Race Day Feed: Monster Energy Cup

Race Day Feed Monster Energy Cup

October 17, 2015 2:10pm

FInal Main Event

All season long, Ken Roczen has been trying to side step the drama that has come from changing and adjusting to a new team in Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's Suzuki. The season offered a few highs, but several lows, but Ken has kept his head and his spirits up, and the relationship never crumbled.

He needed to avoid the drama one more time in Las Vegas, where he headed into the final main event with a two-point lead over Ryan Dungey and Jason Anderson. The first two main events were wild, with crashes, missed Joker Lanes and great battles throughout. But in the third race, Kenny just shut 'em down.

There was one amazing moment, though, when Anderson nailed the holeshot to sweep the start of all three main events. For that, he gets a brand spankin' new Toyota Tundra. Anderson had admitted he's usually not a great starter, and perhaps all that time at the front messed with him, because he jacked up the first rhythm lane on lap one and had to double a triple, while Roczen, who started second, tripled and sailed right past. Dungey got around Anderson as well, and then Trey Canard tried to get Anderson also. Canard nearly tagged Anderson's rear wheel exciting a corner, though, and couldn't jump the finish line jump. In a scary crash, Canard had to bail off and he and his bike crashed into the Team Manager's Tower next to the finish. Luckily, Canard landed softly and was okay.

Roczen continued to lead and Dungey tried to give him a run, but the German inched away. Dungey took a shot by taking the Joker Lane early and hoping to maybe put in a burner lap and gain time, but before the white flag, Roczen took the Joker Lane and maintained his lead. With 1-4-1 scores, Roczen won his first Monster Energy Cup, and $100,000.

Dungey finished second. Anderson had a great night and took third, although he'll lament missing the Joker Lane in race one. In the end, it wouldn't have mattered, as Roczen had just a little more than everyone when it counted.

Amateur All-Star 2

There was a slight chance that someone could challenge Austin Forkner in this one. Chase Sexton logged some fast laps in the first race coming back from a bad start, so maybe, just maybe, he could shadow Forkner if he could get off the gate with him.

 Forkner pulled an absolutely huge holeshot on the drop down start, but then Sexton quickly passed Josh Osby to get into second. The battle might have been on, but Forkner quickly shut that down by pulling away again. The kid is just unbelievable here.

Sexton had some pressure from Mitchel Harrison for most of this one, but hung on for second, and second overall. Harrison was third overall. Those two rode well but Forkner was next level.

Supermini Main 2

Josh Varize and Stylez Robertson battled for the early lead in this one before Stylez secured it. Soon first-race winner Lance Kobusch was around Varize, and Kawasaki Team Green teammates Robertson and Kobusch engaged in a duel.

Robertson had crashed in the first race and finished tenth, so he wasn't in contention for the overall. Still, Kobusch tried to make the pass, and they battled all over the track. Once, Kobusch pulled alongside in a rhythm section just as Robertson was moving over, and they nearly touched in the air. Kobusch barely escaped without crashing, then charged back up to Robertson again on the last lap and made the pass. Robertson wanted to get him back with a wide-open charge around the big Amsoil Arch turn, but grabbed too much, spun, and flew off the inside off the track. He hit the ground and actually slide under the parked Toyota Tundra. Luckily, he was okay.

Kobusch gets the overall with a 1-1.

Third in the first race, Max Miller was solid in this main as well. Had Kobusch crashed while battling Robertson, he could have won the overall.
Third in the first race, Max Miller was solid in this main as well. Had Kobusch crashed while battling Robertson, he could have won the overall.
The supermini final overall.
The supermini final overall.

Main Event 2

Jason Anderson's gaffe in race one, where he missed the Joker Lane and was penalized from first to sixth, might prove very costly. He holeshot the second race, just like he did the first one, but once again a rider snuck past him, this time Justin Barcia. But Anderson quickly fought back and retook the lead from Barcia, and from there he was never headed, bringing his Rockstar Husky home with the win. And yes, this time he also took the Joker Lane, so this counts.

