Ken Roczen denied revenge, Cooper Webb wins Supercross Round 3


Cooper Webb stalked Ken Roczen throughout Round 3 of the Supercross season and pounced on the final lap when the pair rode into traffic. Webb scored his first win and podium of the season as Roczen threw his hands up in frustration.

The ending was fitting, however, because several laps earlier Webb gave up three seconds when he too was caught in traffic.

The win turns Webb in the right direction after getting off to a slow start for the season. He finished ninth in the first round at Houston and was fourth on Tuesday. Saturday night’s win allowed him to close to within one point, however, as the championship hunt takes shape.

Last year Webb ended the season with six first or second-place finishes at Salt Lake City before a disastrous seventh race on that track sent him home eighth.

“It was a close race the whole time,” Webb said from the podium. “Kenny rode really well – a really solid race, not many mistakes. The track was really tricky. Easy to override. The lappers there at the end were a real bummer. I felt like we were going to have a real battle – and obviously we did – but the lappers were really tough tonight.

“We’re in Texas where you have to go big or go home.”


POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Saturday in Supercross

Roczen nearly had a storybook ending to a difficult week.

Four days after being docked four points for jumping on a red cross flag during Round 2 Tuesday night – a penalty that Roczen believed was unfair – he was determined to make a statement with a Round 3 win.

He shot out to an early lead, but could not shake Webb. Still, Roczen was confident he would hold off the challenger until they ran up on lapped traffic in the final round.

Entering a wall jump, Roczen had his progress impeded by Dean Wilson.

“Part of me wants to punch a hole in a wall, but I’ve been practicing my patience,” Roczen said. “I’m going to keep it cool.”

After the race, Roczen waited on Wilson and showed his frustration with raised hands.

“It was a bummer last lap,” Roczen continued. “(Wilson) was ahead of me for about three-quarters of it. I was screaming and yelling, and he told me he didn’t hear me. It is what it is. Unfortunately finished second. It is very, very, very frustrating but I’m going to try and keep it cool.”

Wilson apologized after the race.

“First off I [expletive deleted] up,” Wilson posted on Instagram after the race. “I never knew it was the the leaders behind me. Kenny I’m sorry and sincerely apologize.

“I ruined your race and wish I could take it back. … I should have been more aware of who was behind me. I just got locked in on the guys ahead.”

But even while he is frustrated, Roczen regained the points lead he briefly had before Tuesday’s penalty. With two second-place finishes and a fifth, Roczen leaves Houston with one-point advantage over Webb and Justin Barcia, who are tied for second.

Adam Cianciarulo scored his first podium finish of the season in third.

It has been a seesaw season for Cianciarulo. He scored a fourth-place finish in Round 1 and a 12th in Round 2 when he crashed while running second midway through the race. And after missing much of the 2020 Supercross season with an injury sustained in Arlington, Texas, it has been nearly 11 months since he last stood on the podium at San Diego.

Cianciarulo started the evening promisingly with a Heat win.

“I was stressing it hard (coming into this season),” Cianciarulo said after the race. “Everyone knows how stacked the field is.”

Cianciarulo is now locked in a four-way tie for fifth in the points, nine points behind Roczen. To challenge for the championship he will need for his arm to completely heal after off season surgery on his wrist.

One of the most compelling battles was for fifth. Riding a wave after his opening-round win, Justin Barcia fell halfway through the Main and let Tomac get around. Within a two laps, Barcia passed him back. Getting around the defending champion was it’s own measure of victory.

Tomac rounded out the top five.

Finishing sixth, Malcolm Stewart leaves Houston with a sweep of the top 10. Ninth-place Zach Osborne and 10th-place Justin Brayton have also been perfect in that regard.

Colt Nichols kept teammate Christian Craig in sight throughout the Main and pulled the trigger when it mattered. He won his first feature in two years. Nichols last victory came on Jan. 2019 in the season opener at Anaheim. That season, he began the year with four consecutive podiums.

In 2021, Nichols is on pace to repeat that feat. In the first three races this year, Nichols has gotten progressively stronger with a third in the first Houston round and a runner-up finish on Tuesday.

“I was really just trying to be patient,” Nichols said from the podium. “The Star Yamahas took off like rockets and we were one and two. It felt like just another day in California with me and Christian just trading laps. I knew where he was faster and I tried to pick up on a few lines.”

In the first three races of the 2020 Supercross season, there have now been three different winners. Craig won Round 1. Jett Lawrence won Round 2.

Nichols had to pass his teammate to score the win. Craig jumped out to the early lead, but Nichols kept him in sight and prowled behind with a gap of just a little more than one second.

“Our team laid into me and Colt after our heat race,” Craig said after the Main. “That (heat) start was embarrassing. So we were both hyped up to get off the gate, We were went one-two.”

The Yamaha teammates had a comfortable five-second lead on the field at the halfway point, which allowed them to battle among themselves.

“I tried to put my laps down and spurt away, but Colt just latched on,” Craig continued. “That was my race to win, but Colt just ran so good and took advantage of those lappers when I got stuck and he made the pass quick.”

