Saturday Night Live: Anaheim 3

Saturday Night Live Anaheim 3

February 2, 2014 3:35am

The Anaheim 2 win by Chad Reed was epic and emotional and unexpected and crazy and unforgettable. This win? It seemed like business as usual, no different than any of the 40 plus victories Reed has had in his career, no different than Chad Reed wining in his twenties, or on a Yamaha, or a Suzuki or a Honda. This is proof that Reedy is a genuine championship contender, and his success is repeatable each week. “This one is more about just having good weeks every week, and making sure that ninth in Phoenix is my worst night,” he said. Plus, there’s no doubting the “straight upness” of it since he had to pass the Monster Energy Supercross Champion and points leader Ryan Villopoto to get the lead and the win.

Is Reed actually riding better than he ever has? The veteran says no, he thinks the level and the pace are the same as when he was battling Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart a generation ago—although he mentions the tracks are easier so the riders are literally going faster. He also says the style of Ryan Villopoto, especially in the corners, is very, very similar to Carmichael. “I get the same nightmares about racing that guy like I would racing Ricky,” joked Reed after the race.

Reedy did it again.
Reedy did it again. Photo: Cudby

The race was so close and intense—a six-pack of riders emerged within striking distance of the lead, with Reed, Roczen, Villopoto, Stewart, Dungey, and Barcia. From the view high up in the press box, you could see each rider making a run. Roczen would go after Reed, Reed would get away, they’d both pull Villopoto but then Villopoto would close back in. Plus the Stewart/Dungey/Barcia group would get close, too, and there were times where there was a threat of a six-rider freight train battle for the win. The lap times were long, too, so the main event felt like it went on forever. That said, by the end, it was clear Reed and Roczen were the best of the bunch, and Roczen pushed Reed hard to the end. How about that—the 19-year-old and the 31-year-old dueling! Put it this way: when Reed was winning his first SX race in 2003, Roczen was eight.

What about Ryan Villopoto? He admits the dirt at Anaheim is probably the worst case scenario for his riding style. “The first couple laps I was too timid—the first lap especially,” he said. “For me, this is the style of track or dirt where I would struggle the most, and you can do more damage to yourself by pushing too hard and ending up on the ground. I did my best to keep them close until about lap 15. I’m just happy to leave here on the box.

Eli Tomac looked good, but not spectacular, in his return from a shoulder injury. A flat tire led to a DNF in the main.
Eli Tomac looked good, but not spectacular, in his return from a shoulder injury. A flat tire led to a DNF in the main. Photo: Cudby

Big sigh of relief for Justin Barcia, who not only logged a season-best fourth, but rode better than he has at any race since the Anaheim 1 opener. He was fast in practice, flirting with the top of the board all day. A crash in his heat sent him to the semi, and he had another bad start in the main. But when he rolled up to the back of the Stewart Dungey battle—and even closed in as they dueled—it was clear Barcia was back to running the pace of the lead group, which is where he was expected to be all along. The starts--normally a Barcia strength—are still killing him though.

Weston Peick got fifth! Weston Peick got fifth! Unreal. “I’m super pumped on it, the field is super stacked this year, but I think it just comes down to playing your cards right. I’m super happy on the top five and we’re working on that podium before the end of the year. It’s not going to be easy but we’re going to keep working for it.”

First off night of the season for Justin Brayton, who started toward the front but got passed by Barcia and Peick before taking sixth. Still good, but not quite the same pace we’ve seen from Brayton the last few weeks.

Let’s talk about two recurring themes here: The Quad and Angry Dunge. Just like last week in Oakland, a big quad jump materialized, first jumped by Eli Tomac in practice. In the main, James Stewart pulled the trigger to make a run at the leaders, but Dungey—again, in a move more aggressive than usual—stepped up to match Stewart over it. Then Dungey ran it in on Stewart in a corner and sent Stewart to the ground. A lap later, Dungey crashed at the end of the whoops and broke his clutch lever off, ending his night (he couldn’t ride with the lever dangling near his front wheel). Angry Dunge has been aggressive, but hasn’t finished on the podium, and the night’s DNF puts him in a huge points hole.

Stewart’s race was ruined by the Dungey knock down. No telling if he and Dungey would have been able to make a run at Villopoto, but, using the quad, they were getting close at times, but weren’t quite close enough to put the pressure on.

These two were ready to get it on down the stretch in the 250s, but a Seely crash made the difference.
These two were ready to get it on down the stretch in the 250s, but a Seely crash made the difference. Photo: Cudby

Dean Wilson’s 250 win was actually surprising, but in a strange way. In practice and in his heat, Dean was so much faster than the rest of the field, routinely lapping a second quicker than anyone, and then he won his six lap heat by nearly 13 seconds. But in the main, Cole Seely had the answer, getting out in front of Wilson and then outpacing him through the first half of the race. Down the stretch, Wilson began to inch back up, and things were set to get crazy in the final laps as Seely approached lapped traffic. Then Seely went down, and Wilson got by. All day long, it appeared Wilson would win the race, but the way he did it wasn’t the way it was expected to be,

Seely has quite a few heart breakers this year, but he’s now back tied for the points lead. If he wins the title, he’ll feel fine.

The big story in the 250 main—besides the Seely/Wilson struggle out front—was Malcolm Stewart’s knockdown on Jason Anderson. Look for post race video interviews with both riders on Sunday to get each side of the story.