Welcome to Racerhead. The 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship got off to a wet but entertaining and interesting start. Yamaha ended a long blue streak when it comes to winning 450SX mains, and Justin Barcia ended his own personal losing skid with a solid win. His return to form, which started last year when Yamaha called him up from privateer status to ride as a replacement for the injured Davi Millsaps. (Remember, Barcia rode a privateer Honda at the 2017 Monster Energy Cup? He’s come a long, long way back to being a contender.)
HRC Honda’s Ken Roczen’s steady return to the top also looked like it took a solid step in the off-season with a runner-up finish. Just remembered that both Barcia and Roczen got married in the off-season, so congrats to both as well as their newlywed wives. Third-place Eli Tomac did not get married, but he had a very good come-from-behind ride to salvage a podium finish, though there were still questions lingering as to whether or not he hurt his back in December.
And good for Colt Nichols on getting his first win as a pro with a very solid ride. He joins Star Racing alumni Ryan Sipes, Broc Tickle, Jeremy Martin, Cooper Webb, Alex Martin, Aaron Plessinger, and Dylan Ferrandis in all having won either a 250 supercross or outdoor national for Bobby Regan’s team. The 250SX West Region is going to be fun to watch.
For me, the more interesting aspects of the Anaheim opener were the mixed fortunes of two Husqvarna riders. First, there was Jason Anderson, the defending AMA Supercross #1 who had a solid international off-season, but then just couldn’t seem to get moving forward in the main event. Anderson was lapped on lap 15 of 20 by Barcia, who had just taken over the lead from the surprising early frontrunner, and the other Husqvarna rider who had a very interesting opener, semi-privateer Dean Wilson. Anderson took the off-night in stride, posting afterwards:
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Man yesterday did not go well... kinda overwhelmed with everything going on and wasn’t myself at all. Looking forward to bringing it back around in the next rounds and really want to thank my crew for all the support no matter how i do. Sorry guys but still looking forward and ready to give 110% the rest of the season! Also shoutout to my good friend @deanwilson15 for absolutely crushing it!
Anderson doesn’t have to look back far for inspiration in getting right back up there. In 2013 Ryan Villopoto crashed at Anaheim 1 and finished 16th but still came back to win another series title. Same goes for Ricky Carmichael, who actually crashed out of Anaheim 1 in his 2002 Honda debut. He also rebounded to repeat as champion. Jeremy McGrath was not so lucky in 1997. His highly unexpected move from Honda, where he won four titles and had just won 14 of 15 rounds the previous year, over to a Suzuki seemed even more questionable when he crashed in the opener with his old Honda teammate Steve Lamson and finished 15th. He would eventually get up to speed on the ‘Zook, winning two rounds, but he lost his title to Jeff Emig. And then there’s Jeff Ward, who infamously didn’t even qualify for Anaheim 1 in 1986 on the #1 Kawasaki after a crash and a broken throttle cable knocked him out of what would become the most famous Anaheim of all time, as Honda teammates David Bailey and Rick Johnson put on an epic duel.
As for Wilson, wow, totally impressed with how he pulled his own team together with his sponsors from last year, @rockstarenergy, @shiftmx, @artificialgrassliquidators, @toyotaescondido, and of course his new sponsor, @ignite which became a rather hazy question. The company sells both CBD oils (which are legal in the many states and will be legal in many more with the newly passed Farm Bill) as well as cannabis (legal in much less states). The concern was whether he should be able to display Ignite logos on his jersey and his bike’s shrouds, and whether that might cause problems for both the series promoter and the series’ new TV partner, NBC Sports Group. Wilson understood the issue and discussed it at length on the PulpMX Show.
“Obviously Ignite came in. They wanted to support me,” Wilson said about the situation. “They’re a really big help to my program. They fronted some money and they’re a big help. When they told me I couldn’t run the logos, I didn’t really cause a big scene or anything. I said, okay, whatever. The Ignite guy was there, the guy I deal with. So he had a meeting with Feld, but Feld said it was because NBC can’t have it on their TV. But Feld were awesome. Mike [Muye, senior director of operations – Monster Energy Supercross] was super nice. No hard feelings or anything.”
Karma then rewarded Wilson’s patience with the situation and he Ignited to the front of the pack in the 450SX main event and made the story ten times more interesting by nearly winning the race—had he not run into lappers toward the end he might have pulled off a highly unlikely upset and Ignited a riot in the grandstands. (Puns intended.)
