Yeah…ANAHEIM 1!!!! The 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship kicked off this past weekend at the usual spot, that place with the giant “A” in the parking lot in Southern California. What a time for the series, the kickoff of racing, everyone is healthy, everyone feels great on the bike, and they’ve never been better right?
By 11:30 p.m. Saturday night though, that's all changed. The bikes need a ton of work, the training programs weren’t set up right, and hey, it’s just one race out of 17, we’ll be better next week!
Okay, let’s get going on what I saw at A1…the good, the bad and the ugly.
First, the track—I liked it but it was brutal. For an Anaheim 1, it was pretty tricky and the rain in SoCal made the dirt soft and broken down in no time. Many riders looked to be struggling trying to keep the bike straight, never mind clear the jumps. A1 has been pretty tame over the years and I get it. The promoters/track crew want to ease people into this thing before getting gnarly, but this year there were big whoops (in practice) and a couple of big rhythms that not everyone could do. That’s all I want to see, something that the very elite guys can bust out now and then that others can’t. That’s what excites me about supercross. We had a 3-3 section before the first set of whoops that was exactly that. Good stuff!
Let’s take a look at the results shall we?
1ST | #32 Justin Cooper | Menifee, CA | Yamaha YZ250F
Cooper didn’t have a ton of hype coming in, but man he rode well. He caught Austin Forkner twice before making some mistakes and then capitalized when Forkner made his own mistake. Cooper got his first ever 250SX class win and he earned it with a hell of a ride. Check out this kid’s SX podium record compared to how many races he’s been entered in, it’s unreal. We all should’ve talked more about Cooper before the season started. But then again, how were we supposed to know which coast he was racing?
2ND | #1W Dylan Ferrandis | Lake Elsinore, CA | Yamaha YZ250F
Ferrandis was the man all day long and even won his heat race. I would’ve put a lot of money on Dylan being the winner but man was his start bad. Not sure what happened there but he’s got to work on those. It was a very good race for Dylan as he moved up through the field. There’s a chance, if he figures everything out, that he just runs away with this series. I might’ve said the same thing about Forkner but he again made too many mistakes for me. Dylan, older and wiser, doesn’t make many mistakes.
3RD | #62 Christian Craig | Orange, CA | Honda CRF250R
He’s back and CC’s 2020 is already better than his 2019 and 2018 with this ride. He was fast all day and like Mookie [Malcolm Stewart], once the whoops broke down his real strength went away. Still, he was great and a podium (well, a fourth across the checkered) was a strong start to the year. He was also the LIT KIT award winner as well in case you were wondering.
4TH | #28 Michael Mosiman | Menifee, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
I don’t know if I’ve seen a rider have as big of a lead in supercross as Mosiman did in the LCQ. Seriously, it was “MC in 96” big. Anyways, from having to race that landmine of a race to get fourth in the main event is something Michael and his team should be happy with.
5TH | #52 Austin Forkner | Richards, MO | Kawasaki KX250
Forkner was good, he was very good, but not quite where he was last year in my opinion. Maybe he’ll get there though. I still saw a big mistake in practice and a mistake in the main event as well as a brain fart where he cut the track. Poof, just like that his third turns to a fifth. Some good from Forkner at A1 but for sure some stuff that indicates he hasn’t learned yet.
6TH | #29 Cameron Mcadoo | Sioux City, IA | Kawasaki KX250
RAM IT was good in his heat as he tracked down Craig and Ferrandis. He’s not good enough (yet) to get a bad start and track the guys down that finished in front of him but this year, to me anyways, is a year to get a podium or two and then in a title should be on his mind for 2021.
7TH | #30 Brandon Hartranft | Corona, CA | KTM 250 SX-F
Brandon has a hard crash in practice which you would think would have affected him for this race. He didn’t get a good start and had to charge up. I came in thinking he could be a low-key podium guy and I saw nothing to change my mind.
8TH | #57 Derek Drake | Corona, CA | KTM 250 SX-F
Oh hey, remember Derek??? Yeah, we kind of forget about him because his pro build up has been slow--he finished Loretta's as the Horizon Award Winner in 2018, didn't race supercross last year, and started at Hangtown. This was his first real supercross. Good ride for him!
9TH | #83 Jett Lawrence | Wesley Chapel, FL | Honda CRF250R
Jett was exciting to watch as he was making mistakes out there, passing dudes, getting passed back and then charging hard up. Not too bad considering he had a tad bit of food poisoning from some bad Chick-fil-A (SEE???).
10TH | #26 Alex Martin | Clermont, FL | Suzuki RM-Z250
Troll Train was up there before making a mistake and dropping way back. He had to kick his bike which we made fun of him for everywhere. He did salvage his race with a good ride after the mistake and how about that start in the heat? #PoorSuzuki
11TH | #45 Jacob Hayes | Lodi, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
I thought this was a good result for Hayes, maybe even better than expected for such little seat time on the Husky from his crash in Australia.