Like the Amateur All-Star race, the battle for second was the entertaining one. Barcia had that spot most of the way, but behind him came Dungey, Millsaps, Canard and Roczen. Dungey bobbled and Millsaps got around him for third. Then Roczen raged through, getting Canard for fourth, and then they both cleared Millsaps and Dungey. The Canard and Roczen battle was a good one, Roczen was in third but then Canard passed him back. Then came the Joker Lane. Dungey was right behind Roczen and took it first, then Roczen took it on the next lap. They emerged exactly where they started--with Dungey right behind Roczen. Just ahead, Canard was trying to catch Barcia for second. On the last lap, Anderson and Barcia took the Joker Lane. Anderson escaped with his lead still in tact, but Canard edged ahead of Barcia as Barcia was exiting the section. At the checkers, Anderson took it over Canard and Barcia, and Roczen finished just ahead of Dungey.

That Roczen/Dungey battle is critical, because Roczen now has a two-position edge on Dungey heading into the third and final race (Roczen has a 1-4, Dungey a 2-5). Anderson is tied for second with Dungey, with his 6-1. But, oh, what could have been. Anderson was third for most of the first race, then took the lead when Dungey and Roczen took the Joker Lane, and he didn't. Had he taken it, he probably would have ended up third, and a 3-1 would give him a one-point edge on Roczen heading into the final main. Ouch.

Anderson can win a Toyota Tundra if he gets a third holeshot. And while the Monster Million is off the table, Roczen, Anderson and Dungey still have $100,000 to fight over. Stay tuned.

By the way, James Stewart didn't line up for this second race. He told Fox Sports reporter Jenny Taft that he jammed his wrist in practice.

Great, close racing here. Canard and Anderson both have some
Great, close racing here. Canard and Anderson both have some "what if's" to think about after that first race, where Canard crashed while leading and Anderson was penalized back to sixth after missing the Joker Lane. In this one, they showed they're as fast as anyone.

Amateur All-Star Race 1

This one featured a really great battle...for second. Austin Forkner lived up to the hype by getting away early and pulling a huge lead, winning six-lap race by 8.6 seconds. Forkner swept every moto in his two shots at this race in the Supermini class, so at the moment he's a perfect 7-0 in motos at this event.

But behind him, it raged. Zac Commans started second and ran there until Josh Osby ran into him to get into second. Commans ended up off the track and going down. A pack of riders charged forward with Osby, including Chase Sexton, who got around Mitchell Harrison to take over third. Then Sexton made a move on Osby to get second. Right behind them, Tristian Charnoneau, teammate of Sexton on a GEICO Honda, also got around Harrison, who is now part of the Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha team. Harrison stuck close with Charboneau to the end, but couldn't get him back. 

Forkner's lead was big but, hey, anything can happen here. Sexton's strong charge up to second puts him in position to win the overall if Forkner has an issue in race two.

Supermini Race 1

KTM rider Austin Black snagged the holeshot in this on, with fast qualifier Lance Kobusch right behind him. Kobusch took a quick shot at the lead, but that actually opened the door for third place Max Miller to sneak into second. But Kobusch got into his groove and pulled a sweet pass on Miller to get second. With two to go, he caught back up to Black, and they went at it. Kobusch made the pass, but Black upped the pace to try to hang with him. After a few bobbles from Black, Kobusch had the distance he needed to get the win. 

Female Team Green rider Hannah Hodges was riding well in fifth early, then washed out on the inside of a corner and went down, she ended up 13th. That also cost Pierce Brown, one of the pre-race favorites, as he was right behind her and got caught up in the crash. Brown finished eighth.
Female Team Green rider Hannah Hodges was riding well in fifth early, then washed out on the inside of a corner and went down, she ended up 13th. That also cost Pierce Brown, one of the pre-race favorites, as he was right behind her and got caught up in the crash. Brown finished eighth.

