With temperatures in the low 40s, riders and mechanics found the cool conditions and tightly-packed and ultra-fast racing surface extremely challenging.
Tickle had an extra incentive entering the event. He had his only DNS (did not start) of the season last year at Phoenix. The Michigan native started sixth in his eight-lap Heat Race but was squeezed in Turn 1 in the battle for position and ended up 11th after the first lap. He rebounded with a solid mid-race run and survived a late-race challenge from Chris Blose to finish ninth and advance to the night’s feature event for the 450SX Class.
In the Main Event, Tickle was pushed off course in Turn 1 on the opening lap for the second consecutive week. Despite the tricky track conditions, Tickle rallied to regain six positions and was up to 12th by Lap 13. That’s where he was running when the checkered flag appeared.
“I thought it was a solid night,” said Tickle. “It was a little bit frustrating in the Main because I had a really good week of practice. We worked on a bunch of things and thought that I got them down for tonight’s race. Overall, my race was pretty solid. I just need to be more aggressive out there and not get squeezed on the start. The start tonight wasn’t that good but I don’t think it was my fault. Guys just slammed into (Turn) 1 and things got really hairy, really fast. The goal this week is to keep working on our starts and work on my aggression.”
Turn 1 chaos remains an early season trend in SX racing as riders seek the advantage when the gate drops. It was no different Saturday night at Chase Field.
“Yeah, it (Turn 1) was gnarly,” Tickle added. “I thought that I got a pretty good jump and about halfway down the straightaway everyone on the inside was beating me to the corner. I looked and (Ryan) Dungey was to my outside and I tried to stay as close to the inside as I could to stay on the track. I got bumped by someone and then I got run off the track. It was a bummer, but better than last week and that’s a positive. We’ve got some things to work on.”
Rookie Justin Barcia won the Main Event. Two-time champion Ryan Villopoto was second and David Millsaps, who won last week’s race at Angels Stadium, was third. Barcia became the 56th different winner in the history of the 450SX class.
The AMA Monster Energy Supercross Series returns to Angel Stadium Saturday night for Round 3 of the 17-race series.