12TH | #170 Michael Leib | Temecula, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
Leib went away for a while due to injuries, and although he raced some races last year, he wasn’t as prepared as he had been in the past. Well in 2020, he is prepared and was the first privateer in the main event which he’s done a ton before. He’s always been able to ride a motorcycle and some time off didn’t do anything to disprove that. With his Canvas MX company, he’s able to have some pretty cool looking bikes and gear as well.
13TH | #72 Robbie Wageman | Newhall, CA | Yamaha YZ250F
Robbie switched bike brands this year and I’d say he got an upgrade with the Yamaha powerplant. He was solid and his brother RJ got good starts all night long as well but couldn’t get it into the main. More jerky for Robbie, I guess…
14TH | #90 Killian Auberson | Winchester, CA | KTM 250 SX-F
Switzerland’s greatest supercrosser ever? You give me another name…
15TH | #95 Carson Brown | Ravensdale, WA | Husqvarna FC 250
Carson was pretty quiet all day long and that’s a good thing for him because sometimes, things can get a bit sketchy with him. Something to build on for sure. I follow Carson on IG and would just like to say that he really played possum on there in terms of being ready for A1. I don’t approve that.
16TH | #40 Mitchell Oldenburg | Godley, TX | Honda CRF250R
Mitchell is still fast (qualified seventh) on the new Penrite Honda team and he can still start very well (fourth) but unfortunately, he can’t seem to stay on two wheels. Still. I want Freckle to figure this issue out bad because he’s a good dude.
17TH | #106 Jay Wilson | Palm Beach, Australia | Yamaha YZ250F
18TH | #88 Logan Karnow | Amherst, OH | Kawasaki KX250
Karnow looked a little winded out there in the main, but he’s gone from a guy not close to making mains to someone that rides forward and makes it. That’s an improvement, he just needs to work on the fitness for 15 minutes plus a lap.
19TH | #227 Derek Kelley | Riverside, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
The most unlikely guy in the main was probably Derek seeing as how he had a 0 percent pick trend in PulpMX Fantasy.
20TH | #97 Chris Howell | Spokane Valley, WA | Husqvarna FC 250
Howell made it happen in the LCQ with a last turn pass. Why the LCQ’s aren’t in the Triple Crown races to kick off the night is beyond me, they’re usually so awesome. Poor Koga…
21ST | #101 Luke Clout | Hemet, CA | Honda CRF250R
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the 2020 PulpMX Fantasy Killer clubhouse leader! Luke was fast but couldn’t hold it together. Beating Justin Brayton in your home country on just average tracks and racing Anaheim 1 are two different things. He’ll figure it out but not this week.
22ND | #60 Mitchell Falk | Costa Mesa, CA | Honda CRF250R
Well here’s a classic case of too much, too soon probably. Falk got one race for TLD KTM in 2018, he got hurt in SX and MX in 2019, raced 11 pro races with a best finish of ninth and he’s now a privateer. Professional motocross can be a cruel sport and I’m sure he’s sitting there wondering, “WTF happened?"
1ST | #51 Justin Barcia | Greenville, FL | Yamaha YZ450F
BAM BAM DID IT AGAIN! Barcia wins Anaheim 1 for the second year in a row and unlike last year, this one might be the shot of confidence he needs. Lots of changes to the Yamaha for Barcia which resulted in a more production-based motorcycle than he’s ever had there before. It all added up to a happy rider. He won his heat, battled the kid in the main and looked great. Yes, the track conditions helped him a bit (he’s good with ruts, soft dirt) but I think he’s for real this year. Justin Barcia fighting for wins and podiums each week would make this series so good. You see when he messed up and Adam got by him? He went right back for the kill in a move that, had it worked, wouldn’t have been very cool. He can’t help himself! The old Bam Bam kicked in right there.
2ND | #9 Adam Cianciarulo | New Smyrna Beach, FL | Kawasaki KX450
Uh, yeah. My “take” that AC won’t win a race in 2020 is going to be way off unless a piano falls on him between now and St. Louis. The kid looked amazing all day long, led six laps of the main and even though I KNEW he’d be fast as shit, I was still amazed at how fast he really was. HE WAS SO GOOD. I’m sorry, I can’t help it.