Main Event 1

Well, didn't take long for craziness to break loose here in Las Vegas! At the start of the first main event, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Jason Anderson and Honda HRC's Trey Canard tussled for the holeshot, with Canard ultimately snagging the lead. Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey quickly filed in behind Canard by getting inside of Anderson over the over/under bridge. At the end of lap one, Canard washed out in a big bowl berm and crashed. Most of the field snuck by him until James Stewart made a similar error and ended up sliding right into Canard just as he was getting up. Both riders were okay, but Canard, who nearly won last year's race, ended up tenth, while Stewart finished 18th. 10 lap mains don't leave much time for comebacks.

This left Roczen leading Dungey, and the Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's RCH Suzuki rider started to pull away slightly over the first few laps. Five laps in, Dungey decided to take the Joker Lane early, dropping the Red Bull KTM rider back to fourth, behind Anderson and BTOSports.com KTM's Davi Millsaps.

Late in the race, Anderson made a charge and got to within 2.2 seconds of Roczen, and then Roczen had to duck into the Joker Lane. Anderson flew past into the lead, and then took the checkered flag first. BUT...he didn't take the Joker Lane. That's a five-position penalty.

This gave Roczen the win, and he's the man in position to win the Monster Million if he can take the next two mains.

"I'm just having fun, so, if it happens, great, but if not, the world doesn't burn down," said Ken in his Fox Sports interview.

A few minutes after the race, Anderson ended all the controversy by straight up admitting on his Twitter account that he didn't take the lane:

LCQ

Martin Davalos and Andrew Short would lead the field into the first turn in the last chance qualifier. The top three of Davalos, Short and Shane McElrath would separate themselves early, while Kyle Partridge, riding for the CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha team this weekend, began to feel pressure from Kyle Chisholm for the final transfer spot.

Chisholm eventually worked his way past Partridge and into a transfer spot, but moments later would loop out at the end of the sand section and wash out. He failed to qualify for the main event. Patridge retook the spot and held off Nick Schmidt’s late charge to finish fourth.

Davalos, Short, McElrath and Partridge all advance to the night show.

LCQ results.
LCQ results.

Second Timed Qualifying Session

Practice just wrapped up at Sam Boyd Stadium and Honda HRC’s Trey Canard topped qualifying with a 1:07.760. In his first appearance at the event last year, trying to become the first rider since Ryan Villopoto in 2011 to win the Monster Million, Canard won two of the first three main events before crashing twice in the final race and finishing third overall.

Toward the end of the second session, Jimmy John’s/Soaring Eagle/RCH Suzuki’s Broc Tickle put down a 1:07.932 to finish second. Christophe Pourcel, Ken Roczen and Jason Anderson would round out the top five.

James Stewart, in his first supercross race in more than a year, finished sixth, just ahead of teammate Blake Baggett. Zach Osborne, Dean Wilson (who crashed in the rhythm section during the second section, but got back up) and Chad Reed rounded out the top ten.

Ryan Dungey couldn’t seem to find his groove in either practice and finished thirteenth. Defending champion Davi Millsaps finished just ahead of new teammate Andrew Short to claim the final qualifying spot in eighteenth.

Short, Martin Davalos, Shane McElrath, Kyle Partridge, Aaron Plessinger, Kyle Chisholm and Chris Blose, among others, will try and qualify through the LCQ.

Combined qualifying times.
Combined qualifying times.

Lance Kobusch rebounded in the second Supermini session to take the top spot over Pierce Brown and Conner Mullennix. Stilez Robertson and Joshua Varize would finish out the top five.

In Amateur All-Stars it was Austin Forkner setting the fastest time over Tristan Charboneau for a second straight practice. Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Mitchell Harrison would finish third ahead of Bradley Taft and Chase Sexton.

Supermini qualifying times.
Supermini qualifying times.
Amateur All-Stars qualifying times.
Amateur All-Stars qualifying times.

