Ken Roczen denied revenge, Cooper Webb wins Supercross Round 3

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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

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”