As tracks and dirt have evolved in Monster Energy Supercross, Houston has begun to climb the ranks of favored races in the series. A few tracks that used to offer soft, tacky dirt have gone the other way, but Houston keeps getting better and better, to the point where many call it the best in the game.
But while the dirt is good, the track has produced varied opinions. It’s technical and tough—or just dangerous—depending on who you talk to. Practice was littered with crashes due to short, steep transitions in between rhythms, and a long whoop section with varying space between the bumps. These things are catching riders out and we saw a ton of hits and near misses throughout the day. The track will rut up and break down a bit due to the softer dirt, too, so it will be tough to lay down perfect laps in the mains.
The tough track just makes Jason Anderson’s performance in 250 qualifying more impressive. He hasn’t raced since February but showed no rust at all attacking both timed practices, and nailed the fastest overall time in the class. Dean Wilson looked fast in the first practice, struggled in the second, then came back strong in session three to end up second overall. Malcolm Stewart was on the gas the whole day and spent some time on top of the board, he was third.
Anderson’s title rival, Cole Seely, was only seventh. Cole has had some races earlier in the year where he qualified only so-so but came back strong in the main, so don’t count him out. Also don't forget Justin Hill, who won the last West race back in San Diego--he was fourth fastest.
In the 450 class, the track does offer one extra jump combo the riders can reach for—a quad into the corner before the finish. Josh Hill and Ryan Villopoto jumped it in the final session, and RV did end up with the fastest time overall. James Stewart, who has won the last three races, is sick and only logged a few laps in the first timed session, and didn’t ride the final practice at all. His time from the first session leaves him tenth overall.
We mentioned the track taking a few riders down in practice. Justin Brayton probably got the worst of it. He went down twice, and the second crash, in the whoops, resulted in a broken hand. It's a boxer's fracture which is usually a quick injury to return from, but Brayton is definitely out for tonight. We'll see what happens beyond that.
On the other end, Brayton's teammate Josh Grant seems to have stepped up today, looking faster here than he has all season. He was sixth fastest. Josh Hill, mentioned earlier, was fifth. These two are looking to get in the void and log their first top fives of the season.