No matter, the logos will likely be covered this weekend again as Arizona has different laws than California as the rapidly-changing public perception of hemp and CBD oil and even cannabis continues to evolve. In the meantime, here’s hoping Deano Ignites to another holie and maybe this time reaches the podium or even better.
Looking ahead to Glendale this weekend, last week we saw something that had never happened before in the history of supercross: the #1 plate on a Husqvarna in a premier class race, as Anderson is the first Husky rider to ever win the title. Well, this weekend in Glendale, we will see something else never before seen (at least not since it became a thing in SX in 2012). Saturday night will mark the first time since the current points leaders were honored with wearing red plates on their bikes, which went into effect in 2012, that the plates will both be on blue bikes, because Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Colt Nichols and Monster Energy Yamaha's Justin Barcia left Anaheim with the points lead in their respective classes.
Pala National (DC)
In late-breaking Friday afternoon news, the folks next door at MX Sports Pro Racing announced the TBA on the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship schedule for May 25. Fox Raceway will host the Pala National that day in Southern California. The race replaces the Glen Helen National, which was originally planned and announced for that date. As the PR was being issued I was asked about the change on the schedule on the Vital MX Forum and posted this of the unforeseen issues with Glen Helen:
In fact, we thought we were good with pretty much the exact same contract terms as before, we had a verbal agreement and the okay to go ahead, so we announced in early October, right before the Motocross of Nations, the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross schedule with Glen Helen on its traditional date of May 25, 2019.
But then maybe 15 days after the schedule was announced we were notified by email that the renewal agreement we reached with Glen Helen staff was not approved and we needed to take them off of the schedule--they now wanted several major changes to their contract. Although stunned by this news, again, we attempted to reach a new agreement, but we soon reached an impasse instead. So we did as requested, replaced them on the schedule with a TBA, and went looking for a different facility, just as we did after a strangely similar impasse in 2010.
Some of you may recall that ten years ago Glen Helen canceled their national two months before it was set to run over contract issues. I didn’t think we would ever go back, but thanks to the late Tom White’s passion and enthusiasm for a return, we were able to get back to the bargaining table with Glen Helen owner Bud Feldkamp and get the race back up and running. And thanks to the help of everyone at Glen Helen, especially Lori, track designer Jody Weisel, and of course Tom White, we had some very good events out there. I will miss working with both Lori and Jody and Karl Scanlon and Mr. Info and everyone else out there, and appreciate the work everyone did together, especially in the absence of Tom this past year. The track is iconic and I hope that our paths cross again.
Now we’re moving a few miles south to the much-improved Fox Raceway at Pala. Yes, we remember the traffic issues there the first year in 2010 and we will be working much closer with the casino and local traffic authorities and the CHP to make sure that never happens again. Okay, back to Racerhead…
Mud Race? Not a mud race? (Jason Weigandt)
It’s hard enough to pull data from the season opener, because everything you seen could be distorted by opening-round nerves. But this year’s Anaheim 1 is even harder to figure due to the rain. Were the results impacted by the weather? I asked some riders at the Glendale press day how much of an impact it had.
Justin Hill and Blake Baggett, who were fast in practice last week but struggled in the main, both said the rain had a big impact on the race. Hill says that despite his Pacific Northwest upbringing, he’s not a mud rider.
“We don’t like to blow out the tracks up there, so when it rains, you don’t ride,” Hill said. “I’m not a mud rider, no.”
Hill said heavy mud actually rotated his helmet downwards on his head, so his visor blocked his vision in the early laps. Then the rain started again, and the mud washed away, and he felt better, until he crashed and got mud all over his gloves. He finished 15th and says he’s actually happy the California weather forecast this week is showing rain, because he’s actually going to go out and do some mud practice if possible.
On the other end, Chad Reed felt the rain didn’t really make a difference, and he pointed to the riders at the front of the pack that were still doing the big jumps. Reed was actually happy with how he rode; he got held up in turn one and tried to latch on to a charging Cooper Webb. Late in the race, Chad said he had a technical problem with his bike, and he brought it home in ninth. He thinks he could have made it to seventh or eighth if he didn’t have the issue.
