After a week off, Monster Energy Supercross picked back up in Northern California for the Santa Clara Supercross. The off week gave everyone involved in the series a chance to relax. It’s a pretty hectic thing competing week in and week out—be it the riders, teams, sponsors, series workers or media.
Of course the week off didn’t make the FIM/AMA’s decision to take away Ryan Dungey’s win make anymore sense.
No one is perfect, so we’ll give the Dirt Wurx crew a mulligan on this race (although, on the subject of perfection, when you look at his career, his riding, his wife, all the money he has, his looks and whatever else you want, Ryan Dungey might just be). Although I don’t think they had a ton of floor space to work with this week, the track was still very uninspiring. It looked like they didn’t have much dirt to work with and what they did have was pretty rocky—and again the floor was small. The whoops were tough in practice but then they rolled them flatter than a pancake for the night show and the dudes were wide open through them. Maybe it was too much chocolate or too many Cadbury eggs from Easter, but something happened to the track guys this week.
Last year the track was about ten seconds longer so I know they could’ve done something different than what they did. Why the crew insists on building a set of challenging whoops and then rolling them so flat for the night show is a mystery to me and many others in the pits.
With the supercross series having an average ticket price of somewhere around $85 per person, Santa Clara definitely didn’t do the fans any favors in terms of seeing some stars out on the track. The low lap times produced a 250SX main event that was just 11 minutes, 18 seconds long and a 450SX main event that was 14 minutes, 38 seconds. That’s a lot of money for a family of four to spend to see all the best riders duke it out. If you’re a Cooper Webb fan, you saw your hero out on the track for 15 minutes out of four hours when you add in the heat race. Ryan Dungey fans saw him out there majestically riding for 18 minutes.
Again, most races are longer and most tracks are better than what we saw over the weekend, but with the races being live on TV, you’ve got to give people some reason to come out. Short laps and an easy track equal not a lot of bang for your buck—something that the folks at Feld are surely thinking about going forward.
At least Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen put on a show in Santa Clara. Dungey got out front early and pulled a bit of a gap on Roczen. That should’ve been it, right? Well, not quite. The #94 showed a lot of heart and gumption to catch Dungey and actually put a wheel in on him in a few spots. He really pressured Ryan at times and both guys raised the level—they were almost twenty seconds ahead of third place Jason Anderson.
Roczen wasn’t able to make the pass and he definitely didn’t get around the lappers as good as Dungey. In the end, Dungey won again but Roczen’s (and by proxy Dungey) pace was impressive. Both riders were pushing very heard. In fact, Chad Reed (never one to throw out compliments to other riders) said after the race that the top two riders ran the highest pace he’s seen all season, and he was going flat and those two still pulled away. And it wasn’t because they were just jumping something different, folks. Nope, this was just an ass-whooping by the #1 and #94.
Cooper Webb was impressive again. He didn’t get good starts in his heat or the main but he slowly worked through the field to catch early leader Zach Osborne and take another win. Now he has a sixteen-point advantage heading into the last round in Vegas. He had Osborne taking off out front, he had Joey Savatgy and Christian Craig around him, he was about seventh or so and there was no panic from Webb. Using lines that were shorter and tighter than his competition, he moved up slowly and appeared to surprise Osborne with how quick he made his move. Great display of riding under pressure by Webb.
As far as Osborne goes, he won another heat and led eleven laps. Not much more he can do to win one of these things, right? It’s hard to believe that Osborne doesn’t have a win here in the USA since coming back from the GPs, because doesn’t it seem like he’s gotten 63 podiums? By the way, sounds like Zach’s close to re-upping with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna on a new two-year deal.
If you closed one eye you saw glimpses of the old James Stewart out there. But first, let’s get to the facts: this was another kick in the nuts for James Stewart fans. Stew’s RM-Z developed some mechanical issues and he pulled out early in the main event. And so, yeah, when it rains it pours for the #7 and his fans this year. Them’s the facts, Jack.
But as I said, if you went by the eye test things were…better for James this week. He scored a second in his heat and in the main he had come from around eleventh or so and closed to the top five before his issues. He was doing Mach 4 in the whoops (he did have a side-to-side swapper in them in practice, though) and generally looked pretty good. It’s the best he’s looked in forever and “we” can build on this.
Speaking to Stew last night on the Pulpmx Show he indicated that his crash at Daytona was a low point for him as he wondered what was going on in his life to make him crash like that. But he’s done some testing and like Eli Tomac, Stew’s gone back to the spring fork, although his is a Showa compared to KYB for Eli. James reiterated that this switch has him feeling much better on the bike and he’s looking forward to the rest of the season.