Nichols and Craig will share the red plate heading into Indianapolis next week with 70 points each. They have a six-point advantage over Lawrence.

This is the first time Craig has earned three consecutive podiums since 2016. That season he had five consecutive from Anaheim 2 through Arlington in Supercross 250 West.

Lawrence rounded out the top three, but his finish did not come without a little controversy.

In the closing laps he made an aggressive pass on Michael Mosiman and sent the other rider to the dirt.

“It wasn’t clean and pretty,” Lawrence said. “I had to make a little bit of a dirty move because I know (Mosiman) is a pain to get around.”

Lawrence was warned about his move after the race.

“I’ve already spoken to AMA and got a warning for that,” Lawrence said in the post-race conference. “Got a little slap on the wrist. It kind of wakes me up with it.

“It wasn’t my night and I had to make a bit of an aggressive move for third-place. It went a lot worse; I didn’t think it would go that bad, but it’s already done. I can’t really say I didn’t mean to do it. Obviously as a professional athlete, we know what we’re doing on the bike.”

Jo Shimoda finished fourth, which was his third straight top-five.

Mosiman remounted his GasGas stead and rounded out the top five.

The race began without two of its superstars. Austin Forkner and RJ Hampshire both crashed in practice. Forkner went to the hospital to have his collarbone checked. Hampshire was out with a wrist injury.

ROUND 1, HOUSTON: Justin Barcia wins opener for third consecutive time

ROUND 2, HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds, wins after Round 1 disappointment

‘It’s gnarly, bro’: IndyCar drivers face new challenge on streets of downtown Detroit

IndyCar Detroit downtown
James Black/Penske Entertainment

DETROIT – It was the 1968 motion picture, “Winning” when actress Joanne Woodward asked Paul Newman if he were going to Milwaukee in the days after he won the Indianapolis 500 as driver Frank Capua.

“Everybody goes to Milwaukee after Indianapolis,” Newman responded near the end of the film.

Milwaukee was a mainstay as the race on the weekend after the Indianapolis 500 for decades, but since 2012, the first race after the Indy 500 has been Detroit at Belle Isle Park.

This year, there is a twist.

Instead of IndyCar racing at the Belle Isle State Park, it’s the streets of downtown Detroit on a race course that is quite reminiscent of the old Formula One and CART race course that was used from 1982 to 1991.

Formula One competed in the United States Grand Prix from 1982 to 1988. Beginning in 1989, CART took over the famed street race through 1991. In 1992, the race was moved to Belle Isle, where it was held through last year (with a 2009-2011 hiatus after the Great Recession).

The Penske Corp. is the promoter of this race, and they did a lot of good at Belle Isle, including saving the Scott Fountain, modernizing the Belle Isle Casino, and basically cleaning up the park for Detroit citizens to enjoy.

The race, however, had outgrown the venue. Roger Penske had big ideas to create an even bigger event and moving it back to downtown Detroit benefitted race sponsor Chevrolet. The footprint of the race course goes around General Motors world headquarters in the GM Renaissance Center – the centerpiece building of Detroit’s modernized skyline.

INDYCAR IN DETROITEntry list, schedule, TV info for this weekend

JOSEF’S FAMILY TIESNewgarden wins Indy 500 with wisdom of father, wife

Motor City is about to roar with the sound of Chevrolet and Honda engines this weekend as the NTT IndyCar Series is the featured race on the nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street course.

It’s perhaps the most unique street course on the IndyCar schedule because of the bumps on the streets and the only split pit lane in the series.

The pit lanes has stalls on opposing sides and four lanes across an unusual rectangular pit area (but still only one entry and exit).

Combine that, with the bumps and the NTT IndyCar Series drivers look forward to a wild ride in Motor City.

“It’s gnarly, bro,” Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward said before posting the fastest time in Friday’s first practice. “It will be very interesting because the closest thing that I can see it being like is Toronto-like surfaces with more of a Long Beach-esque layout.

“There’s less room for error than Long Beach. There’s no curbs. You’ve got walls. I think very unique to this place.

PRACTICE RESULTS: Speeds from the first session

“Then it’s a bit of Nashville built into it. The braking zones look really very bumpy. Certain pavements don’t look bumpy but with how the asphalt and concrete is laid out, there’s undulation with it. So, you can imagine the cars are going to be smashing on every single undulation because we’re going to go through those sections fairly fast, and obviously the cars are pretty low. I don’t know.

“It looks fun, man. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. It’s going to be learning through every single session, not just for drivers and teams but for race control. For everyone.

“Everybody has to go into it knowing not every call is going to be smooth. It’s a tall task to ask from such a demanding racetrack. I think it’ll ask a lot from the race cars as well.”

The track is bumpy, but O’Ward indicated he would be surprised if it is bumper than Nashville. By comparison to Toronto, driving at slow speed is quite smooth, but fast speed is very bumpy.

