2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Atlanta: Justin Barcia leapfrogs the Big Three


With a streak of six top-five finishes and podiums in his last three races, Justin Barcia tops the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after the Atlanta round. As the three title contenders, Eli Tomac, Cooper Webb and Chase Sexton, pay close attention to one another, it has allowed the field to close the distance in recent weeks.

Barcia adjusted his setup slightly following the Daytona Supercross race and snapped a string of five races outside the top five. Since then, he’s gained confidence and speed with each round. In the past three races, the title contenders have failed to stand on the podium at least once each, while Barcia has been a permanent fixture on the box, usually after recording an equally strong run in his heat. Following the Atlanta race, Barcia said he is at one with his GasGas bike and felt like one of the Na’vi from “Avatar” fame. That connection is serving him well.

Just when it seemed he was falling out of contention for the 2023 Supercross title, Sexton rode a mistake free race in Atlanta and closed the points’ gap significantly with his third win of the season. Four rounds remain and 17 points are going to be difficult to erase against two riders who rarely struggle in back-to-back races, but Sexton has served notice he will not concede the title without making it challenging.

MORE: Chase Sexton is back in the hunt with Atlanta win

Webb won his heat last week and seemed to have the right setup for the tricky Atlanta track, but a poor start in the main and his second consecutive fourth-place finish hurt him in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. That came on the heels of a less than stellar effort in the Glendale Triple Crown where he scored only one podium in three features. This is just the second time this season that Webb finished off the podium in consecutive races, however, and the last time that happened he scored his first win in Tampa and kicked off a streak of seven straight podiums.

Atlanta was not kind to Tomac in either race. After getting pushed wide by Barcia in his heat, Tomac rallied to finish fourth but another bad start in the main trapped him outside the top five to start. He moved up through the field, but when he got to Webb’s back tire, he stalled out as the two lost ground with the leaders. Tomac finished fifth, one spot behind Webb. Looking at the big picture, Tomac was happy to lose only one point to his primary challenger, but a six-point gap with four rounds remaining is not enough of a cushion to make him comfortable.

Ken Roczen rounds out the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Atlanta with his third podium. He and Barcia are in a tight battle for fourth in the standings and while Barcia has momentum for now, Roczen has been one of the most consistent riders in the field with 11 results of third through eighth in the first 13 rounds. His outliers are an 11th at Oakland which is offset by a win in Detroit.

450 Rankings

Driver Percentage
1. Justin Barcia 86.50 4 3
2. Chase Sexton 86.08 3 1
3. Cooper Webb 85.33 2 -1
4. Eli Tomac 84.83 1 -3
5. Ken Roczen 82.67 5 0
6. Christian Craig
74.50 7 1
7. Adam Cianciarulo 73.17 6 -1
8. Aaron Plessinger 70.42 8 0
9. Jason Anderson 65.42 9 0
10. Colt Nichols 63.83 10 0
11. Justin Hill 59.17 11 0
12. Dean Wilson 56.83 12 0
13. Josh Hill 49.50 14 1
14. Shane McElrath 46.00 13 -1
15. Benny Bloss 43.36 15 0
16. Kyle Chisholm 43.17 17 1
17. Grant Harlan 40.17 16 -1
18. Fredrik Noren 37.92 22 4
19. Kevin Moranz 35.58 21 2
20. Logan Karnow 34.80 30 10

Supercross 450 Points

Is Hunter Lawrence better than his brother Jett Lawrence? That question will begin to get answered next week in East Rutherford, New Jersey as the 250 division has their first East/West Showdown. For now, the SuperMotocross Power Rankings gives him the slight advantage following Atlanta because Hunter was perfect on the long, tricky course. He won both his heat and main by sizeable margins. Hunter has been on the podium in 10 straight heats and mains combined and is in a class of his own in the 250 East division.

Nate Thrasher had a perfect day going in Atlanta until the final two minutes of the main. A hard crash dislocated his hip and broke his collarbone. The injury will require surgery and it is unclear when he will return to action, but a victory in his heat and strong performances overall in the past 90 days keeps him relatively high in the rankings.

Thrasher’s crash in the Atlanta main opened the door for Haiden Deegan and he charged through it to a third-place finish. He now has three podiums in his last four races, eclipsing the career mark of his famous father Brian Deegan. At the start of the season, Haiden wasn’t even certain he would race in the 250 class this year and now he is embroiled in a spirited battle for second in the championship with Max Anstie, who currently trails by 10.

Supercross 250 Points

Jordon Smith joined Lawrence and Deegan on the podium last week in Atlanta and that helped him climb three positions overall in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings. The last time these two riders were on the track together before the Atlanta main, Deegan made an aggressive block pass on his teammate that frankly could have gone better. All has been forgiven until they run into one another again.