Let’s take a look at the results shall we?
1 1 Cooper Webb Newport, NC Yamaha YZ250F- Although this new 250SX East/West main in Vegas will have all of us talking about how it could throw a wrench in Cooper’s title chances, and how he’s got to be careful…blah, blah, blah, don’t listen to any of us. He’s fine. He’ll probably win the whole thing anyways.
2 16 Zach Osborne LAKE ELSINORE, CA Husqvarna FC250- As mentioned above Osborne is going to stay with the Husky guys and I’d bet he’s looking to probably do some more weirdo races (like the Two-Stroke World Championships) on the white bike because he’s like that.
3 37 Joey Savatgy Thomasville, GA Kawasaki KX 250F- Joey is NOT happy with anything but a win. Which I guess his trainer Jeannie Carmichael has probably drilled into him again and again. If it’s me and I’m one of Joey’s sponsors I’m probably wishing he’d be a bit more positive and happy about landing on the box, but hey, it is what it is. Can’t make a guy fake his way around.
4 38 Christian Craig Corona, CA Honda CRF 250- Craig’s entire night changed when they rolled the whoops flat for the night show. His advantage was taken away and there went his podium streak. After the race he commented that he took a couple of guys down (including his teammate Jimmy Decotis) while trying to fight to the front and he actually seemed to feel a bit sad about it. It couldn’t have been that bad because his wife and Decotis’ girlfriend were hanging out in the truck afterwards.
5 42 Mitchell Oldenburg Alvord, TX KTM 250 SX-F- Anton from TWMX said he spoke with Oldenburg and that Mitchell had mentioned that he doesn’t have a guaranteed outdoor motocross ride from TLD locked in yet. Huh, who knew?
6 69 Colt Nichols Muskogee, OK Yamaha YZ250F- A high level 450 team manager that told me Nichols and his advisor Robbie Reynard turned down a 200K, two-year deal to jump up to 450s in 2017. I tweeted this out and both Colt and his buddy Justin Bogle sort of acted surprised by this. I asked Colt about it this weekend and he seemed to deny that this happened so I’m more confused than ever. #motomedialife
7 39 Jordon Smith Belmont, NC Honda CRF 250- Smith, who ended up being a walking MASH unit before the West Region took a break, almost went back to the sidelines after a pretty wicked practice crash. He got lucky, and was okay.
8 40 Kyle Peters Greensboro, NC Honda CRF 250- Peters is the Audette of the West or vice versa. All these former Star Yamaha riders do is put in good results with very little people talking about them.
9 26 Alex Martin Millville, MN Yamaha YZ250F- AMart was working with Johnny O’Mara as a tag along with his brother but for whatever reason his year wasn’t going as well as expected. So he did what a lot of riders do: he switched up his trainer! Hey, maybe this will actually work, as Martin looked good all day long and ran up front in the main before a tip-over. So, yeah, on paper it’s just another so-so finish for the Ewok Warrior but if you were there, you know different.
10 85 Michael Leib Wildomar, CA Yamaha YZ250F- Leib started the series so poorly that you sort of forgot about him as a top ten guy but he’s been there lately for the BLUE Buffalo/Slater Skins Yamaha team. [Ed Note: Apparently Leib has been riding the past few races with a broken foot, which dates back to his crash in Oakland last year. The team says they expect him to race Las Vegas.]
11 58 James Decotis Peabody, MA Honda CRF 250- I was looking to talk to Jimmy D after the race but didn’t see him. I imagine he wasn’t stoked on Craig coming into him but I still wanted to see what was going on with him.
12 45 Kyle Cunningham Willow Park, TX Suzuki RM-Z250
13 96 Noah Mcconahy Spokane, WA Husqvarna FC250- Big night for Spokane. First, McConahy scores this great finish and then Moser gets himself a side panel from Andrew Short’s KTM.
14 35 Chris Alldredge Powell Butte, OR Kawasaki KX 250F- Welcome back to supercross, Chris, as early on he crashed hard in practice. That set the tone for the rest of his night.