“This is a mix of Nashville high-speed characteristics and Toronto slow speed in significant areas,” O’Ward said. “I think it’ll be a mix of a lot of street courses we go to, and the layout looks like more space than Nashville, which is really tight from Turn 4 to 8. It looks to be a bit more spacious as a whole track, but it’ll get tight in multiple areas.”

The concept of having four-wide pit stops is something that excites the 24-year-old driver from Monterey, Mexico.

“I think it’s innovation, bro,” O’Ward said. “If it works out, we’ll look like heroes.

“If it doesn’t, we tried.”

Because of the four lanes on pit road, there is a blend line the drivers will have to adhere to. Otherwise, it would be chaos leaving the pits compared to a normal two-lane pit road.

“If it wasn’t there, there’d be guys fighting for real estate where there’s one car that fits, and there’d be cars crashing in pit lane,” O’Ward said. “I get why they did that. It’s the same for everybody. I don’t think there’s a lot of room to play with. That’s the problem.

“But it looks freaking gnarly for sure. Oh my God, that’s going to be crazy.”

Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing believes the best passing areas will be on the long straights because of the bumps in the turns. That is where much of the action will be in terms of gaining or losing a position in the race.

“It will also be really easy to defend in my opinion,” Palou said. “Being a 180-degree corner, you just have to go on the inside and that’s it. There’s going to be passes for sure but its’ going to be risky.

“Turn 1, if someone dives in, you end up in the wall. They’re not going to be able to pass you on the exit, so maybe with the straight being so long you can actually pass before you end up on the braking zone.”

Palou’s teammate, Marcus Ericsson, was at the Honda simulator in Brownsburg, Indiana, before coming to Detroit and said he was shocked by the amount of bumps on the simulator.

Race promoter Bud Denker, the President of Penske Corporation, and Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix President Michael Montri, sent the track crews onto the streets with grinders to smooth out the bumps on the race course several weeks ago.

“They’ve done a decent amount of work, and even doing the track walk, it looked a lot better than what we expected,” Ericsson said. “I don’t think it’ll be too bad. I hope not. That’ll be something to take into account.

“I think the track layout doesn’t look like the most fun. Maybe not the most challenging. But I love these types of tracks with rules everywhere. It’s a big challenge, and you have to build up to it. That’s the types of tracks that I love to drive. It’s a very much Marcus Ericsson type of track. I like it.”

Scott Dixon, who was second fastest in the opening session, has competed on many new street circuits throughout his legendary racing career. The six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion for Chip Ganassi Racing likes the track layout, even with the unusual pit lane.

I don’t think that’s going to be something that catches on where every track becomes a double barrel,” Dixon said. “It’s new and interesting.

“As far as pit exit, I think Toronto exit is worse with how the wall sticks out. I think in both lanes, you’ve got enough lead time to make it and most guys will make a good decision.”

It wasn’t until shortly after 3 p.m. ET on Friday that the IndyCar drivers began the extended 90-minute practice session to try out the race course for the first time in real life.

As expected, there were several sketchy moments, but no major crashes during the first session despite 19 local yellow flags for incidents and two red flags.

Rookie Agustin Canapino had to cut his practice short after some damage to his No. 78 Dallara-Chevrolet, but he was among many who emerged mostly unscathed from scrapes with the wall.

“It was honestly less carnage than I expected,” said Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood, who was third fastest in the practice after coming off his first career IndyCar victory in the most recent street race at Long Beach in April. “I think a lot of people went off in the runoffs, but no one actually hit the wall (too hard), which actually surprised me. Hats off to them for keeping it clean, including myself.

“It was quite a bit less grip than I think everyone expected. Maybe a little bit more bumpy down into Turn 3 than everyone expected. But overall they did a good job between the two manufacturers. I’m sure everyone had pretty much the same we were able to base everything off of. We felt pretty close to maximum right away.”

Most of the preparation for this event was done either on the General Motors Simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina, or the Honda Performance Development simulator in Brownsburg, Indiana.

“Now, we have simulators that can scan the track, so we have done plenty of laps already,” Power told NBC Sports. “They have ground and resurfaced a lot of the track, so it should be smoother.

“But nothing beats real-world experience. It’s going to be a learning experience in the first session.”

As a Team Penske driver, Power and his teammates were consulted about the progress and layout of the Detroit street course. They were shown what was possible with the streets that were available.

“We gave some input back after we were on the similar what might be ground and things like that,” Power said.

Racing on the streets of Belle Isle was a fairly pleasant experience for the fans and corporate sponsor that compete in the race.

But the vibe at the new location gives this a “big event” feel.

“The atmosphere is a lot better,” Power said. “The location, the accessibility for the fans, the crowd that will be here, it’s much easier. I think it will be a much better event.

“It feels like a Long Beach, only in a much bigger city. That is what street course racing is all about.”

Because the track promoter is also the team owner, Power and teammates Scott McLaughlin and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden will have a very busy weekend on the track, and with sponsor and personal appearances.

“That’s what pays the bills and allows us to do this,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500