Blake Baggett was fastest in qualifying last week, but as soon as the rain came, he said, “I wasn’t given the long legs for that stuff.” How much of a difference did it make? “Eleven positions difference,” Baggett said in his normal deadpan way of not really explaining anything. Yes, he was first in practice and 12th in the main event. There were some good signs for Baggett, though. He didn’t change anything on his bike this week. Not one thing. Normally, Baggett is “flying at the test track” all off-season and then after round one he throws it all away and changes everything. Not this time.
Baggett’s teammate Justin Bogle was also here today. Bogle, a late injury fill-in for Benny Bloss, had so little time to get ready on his new Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS that the first time he ever hit real supercross whoops on the bike was…. practice on race day! And it showed when he stacked it up and crashed in the whoops. Bogle was a little sore this week, so he only rode one day; however, he’s not worried because he, like Baggett, likes his bike and didn’t really feel the need to change anything. Bogle only rode two days of supercross on the KTM before A1, and the public tracks he went to didn’t really have any whoops. So we’ll see how he does in the whoops tomorrow.
Believe it or not, Anaheim’s 250SX winner Nichols was expected to race the East Region this year, and only got the call from assistant team manager Wil Hahn to race the West Region a week before the race. Colt was ready just in case, and actually relieved to get the call. The last two years, Nichols came into the 250SX East Region season opener off of huge injuries, so he just wanted to go racing when he was healthy.
Finally, I checked in with Cooper Webb’s mechanic Carlos Rivera. Webb was on fire late in last week’s 450SX main, carding the fastest lap time in the race and coming from last to fifth. Cooper nearly holeshot the main before crashing in turn one. Carlos thinks that had Cooper holeshot, he could have won the race, but he’s actually glad that didn’t happen.
“There would have been so much pressure, the red plate, all this attention and then everyone would have been wondering if he could back it up, because it was a mud race,” Carlos said. “So then he would have been under more pressure here. The goal was top five. We did that.”
Carlos said he could tell on Monday that Cooper just rode with more confidence after that strong Anaheim 1 ride, and he’s really pleased with how far Cooper has come since their first race together at the Monster Energy Cup. He said Cooper is in much better shape, he’s picked up his practice times due to all the motos with the Aldon Baker crew, and they’ve worked tirelessly on his starts. Webb came from a bad gate pick (ninth in his heat) in the main to nearly holeshot the race, so Carlos thinks the starts might be on point.
But then again, everything we saw last week might have been changed due to the weather. We’ve got a roof over our heads here in Glendale. Will things be the same or different?
PHOENIX (Steve Matthes)
Well, it's actually Glendale now as the race has moved to the stadium where the NFL team plays. As much as the old ballpark in downtown Phoenix was cool (shout out to TGI Fridays by the way), this stadium and its layout has seen some epic tracks and races over the years. It's a bigger floor than a usual football stadium because of where they roll the turf in and out so the track can be a bit more innovative than usual. This week’s track looks good as usual. We should see some great racing.
Here's the thing: with the weather last weekend there are still plenty of questions out there and with the track this weekend being perfect, and covered, it's like a brand-new opening round!
I'm still on the fence about Jason Anderson and Cooper Webb if I'm being honest. They had races that were amazing (Webb) and terrible (Anderson) and I don't know if it's weather induced or not. Webb fell in the first turn and blitzed his way to fifth in a great ride. He was jumping pretty much everything out there and was really impressive. Anderson had a bad heat race where he went backward and an even worse main event. It's been years (well, maybe forever) since we’ve seen Anderson ride that bad. So both guys have my attention this weekend to see if their Anaheim 1's were a one off deal or a trend.
I spoke with both guys’ trainer Aldon Baker on track walk in Anaheim and we didn't dive into Anderson too much but he's been very happy with Webb and the work he's been doing. He mentioned that it's been a bit of an adjustment for Webb after being in the same training program for years, but it's been a good thing for Cooper. Confidence is such a big thing in our sport that even if Webb's riding was because he was so comfy in the slop, the confidence he gets from that will be a big thing. If #2 can get his mojo back, this 450SX class will be even better!
Streak Broken (DC)
Chad Reed has started 18 consecutive AMA Supercross seasons at Anaheim 1, which is a record for riders and he's probably looking at extending it in 2020 to 19 straight. Unfortunately, there was an Anaheim streak of sorts that was broken on Saturday night. Racer X Illustrated's longtime publisher and lead guitarist (sorry Langers) Scott Wallenberg had to miss Anaheim as he was under the weather last week and stayed back home in Boise. I believe Scott has been to at least one Anaheim for as long as they've been having them, which means 1975! Hopefully Scott will be up for Anaheim 2 and we will just act like this absence never happened. Get well soon, boss!