15 76 Scott Champion Wildomar, CA Yamaha YZ250F
16 222 Chris Howell Spokane Valley, WA Husqvarna FC250
17 92 Ryan Breece Athol, ID Yamaha YZ250F
18 289 Mitchell Harrison Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ250F- Mitchell, I’d like you to meet Zach Bell. He was a lot like you as a rookie with lots of raw speed but he couldn’t keep it on two wheels. Bell’s no longer the hot “it” kid and probably never will reach the heights many thought he would. Let’s work on keeping it upright so you don’t be another Zach Bell, mmmmk? Actually on this night, it looked like Harrison was trying to do just that while running in a solid fourth. Then he got taken out by Craig—sometimes you can’t win!
19 43 Fredrik Noren Menifee, CA Honda CRF 250- Fast Freddie crashed early in the main and when I first saw him, he wasn’t going so fast. Here’s the thing for Freddie though, even though he was getting lapped early on you know he rides with a lot of heart and I figured he’d get higher than this finish. He must have crashed again somewhere along the line.
20 138 Blake Lilly Wildomar, CA KTM 250 SX-F- With regular rider Cole Thompson injured, YP.com/Nuclear Blast/Slaton Racing picked up Lilly for the weekend and he surprised some with a top twenty qualifying time. The main didn’t work out so well but there was that qualifying.
21 68 Cole Martinez Rimrock, AZ Yamaha YZ250F
22 72 Hayden Mellross Clermont, FL Yamaha YZ250F- Mellross had a scary crash that I’m sure most of you have seen by now. I really feel that Hayden should get some extra money or points or something for still being alive after a crash that was right out of a Wily E Coyote cartoon. I half expected Hayden to stay bent like Wily E and then have this accordion music playing. I heard that he was going to ride 450’s for the team this weekend in Indy but I’d be surprised if he makes the trip now.
1 1 Ryan Dungey Clermont, FL KTM 450 SX-F- Dungey ran hand guards for the first time that I can remember indoors. His mechanic Carlos told me that he thought this dirt was the rockiest stuff yet and that’s saying something after Detroit or Toronto.
2 94 Ken Roczen Clermont, FL Suzuki RM-Z450- I was checking in with Kenny’s mechanic Oscar after practice and asked if everything was ok. I mean Roczen had looked good but he wasn’t “Kenny good,” you know? Sixth overall in qualifying and coming off a poor Detroit just had me concerned. Oscar told me not to worry, it was all fine, and he was happy with the way Kenny rode. Looks like he was right.
3 21 Jason Anderson Rio Rancho, NM Husqvarna FC450- Anderson grabbed a holeshot! A rare good start for the #21 and from there he rode kind of by himself to grab a podium one week after his win *(asterisk provided by the FIM) in Detroit.
4 22 Chad Reed Dade City, FL Yamaha YZ450F- Reed’s been having trouble with his starts lately so this week he showed up with a Rinaldi Yamaha hydraulic clutch on his bike. Although he didn’t holeshot, he was right there so maybe it worked. Reed rode a pretty lonely race to grab fourth.
5 41 Trey Canard Edmond, OK Honda CRF 450- Trey had a brilliant ride in the semi. He was on fire the last two or three laps and rode amazing to get the win. In the main event he, wait for it, didn’t get a great start and then had to come from the back to salvage a nice finish. Late in the race he was all over Reed but the veteran was a master in protecting his lines.
6 19 Justin Bogle Cushing, OK Honda CRF 450- Nice ride for Bogle. He got a start (have you noticed he seems to always be “getting starts”?) and rode well to stay just off the lead pack. He’s coming around in his rookie season.
7 3 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Kawasaki KX 450F- Tomac’s quotes to me after the race were: “I had really terrible, terrible starts. I don’t know what I was doing” and “Felt good in practice all day, but I didn’t bring it to the night show, that same stuff” and “It’s a big learning year I guess” which sort of sums up his Santa Clara and his season outside of Daytona.
8 28 Weston Peick Menifee, CA Yamaha YZ450F- Three good races in a row for Peick and he’s looking more and more like the 2015 Weston Peick now that he’s healing up. He told me after the race that his hand is still bugging him a bit and he was forced to just let Tomac by near the end rather than crash.
9 12 Jacob Weimer Wildomar, CA Suzuki RM-Z450- Weimer surprised the hell out of me with this good ride because I don’t think he had ridden much, if at all, since hurting his shoulder in a crash in Detroit. So with two weeks of hardly any riding time, you didn’t think his Santa Clara would be awesome but he actually rode up into this position.
10 4 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA Suzuki RM-Z450- Was this Baggett’s best SX ride of the year? Yes, yes it was.
