IndyCar addresses online driver abuse after Long Beach: ‘No place for this behavior’

IndyCar fan abuse
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LONG BEACH, Calif. — Callum Ilott and Agustín Canapino are teammates. Ilott is British, Canapino is Argentine and through their first three months working together, everything seemed just fine as tiny Juncos Hollinger Racing showed decent on-track progress.

But when a sequence of ill-timed events caused Canapino to crash while the rookie was leading his first IndyCar laps, it was Ilott who was attacked on social media, and some rabid Canapino fans even made death threats against the 24-year-old.

What did Ilott do to deserve such vitriol following the Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday?

LONG BEACH REVIEW: Points, results after Kyle Kirkwood’s first IndyCar victory

Well, he exited pit lane as the field was about to go green and found himself in front of his teammate as Canapino was about to take the green flag. Helio Castroneves, who was running a lap down, made an aggressive move in an attempt to get around Canapino and return to the lead lap. Instead, Castroneves and Canapino made contact, Canapino’s race ended, and his fans believed it was all Ilott’s fault for clogging the track in front of his teammate.

Ilott addressed the hate directed his way – specifically replying to an Argentine broadcaster – in a Twitter post on Monday. But that seemed to only further fan the flames.

Since Ilott’s post:

–IndyCar has issued a statement decrying “disrespectful and inappropriate online abuse” by fans. The statement has been reposted by several IndyCar drivers.

–Pato O’Ward turned to social media with a lengthy post to “encourage everyone to choose their words wisely, and to seriously consider the damage they are capable of inflicting.” O’Ward has been criticized for aggressive driving at Long Beach that included contact with six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon. In a postrace interview with Marty Snider on Peacock, O’Ward insisted that he would not apologize for racing hard.

–And Canapino himself weighed in Tuesday morning. “Nothing allows us to transmit hate and disrespect another person,” he wrote. “Not only during a competition, but also in life in general.”

All this comes after Kyle Kirkwood two weeks ago decried “how much hate mail I’ve received” for a pit lane collision at Texas Motor Speedway with Alexander Rossi in which Rossi was penalized.

Online abuse has long been an ongoing problem met with varying defenses. Some are able to ignore the hate, some clap back and some are deeply affected. Nicholas Latifi had to take a social media break following the 2021 Formula One season finale, where fans blamed his late crash for costing Lewis Hamilton a record eighth world championship.

“What shocked me was the extreme tone of the hate, abuse and even the death threats I received,” Latifi said later.

The governing body for F1 has vowed to crack down on online abuse after drivers voiced concerns to the FIA about the increasing amount of hate being directed their way. Two-time reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen has tied the increased toxicity toward the growth of F1, which exploded in global popularity during the pandemic in part because its Netflix docuseries brought new eyes to the series.

“There are more people watching, so more people are writing. It’s not great that they are allowed to write these kinds of things, so I hope we can come up with a kind of algorithm that stops people from being keyboard warriors,” Verstappen said. “Because these kinds of people – they will never come up to you and say these things in front of your face.”

IndyCar doesn’t come close to F1 in viewership numbers, but the recent nastiness directed toward drivers shows that its fans are as rabidly passionate as any other sport or racing series.

Is that a good thing? Probably not if the increased attention is dominated by online attacks, criticism and threats.

There is an old proverb that “all press is good press” so long as it cultivates presence and visibility. Technology and social media – which gives the general public direct access to athletes, celebrities, politicians and others – has helped discredit that notion as those on the receiving end of the abuse have complained about the toll it can take on mental health.

It’s wonderful that IndyCar, which has worked so hard to rebuild its fanbase and attract new and younger viewership, is eliciting raw passion from its spectators. But if the bulk of the engagement are personal attacks because so-and-so did something to their favorite driver, it ruins any excitement over a growing audience.

IndyCar now heads into its most important stretch of the season, with testing for next month’s Indianapolis 500 set to begin this week. This is the period when IndyCar’s viewership and appeal should peak.

The series would feel a whole lot better about the attention if it was about the actual racing – three different winners through three races, a resurgent Andretti Autosport and the growing popularity of young Mexican driver O’Ward – and not fans placing blame on drivers for on-track incidents.

Motocross 2023: Results and points after SuperMotocross Round 18 at Hangtown


For the second consecutive week, Jett Lawrence had perfect results in the Pro Motocross round at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova, California with a pair of moto wins and the overall victory, only this time he didn’t have Chase Sexton, who sat out the round with a concussion, to keep him honest in the second race.

