10 Things to Watch: Oakland

10 Things To Watch: Oakland

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By: Aaron Hansel and Chase Stallo

He’s Still Got It
It’s a good thing Angel Stadium is an open stadium, because the roof would have been blown completely off last Saturday night when Chad Reed passed his constant rival James Stewart for the lead and took the checkers. Before A2, people wondered if Reed would ever win another race. Now the question is, how many more will he get this season? We know that when Reed is happy with his program he’s dangerous, and judging by the way he rode at A2, he looks pretty happy. Can he keep it rolling for two in a row in Oakland? – Aaron Hansel

Underwhelming
It’s not often you hear that word associated with Justin Barcia, but so far his season has been just that. He rode well at the opener, but a bad start put a damper on his night. In Phoenix he was looking good for the win, until he mysteriously fell off the pace and faded back to fifth. Things went from mediocre to worse at A2 when a bad start and late crash resulted in an eleventh place for the Team Honda Muscle Milk rider. If Barcia wants a shot at the title, he needs to start turning in better results immediately. Can he turn things around this weekend? - Hansel

Ken Roczen will enter Oakland with the red plate. Will he leave with it? Photo: Simon Cudby
Ken Roczen will enter Oakland with the red plate. Will he leave with it? Photo: Simon Cudby

Taking it Back
It isn’t every day that a rider gets the red plate back by taking third. Then again, it isn’t every day that a rookie exhibits the remarkable poise that Ken Roczen has so far this year. On a tricky A2 track, the Red Bull KTM rider maintained his focus and was able to capitalize on the misfortune of Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villopoto to move back into the points lead by a single point. Will that lead evaporate or get bigger in Oakland? - Hansel

Panic Mode
After winning his heat at A2, Dean Wilson found himself running third in the main and looking good for his first podium finish of 2014. Unfortunately, the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider clipped a tuff block and went down, pushing him back to seventh on the night. With six Western Regional 250SX races remaining, Wilson now faces a nineteen-point deficit to championship leader Cole Seely, which is a huge hole. A win streak would help, but given the strength exhibited by Seely and Anderson so far, that’s going to be a tall order. Will he bust through for his first win in Oakland? - Hansel

Rare Aggression
There were a lot of double takes last Saturday night when Ryan Dungey came flying in and took out Broc Tickle in his heat race. A lap later, The Dunge busted out another aggressive block pass on Josh Hill to take the final transfer spot. Dungey even come in hot on Ryan Villopoto in the last corner on the final lap of the main, putting both riders on the ground. We don’t see that level of aggression from Dungey very often; will we see it again this weekend? - Hansel

How will Jason Anderson respond after being docked two spots at A2? Photo: Simon Cudby
How will Jason Anderson respond after being docked two spots at A2? Photo: Simon Cudby

Momentum Halted?
For the first time all season Jason Anderson has been thrown a curve ball. Following two dramatic come-from-behind wins at Anaheim 1 and Phoenix, respectively, Anderson was docked two spots at A2 for jumping on a medic flag. The error cost Anderson four points and the 250SX West Region points lead for the first time. Although known for his laid back demeanor, it will be interesting to see how Anderson deals with the first signs of adversity in 2014. – Chase Stallo

Five within Five
With the top five riders in 450SX separated by a mere five points heading into Round 4 in Oakland, the old saying, “It’s still anyone’s ball game,” still applies. How rare is this occurrence? Since 2009, first through fifth have been separated by 16pts (2009), 21pts (2010), 24pts (2011), 19pts (2012) and 15pts (2013), respectively, through three rounds. Will the pack begin to thin at Oakland, or become even more crowded? – Chase Stallo

Can Justin Hill secure his first career podium at Oakland? Photo: Simon Cudby
Can Justin Hill secure his first career podium at Oakland? Photo: Simon Cudby

Taking the Next Step
Three rounds of Monster Energy Supercross have been provided three different 450SX winners. With perennial title contenders Ryan Dungey, James Stewart and Justin Barcia yet to notch a win—and a surging Justin Brayton on the brink—there’s a high probability of seeing a fourth winner in as many rounds. Will a new victor emerge by the bay or can RV, Roczen or Reed notch win number two? - Stallo  

Peick’s Peak
While the results weren’t there early, Weston Peick’s stock has continued to rise in 2014. The California brute set the sixth fastest lap at A1 before a mechanical. He then matched a career-high seventh at A2 two weeks later, which came on the heels of a brutal crash in Phoenix. The question remains: What is Peick’s ceiling? Can he tag along with the lead pack—whomever that may be? Is a top-five or even a podium out of the realm of possibilities? Momentum is clearly on his side. Can he take advantage in Oakland? - Stallo

Moving up the Hill
The struggles of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki have been well documented. But has Justin Hill, in just his second season, broken out of his shell? His majestic ride from last to fifth—passing veterans Zach Osborne and Dean Wilson along the way—last week showed the younger Hill has real promise. Will Oakland provide Pro Circuit, and Hill, their first podium of the season? - Stallo

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