To the desert we go. Glendale, Arizona (Phoenix for those of you without Google Maps) is the host for round four of Monster Energy Supercross. After a cold and windy Anaheim, I am ready for some sunshine in the desert.
Years ago, this event was held in Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium, and being an outdoor venue, the dirt was less than ideal. In 1999, the series moved to Bank One Ballpark, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks. That definitely helped the soil situation, but it also had its drawbacks. The downtown location put the pits down one street and under an overpass, not allowing teams to really have any pit presence for sponsors. In 2016, the move to Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium solved all of the issues. The modern venue allowed for protected soil and the abundance of space gives everyone room for their awnings and activation. Although it’s definitely a bit far removed from Phoenix proper, the upside that this venue provides is a win every time.
The track this year is consistent for what we have come to expect from Glendale. The long floor space leads to long straightaways and high speeds. In theory, this should give riders room to pull alongside other riders and make passes in the 180-degree turns. Compared to last week’s follow-the-leader, I will take anything.
The start is a decent length and sweeps left into a few rolling jumps. Hopefully riders will be able to avoid drifting wide, but we may see some riders off the track as speeds push them deep. Coming out of that first bowl berm, riders will want to triple from the left of the track and land on the right in order to accelerate down the next rhythm lane. If they land too far left, they will have to turn again when they land and lose momentum. They will skip across the two bumps and then either double-triple or triple-double depending on how it’s built and skill level.
That leads into a right-hand bowl berm (did I mention I love the return of bowl berms?) and the first standard supercross triple of the course. Similar to last week, it will be possible to triple-triple-triple down this lane. A 90-degree right will lead to a small double, then the second of the supercross triples. Another 90-degree right sets riders up for the toughest rhythm section of the track. There might be some options in this section, but on paper it looks like riders will go on-off, on-off, triple-double into the turn. Some variations of tripling could change the approach here, but I don’t think anything will be faster than the most straightforward of options.
A right-hand bowl berm will build speed for the only whoops section of the track. These are in the same spot as the 2017 track design and we saw lots of passing here last year. Look for riders to rail the outside of the berm and push the edge of the left side of the track in hopes of beating the lead rider to the next left-hand turn. It’s a great passing spot if the following rider can pull it off.
That next bowl berm leads into another longer rhythm. This rhythm is hard to dissect from the track map, but it looks like the ideal line will be to triple out of the turn onto the plateau. If that happens, it gets a bit dicey. If riders could somehow triple off the plateau lip, they would then be able to triple out and jump into the sand section with speed. Otherwise, riders will be doing a lot of doubling and looking for faster lines throughout the day. It’s a strange design on paper. Lastly, the finish line looks short and steep before riders come careening back onto the start straight for lap two.
Questions I Want Answered
Are Marv’s title chances finished, or will he fight back in Glendale?
Who is the alpha dog in 250 West?
Has Adam Cianciarulo figured out his full name yet after that vicious crash in Anaheim 2’s qualifying practice?
Will this week’s obstacles involve Tuff Blox?
Can Eli Tomac match his 2017 Glendale magic or will Ken Roczen find the form from 2016?
Is Cole Seely a serious contender for this title?
Can Justin Brayton keep this torrid pace up?
Will Justin Barcia and Cooper Webb be able to co-exist under Big Blue’s tent?
Joey Savatgy grabbed his first win and the red plate along the way.
Tomac bounced back with his first win of 2018. He will need many more to be a threat.
Jason Anderson extended his points lead to 14 and looked great doing it.
Weston Peick has gone 5-5-5 to start the year and is Suzuki’s shining star thus far.
Seely woulda, coulda, shoulda won the overall, but a lackluster final main event cost him. He still rode at an elite level all night, though.
Marv DNF’d the last main due to his shoulder injury and set himself further back in the points chase.
Cooper Webb has had a tough start to this season, and a post-race scrum with teammate Justin Barcia couldn’t have helped.
Chad Reed was forced to the LCQ last weekend as he fights through his ankle recovery. His results aren’t there yet, but he isn’t a quitter.
Dakota Alix crashed Saturday night and suffered a thumb injury, sidelining him for a while.
Cooper Webb and Justin Barcia’s entourages hold an Anchorman-style brawl in the Glendale pits. Seth Rarick wields a trident and faces off against Lorraine Barcia’s pinless grenade.
Weston Peick, seizing another opportunity, rides through a downed Vince Friese. (Did anyone see this last week? WOW.)
Adam Cianciarulo has another big crash and, although fuzzy, his team has him racing Weekend at Bernie’s-style at Glendale.
Marv finishes on the podium and gives Jenny Taft a dissertation of his shoulder injury on live television that ends just before sunrise.