Yamaha Sweeps (Andras Hegyi)
It was an all-Yamaha night at the Anaheim opener. The 25-year-old Colt Nichols got his maiden professional win in his fifth season and in his 22nd SX race. And thanks to Nichols and his French teammate Dylan Ferrandis, Yamaha got its first 1-2 finishes in 250SX since 2016.
In the 450 race, both Yamaha and Justin Barcia put an end to very long winless streaks. Bam Bam got his first 450SX win since 2013, while Yamaha took its first supercross premier class victory since 2012. Barcia is the first Yamaha rider to lead the 450 point standings since 2011.
Yamaha’s sweep at Anaheim is the first for the brand since 2008. The last time Yamaha won both 450 and 250 races in the same round was with eventual series champions Chad Reed (450) and Jason Lawrence. This was the 21st sweep for Yamaha, going back to 1985 and the introduction of the 125 class.
Finally, the rider who took part in the most Yamaha sweeps is Jeremy McGrath. The King of Supercross had a hand in 11 of those Yamaha supercross sweeps during his career.
Yamaha’s Supercross Sweeps
San José: Doug Dubach (250) Jeff Emig (125)
Seattle: Doug Henry (250) David Vuillemin (125)
Las Vegas: Doug Henry (250) Kevin Windham (125)
Seattle: Jeremy McGrath (250) David Vuillemin (125)
San Diego: Jeremy McGrath (250) John Dowd (125)
Atlanta: Jeremy McGrath (250) Ernesto Fonseca (125)
Daytona: Jeremy McGrath (250) Ernesto Fonseca (125)
St. Louis: Jeremy McGrath (250) Ernesto Fonseca (125)
San Diego: David Vuillemin (250) Greg Schnell (125)
Pontiac 1: Jeremy McGrath (250) Stephane Roncada (125)
Atlanta: Jeremy McGrath (250) Stephane Roncada (125)
Pontiac 2: Jeremy McGrath (250) Stephane Roncada (125)
New Orleans: David Vuillemin (250) Stephane Roncada (125)
Joliet: Jeremy McGrath (250) Ernesto Fonseca (125)
Anaheim 1: Jeremy McGrath (250) Ernesto Fonseca (125)
Anaheim 2: Jeremy McGrath (250) Ernesto Fonseca (125)
Houston: Chad Reed (250) Brock Sellards (125)
San Francisco: Chad Reed (450) Jason Lawrence (250)
Anaheim 3: Chad Reed (450) Jason Lawrence (250)
San Diego: Chad Reed (450) Jason Lawrence (250)
Anaheim 1: Justin Barcia (450) Colt Nichols (250)
Women in Sports to Watch (DC)
A couple of friends well-connected to the motocross world landed on Forbes Magazine's "Women in Sports to Watch." Hailie Deegan, the daughter of Brian Deegan and big sister to Haiden, was featured as she progresses up through the ranks of NASCAR, and Julie Giese, President of IMS Raceway in Phoenix, and formerly of Daytona Motor Speedway and a longtime fan and friend of the Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross. Check out both, as well as the other women right here.
Blue Groove (Andras Hegyi)
By getting his first victory in 450SX since 2013, the 27-year-old Justin Barcia became the 22nd Yamaha winner in the history of the premier class in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, in existence since 1974. Barcia's win takes Yamaha's total to 169. (Only Honda has more wins than Yamaha with 212.) And by getting his maiden Yamaha SX win, Barcia put an end to the brand's longest ever winless streak, which dates back six years to James Stewart's last win on a blue bike at Daytona '12.
Finally, Barcia became the overall leader in the 450SX points standing for the first time ever in his career. The last time a Yamaha was the overall leader was with James Stewart in 2011.
Yamaha winners in the 250/450 Supercross class
Chad Reed (35 wins)
Jeremy McGrath (27)
Bob Hannah (20)
Damon Bradshaw, James Stewart (19)
Mike Bell (11)
Broc Glover (10)
David Vuillemin (7)
Ricky Johnson, Doug Henry, Kevin Windham (3)
Ezra Lusk (2)
Pierre Karsmakers, Rex Staten, Ron Lechien, Doug Dubach, Michael Craig, Jeff Emig, John Dowd, Josh Hill, Joshua Grant, Justin Barcia (1)
Jeremy Martin Update (Chase Stallo)
GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin underwent surgery this week to have the hardware in his back replaced. The procedure, which took four hours according to Martin, was done at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.
