Josef Newgarden to Romain Grosjean after Nashville collision: ‘Welcome to IndyCar’

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Josef Newgarden had no apologies for Romain Grosjean but does have some admonitions for the younger set in the NTT IndyCar Series after another wild Music City Grand Prix.

The hometown favorite finished sixth on the 11-turn, 2.1-mile street course after emerging on the more favorable side of a Turn 9 collision with Romain Grosjean on a Lap 76 restart.

Grosjean, who battled through the corner for position after Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet dove underneath, wound up in the wall with his No. 28 Dallara-Honda. The Andretti Autosport driver gestured angrily multiple times about the wreck, waving his arms at Newgarden’s car under caution.

COMEBACK HISTORY: Scott Dixon wins wild Music City Grand Prix

“Welcome to IndyCar; it gets tight,” Newgarden told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after watching the replay and deciding his move was fair. “He’s been on a worse end of that. I don’t know what to tell him. Good thing I was ahead. That’s the biggest thing. You’re going to want to be ahead of this guy at this type of moment, but yep, it’s tight street course racing.

“Let me tell you what: I about got taken out six times myself. I probably need to have some discussion with some of the younger guys, but they’re aggressive. They’re very aggressive and if you’re not aggressive back, then you get run over. That’s IndyCar racing. You’ve got to learn that pretty quick. I don’t like it, but that’s the game that we’re in.”

Last year’s inaugural Nashville race had produced nine caution flags, and drivers had predicted a smoother affair after IndyCar moved the restart zone to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge entering Turn 9.

But the collision between Grosjean and Newgarden was one of several shunts throughout the Lap 80 race, which still produced eight cautions, a red flag and piles of damaged front wings and carbon fiber.

Grosjean also made contact with Marcus Ericsson, leading to a snippy postrace sequence on social media between the Formula One veterans. Ericsson, who finished 14th because of a mechanical failure, also retweeted a suggestion that Grosjean applied a double standard.

It’s not the first time the Frenchman has been in the middle of controversial contact this season after feuding with teammate Alexander Rossi at Mid-Ohio and with Graham Rahal (who suggested several IndyCar drivers were unhappy with Grosjean) after Barber Motorsports Park.

Later Sunday night on Twitter, Newgarden took on many Grosjean defenders and suggested the Andretti Autosport driver had been guilty of rougher driving.

Newgarden, who grew up and resides in Nashville, led 12 laps in trying to win with an off-sequence three-stop strategy, but the Team Penske driver remained in title contention. The two-time series champion is ranked fourth, 32 points behind teammate Will Power, with three races remaining.

“Ultimately we had a big fight back with the PPG car and Team Chevy,” said Newgarden, who has a series-high four wins. “That’s all I can say. This has been a really frustrating year in a lot of ways and the way it’s built. We’ve won a lot of races. We’ve had a ton of good luck. All thanks to the team and the effort they’ve put in, but more than not, we’re either winning the race, or things are completely going against us one way or another.

“So it’s built frustration for me because it’s hard to see that happen for this crew when they work so hard. I hate it, too. I’m very competitive, and it happens a couple of times a year where things don’t go your way. It’s part of the luck, but it’s just happened one too many times, and today was another unlucky day with just the way the whole thing played out, and you just can’t predict these races. It’s part of the game, but it can be frustrating at times.”

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

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After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage