on his back last week at Arlington. He took his bruised body past Martin Davalos as time ran off the clock to finish third. … Davalos held on to finish fourth with Dean Wilson rounding out the top five. … Chad Reed finished eighth and will make his 257th start in the 450 class. … Kyle Chisholm finished ninth and took the final transfer spot. | Heat 2 Results

LCQ: James Weeks scooted out to an early lead and never gave it up in route to his first LCQ victory. … HEP Suzuki teammate Kyle Cunningham and Adam Enticknap join Ryan Breece in the Main. Cunningham finished second. … Enticknap qualified for his second Main of the season. He finished 21st at Tampa. Earlier this season, he told NBC of his desire to pave the way for the Other 19 who don’t always qualify for the big show. … Daniel Herrlein took the final transfer by one second over Jared Lesher. | LCQ Results

250s

Heat 1: Jeremy Martin earned the hole shot as a battle developed behind him for second. He ran a relaxed race and finished comfortably ahead of Shane McElrath for his first heat win of 2020. … Returning from a broken back, Pierce Brown impressed the field. He ran in second for the majority of the race. McElrath passed him with a little more than a minute remaining. … Enzo Lopes and Jo Shimoda rounded out the top five. … Curren Thurman took the last transfer spot in ninth. | Heat 1 Results

Heat 2: It was a grudge match between Chase Sexton and RJ Hampshire after a an aggressive pass last week at Arlington put Sexton on the ground. This time, Sexton held the advantage. He made an aggressive but clean pass on Hampshire halfway through the event. It is Sexton’s second heat win of the season. … Hampshire grabbed the hole shot. After getting passed by Sexton he was under fire from Jordon Smith. They swapped positions multiple times with Smith ultimately taking second. … Hampshire finished third, with Nick Gaines in fourth and Garrett Marchbanks rounding out the top five. … Jalek Swoll grabbed the final transfer position in ninth. | Heat 2 Results

LCQ: Eighteen-year-old Grant Harlan ran an easy pace to win the LCQ over Lance Kobusch. … Cedric Soubeyras finished third. … It was a little more dramatic for Jimmy Decotis. He started in sixth after bending his handlebar in his heat. It took half of the race to catch and pass Jeremy Hand for the final transfer position into the Main. | LCQ Results

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

Next race: March 7, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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IndyCar champion Will Power completes ‘Victory Lap’ at ceremony in Indianapolis

Will Power Victory Lap
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power went on his “Victory Lap” last week to celebrate his second career championship as the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series champion.

It began with several media interviews in Monterey, California, the day after he won the championship with a third-place finish in the Sept. 11 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

From there, it was off to Los Angeles for more interviews and personal appearances that included a VIP Tour at the Petersen Automotive Museum, several appearances on SiriusXM and lunch at The Ivy, where the Team Penske IndyCar Series driver was treated to Wagyu Beef.

“It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in my life,” Power told NBCSports.com.

From L.A. back to Power’s North Carolina home, near Team Penske’s home base of Mooresville, there was one stop left on Sept. 17 — the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, an invitation-only banquet where Power and his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet crew at Team Penske were honored for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

They didn’t even have to check into a hotel and spend another night on the road. Power and his team left on a Team Penske plane from the Statesville, N.C., airport at 4 p.m. ET Saturday to fly to Indianapolis. On arrival an hour later, a limo bus took the team to IMS.

Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season for the fifth time in his career. Power also made history with his 68th career pole, breaking the all-time mark held by the legendary Mario Andretti.

Power and Scott Dixon also became just two of only five drivers to complete every lap of every race in IndyCar Series history.

“What a year,” Power said as he was awarded his personal Astor Cup trophy (the second in his collection after the 2014 championship. “What a phenomenal year coming off one of my worst seasons personally. We came back with a vengeance.

“I want to thank Roger and Kathy Penske for everything they have done for me over the years. I wouldn’t be standing here and have the numbers I have without what Roger has done for me. I’m given a car every week that is capable of winning the pole, races, championships, and Indianapolis 500s. I’m so grateful for that.

“Also, to Greg Penske, you are there every week now at every event and I know we will be in good hands moving forward with the Penske Family.”

There are many on Power’s team and at home, that helped support Power throughout his career. None is bigger than Power’s wife, Liz, who told Power before the season that he would win the championship and break Andretti’s record.

“I must thank my wife. I’m so lucky to have a wife with that crystal ball that can tell me what is going to happen,” Power said. “I can’t think you enough, babe. I love you so much and you have been a big support to me my whole career. We’ve been together 17 years, and I’ve been in the series 17 years. She has been such a huge support to me. The mother of our child and she is a fantastic mother.

“She can’t tell the future. She just had faith in me.”

Liz Power’s premonition came true and that allowed Power and his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet team to celebrate Penske’s 17th IndyCar championship and 42nd title in the racing team’s history.

“The 12 crew this year, I’ve never had such a great group of guys,” Power said. “Trevor Lacasse (chief mechanic) is such a calm guy, but he does such a meticulous job on the preparation of the car. He is very, very good at keeping the whole crew happy. It feels as if there is no pressure on us. That’s a huge part in getting the most out of people. It was our first year together with you as a crew chief. What a great year to start our relationship.

“Dave Faustino (Power’s longtime engineer), we’ve worked together for 15 years. He’s almost like a wife to me, a partner … apart from sleeping together. We have a very good working relationship. Sorry Dave, I’m an awkward person and you are not.

