Cooper Webb wins Supercross Round 10 at Arlington, takes points lead from Ken Roczen

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Cooper Webb took the lead on Lap 1 of Monster Energy Supercross Round 10 in Arlington, Texas and never looked back as he won his fourth race of the 2021 season and took the points lead from Ken Roczen.

An aggressive move by Webb on the first lap of last week’s race drew the ire of Roczen at Daytona. On Saturday night, Roczen never came close to silencing Webb as he scored fifth consecutive finish of second or better.

Roczen hoped to rattle the 2019 champion when he said that Webb was afraid of him. Instead, Webb used it as motivation to run away with the win.

“I love that [expletive]; it gets me going,” Webb said in the post-race press conference after the race. “It was a good week for that and we made the most of it. It is what it is obviously, and these times with Instagram and everything, you are able to see a bunch.

“It creates a good story for sure. I love it and I feed off it.”

POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Round 10 in Supercross

In fact, Roczen was silenced early. He was racing for third in his heat race when he crashed and lost an opportunity to start the Main with a good starting position.

Roczen fell out of the top five in that race and ultimately finished seventh, which forced him to pick his gate after all the good slots were taken. His best option in terms of his relative position to Webb had a deep rut in front of it, which caused Roczen to get a slow start.

Roczen slipped sideways on the start and watched other riders surge ahead. Roczen was 11th at the end of Lap 1. He rebounded to finish sixth, but that cost him nine points to Webb. Roczen entered Round 10 of the Supercross season with a two-point advantage and left with seven-point deficit.

It was not the way Roczen wanted his 100th Main event to unfold. He has not stood on the podium in three straight races.

“Start position was key here tonight and I really messed that up with the heat race,” Roczen told NBCSN after the race. “I went into (the Main) with a clean set of mind, but obviously didn’t get the start I wanted. And on this track in particular it was really difficult to make passes. It wasn’t really the night I was hoping for but we go back and we regroup.

“There’s lots of racing to go and one thing I’ve learned is you can’t be afraid of failing.”

Supercross Round 10
Cooper Webb’s fourth win of the season elevated him to the points lead. (Feld Entertainment, Inc./Align Media)

Justin Barcia settled into second early in the race.

“It was a good week leading up to this. I did a lot of testing with my team. Got me comfortable again. Tonight was very special for us. To charge into second was cool.”

After winning the opening round for the third consecutive year, Barcia struggled in two of his next three starts. He finished second at Indianapolis 2 and was 19th in the next round, but has now finished sixth or better in his last four attempts. Barcia ended the night fourth in the standings with last year’s champion Eli Tomac in sight.

Jason Anderson finished third. He had an eventful night that drew the attention of the Supercross series. Midway through the race it was announced they were looking into a couple of on track incidents when he aggressively rode Malcolm Stewart wide and contributed to a crash by Dylan Ferrandis.

“I’m just up there racing,” Anderson said afterward. “I just want to do good. I’ve been following those guys all year. I just want to be on the podium … I’m going for it and that is all there is to it.”

Anderson’s third-place finish was his first podium of the season.

Stewart attempted to retaliate for the on-track incident, but only succeeded in taking himself out of contention.

Chase Sexton also had a season-best at Arlington with his fourth-place finish.

He crashed out of Round 2 at Houston and was forced to sit out the next six events. Last week he returned to Daytona and finished eight.

Aaron Plessinger earned his first career podium at Daytona. He kept his momentum alive with a heat win and fifth-place finish in the Main.

Roczen ended the night sixth with Joey Savatgy in seventh.

Eli Tomac hoped to capitalize on last week’s Daytona win. But he also struggled in his heat. Like Roczen, a less than optimal gate pick mired him in the pack. After finishing Lap 1 in 14th, he was able to climb to eight at the checkers, but lost more ground in the points and trails Webb by 33 with seven events remaining.

Tomac is still mathematically in the running to defend last year’s championship, but realistically needs to win multiple times in the closing races.

Dean Wilson in ninth and Martin Davalos rounded out the top 10.

Marvin Musquin crashed in his heat with time running off the clock. Several riders had to pick there way between the rider and his bike at full speed. Musquin was unable to start the Last Chance Qualifier after getting stitches for a gash in his arm.

Supercross Round 10
An aggressive move by Cooper Webb on Dean Wilson on Lap 1 set the tone for Round 10. (Feld Entertainment, Inc./Align Media)

The 250s class had its second first time winner in as many weeks.

At Arlington, Seth Hammaker followed up last week’s inaugural win by teammate Cameron Mcadoo with one of his own.

“That was the longest race of my life,” Hammaker told NBCSN after the race. “Literally, every time I went past the flagger I was like, ‘Dude! Where is the white flag. What are you doing. Let’s get it over with.’ I was just trying to hit my lines steady, clean.

“I’m not going to lie, I was a little tired out there, but I’m super stoked to get this win.”

 

Hunter Lawrence scored a career-best second.

