April 8 in Motorsports History: Will Power wins big in Las Vegas

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The Vegas Grand Prix might have been run only once, but the race’s lone winner became anything but a one-hit wonder.

“Sin City ‘was chosen to host the 2007 Champ Car opener April 8, 2007, with a race on a 12-turn, 2.440-mile street circuit downtown. The new Vegas Grand Prix saw a new name in victory lane.

Will Power, driving for Team Australia, started the race from the pole position and won by 16.787 seconds over Robert Doornbos. He became the first Australian to win in American open-wheel racing.

Will Power celebrates after winning the Vegas Grand Prix on April 8, 2007. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

“We had a good car,” Power said after the race. “It handled well all day. The only issue I had was a really long brake pedal at the end of the race. But we had an 18-second lead, so we just brought it home and brought Derrick Walker his second win since ’99. It’s his birthday. So a pole and a win, I think that’s a pretty good present for him.”

Power would win once more in 2007 at Toronto and has won at least once race in IndyCar every year since. He also won the IndyCar championship in 2014 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2018.

As for the race, despite taking place on Easter Sunday, it generally was considered a success in drawing an estimated 40,000 spectators.

However, several local businesses and casinos expressed frustration over the noise and traffic disruptions, and the race didn’t return after its inaugural running (as Champ Car was absorbed into IndyCar the next year, too).

Also on this date:

1903: Frank Lockhart was born in Dayton, Ohio. Raised in Southern California, Lockhart became a famous West Coat dirt track racer. His big break came in 1926 when he made his first start in the Indianapolis 500 – and won! Lockhart returned to Indy the following year and started from the pole but had to retire from the race after his car broke a rod. He was killed on April 25, 1928 during a land speed record attempt at Daytona Beach when his car cut a tire and tumbled violently across the sand.

1966: Mark Blundell was born in Barnet, England. The winner of the 1992 24 Hours of Le Mans, Blundell also competed in CART from 1996-2000, totaling all three of his victories in 1997. His first was notable as he won at Portland International Raceway in a three-way photo finish with Gil de Ferran and Raul Boesel.

2006: Grand-Am made its first and only visit to Long Beach. Luis Diaz and Scott Pruett led nearly flag-to-flag in their victory, but the race may be best-known for a violent crash on Lap 10 involving Burt Frisselle and Rocky Moran Jr. Frisselle was slow on the frontstretch with a mechanical problem and turned down into Eddie Cheever, who hit the right side of Frisselle’s car at top speed. Frisselle then took a second hit from the oncoming Moran. Both drivers went to the hospital with various bruises and sprains but escaped major injury.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

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Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
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Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2