First timed qualifying session

The first qualifying session is over and it was Ken Roczen taking the top spot with a 1:08.013. Trey Canard, who was thisclose to winning one million here a year ago, held the top spot for much of the session before finishing second to Roczen with a 1:08.140. Jason Anderson, Christophe Pourcel and Blake Baggett would round out the top five. Ryan Dungey and James Stewart finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

The now retired Ryan Villopoto, who will ride opening ceremonies tonight, participated in practice but was not recorded in the qualifying order. He will not race tonight but will participate in the next practice.

First A session results.
First A session results.
First B session results.
First B session results.

Austin Forkner, a two-time winner in the Supermini Class, took the fastest time in the first Amateur All-Stars session over GEICO Honda’s Tristan Charboneau. Forkner is expected to make his pro debut at the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross opener. Bradley Taft finished third over Chase Sexton and Josh Osby.

Utah’s Pierce Brown set the fastest time in the first Supermini session over Conner Mullennix and Joshua Varize. Lance Kobusch and Stilez Robertson would round out the top five.

First Amateur All-Star qualifying results.
First Amateur All-Star qualifying results.
First Supermini qualifying results.
First Supermini qualifying results.

Morning Report

Monster Energy Supercross returns to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas for the fifth annual Monster Energy Cup tonight. The high-profile off-season race, which started back in 2011 with Ryan Villopoto winning the Monster Million (the only rider ever to do so), marks the last race of 2015 for most riders, with a chance at one million to any rider that wins all three main events.

The track is quite a bit different this year. Riders will start inside the stadium for the first time since 2011, as the start will be elevated nearly twelve feet. The starts funnels into a bottleneck first turn, which leads directly into the over-under bridge. Another new edition will be a sand section directly after riders enter back into the stadium.

"I'm really excited about this year's track design, and feel it is quite a bit different than any before it," said Carmichael in a recent press release. "Of course, the elevated start is going to be cool to see and I like that it is back inside the stadium for this year.”

Following a sixteen month suspension for testing positive for a prohibited substance following the Seattle Supercross in 2014, Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart returned last weekend at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm event, defeating Jimmy John’s/Soaring Eagle/RCH Suzuki’s Ken Roczen in the final for a second consecutive Open Class title. Tonight will be James’ first supercross race since Las Vegas 2014, and he admitted after last weekend’s win that while winning both races would be nice, his main focus is the Monster Energy Supercross Championship.

“When you don't race, the one thing you lose is that race craft, learning not to make mistakes when a guy is next to you, that speed, all that,” he said. “I was kind of worried about that, but at the same time, I knew I was just kind of getting back into this thing, so I felt like whatever happened [here], happens, and the same thing with next weekend, but it's January that counts.”

Chad Reed is also back for the first time since shutting the doors to his TwoTwo Motorsports outfit this summer, and he returns to a brand—Yamaha—he rode from 2002-2008 in the States. Reed is rumored to be returning to the brand full-time in 2016, but nothing has been finalized. The Monster Energy Cup will serve as a one-off race for the two.

“Chad and I talked a couple of times during the summer, and he expressed interest in riding a Yamaha YZ450F,” commented Keith McCarty, Motorsports Racing Division Manager for Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. “While he was rehabbing from injuries suffered earlier in the 2015 AMA Supercross season, he wanted to try out a Yamaha. So, we got him a YZ450F to train on, and he really liked the bike. He felt that he could be competitive on it. Well, one thing led to another, and he decided that he wanted to give it a go on the Yamaha at the Monster Energy Cup.”

“I’m really excited to take this trip down memory lane with Yamaha,” Chad said. “It’s great to be working again with a group of guys that I had so much success with many years ago. I’m looking forward to this weekend, and this special opportunity to race a Yamaha at the Monster Energy Cup.”

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Wil Hahn was expected to race tonight, but was a late scratch due to an ankle injury preparing for the race.

For more storylines to watch tonight, check out our 10 Things to Watch column.

Qualifying kicks off at 3:00 p.m. ET on SupercrossLive.com.. Coverage of the mains air live on FOX Sports 2 tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET with replay Sunday, October 18 on FOX at 2:30 p.m. ET and 4:30 p.m. ET.