“I am super pumped,” Lawrence said. “Second is a good building block for us from where we were six months ago.

“Even two months ago, we were happy to be top five. That was the goal, so to be here at the third round, we are super pumped.”

Mcadoo held onto his points lead with his third-place finish. He battled Justin Cooper over the last several laps as the the two championship leaders swapped position.

“That was a hard-fought one,” Mcadoo said. “I made a mistake off the start. That was on me, big time, and I was pretty buried.

“I was  happy with parts of the way I rode and not so much  with others. Hunter and Seth were riding amazing. They were going fast. Same with Justin. It was a dogfight out there. I got to third and just couldn’t make anything happen.”

On the final lap, Cooper made a bold attempt but lost traction and fell while trying to tack the final spot on the podium.

“I was close,” Cooper said. “I had to try something and after that quad I tried to dive to the inside and it was really slick there. I went down pretty quick. I was able to get up and get fourth. I’m just going to give it my all every time out.”

Mcadoo holds a six-point advantage over Cooper.

Garrett Marchbanks rounded out the top five.

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

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

ROUND 3, HOUSTON: Cooper Webb wins, Ken Roczen denied revenge

ROUND 4, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen makes it four winners in four races

ROUND 5, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen goes back to back for first time since 2017 injury

ROUND 6, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen is perfect in Indy for third straight win

ROUND 7, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb trims Ken Roczen lead

ROUND 8, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb sweeps Orlando to put pressure on Ken Roczen

ROUND 9, DAYTONA: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael at Daytona; Ken Roczen, Copper Webb war 

Tom Blomqvist keeps eye on IndyCar during impressive rise: ‘ I would love to give it a go’

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In between two of his latest superstar-driver-in-waiting performances, Tom Blomqvist walked through the Daytona International Speedway garage in anonymity.

“Nobody knows who the (expletive) I am,” he said to a team member with a laugh (and without a trace of being miffed), evincing the cheeky humor of someone born in England, raised in New Zealand and also of Swedish descent.

The lack of recognition in the garage might have been because he was clad in a relatively nondescript shirt, hat and sunglasses instead of a colorful firesuit covered by sponsor logos. But he also was on the way to a Friday race eve media availability where his entrance was greeted by only one reporter (after a few minutes).

During a news conference a day earlier, he sat patiently on the dais while his Indy 500-winning teammates and car owner fielded nearly all the questions – even though Blomqvist had turned maybe the most impressive lap of the month to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position in the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category.

The Meyer Shank Racing driver still might lack the attention commensurate with his already world-class CV (which expanded Sunday with his second consecutive Rolex 24  victory for MSR), but Blomqvist, 29, clearly isn’t bothered by it.

He carries the quiet confidence of knowing his immense talent will ensure results that will make him impossible to ignore.

“To a degree, I guess, it’s definitely ramped up a lot for me,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports. “In America, I’m starting to get a lot more (attention). In the last year, I’ve quite often got a lot of maybe what you’d call the glory moments. It’s been fun. And within the paddock, there’s a lot of respect for me anyway. It’s been good.”

There have been several moments of acclaim since he joined MSR barely a year ago in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In his first start for the team at last year’s Rolex 24, Blomqvist turned in a Herculean performance to position the No. 60 Acura for the victory (giving way to Helio Castroneves because he was too “cooked” to complete the last 74 minutes).

He was even better this year at Daytona.

He ripped off a monster “one and done” pole-winning lap to beat the clock in qualifying on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course. During the race, Blomqvist was as dominant in his first stint as his last in the ARX-06 while taking the checkered flag. He set the mark for the fastest time on Lap 6 that no one topped over the final 755 laps.

The 10 fastest laps in the race belonged to Blomqvist, carrying over his speed from the 2022 when he won the Petit Le Mans season finale to clinch the premier prototype championship at Michelin Road Atlanta.

A year earlier at the same track, he had burst onto the radar of car owner Mike Shank, who was intrigued by Blomqvist’s results as a BMW factory driver in the Formula E and DTM series. In 2014, Blomqvist also finished between second in F3, between champion Esteban Ocon (now with Alpine’s F1 team) and Max Verstappen (who has won the past two Formula One championships).

“He did a lot of high-level stuff, and then kind of fell out of favor, or I don’t know what happened, but he was a free agent,” Shank said. “I started looking at his numbers, and I’m like, ‘We should test this guy. So I take him to Road Atlanta in the fall of ’21, and he got in the car and just slayed it.”

Within minutes, he had called co-owner Jim Meyer.

“I’ve got our guy,” Shank said. “This is our guy. There’s no question about it.

Honda Performance Development president David Salters hugs Tom Blomqvist after the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

“Now what’s happened, though, and I think if you look back at the Rolex here last year (and) what he did, he’s a gold nugget. He reminds me a little bit when (Robert) Wickens came into IndyCar out of DTM (as a rookie in 2018).

“He truly believes he’s the fastest guy out there, and he proved it (at the Rolex 24).”