11 800 Mike Alessi Hilliard, FL Honda CRF 450- Fresh off his two-stroke win last week at Glen Helen, Mike carried that momentum into Santa Clara. What does winning a two-stroke race at Glen Helen have to do with his result in a supercross race? Absolutely nothing but I bet MXA ties it all together somehow—with the caps lock button stuck on, at that.
12 33 Joshua Grant Wildomar, CA Kawasaki KX 450F- Grant and Barcia got into a four turn block passing/ramming match for fifteenth late in the race and that made for good entertainment. Two guys with those big chips right there on their shoulders.
13 10 Justin Brayton Mint Hill, NC KTM 250SX-F- Brayton went down in the first turn as he came flying from the outside to try and grab a start. On a track like Santa Clara he knew that he had to do whatever he could to get up front right away. It was a boom or bust move by the #10 and unfortunately for him, he went boom.
14 57 Joshua Hansen Elbert, CO Kawasaki KX 450F- Hanny was back! Sounded like sort of a last minute deal to race due to his sponsor being located up there but to make the main is an accomplishment for the #100 #57. Of course, Hanny being Hanny he had to have something happen to him and that was at press day when he collided with a cyclist while riding to the stadium. Yes, I’m serious. Sounds like both the cyclist and Hanny and his mechanic all went down in a heap and cops, fireman and EMT’s were all called to the scene (more out of procedure than anything needed). Of COURSE this drama happens to Hanny, right?
15 55 Vince Friese Cape Girardeau, MO Honda CRF 450
16 51 Justin Barcia Greenville, FL Yamaha YZ450F- Barcia’s back! Bam Bam made his return after being out since Round 2 and I have to say I was surprised he was as bad as he was. He didn’t look ready at any point to be “Justin Barcia” again but then again he crashed hard in practice and then again in the heat. Wouldn’t you have thought that he’d be a shoo-in for a top ten right out of the gate?
17 25 Marvin Musquin Corona, CA KTM 450 SX-F- Marv’s four race podium streak comes thudding back down to earth after a practice crash left him shook up. At times in the main I saw him basically just sitting down and riding around out there.
18 27 Nicholas Wey Murrieta, CA Kawasaki KX 450F- Wey’s back and I’m not sure what happened to him late in the race when he seemed tired or bike issues or something happened. I saw him before the race and offered him $50 to say the words “Pulpmx” on his pre-race hot lap to the crowd but he refused.
19 761 Cade Clason Chesterfield, SC Honda CRF 450- Clason and Alex Ray are buddies, they’re close to the same speed but most weekends only one of them make the main. This week both guys rode it on in for privateer nation.
20 79 Nicholas Schmidt Lake Elsinore, CA Suzuki RM-Z450
21 314 Alex Ray Milan, TN Honda CRF 450-
22 7 James Stewart Haines City, FL Suzuki RM-Z450- If you were the CEO of SEVEN gear like James is, you must be pumped that you yourself, the number one athlete at SEVEN is back in action because there must be so many color ways and designs that haven’t ben shown.
Some other news and notes:
- I heard that Honda’s choice between Trey Canard and Cole Seely as to who to keep on the team to pair with (rumored) Kenny Roczen has happened and it’s Seely. The rumors are he’s re-upped with Honda after a hard push by KTM to get him over there. Doubtful Honda goes with three riders so I’d look for Canard to be on a different color next year, which is going to look weird.
- I don’t know why but 2016 seems to be the year of the “ride around the whoops” for many privateers out there. I love privateers, I have them on the Pulpmx Show, Racer X does a weekly feature on them, I’ve given them thousands of dollars over the years but I just don’t understand why these guys feel like they can ride AROUND THE WHOOPS IN THE RACE. And I also don’t understand why the officials don’t just black flag them right there. You can’t miss an entire obstacle and just keep racing!!! I get it—they’re tough and gnarly but just jump through them if you’re too tired or pull it in. You’re racing at the highest level of dirt bike racing and you can’t go through the whoops every single lap? Pay attention next race you’re at and you’ll see what I mean. How are you able to be allowed to keep racing if you miss them? I blame riding facilities for this because these guys are so specialized now that they just have to make it through them once or twice in practice to get into the night show, then perhaps four times in the LCQ and you’re in the main! WAY too many dudes skipping the whoops in practice (I’m somewhat ok with this in practice though) leads to guys in the back doing it in the race. I’m blown away by this new trend and it must stop dammit!
Thanks for reading, email email@example.com if you want to chat about this race or anything else really. I’m around with not much to do but wait for Jaws to come on.