Statistically speaking, Max Anstie is still reeling from his Lap 2 crash in the Detroit main that sent him to the hauler with a 22nd-place finish. He still has a shot at second in the points’ standings and with Lawrence reportedly joining his brother in the 450 class for 2024, the battle to be the presumptive favorite for next season takes on an added significance. Anstie told NBC Sports earlier this season that “you can’t skip steps”, and one of those steps is a 250 championship.

250 Rankings

Driver Power
1. Hunter Lawrence – E 91.00 1 0
2. Jett Lawrence – W 90.29 2 0
3. Nate Thrasher – E
80.25 3 0
4. Levi Kitchen – W 79.57 4 0
5. Haiden Deegan – E 78.94 6 1
6. Jordon Smith – E 78.60 9 3
7. Cameron McAdoo – W
78.50 5 -2
8. RJ Hampshire – W 77.71 8 0
9. Pierce Brown – W 75.86 10 1
10. Max Anstie – E 75.06 11 1
11. Jeremy Martin – E 73.88 7 -4
12. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 69.29 13 1
13. Tom Vialle – E 68.75 12 -1
14. Chris Blose – E 68.06 15 1
15. Enzo Lopes – W 67.57 14 -1
16. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 16 0
17. Max Vohland – W 65.92 17 0
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 18 0
19. Derek Kelley – W 59.36 19 0
20. Carson Mumford – W 59.17 20 0

* 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 for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 11 AT SEATTLE: Cooper Webb, Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT DETROIT: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage

‘It’s gnarly, bro’: IndyCar drivers face new challenge on streets of downtown Detroit

IndyCar Detroit downtown
James Black/Penske Entertainment
1 Comment

DETROIT – It was the 1968 motion picture, “Winning” when actress Joanne Woodward asked Paul Newman if he were going to Milwaukee in the days after he won the Indianapolis 500 as driver Frank Capua.

“Everybody goes to Milwaukee after Indianapolis,” Newman responded near the end of the film.

Milwaukee was a mainstay as the race on the weekend after the Indianapolis 500 for decades, but since 2012, the first race after the Indy 500 has been Detroit at Belle Isle Park.

This year, there is a twist.

Instead of IndyCar racing at the Belle Isle State Park, it’s the streets of downtown Detroit on a race course that is quite reminiscent of the old Formula One and CART race course that was used from 1982 to 1991.

Formula One competed in the United States Grand Prix from 1982 to 1988. Beginning in 1989, CART took over the famed street race through 1991. In 1992, the race was moved to Belle Isle, where it was held through last year (with a 2009-2011 hiatus after the Great Recession).

The Penske Corp. is the promoter of this race, and they did a lot of good at Belle Isle, including saving the Scott Fountain, modernizing the Belle Isle Casino, and basically cleaning up the park for Detroit citizens to enjoy.

The race, however, had outgrown the venue. Roger Penske had big ideas to create an even bigger event and moving it back to downtown Detroit benefitted race sponsor Chevrolet. The footprint of the race course goes around General Motors world headquarters in the GM Renaissance Center – the centerpiece building of Detroit’s modernized skyline.

INDYCAR IN DETROITEntry list, schedule, TV info for this weekend

JOSEF’S FAMILY TIESNewgarden wins Indy 500 with wisdom of father, wife

Motor City is about to roar with the sound of Chevrolet and Honda engines this weekend as the NTT IndyCar Series is the featured race on the nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street course.

It’s perhaps the most unique street course on the IndyCar schedule because of the bumps on the streets and the only split pit lane in the series.

The pit lanes has stalls on opposing sides and four lanes across an unusual rectangular pit area (but still only one entry and exit).

Combine that, with the bumps and the NTT IndyCar Series drivers look forward to a wild ride in Motor City.

“It’s gnarly, bro,” Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward said before posting the fastest time in Friday’s first practice. “It will be very interesting because the closest thing that I can see it being like is Toronto-like surfaces with more of a Long Beach-esque layout.

“There’s less room for error than Long Beach. There’s no curbs. You’ve got walls. I think very unique to this place.

PRACTICE RESULTS: Speeds from the first session

“Then it’s a bit of Nashville built into it. The braking zones look really very bumpy. Certain pavements don’t look bumpy but with how the asphalt and concrete is laid out, there’s undulation with it. So, you can imagine the cars are going to be smashing on every single undulation because we’re going to go through those sections fairly fast, and obviously the cars are pretty low. I don’t know.

“It looks fun, man. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. It’s going to be learning through every single session, not just for drivers and teams but for race control. For everyone.

“Everybody has to go into it knowing not every call is going to be smooth. It’s a tall task to ask from such a demanding racetrack. I think it’ll ask a lot from the race cars as well.”

The track is bumpy, but O’Ward indicated he would be surprised if it is bumper than Nashville. By comparison to Toronto, driving at slow speed is quite smooth, but fast speed is very bumpy.