3RD | #1 Cooper Webb | Clermont, FL | KTM 450 SX-F
Hey, did you hear Webb was under the weather? Not sure if they mentioned it on TV or not…anyways, Webb definitely wasn’t feeling it and wasn’t able to come on the PulpMX Show on Monday because he told me he still wasn’t feeling good enough. Knowing all this, seeing his qualifying time and then seeing him on the box, I’d say this was like a win for the champ. Seriously, after AC, I think Cooper might be the most impressive guy this weekend—what’s going to happen when he’s feeling better? I’m currently having nightmares about underestimating him on all the preview shows. [Editor's note: So am I. --Weege]
4TH | #4 Blake Baggett | Grand Terrace, CA | KTM 450 SX-F
Blake had a great race and a great night considering he took his baby out for opening ceremonies like the Hangover guy and nothing bad happened! I can’t help but think the track’s condition helped him out but even still, he was very fast. Late in the race he was the only guy going 3-3 and was catching Webb. Impressive start for Blake and man, imagine if he could find some consistency week to week to match up with his fitness?
5TH | #21 Jason Anderson | Rio Rancho, NM | Husqvarna FC 450
Good race for the #21 as he didn’t get the start he needed and had to ride forward to this spot. Nothing really flashy for him out there but a good start to the year I think. I know this is not rocket science but holy crap is the start so key for these elite dudes.
6TH | #94 Ken Roczen | Clermont, FL | Honda CRF450R
Roczen was in position (or at least I thought so) to get on the box before losing the pack and dropping back. He wrote on social that his suspension set-up is stiff and on tracks like this, it hurts him. I mean, sure it makes sense but his race was a tad alarming. I think he’ll be fine but my worry meter started pinging a bit…
7TH | #3 Eli Tomac | Cortez, CO | Kawasaki KX450
I don’t know man, Tomac said he had arm pump and I believe him because he wasn’t himself out there in the heat or main but the mystery wrapped in a riddle that is Eli Tomac continues. AC switched from a Renthal Fatbar to a Twinwall (with crossbar) and said it helped his arm pump…maybe Eli has a crossbar on his bike this weekend? With it being a new year and Eli’s SX win totals dropping the last three years we need to see some flash at St. Louis because you never know how guys are going to be year to year right? I think he’ll be fine but my worry meter started pinging a bit…
8TH | #10 Justin Brayton | Charlotte, NC | Honda CRF450R
JB won a heat and Weege couldn’t be any happier in the press box. It’s ridiculous the love he has for this guy. [Editor's note: He looked SO GOOD. -- Weege] Anyways, Brayton got a start in the main and could’ve gotten a podium but looked like he got a bit tired. Brayton’s been racing a ton so I’m sure he’s ready so I’ll chalk it up to the track and how it broke down. Still, the heat race win was impressive.
9TH | #27 Malcolm Stewart | Haines City, FL | Honda CRF450R
The positive: Mookie’s whoop speed in practice is simply next level and I want to bottle the joy I have watching him and sell it for a million dollars. The negative: by the night show, the whoops get rolled and beat up and he just looks like everyone else through them.
10TH | #64 Vince Friese | Menifee, CA | Honda CRF450R
Well, Friese’s starts are on point. Look, he took a big step up in 2018 and last year he was good again but hurt his knee early on. Top ten at Anaheim 1 is WAY legit and he should be proud of this result. I know some of the top guys still don’t give him the respect he deserves and it might always be like that but Vince is for real. He’s built himself up from being on the Privateer Island to fighting for top tens. It’s not as impressive as what Weston Peick did but it’s close. Mad props, as the kids say. [Editor's note: Do they say that anymore? -- Weege]
11TH | #46 Justin Hill | Yoncalla, OR | Honda CRF450R
Hill was on top of the board at times in qualifying practice which is just a reminder of what he can do on a motorcycle. This is a good start for him and he rode pretty well. I know Jeremy Albrecht last year was imploring him to be more aggressive in the early laps but it didn’t happen much. This year he stuck it to Adam Cianciarulo a couple of times so it took a while but he’s being aggressive!
12TH | #7 Aaron Plessinger | Hamilton, OH | Yamaha YZ450F
Man, I hope Aaron has a good year that he can build on in 2020 but it almost went sideways when he twisted his foot in the heat and then was way outside off the gate for the LCQ. It took AP a while in the LCQ to realize that he was Aaron Plessinger on a factory bike, and he needed to qualify (#PoorKyleCunningham) but he did just that and then pulled a good start. I think a 12th with all that happened at A1 is respectable for AP.
13TH | #15 Dean Wilson | Murrieta, CA | Husqvarna FC 450
Wilson’s way behind on his 2020 SX prep due to injury but he showed up and was a gamer. Yes, he looked tired and 13th isn’t awesome but he’ll build on this from here and get better. I think for Dean, just making all the races is a goal he has, hence showing up this weekend despite not being 100 percent.
