Supercross will require COVID-19 testing to access final 7 races in Utah

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The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series shed some light on its protocols for the final seven races of the season, which will include COVID-19 testing for everyone on site.

During a Friday afternoon news conference conducted over Zoom with a few dozen media outlets, Dave Prater, the senior director of Two Wheel Operations at Feld Entertainment, said Supercross has been approved to have 900 people (which includes riders, teams, series officials, media and local venue workers) within the perimeter of its seven events at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

All will sign a health and safety commitment, complete a questionnaire and undergo COVID-19 testing in Utah, including about 800 traveling from out of state for the seven events that will be held between May 31 and June 21. The state health department will conduct the drive-through testing in Salt Lake City with a turnaround time of 48 hours. Test results will be emailed, and a negative result will be required to enter the Rice-Eccles Stadium perimeter.

SEASON RESUMES: Supercross will run final seven races in Salt Lake City

If someone tests positive, they can be retested within 72 hours if they don’t have a temperature over 100.4 degrees. If the second test is negative, they’ll be admitted. Another positive test would mean a 14-day quarantine.

“If an athlete tests positive, it’ll be treated like a concussion or anything else,” Prater said. “They’ll sit out.”

The policy will set Supercross apart from NASCAR, which will return Sunday at Darlington Raceway, and IndyCar, which is back on track June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Those series, both of which also are planning to have roughly 900 on site, are planning health screenings for admittance to their races but not COVID-19 tests. NASCAR cited a lack of testing availability as a reason.

Prater said Supercross also didn’t want to detract from public testing and has been assured by Utah officials that it won’t.

“There were a few of states and venues we were speaking to that initially had told us we wouldn’t have to do the COVID-19 testing but as we got closer, it was 100%,” Prater said. “As PBR did an event a few weeks ago and UFC last weekend, I think it almost goes without saying that sporting events will require this for the near, foreseeable future.”

After securing a negative COVID-19 test result on arrival in Utah, Supercross riders and team members won’t need to be retested during the three-week stretch of seven races unless they leave the state. They will be permitted to stay at hotels, houses or in motorhomes while in Salt Lake City, and there won’t be constant monitoring or tracking of their movements.

“It’ll be tough as far as the cadence of the races to leave and come back,” Prater said. “As far as tracking athletes, they’ll sign a health and safety commitment, and we’ll take them at their word. If you leave the state and come back, obviously if it’s a flight, we’ll know. Other than that, we’ll take them at their word.”

Supercross also will require daily temperature checks prior to entering the event perimeter. Facemasks are required at all times on site, and social distancing will be employed.

Other notable items from Supercross’ hourlong news conference:

Money reduced: Because all seven races are being held without fans, which is Supercross’ main source of revenue, Prater said the points fund was reduced by an average of 22.5 percent per position and race purses for the last seven rounds were reduced 17.5 percent.

“For Feld Motorsports, that’s our main source of revenue is the fans,” Prater said. “We’re doing this as stewards of the sport and for the overall health of the Supercross world and industry. It’s going to be a challenge and has been a challenge, but it’s been a desire from Day 1 to get back to racing. We’d prefer we had fans, but given the current circumstances, we’ll do our best with what the situation presents and move forward.”

Seven track layouts: Prater said there will be a different track diagram for each race. “With a two-day gap between some of the races, it’s a tight turnaround,” he said. “You might not see as different a track as you would from Indy to Salt Lake. But it will be a different track. The lanes will be the same but with different obstacles.”

If for some reason the final seven races can’t be completed, Prater said the championship would be determined at whatever point is reached.

Other candidates: Supercross considered venues in four other states (Glendale, Arizona, had been reported as an option) before settling on Salt Lake City.

“It came down to the green light and who would give it to us first,” Prater said. “It helps to have longstanding relationships with the sports commission and governor. We worked our tails off to come up with a plan to keep everyone safe and the residents of Utah safe. That was it. That tipped the scale. Other states worked just as hard, it ended up Salt Lake was one to give us the green light first.”

Best practices: Though he declined to identify which leagues, Prater said Supercross had been sharing its plans with other professional sports and racing series.

“This whole environment has really pulled everyone together within the industry, not only motorcycling but the sports industry in general,” he said. “We’ve been in communication with multiple leagues, shared our plans and shared their thoughts and ideas.

“But we’re letting the health departments, the CDC and governor’s offices lead the way as far as the plans go. There’s some great insight from other leagues and vice versa. A lot of leagues are watching NASCAR this weekend and us the following weekend. We’ll share whatever we need and help wherever we can.”

Here are the dates and TV information for the final seven races of the 2020 season in Salt Lake City:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).

 

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

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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 during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

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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Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
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