Said David Salters, president for Honda Performance Development: “We love Tom. He’s the real deal, isn’t he? Immensely talented, super smart, and on it.

The great thing about our teams, the strength in depth is tremendous. But if you look through the sports car racing now, that’s the standard you have to have. Tom, brilliant, Filipe (Albuquerque), brilliant. Ricky (Taylor). You can go through that list. They’re all superstars. Tom is awesome. His lap in qualifying quite frankly was unbelievable.”


Having conquered one of the world’s greatest endurance races twice with Acura, Blomqvist could be ticketed for the world’s biggest race next – the Indy 500 — with HPD’s primary brand.

He tested a Dallara-Honda for MSR last October at Sebring International Raceway, and while he plans to focus solely on IMSA this season, he remains very intrigued by IndyCar.

And with Castroneves, 47, beginning a one-year deal with MSR’s IndyCar team, there could be an obvious opening in 2024.

“Obviously, it’s not in the cards this year,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports the day before the Rolex. “Yeah, I would love to give it a go. To be honest, I think that would be an amazing step for me in my career. I enjoy the sports car stuff so much. It’s been really good to me lately. I really enjoyed the style of racing.

“But I feel like IndyCar would be a step up for me and my career. It would be fantastic if I could get that opportunity. But yeah, I guess I have to keep pushing Mike or something to give me a shot. But obviously for now, the focus is here in the sports car stuff. It’s not really down to me at the end of the day. And I’ve got to do my job and then the people who pay the bills and make the decisions obviously have to decide if that’s something worth pursuing.

“But yeah, I’d love to give it a go, and I definitely would be up for it.”

Tom Blomqvist after winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole on the final qualifying lap (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

A transition from IMSA to IndyCar naturally would be easier than switching teams, but it also would be comfortable because Blomqvist already seems such a good fit at MSR.

It might have seemed an unusual pairing given his European-heavy background, but Blomqvist likes the Midwestern culture that’s been built at MSR. Based just outside Columbus, Ohio, the team’s shop has “no egos, and that just enables each and every one of to reach our potential.

“Obviously, with Honda, we obviously have some great resources, but we’re up against Porsche, BMW and some big heavy hitters in the motorsports world,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve got a huge team compared to them, but we’ve obviously got a very capable team, and I think that’s what has been so impressive and really, really nice to see about the work that’s been done. No stone has been left unturned.”


Blomqvist still is living in Europe and planning to commute for the nine-race GTP schedule (which has a nearly two-month break after the Rolex 24 until the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring). But though he’s “got good friends in America, so I do have places to stay,” he seems open to being based more permanently near MSR in America.

“Let’s see what the future brings, and if that means me spending more time over here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic team. It’s a different environment to what I’m used to. It’s obviously now a hugely successful team, but it is a small team. It does feel like a very small family-operated team, which it is.

“I think Mike’s really just built this thing. It hasn’t happened overnight. Mike’s a great guy and put a lot of trust and faith in me, and I played a relatively good part in some of the success last year. I was able to reward him and give him my all every time I’m on track, and he respects that. But we are still a small team. In the grand scheme of things, we still are a really, really small team.”

Blomqvist said the BMW factory program would have two or three times the staffing of MSR – just on one of its two GTP cars.

“But it’s not the number of people that makes a difference, it’s the quality of people, and obviously Mike and HPD are a fantastic operation to go racing,” Blomqvist said. “We’re racers at heart.

“I’ve been part of some big outfits, and the European way of working is very, very different to how people go about racing in America. I’d say it’s more seat of your pants. A lot of emotion and kind of rides on that competitive spirt, competitive nature and on their personalities. It’s a lot more pure. It feels very pure. You want to win, so we go out and don’t cut corners on trying to win.”

Though it’s aligned with Liberty Media and has big-budget backing and support from Honda Performance Development, MSR also is much less corporate than most GTP teams.

A longtime and respected team owner who has built a sponsor portfolio, Shank also describes his maniacal dedication to success as “messed up,” and he’s known for dropping vulgarities into postrace interview with his blunt and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Meyer Shank Racing co-owner Mike Shank congratulates Tom Blomqvist on the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

With a more laid-back but sometimes just as biting demeanor, Blomqvist has become the team’s unquestioned leader behind the wheel

“I definitely feel a lot more immersed,” he said. “Within the team, I was a bit more of an unknown quantity the start of last year. Obviously after last season, the team trusts me a lot. And that gives me a lot of pleasure, pride and confidence. In this sport, confidence is a huge aspect of drivers’ psychology in a way. We’re in extremely high-pressure moments where my job is to perform under the pressure of these organizations and the brand as well.

“It’s just a good, healthy team to be a part of. It’s a high-pressure environment, but the team obviously have put a lot of faith in me, and I’ve been able to deliver for them on occasions.”

Rolex 24 starting lineup
Tom Blomqvist celebrates after winning the pole in the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).