“The things we have been through in our years together, it’s crazy that we continually improve and get better. We are standing on the podium after winning the championship and we are talking about the car, the race, and the tires. We weren’t talking about the championship.

“We never stop. The other boys were laughing at us, but I’m already thinking about next year.

“Ron Ruzewski (Team Penske IndyCar Managing Director and strategist) on the radio, always calm. He has actually made me a calm person. I rarely get upset on the radio anymore.”

Power also recognized the fans who helped boost attendance at many venues on the schedule this season as NBC Sports enjoyed its largest IndyCar audience yet.

“This series is growing,” Power said. “With open wheel racing now so popular because of Formula One, it’s really our time to push and put money behind it and go now and take IndyCar to another level because we have the best racing product in the world.

“I have to thank my teammates and (Team Penske president) Tim Cindric. I can’t tell you how hard we push each other. We are ultracompetitive and love each other and push each other hard, so thank you.”


Power won the championship by 16 points over hard-charging teammate Josef Newgarden, who finished second in the standings for the third year in a row.

“Overall, I’m filled with a lot of pride for our team and what we were able to do this year,” Newgarden said in his banquet address. “Any year that you step in the championship, you can easily see the challenges it presents everybody.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for the teams and drivers. To be a part of it, make it through it and for us at Team Penske, to topple it, is a very big deal. We’re all competitive.

“The tough thing about being in a championship fight, especially with teammates is we all want to be the best. That’s how it should be. We are competitive people and want to be the best. But it’s a team sport.

“Will, tremendous season, great, great job. I think the world of everybody on our team. It’s a big group. I’m so happy for all of you on the 12-car crew. There is so much we can take into next year.”

Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was unable to attend the banquet because of the Goodwood Festival in England but sent congratulations to Power via a video message.

“I really want to congratulate Will Power,” Dixon said. “You drove a tremendous season this year. Even with some of the lows that you had, some of the mistakes with qualifying, you bounced back tremendously. I know how tough these championships are and to see you do it in the style that you did it in the last race of the season, massive congratulations.”

Power’s championship formula included one victory, nine podiums and 12 top-five finishes. Teammate Josef Newgarden was second in the championship with five wins but only six podiums.

Cindric saluted Power’s season in accepting the championship team owner award.

“Will, you took it to another level this year,” Cindric said. “You are the complete package. You completed every lap, had nine podiums, finished out of the top 10 just four times, broke Mario Andretti’s record, and you did it all without cussing at the officials on national TV.

“One complaint I do has is while most of us think you might be from another planet, you never told us your wife was a fortune teller.”

Cindric also honored the seasons of Penske drivers Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who won three times in his second full season (“You are one of only two full-time IndyCar drivers that has driven for us in the past 23 years that hasn’t won an Indy 500 or an IndyCar championship. Your time is coming.”).

Kyle Moyer was named team manager of the year (his fifth time and Penske’s sixth). Pennzoil presented Lacasse with the chief mechanic of the year for the first time, the sixth time for Team Penske. The No. 12 crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for the most pit stop performance award points in 2022.

Power, Newgarden and McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team.


Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT IndyCar rookie of the year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.

Christian Lundgaard (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

“It’s been a tough season and looking at how it panned out, we struggled so much at the beginning of the season and how we were able to turn it around means so much to me and the team,” Lundgaard said. “It’s the one thing that you only get one shot at. I’m happy to have it.

“Being the first Dane at the Indy 500 certainly helps. Competing here for me is quite important and also special. To win this award and to be here in future years means so much to me. I have a chance to compete for wins and championships.

“This team gave me this opportunity at this track one year ago. We came back and got redemption. We got our first podium here. This year was 40 years ago that Bobby Rahal won the same award. It’s pretty special to keep it among the team.”

Sweden’s Linus Lundqvist was honored as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb. HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and Daiva Malukas accepted the team championship.

“I’m very proud of that,” Lundqvist said. “It’s cool to see. We are starting to look to the future, and this might not be doing too bad. It’s been great. As most of you can guess with Henry and Daiva Malukas (team owners), it’s been an incredible journey. So much fun that we’ve had. To be on the grid this year was so much of a struggle for us. I didn’t even know I would be doing this until January.

“To be able to pull out the season that we had, I cannot thank this team enough. We will celebrate this for a long time. I’m so happy and proud about that.”

Outgoing IndyCar Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Geoffrey Billows also was honored as he is leaving that role while battling cancer.

“When I think of Dr. Billows, I think of two words,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “One is selfless and the other is tough. He’s gone through a lot these last couple of years, and he didn’t want anybody to know. He’s an amazing man, and we are very grateful for what you have done.”

Dr. Geoffrey Billows with IndyCar president Jay Frye (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

Billows was presented with a framed checkered flag signed by all drivers in the series as well as other IndyCar officials and dignitaries.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Billows said. “This means so much for me to be part of this family for the past 30 years. I’ve been presented with opportunities I never thought I would ever have. I can’t tell you how much I love all of you guys and care for all of you guys.

“Thank you so much. I want to also thank my wife, Tammy, who has been a pillar of strength as I continue on this journey with cancer for the past two years as well. You will still see me as a consultant because I love this too much to quit altogether.”

When the evening concluded, Team Penske boarded a bus to the airport for the short return flight to Statesville. They were home by midnight.

Power’s Victory Lap was complete.

“The best thing about this is I get to sleep in my own bed tonight,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500