Sweeping the podium has Dylan Ferrandis, Justin Cooper atop Motocross Power Rankings after Washougal

Motocross Rankings Washougal
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Dylan Ferrandis maintains his lead in the Motocross Power Rankings after the Washougal Nationals, Chase Sexton moves up a spot and Justin Cooper holds onto his top ranking in the 250 class with seven of 12 rounds in the books.

A rookie contender in the 450 class, Ferrandis has looked like a veteran since the gate dropped on the season at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. He started the season with 11 straight moto podium finishes. He showed the slightest chink in his armor in Moto 2 of Round 6 at Spring Creek MX Park with a fifth and it appeared that he might have lost some of his momentum last week at Washougal with another fifth-place finish in Race 1.

A strong start in Moto 2 last week gave him his fourth moto win – and just as importantly, it allowed him to continue his sweep of the overall podium with a worst of third in seven rounds. Ultimately what will be remembered is who becomes the 2021 champion. Right now, Ferrandis has a 47-point lead over Ken Roczen, which is almost equal to a full round with five remaining.

Eli Tomac finally seems to be finding a spark. After two disappointing rounds to start the season, he has swept the top five in the last five events. And since we look back 45 days to determine our Motocross Power Rankings, that means he has been perfect in that span of time. He has three moto wins and added two more second-place finishes at Washougal.

Washougal revealed a Chase Sexton that has been mostly missing in 2021. After just missing his first moto win in Race 1 of Round 1, he struggled with only one more podium finish in the next 11 motos. One would not have known that last week when he won both his first moto and the overall at Washougal.

With his strong run, Sexton moved Justin Barcia one spot down the Motocross Power Rankings chart. Barcia showed flashes of speed early at Washougal, but ultimately failed to stand on the podium in either moto and finished fifth overall.

Aaron Plessinger rebounded from his DNF in Moto 2 at Southwick to finish 5-9 at Spring Creek MX Park. He backed that up with a seventh-place overall finish at Washougal. His weekend was not without drama, however, because he managed only a 12th-place finish in Race 1 last week.

450 Power Rankings (Last Week)

    1. Dylan Ferrandis [4 overall, 4 moto wins] (1)
    2. Eli Tomac [3 moto wins] (3)
    3. Chase Sexton [1 overall win, 1 moto win] (4)
    4. Justin Barcia (3) [1 overall, 1 moto win]
    5. Aaron Plessinger (5)
    6. Ken Roczen [1 overall, 4 moto wins] (6)
    7. Christian Craig (7)
    8. Cooper Webb (8)
    9. Joey Savatgy (9)
    10. Marvin Musquin (10)
    11. Brandon Hartranft (12)
    12. Justin Bogle (13)
    13. Dean Wilson (21)
    14. Max Anstie (14)
    15. Chris Canning (15)
    16. Justin Rodbell (16)
    17. Ryan Surratt (18)
    18. Fredrik Noren (17)
    19. Coty Schock (22)
    20. Ben Lamay (23)

Motocross Rankings Washougal
Justin Cooper has a firm grip on the red plate in the 250 class after sweeping the overall podium through seven rounds. Align Media.

Like Ferrandis, Justin Cooper kept his perfect record of overall podium finishes alive last week at Washougal, but he will still be happy to have the next couple of weeks off. He won Moto 1 in convincing fashion, but caught an awkward edge in the closing laps of the second race and fell from second to eighth. That was barely enough to secure his third-place in the overall standings.

Jeremy Martin put in another gutsy performance at Washougal. Failing to score points in Moto 2 of Round 2 and then missing the next round completely has likely put a championship out of reach, but that doesn’t mean he is not one of the strongest riders in the field. He has shown as much with back to back overall wins and three moto victories in four attempts.

If he continues to win and Cooper or Jett Lawrence stumble, he still has a shot at the 250 championship.

Jett Lawrence needs to stop his downward slide. He has not stood on the overall podium in the last three rounds – mostly because of poor starts. When he manages to get a good jump out of the gates, he is still strong with two moto podiums in those six races.

Likewise, Jett’s brother Hunter Lawrence needs the break in action to reset his mindset. After going 1-1 and winning the overall at Southwick, Lawrence has not stood on the podium again. The next week he finished fifth overall with a 5-5. Last week he finished fifth once more in Moto 1, but a 10th in the second race left him seventh overall.

We’ll need to see if there are any residual effects from Colt Nichols’ crash in Moto 2 at Washougal. He failed to earn points in that race and with a 15th in the overall standings, he is teetering on the brink of falling out of the top five.

250 Power Rankings (Last Week)

  1. Justin Cooper [1 overall, 2 moto win] (1)
  2. Jeremy Martin [2 moto wins] (3)
  3. Jett Lawrence [1 overall, 3 moto wins] (2)
  4. Hunter Lawrence [1 overall, 2 moto wins] (4)
  5. Colt Nichols (5)
  6. RJ Hampshire [1 overall] (10)
  7. Michael Mosiman (8)
  8. Jo Shimoda (7)
  9. Max Vohland (9)
  10. Austin Forkner (11)
  11. Pierce Brown (16)
  12. Jalek Swoll [1 overall, 1 moto win] (6)
  13. Stilez Robertson (12)
  14. Dilan Schwartz (15)
  15. Garrett Marchbanks (13)
  16. Carson Mumford (14)
  17. Ty Masterpool (17)
  18. Jarrett Frye (18)
  19. Ramyller Alves (19)
  20. Brandon Scharer (21)

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”