Jett Lawrence’s performance in the first two Motocross rounds has him thinking of a rookie championship. – Align Media

Lawrence led all 16 laps of both races after taking the holeshot in the second moto and grabbing the lead from Dylan Ferrandis in Turn 2 of Moto 1. Lawrence claimed a four-second lead in Moto 1 and five seconds in Moto 2, but as dominant as it seems on paper, there were some exciting moments during the weekend. In the second race, Lawrence wanted to build an advantage that would allow him to maintain his pace and he nearly high-sided a couple of times in heavy ruts.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Results; Click here for 250 Results

In his second race back from a concussion, Ferrandis finished in the runner-up spot with a second in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. While his finish of second overall goes into the record books, Pro Motocross points are rewarded for each individual race and that meant Ferrandis lost eight points in championship battle to Lawrence. With Sexton failing to mount up for the race, Ferrandis advanced to second in the standings with an 18-point gap to Lawrence. Equally important, Ferrandis gained ground in the SuperMotocross World Championship (WSX) points and now has a gap of 44 over 21st-place Justin Starling.

Cooper Webb is also in his second round since returning from a Supercross injury suffered in Nashville at the end of their season. Claiming results of fourth and second in the two races, Webb earned 40 SuperMotocross points at Hangtown and closed in on Sexton in the WSX battle. Sexton entered Hangtown with a large enough lead that he could not be overtaken, but he is now only 38 points up and could face a difficult decision next week at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado if he wants to hold onto his lead.

Moto 1 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Moto 2 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Consolation Race

Aaron Plessinger had an adventurous weekend in which he seemed to close on Lawrence in his second race before crashing and dropping to fourth. Coupled with a fifth-place finish in Moto 1, he earned 35 points and was credited with fourth overall.

Cashing in on confidence he gained in the final rounds of the Supercross season, Adam Cianciarulo earned his first top-five of the Pro Motocross championship after narrowly missing out last week with a sixth. He earned the distinction with consistent results of fifth in Moto 1 and fourth in Moto 2.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Hunter Lawrence showed his back to the competition at Hangtown, just as he did the week prior at Fox Raceway. – Align Media

The Lawrence brothers made history last week as the first siblings to win in two Pro Motocross divisions on the same day. Fans should get accustomed to seeing this happen with some regularity as Hunter Lawrence posted identical results in Hangtown to those he had at Fox Raceway in the season opener.

In both races, Lawrence got off to a slow start in Moto 1 and had to claw his way back to the podium. He dominated Moto 2 in both rounds to earn the overall victories.

Justin Cooper did not allow Lawrence to gain much of an advantage in the Motocross points’ standings, however. Finishing second in both motos, the earned only one point less than Lawrence. His modest showing in Round 1 of the outdoor season has him 12 points out of first in the championship standings.

Moto 1 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Moto 2 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Consolation Race

Haiden Deegan scored his first moto win in just his fourth start in the series. In the first race of the day, he had to withstand constant pressure from Cooper, but when his teammate closed in on him, Deegan reached down and found a little more speed. Now that he’s won one of these races, he has his sight set on challenging Lawrence for the title. Deegan is second in the Pro Motocross championship standings with a 10-point deficit to the leader.

Haiden Deegan scored podiums in both Motocross rounds of 2023. – Align Media

Tom Vialle tied his career-best finish of fourth overall with a seventh-place finish in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. Vialle was fourth last week in overall ranking and has one fourth-place finish in the Supercross series that came in the Triple Crown format at Arlington.

Click here for 250 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

RJ Hampshire rounded out the top five with a pair of fifth-place results and 32 points for the round. Even though the deficit is a whopping 61 points, Hampshire climbed to second in the SuperMotocross championship standings now that Jett Lawrence has moved to the big bikes.

Jalek Swoll struggled last week and finished 21st overall at Fox Raceway. This week, he finished on the cusp of 10th in both races with a ninth in Moto 1 and 11th in Moto 2. In the SuperMotocross standings, he has a lot of ground to make up. He currently sits 49th on the chart with a 70-point gap to Chance Hymas, who is on the bubble to earn a guaranteed position in the SMX Mains for the three playoff races that will be held on September.

2023 Motocross Results

Round 1: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win

2023 Supercross Results

Round 17: Chase Sexton, Jett Lawrence win
Round 16: Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire win
Round 15: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 14: Justin Barcia, Max Anstie win
Round 13: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 12: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Eli Tomac, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 18: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top
Week 16: Chase Sexton takes SX title
Week 15: Eli Tomac is back on top
Week 14: Justin Barcia, most of top 20, hold steady
Week 13: Barcia leapfrogs the Big Three
Week 12: Eli Tomac gains momentum
Week 11: Cooper Webb, Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
Week 10: Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Sexton unseats Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s