Coming into the third round of Monster Energy Supercross there was a lot of hype surrounding Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac. Each had had outstanding nights, and both are beginning to be viewed as the next dominators of the sport. But who would make the next strike? Would a third racer step up and seize victory? Would Roczen extend his points lead? Would Tomac take another step toward digging out of the deep hole he wound up in after crashing his way to twentieth at the opener? Check out the Race Day Feed Below to find out. Start at the top to get right down to main event business, or start at the bottom for chronoligical order.
By Jason Weigandt and Aaron Hansel
450 Main Event
Andrew Short started the night out great with a holeshot, but unfortunately that’s about as good as it would get for him. He surrendered the lead to Ken Roczen after one lap then proceeded to crash hard, ending his night. He also collected Jason Anderson, who was right behind Short and simply had nowhere to go. The commotion gave Roczen some breathing room, so he put his head down and went to work building a lead. Behind him there was a huge battle for second place between Davi Millsaps, Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac, Cole Seely, and Justin Barcia. Dungey busted through it to get to second, with Tomac following him through. Millsaps would eventually get freight trained, and Reed and Canard both went down when Canard jumped too far while trying to get inside of Reed, and he landed on the back of Reed’s bike as Reed was cutting left. Reed was visibly upset and threw up his hands at Canard. The two rejoined the race but Reed still wasn’t finished, and he ran into the side of Canard as Canard was ripping a tear off. The hit sent Canard into a Tuff Block and over the bars, but he got right back up and in the race. Different story for Reed though, who was black flagged for the move.
Up front Roczen was still leading, but Dungey was starting to cut into his lead ever so slightly. But then Dungey made a mistake and missed a triple, which undid all of the work he’d put into catching Roczen. Roczen would win easily, with Dungey and Tomac rounding out the podium.
250 Main Event
Zach Osborne got this one going with a holeshot, with Jessy Nelson and Chris Alldredge close behind. Nelson didn’t wait long to turn up the heat on Osborne though and after hounding him for a bit he scrubbed the finish line jump, made the pass and lit the burners. It was beginning to look like a runaway for Nelson again until he came up just a little short on the over-under table, got squirrelly, and went off the track into some Tuff Blocks. Alldredge, who was running in a podium position for the first five laps, was having an even worse night. After getting freight trained by a bunch of guys he came up short on a triple and developed a nasty case of whiskey throttle, resulting in him somehow getting airborne again before mashing into the dirt at speed. Fortunately he’s okay and should be back in action next week. McElrath also went down after getting bumped into the Tuff Blocks by Josh Hansen, who was on the receiving end of the same move from McElrath two weeks prior.
Up front meanwhile Tyler Bowers had inherited the lead from Nelson and was doing his best to check out. Initially it looked like a threat might come from second-place Justin Hill, but it was Cooper Webb who would mount the unlikely challenge. Not that Webb is any stranger to running up front, but he’d started outside the top ten which is usually a death sentence for winning races. Nobody told Webb though and after shredding through the pack he finally got close enough to Bowers to make a move on the final lap. It was quite a move too. Webb put an aggressive block pass on Bowers that ended up with Bowers going off the track, tangling with a Tuff Block and going down. Webb finished the remaining half lap to win his second race in a row and become the series’ newest points leader. Credit to Bowers for quickly remounting and salvaging second place, but coughing up the win so late in the race has to sting, especially since winning would have put Bowers in the points lead.
Jake Weimer and Jimmy Albertson went at it for the lead early on, swapping spots a few times before Weimer eventually broke away and took the checkers. Albertson would hang onto second, with Kyle Chisholm and Ben LaMay finishing third and fourth to make their first main events of the year.
450 Semi 2
Not a whole lot to talk about with this one. Trey Canard took the early lead away from Josh Grant and disappeared faster than two-strokes in professional racing. Grant held onto second, followed by Dean Wilson, Brett Metcalfe and Blake Baggett, who had a nice little battle with Jimmy Albertson for the final spot on the last lap.
