10 Things to Watch: Anaheim 3

10 Things To Watch: Anaheim 3

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Tomac Returns

GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac was about two turns into his 450SX rookie season before colliding with Jake Weimer and suffering the shoulder injury that has keep him grounded since Anaheim 1. "It was a weird deal because I went to a few different specialists and there was nothing structurally wrong with my arm or my shoulder, but at the same time it was really weak while it was healing,” said Tomac. “I just couldn't hold onto the bike well enough to race at this level.” Parity has engulfed the 450SX class in 2014 and another contender has just been thrown in the fire. "No one is even thinking of us at this point, so maybe we can get out there and sneak up on some guys,” said Tomac. Can Tomac make an immediate impact at A3? – Chase Stallo

Anaheim Redemption

Less than two weeks ago, the last time Monster Energy Supercross invaded Anaheim, Ryan Dungey had nothing but daylight between himself and his first win of 2014. The typically calm and in control Dungey made an uncharacteristic mistake and was shuffled back to sixth at night’s end. With five riders within striking distance of series leader Ryan Villopoto, each and every point is magnified. The dirt will be very similar to what the riders saw at A2, which could position Dungey for another run toward his first win of the season. – Stallo

Ryan Dungey is still looking for his first win of the season. Photo: Simon Cudby
Ryan Dungey is still looking for his first win of the season. Photo: Simon Cudby

Chink in the Armor

For the first time all season Cole Seely found himself off the box in Oakland, which cost him the 250SX West points lead. It wasn’t the first sign of adversity for Seely in 2014—he overcame back-to-back devastating losses to begin the season—but it was the first time he has seemed a bit “off.” Jason Anderson, who was thrown a curve ball (penalized two spots) at Anaheim 2, capitalized with a win to regain the red plates. While Seely has led the most laps this season (40) he only has one win to his credit. Will he return to his winning ways in Anaheim? – Stallo

Consistency Helps

Chad Reed feasts on podiums. He’s the all-time leader with 124 career podiums and holds a career podium percentage of 75 percent. This year, Reed is the only 450SX rider with three podiums through four rounds, and he sits second in the standings, seven behind Villopoto. But those podiums were of course highlighted by his epic win an Anaheim 2. Will Reed return to the top this weekend? – Stallo

The Booth

After spot duty a season ago, Kevin Windham will join the FOX Sports 1 broadcast this weekend as the second color analyst alongside Jeff Emig and Ralph Sheheen. We’ve already seen Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath head to the booth this year. What are you expecting to see from Windham this weekend? – Stallo

Can Chad Reed capture the magic again in Anaheim? Photo: Simon Cudby
Can Chad Reed capture the magic again in Anaheim? Photo: Simon Cudby

The Hill Climb

Coming into 2014, we heard Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Justin Hill had made some big improvements. That type of talk is common during the preseason, and it doesn’t always pan out. It’s starting to look like the Hill hype has merit. At A2 Hill charged back up to fifth after a first-turn crash, and in Oakland he led six of fifteen laps before grabbing his first career podium. If Hill rides like he did in Oakland, he could make some waves at the front of the pack at A3. –Aaron Hansel

Trying Times

If you’re Dean Wilson, you’ve got to be wondering what you did to anger the supercross gods. He was hurt right before the start of the season, watched a pair of podiums slip away at the first two races, and crashed back to seventh at A2. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider had a win nearly wrapped up in Oakland, until his engine malfunctioned on the last lap, which handed the win over to Jason Anderson. It was a heartbreaking turn of events, but if Dean wants to keep any hope of a championship chase alive he’s going to have to put it behind him and win at A3. -Hansel

Drought Resistance

So far this year Ryan Villopoto has yet to win in Anaheim. He crashed while leading at A1 and took fourth, and at A2 he went down again and finished fifth after getting together with James Stewart. After an Oakland win, Villopoto said the team had made some positive changes to the bike that resulted in a ride that he feels is more stable, corners better and is faster through the whoops. That’s good news for the Monster Energy Kawasaki crew, but bad news for the competition. RV was already in position to win both Anaheim races, and if his new setup is as good as he says, he’s going to be extremely tough to beat at A3. -Hansel

Ryan Villopoto is going for back-to-back wins on Saturday.Photo: Simon Cudby
Ryan Villopoto is going for back-to-back wins on Saturday.Photo: Simon Cudby

Slippery Slopes

This year the dirt in Anaheim has been a bit of a sore point for many of the riders. It’s accumulated a lot of rocks over the years and the lack of rain this year on the West Coast has resulted in a dry and slick racing surface, one that Ryan Villopoto said forces riders to tiptoe around. With another Monster Jam event taking place at Angel Stadium while supercross visited Oakland, the racing surface promises to be more hard-packed than ever, which could lead to some shakeups for riders who try to push the limits of traction. -Hansel

The Burglar

We’ve talked about Jason Anderson’s last-lap thievery in this column before, but with him pulling the trick yet again in Oakland (for the third time this year!), we can’t stop talking about it! Luck has been in play in some cases, but perhaps not as much as it would appear. After the race in Oakland, Anderson’s riding coach, Jeff Ward, mentioned that they’ve been working on pushing Jason to qualifying speed for the final four to five laps of the race. In other words, they’re actively working on making Anderson’s last laps his best laps. Let’s see if he uses that strength to steal yet another win at A3. -Hansel

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