For many, Phoenix is the rebound round. Anaheim has a history of strange results, and if you are one of the riders who crashed or just had an off night, this is your chance to right the ship. Often times there are a lot of lessons learned about bike setup and race settings versus the test track. For guys like Dean Wilson, Cole Seely, and Blake Baggett, it marked their first legitimate supercross on their new bikes, and I would assume they gained valuable experience. Although, Anderson, who was also making his premier-class debut, it looked like he had been racing a 450 for years. I think we will see a big mix-up from what we saw just last weekend.
Dirty Little Secrets:
The dirt in Phoenix is just what you would think of Arizona. Its orange hue portrays that southwestern Adobe clay that can be found for hundreds of miles. The dirt is tricky because it changes quite a bit during the day. In the early practice sessions, it can be quite good. The dirt takes water well and will tack up when worked in. Unfortunately for the riders, though, the roof is often removed during the afternoon. While this is great for the atmosphere and fans enjoying the sunshine, it really does a number on the dirt. The direct sunlight dries up that precious moisture and hardens the surface. Further, it creates some pretty nasty shadows across portions of the track, which are never fun. Depth perception is somewhat important in supercross and shadows really inhibit visibility.
The track map looks a lot slower than Anaheim was, which will play more into a rider like Chad Reed’s hands. He does well with big whoops and technical sections, and Phoenix looks to have both of those. If the whoops are indeed big, look for Wilson to excel here, as his lanky frame lends to tough whoops. The start looks very short and goes into a 180-degree turn, making the outside gates virtually useless unless you are Mike Alessi. That guy could start in the tunnel and still somehow holeshot.
Ryan Dungey is another guy who could potentially benefit from the dirt and track in Phoenix. If Dungey gets to the front in Phoenix, he has a great chance of winning. The hard Phoenix dirt suits his style well. Dungey’s strong point is carrying momentum through turns with minimal traction. He has a knack for staying off of the brakes and allowing the bike to roll through the turn without needing much acceleration. This is crucial when the dirt is hard and slippery. Wheel-spin is a big no-no at Phoenix and Dungey is a master of avoiding it. Taking a look at the numbers, it’s easy to see what happens when he puts himself in good position. If Dungey grabs the holeshot on Saturday, look for him to stay there.
Here are his previous results.
Lap 1: 1st | Lap 20: 1st
Lap 1: 7th | Lap 20: 5th
Lap 1: 1st | Lap 20: 1st
Lap 1: 16th | Lap 20: 8th
Lap 1: 2nd | Lap 20: 3rd
Coming off his second straight Anaheim 1 win, Ken Roczen is certainly running hot. He made it look easy out there and must be brimming with confidence going into round two. Jason Anderson made his rookie debut and left with an impressive runner-up spot. It’ll be interesting to see how he follows up on that finish at his home race in Phoenix.
Andrew Short came out of the gate swinging at A1 with his first heat race win since 2010 and a top-five finish to boot. The new KTM must be suiting him well as that is the best Andrew Short we have seen in years. Weston Peick looked to leave the first race with a super solid sixth-place but gave up a spot to teammate Justin Barcia on the last lap. Peick’s out to prove he belongs in that top five every weekend, so look for him to keep pushing the envelope.
Eli Tomac had a rough main event to say the least. After setting the fastest overall time and winning his heat race, things were looking up for the Colorado native. Two crashes left him way behind the leaders and scrambling to salvage any points at all. Look for Tomac to rebound in a serious way in Arizona.
Chad Reed also had his troubles in SoCal, with undisclosed bike issues leading to a disappointing tenth-place finish. Phoenix is one of the only events Reed has never won, so surely he’s motivated to bounce back in the valley of the sun. BTOSports.com KTM’s Justin Brayton had a night to forget as well, as he just looked a touch off his normal self all night. He had a breakout ride at Phoenix last year, so look for fireworks from Iowa’s pride.
James Stewart, in a controversial move still under debate by the FIM, changes his name and races in Phoenix. “Andy” from PulpMX fame is credited with the unorthodox idea that the FIM only suspended the name James Stewart and not his actual DNA, therefore freeing him to race under an alias.
Eli Tomac announces that he will be starring in the final installment of the Hunger Games after his bow hunting skills are exposed in the opening ceremonies at Anaheim 1. No word on a potential fling with co-star Jennifer Lawrence. J-Law was rumored to be shocked at how gnarly John Tomac truly is.
Newly honored Hall of Famer Randy Johnson decides he’s had enough of the photographer side of things and decides to suit up for Saturday’s racing. The Big Unit hits the first triple and goes head over heels into the trackside TGI Fridays. Doc Bodnar checks things out and after posing for a picture for local media, declares Johnson fit to continue. Johnson goes on to set a record for the tallest rider to ever qualify for a main event, richest man to ever qualify for a main event, and coolest nickname ever.
Weston Peick takes out Ken Roczen en route to a heat win but is penalized for sending a tweet during the actual race. Details of the quickly erased tweet are sketchy, but apparently it involved how Kenny felt about JGR’s new sponsor, Weinerschnitzel.
Tate Reed has had his fill of tenth-place finishes and subs in for his dad in Phoenix. While his starts were poor on the PW50, his talent was undeniable and landed him a third-place in his first SX ever. On the podium, he wanted to thank Lego, Lightning McQueen, and juice boxes across America.
1. Trey Canard
2. Eli Tomac
3. Ken Roczen
1. Cooper Webb
2. Justin Hill
3. Jessy Nelson