450 Semi 1
The firs 450 semi was a crazy one for Justin Barcia, who got a horrible start and was forced to come back from last. Despite going off the track after that, he managed to work into a qualifying position within a few laps, only to nearly throw it all away on the last lap while running second. Up front Broc Tickle won easily, but you could argue Cade Clason was the real winner—he holeshot and held down second place for most of the race to make his first main. Tough break for Freddy Noren, who came up short and crashed out while running in a transfer spot. Justin Brayton also went down attempting to pass Nick Wey for the final transfer spot on the final lap and broke his collarbone. Tickle, Tomac, Barcia, Clason, and Wey all advanced to the main.
450 Heat 2
The second 450 heat featured role reversal when Andrew Short got the holeshot but was immediately passed by Mike Alessi for the lead. Cole Seely was right behind them with Dean Wilson, Trey Canard, Justin Barcia, and Jason Anderson following. Barcia was on the move and things were looking like they might get a little crazy when Barcia, Wilson and Canard came into a corner three-wide. Barcia slid out though and went down, taking Canard with him. Meanwhile up front Seely was all over Short for second while Alessi was checking out with the lead. Yes, you read that right. Alessi would go on to win it too, although there were no tears in his post-race interview this time. Seely, Short and Anderson also transferred to the main.
450 Heat 1
Josh Grant shot out to the early lead but Ryan Dungey took took the lead with the ease of a weightlifting upperclassman stealing lunch money from a prepubescent freshman. Millsaps followed suit shortly after and even pressured Dungey for a bit before Dungey dropped the hammer and took off. Behind them Ken Roczen was coming through after starting outside of a transfer spot. By the end of the race he’d nearly caught Dungey but ran out of time and had to settle for second. He still tossed out a Nac-Nac over the finish line jump though, so clearly he’s okay with second in his heat. Dungey, Roczen, Millsaps and Chad Reed all transfer. Eli Tomac was in this one but got a horrible start—he was eleventh after one lap—and will race a semi.
Austin Politelli got out to the lead right away and that was pretty much it—the Yamaha rider smoked everyone like hunks of boneless ham to take the win. Behind him Landen Powell, Michael Leib, and Johnny Jelderda rounded out the final qualifying spots.
250 Heat 2
Australian Jackson Richardson took the holeshot in this one but his lead didn't last long—he was passed almost immediately by Shane McElrath and then went down when Tyler Bowers went wide in a turn and ran him into some Tuff Blocks. Speaking of Bowers, he and Justin Hill had an exciting battle, with the two exchanging spots several times before Bowers was able to get some breathing room. Bowers then passed fastest 250SX qualifier Zach Osborne when Osborne came up a little short on the over-under table. Bowers started catching McElrath but ran out of time. Congrats to McElrath on his first ever heat race win. Behind him Bowers, Hill, Aaron Plessinger, Osborne, Tommy Hahn, Scott Champion, Ryan Breece, and Jackson Richardson, who battled back after crashing, all transferred.
250 Heat 1
Zach Bell kicked off the night by taking the first holeshot but Jessy Nelson quickly took over the lead and went to work building a gap. Josh Hansen ran second, but it wasn’t long before Cooper Webb passed him and went after Nelson. He caught him with about a lap left and was looking for any opportunity to make a move, which presented itself when Nelson bobbled in a rhythm lane. Webb went on to win, with Nelson, Hansen, Malcolm Stewart, Chris Alldredge, Zach Bell, Jeremy Martin, Zack Freeberg, and Cole Martinez all transferring.
Qualifying Session 2
There's a sighting from Area 51: We've found Justin Barcia! He was fastest in the final 450 session. For most of the session, it was Trey Canard on top, but Barcia logged a late flyer, and then threw in a huge whip over the finish for good measure. Watch for Canard, though, as well, he looked quick through the entire session. Perhaps this sign of life from Barcia and the overall pep in Canard's step will be enough to even things up on the Roczen/Tomac duo that has taken the first two races.