According to a post Martin released on Instagram, doctors said the surgery was a success and that Martin should make a 100 percent recovery. Martin said the surgery should provide him more mobility on the top and bottom of his spine.
Martin originally sustained the injury at the Tennessee National and was expected to return at some point in the 2019 season before a checkup revealed that the burst fracture in his back had barely healed. The only solution was another surgery, which has ruled him out for the entire 2019 season.
Martin’s contract with GEICO Honda was set to expire at the end of the 2019 season, but the team has extended his deal through the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
LIVE PULP (Matthes)
Last Friday night we did our second ever Racer X/PulpMX Live Podcast show in Costa Mesa and it was a lot of fun. Thanks to those people that came out and bench raced with us. We had DC and Ryan Villopoto come up as guests and RV even hung out afterwards at the meet and greet. DC is perhaps the best bench racer ever so we talked about Anaheims, the nationals, and more. RV is "the best retired rider ever" and was in good form telling stories and being, well, RV.
Check it out HERE and we're trying to line up some more in a few other cities so stay tuned.
Oh, don't forget to play PulpMX Fantasy for this weekend. Lots of value picks for the weekend!
New Old Track? (Ping)
In a time when tracks are closing left and right, it’s good to see one opening up. In this case, a legendary facility just outside the El Cajon Zone that was home to many of the sports best in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s.
Hey, Watch It!
Racer X Films: 2019 450 Factory Bikes
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
Church Head Warns 'Antichrist' Will Control Humans Through Gadgets...- The Moscow Times
All-knowing smartphone bringing closer to arrival... - Drudgereport.com
Remember when NBA star Steph Curry set the internet ablaze when he said on a podcast that he didn't believe that mankind had actually landed on the moon? It was kind of an "out there" opinion to have, and NASA immediately reached out and said that they would prove it to Curry. To his credit he took them up on an invite to Mission Control when Curry's Golden State Warriors went to Houston to play the Rockets, and he even ended up interviewing an astronaut for his own podcast. Then he had Under Armour make him a pair of NASA-inspired "moon sneakers," played in them and is now auctioning them off to help underprivileged kids learn more about outer space. Which led to this headline on the NESN.com website: Stephen Curry Busts Out Awesome NASA-Inspired ‘Moon Landing’ Shoes
Former LSU OL Matt Branch Lost Leg in Hunting Accident; Friend Says Dog Shot Him - Bleacherreport.com
Jogger attacked by dog, then bitten by dog's owner... - Drudgereport.com
Remember Anaheim's next-door "skid row" neighborhood? It was all gone, thankfully. But where?
We saw this 1980 Daytona Supercross photo with Donnie Hansen and Ron Sun holeshotting on their Hondas and it really got us thinking about the Daytona Vintage Motocross race that will follow the Ricky Carmichael Daytona Supercross—more on that next week!
Road 2 Recovery and 6D Helmets are hosting a Racing Legends night at Pole Position Raceway in Corona, California, on January 15, from 6-9 p.m., and Colton Haaker will be there. The fundraiser will benefit injured athletes from supercross and motocross. This is your chance to race karts against some of the sport’s biggest names from past and present. For more information check out www.PolePositionRaceway.com.
There will be individual heat races all night long where you have a chance to race against the top guys for only $19.95. The evening concludes with a main event with the top 12 celebrities going head-to-head in the final.
Enter To Win a 2019 Yamaha YZ450F at Glendale Supercross
Want to win a brand-new 2019 Yamaha YZ450F? Here is your chance.
If you are attending the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross this weekend at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, all you need to do is stop by the Racer X booth—located in the Party in the Pits—and enter into the drawing to win a new 2019 Yamaha YZ450F.
Winner will be picked at the end of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season and announced on Racer X Online.
Not going to Glendale? No worries, you can still subscribe to Racer X Illustrated right now and get a FREE Scosche Portable Backup Battery.
Subscribe at Glendale for ALL the Freebies!
Are you headed to the Glendale Supercross this weekend? Make sure you stop by the Racer X booth, located in the pits, and subscribe for as low as $10 and receive a FREE 2019 Racer X calendar and signed Chad Reed cover poster. You will also receive a complimentary magazine. See you at the races!
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Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.