2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Nashville: Eli Tomac retakes the top spot


Nearly every position among the top 20 changed hands in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Nashville with Eli Tomac reassuming the lead and last week’s most powerful rider Justin Barcia dropping dramatically after crashing on Lap 8 and finishing 21st. This was a sharp contrast to last week when practically none of the top 20 riders changed positions.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Nashville
Chase Sexton has ridden to victory in two of the last three rounds with perfect races. – Feld Motor Sports

The 2023 Supercross championship was radically altered last week in the first 450 heat when Cooper Webb’s front wheel washed out in the third turn. When he went to the ground, his helmet was struck at speed by Adam Cianciarulo and the result was a concussion that will put an end to his 2023 Supercross campaign. Most of the remaining riders in the top five in SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Nashville are ones who have shown consistent speed.

The NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings look at the past 45 days for the 450SX division, which includes races from Daytona through Nashville and during that span, Tomac has been almost perfect in podium finishes in his heats and mains. An eighth-place result in the Indianapolis main is the only time he’s been outside the top five and as long as he continues to ride that well in the next two rounds, there is not going to be any question about the championship.

Chase Sexton is 18 points behind Tomac with two rounds remaining. His focus remains on overcoming that deficit, but that is not the most important thing for Sexton, who will need a mistake by Tomac in order to take the title. But in a very large sense, Sexton has already done what he needs to do. After several consecutive races with mistakes, he rode perfectly at Atlanta and Nashville in the last three rounds and that will give him some momentum heading into the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series.

MORE: Chase Sexton moves into second after Cooper Webb injured

Ken Roczen was involved in a spirited battle for fourth in the points’ standings with Justin Barcia and Jason Anderson heading into this week. Accidents for those two riders in Nashville, in addition to the injury sustained by Webb, have changed his focus. He now has a chance to end the season third in points, which is not something most experts would have expected at the beginning of 2023 when Roczen made the move to Suzuki. His third-place finish in Nashville is his third consecutive podium.

With seven consecutive top-five finishes from Daytona through his New Jersey win, Barcia was the hottest rider on the circuit. He picked up where he left off with a heat win ahead of Sexton and Roczen, but an accident in the Nashville main earned minimal points both in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings and championship.

With Webb’s injury, Cianciarulo ranks fifth among active riders despite missing several rounds in the middle of the season. Cianciarulo is fighting previous injuries and a mental state that proves challenging each week. As soon as he breaks into the top five the floodgates will open and Cianciarulo’s confidence will be restored. For now, he’s finished between sixth and 10th in 10 of the 12 rounds he’s made.

Rising to eighth, Colt Nichols scored his first top five of the season in Nashville with a fourth-place result. He missed four rounds from Daytona through Seattle with an injury but has earned three top-10s in the four races since he returned.

450 Rankings

Driver Power
1. Eli Tomac 88.58 4 3
2. Chase Sexton 88.00 2 0
3. Ken Roczen 83.00 5 2
4. Justin Barcia 80.17 1 -3
5. Cooper Webb
78.00 3 -2
6. Adam Cianciarulo 72.50 7 1
7. Aaron Plessinger
67.88 8 1
8. Colt Nichols 65.50 10 2
9. Dean Wilson 63.50 12 3
10. Justin Hill 61.50 11 1
11. Jason Anderson 58.67 9 -2
12. Kyle Chisholm 52.42 16 4
13. Josh Hill 47.75 14 1
14. Shane McElrath 46.58 13 -1
15. Benny Bloss 45.82 15 0
16. Fredrik Noren 43.73 18 2
17. Logan Karnow 42.40 21 4
18. Kevin Moranz 41.00 19 1
19. Chase Marquier 40.83 20 1
20. Grant Harlan 40.33 17 -3

Supercross 450 Points

Hunter Lawrence clinched the 205 East championship last week in style by winning his heat and the main. He will enter the season finale with only one thought in mind and that will be to beat his brother Jett Lawrence in the East/West Shootout and finish the season with a clear lead in season victories. Hunter and Jett can still end the season with seven wins apiece and both riders have been almost perfect in heat races as well.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Nashville
Jo Shimoda has been flying high since his return to the series at Glendale. – Feld Motor Sports

Jo Shimoda has to wonder what the championship would have been like if he had not missed the start of the season to injury. Since returning to action at Atlanta he has had a reason to be happy at the close of each round. He scored a top-five on that hybrid track, won the first heat race of his career in New Jersey and scored a podium last week in Nashville. If the Lawrence brothers worry about one another in Salt Lake City, Shimoda could steal the win.

Haiden Deegan is third among active 250 East riders and he’s accomplished that with a mixture of speed and consistency. In nine rounds, he has a worst finish of eighth and three podiums. He believes he would be better situated in the points if he had been a little more aggressive in the opening rounds, but it is more likely that he needed to get comfortable with this level of competition before he unleashed the beast of his personality.

Supercross 250 Points

Jordon Smith led early in Nashville and had a great opportunity to win. Lawrence did not want to do anything to jeopardize his championship and was not going to press the envelope until several riders retired and guaranteed him at least a 20th-place result. Smith jumped wide midway through the race and lost the lead. He also loss some momentum and allowed Shimoda to get around as well.

Max Anstie was back in his familiar position last week in Nashville. Earning his eighth top-five of the season in nine rounds, the only time he’s stumbled was with a crash in Detroit that sent him to the haulers last in the rundown. As Anstie get increasingly comfortable in the 250 division, he is going to rise even higher in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings and Nashville was another step in the right direction.

250 Rankings

Driver Power
1. Jett Lawrence – W 91.80 2 1
2. Hunter Lawrence – E 91.15 1 -1
3. Cameron McAdoo – W
86.25 7 4
4. RJ Hampshire – W 84.80 10 6
5. Jo Shimoda – E 80.67 6 1
6. Nate Thrasher – E
80.25 4 -2
7. Haiden Deegan – E 79.65 5 -2
8. Levi Kitchen – W 79.20 3 -5
9. Pierce Brown – W 77.00 12 3
10. Jordon Smith – E 76.84 9 -1
11. Max Anstie – E 76.60 8 -3
12. Enzo Lopes – W 75.70 18 6
13. Jeremy Martin – E 74.44 11 -2
14. Max Vohland – W 70.20 13 -1
15. Chris Blose – E 68.45 15 0
16. Tom Vialle – E 67.50 16 0
17. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 17 0
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 19 1
19. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 64.00 14 -5
20. Carson Mumford – W 61.38 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 13 AT ATLANTA: Justin Barcia leapfrogs the Big 3
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
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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