Not like Roczen was a slouch, he ended up second fastest in overall times. And remember Ryan Dungey was fastest in the first session. There's just something about round three of the season that really brings a battle--everyone finally has their bikes dialed, but no one's confidence is shattered. Could be an incredible race tonight.
The track has dried out from how muddy it was this morning, but there's still chopping bumps in spots. There are numerous tight corners, and whoever can be smooth through those sections will have a big advantage. The whoops are not huge and most of the jump combos are similar. It will come down to corners, corners and corners, and of course, starts.
In the 250s, Zach Osborne says his thumb (which is broken) is more manageable today than last week. It showed with a late fast lap to take the top seeded 250 time. It looked like Cooper Webb or Tyler Bowers would be fastest, as they battled for the top spot most of the way, until Zacho took it.
In injury news, we already mentioned that Weston Peick is out. We spoke with him and he told us he actually rebroke the bone in his foot, and it might be worse than the original injury from last weekend. He's headed to see doctors in Charlotte, NC this week to see what's up. Cody Gilmore is out with a thumb injury. AJ Catanzaro had a big crash in practice and did return for the final practice session, but he wasn't as fast. In the 250s, Matt Bisceglia had a big practice crash and is out for the night, and Nico Izzi is out with an illness.
Qualifying Session 1
The first lap of the first 450 seeded session told a story--Weston Peick tried to ride but coudn't go, so he's out for the night, and most probably the next few weeks. Kudos for even trying it a few days after getting a screw inserted into his foot (via a surgeon, although Weston is so tough we could see him grabbing a phillips and doing it himself).
Also, privateer Cody Gilmore is out for the night, he crashed at a German SX and hurt his thumb. Tried riding here but couldn't go. AJ Catanzaro had a crash in the whoops in the sesson that just ended, but we hear he'll be back and give it a go in session two.
Once the timed sessions began, the track indeed proved to be tight and a little muddy, as we suspected this morning. In the seeded 450 session, Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac exchanged some fast laps early, but then Trey Canard and Ryan Dungey jumped into the fray. Dungey told us at press day that they've made further refinements to his new KTM and it showed here as he logged the fastest time of the session. Canard was right behind most of the way until Roczen logged a late fast lap to get into 2nd. Canard came in next, while Tomac logged a flyer but made a bobble and couldn't improve on his earlier time. Dean Wilson was 4th, and he looked looser than previous weeks. Dean has been fast at the first two rounds but arm pump has held him back. Will he avoid tightening up and show his true speed when it counts tonight?
We expect the track to change quite a bit as the day and night go on. There are a lot of ruts due to the heavy watering this morning, and they'll probably clean those up, which will change the track completely.
In the 250s, Cooper Webb has actually been the fastest qualifier the last two weeks, and is staking that claim again by leading this first timed session. He was right in the mix until a late lap put him a full half second ahead of everyone else. Earlier, Jessy Nelson, Justin Hill and Tyler Bowers scrapped it out for the top spot, then ended up 2-4. And a pat on the back to Zach Osborne, who is still riding with a broken thumb, but looked pretty smooth out there.
Monster Energy Supercross is back at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, and it might already prove to be a pivotal race. A few riders have built some early momentum and a few need to get some going before it's too late. Yes, it might seem early in a championship that spans until May, but there are only a few more races before everyone's true colors begin to show, and stories about early-race jitters and bike set up begin to fade. Who is ready to step up and be for real this weekend?
This track seems quite different than Anaheim 1. Where the opener track was fast and not very technical, this one is busy, packing a lot of rhythm combos, tight turns and even an over-under bridge. The track is also extremely wet this morning. The tight track and heavy watering actually seem more like last weekend's track in Phoenix than the Angel Stadium event two weeks ago. We'll get a better idea of what's to come once practice starts to roll, which will happen in a few minutes. Look for updates here on the Race Day Feed all afternoon and night.