“This is a mix of Nashville high-speed characteristics and Toronto slow speed in significant areas,” O’Ward said. “I think it’ll be a mix of a lot of street courses we go to, and the layout looks like more space than Nashville, which is really tight from Turn 4 to 8. It looks to be a bit more spacious as a whole track, but it’ll get tight in multiple areas.”

The concept of having four-wide pit stops is something that excites the 24-year-old driver from Monterey, Mexico.

“I think it’s innovation, bro,” O’Ward said. “If it works out, we’ll look like heroes.

“If it doesn’t, we tried.”

Because of the four lanes on pit road, there is a blend line the drivers will have to adhere to. Otherwise, it would be chaos leaving the pits compared to a normal two-lane pit road.

“If it wasn’t there, there’d be guys fighting for real estate where there’s one car that fits, and there’d be cars crashing in pit lane,” O’Ward said. “I get why they did that. It’s the same for everybody. I don’t think there’s a lot of room to play with. That’s the problem.

“But it looks freaking gnarly for sure. Oh my God, that’s going to be crazy.”

Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing believes the best passing areas will be on the long straights because of the bumps in the turns. That is where much of the action will be in terms of gaining or losing a position in the race.

“It will also be really easy to defend in my opinion,” Palou said. “Being a 180-degree corner, you just have to go on the inside and that’s it. There’s going to be passes for sure but its’ going to be risky.

“Turn 1, if someone dives in, you end up in the wall. They’re not going to be able to pass you on the exit, so maybe with the straight being so long you can actually pass before you end up on the braking zone.”

Palou’s teammate, Marcus Ericsson, was at the Honda simulator in Brownsburg, Indiana, before coming to Detroit and said he was shocked by the amount of bumps on the simulator.

Race promoter Bud Denker, the President of Penske Corporation, and Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix President Michael Montri, sent the track crews onto the streets with grinders to smooth out the bumps on the race course several weeks ago.

“They’ve done a decent amount of work, and even doing the track walk, it looked a lot better than what we expected,” Ericsson said. “I don’t think it’ll be too bad. I hope not. That’ll be something to take into account.

“I think the track layout doesn’t look like the most fun. Maybe not the most challenging. But I love these types of tracks with rules everywhere. It’s a big challenge, and you have to build up to it. That’s the types of tracks that I love to drive. It’s a very much Marcus Ericsson type of track. I like it.”

Scott Dixon, who was second fastest in the opening session, has competed on many new street circuits throughout his legendary racing career. The six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion for Chip Ganassi Racing likes the track layout, even with the unusual pit lane.

I don’t think that’s going to be something that catches on where every track becomes a double barrel,” Dixon said. “It’s new and interesting.

“As far as pit exit, I think Toronto exit is worse with how the wall sticks out. I think in both lanes, you’ve got enough lead time to make it and most guys will make a good decision.”

It wasn’t until shortly after 3 p.m. ET on Friday that the IndyCar drivers began the extended 90-minute practice session to try out the race course for the first time in real life.

As expected, there were several sketchy moments, but no major crashes during the first session despite 19 local yellow flags for incidents and six red flags.

Rookie Agustin Canapino had to cut his practice short after some damage to his No. 78 Dallara-Chevrolet, but he was among many who emerged mostly unscathed from scrapes with the wall.

“It was honestly less carnage than I expected,” said Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood, who was third fastest in the practice after coming off his first career IndyCar victory in the most recent street race at Long Beach in April. “I think a lot of people went off in the runoffs, but no one actually hit the wall (too hard), which actually surprised me. Hats off to them for keeping it clean, including myself.

“It was quite a bit less grip than I think everyone expected. Maybe a little bit more bumpy down into Turn 3 than everyone expected. But overall they did a good job between the two manufacturers. I’m sure everyone had pretty much the same we were able to base everything off of. We felt pretty close to maximum right away.”

Most of the preparation for this event was done either on the General Motors Simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina, or the Honda Performance Development simulator in Brownsburg, Indiana.

“Now, we have simulators that can scan the track, so we have done plenty of laps already,” Power told NBC Sports. “They have ground and resurfaced a lot of the track, so it should be smoother.

“But nothing beats real-world experience. It’s going to be a learning experience in the first session.”

As a Team Penske driver, Power and his teammates were consulted about the progress and layout of the Detroit street course. They were shown what was possible with the streets that were available.

“We gave some input back after we were on the similar what might be ground and things like that,” Power said.

Racing on the streets of Belle Isle was a fairly pleasant experience for the fans and corporate sponsor that compete in the race.

But the vibe at the new location gives this a “big event” feel.

“The atmosphere is a lot better,” Power said. “The location, the accessibility for the fans, the crowd that will be here, it’s much easier. I think it will be a much better event.

“It feels like a Long Beach, only in a much bigger city. That is what street course racing is all about.”

Because the track promoter is also the team owner, Power and teammates Scott McLaughlin and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden will have a very busy weekend on the track, and with sponsor and personal appearances.

“That’s what pays the bills and allows us to do this,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500