14TH | #16 Zach Osborne | Abingdon, VA | Husqvarna FC 450
Osborne, like Webb, was sick coming into the event and then crashed in practice in the whoops and went down pretty hard again in his heat. Pretty much exactly what he didn’t need to start the season. I’m sure from there it was full survival mode for Wacko so 14th and a shoulder shrug. I’m still waiting for the invite to hang in the motorhome by the way.
15TH | #37 Martin Davalos | Tallahassee, FL | KTM 450 SX-F
A rough first race with crashes seemingly every time “we” were on the track but I’m still on the Marty train. I can’t endorse the look of his bike and gear though. If he’s going for the look of a black bandito from Ecuador then fine, I get it, but his days of robbing banks are over.
16TH | #19 Justin Bogle | Edmond, OK | KTM 450 SX-F
Rough start for Bogle who mentioned that his bike wasn’t set-up for the soft track, and he didn’t make the changes he needed to do. I’m cool with it because he took responsibility for that.
17TH | #34 Tyler Bowers | Lake Elsinore, CA | Kawasaki KX450
The Bear looks weird out there in his new Answer gear after years on Seven, but we’ll get used to it. He told me that this is the most underprepared he’s been coming in due to injury and he didn’t show much flash. Heck, he almost didn’t make the main until he realized that they took four and not two riders from the LCQ(?!?). He put on the afterburners after reading his pit board (#PoorKyleCunningham) and got it in.
18TH | #22 Chad Reed | Cornelius, NC | Honda CRF450R
Reed’s last A1 hurrah started with him on the ground in the first turn in heat one, so it was through the LCQ that he made the main. A guy that didn’t do a lot of pre-season riding doesn't need to burn energy doing more laps, but that’s what he got. He was joking with Chiz and me during track walk about who’s got the least amount of prep in for the season. During the main event, they had a chance to really decide the winner.
19TH | #11 Kyle Chisholm | Valrico, FL | Yamaha YZ450F
Chiz has four rides on his privateer Yamaha and it was very stock. He made the main as well because he’s Chiz. That’s what Chiz does, people.
20TH | #49 Chris Blose | Phoenix, AZ | Honda CRF450R
Not sure what happened to Blose in the main, but Zombie Chris looked to not be charging hard late in the race. Maybe he had his fill of brains and couldn’t get going?
21ST | #31 Fredrik Noren | Indian Trail, NC | Suzuki RM-Z250
Noren looked…good? I mean, supercross is never going to be his specialty for sure but Noren looked pretty good and qualified well in a deep field. Could "Fast Freddie" Noren be getting some serious supercross skills? Stay tuned kids.
22ND | #53 James Decotis | Huntersville, NC | Suzuki RM-Z250
JIMMMYYY DEEEEEE rode 450SX and made the main with a little bit of luck as Benny Bloss crashed with half a lap to go to give Jimmy the last spot. From there he looked to be a tad tired and happy to be there as he gets ready for 250SX East. I wish I had known this before selecting him in PulpMX Fantasy!
Some other news and notes:
- The AMA results have long been a source of great amusement for me and others and they seemingly can’t get all the information right on there. They’ve gotten better but a new year equals new things to pick out. Here are a couple examples:
Justin Bogle is on a 250? Who knew? Maybe that explains his race.
Also this guy is like Prince or Madonna…just one name! #NeverChangeAMA
- I was talking to Jeremy McGrath on track walk and yes, I’m biased because he’s a rad dude and everything you want in someone representing a sport, but why the powers that be don’t use him more is amazing. The guy's the all-time King of Supercross, he’s well spoken, he’s done well on TV before and he’s a Monster guy! He literally checks every single box you would want in a TV guy. Obviously he doesn’t want to travel and do this full-time but someone can’t squeeze him in for a 250 or 450 main event? Really? Put him in there and he’d kill it for sure.
- Big meeting on Friday between the VIP’s at Feld Entertainment, the President of the FIM and then some representatives of the OEM’s. Why the team owners like Coy Gibbs, Mike Genova, and others weren’t invited should’ve been the first sign that this meeting was going to be a little off. Having a supercross series with six OEM’s wouldn’t exactly be very good right? Anyways, according to two sources I talked to that were in the meeting, it didn’t go very well for the FIM. There’s a new president of the FIM and he was telling people that he’s going to try to fix things like the WADA/FIM relationship with the riders and teams, etc., but some of the OEM’s weren’t having it with one of the guys telling the president, “We don’t want you here.” I mean, let’s face it, the handling of the anti-doping thing has been a joke with the penalties/notifications to the riders that have tested positive for a minute substance that doesn’t help performance or for riders like Cade Clason that had issues with a TUE. There sounds like there was some pushback from the OEM’s on Monster Energy AMA Supercross being associated with FIM at all and again, from what I hear, the Feld/FIM deal is up at the end of next year. There are ZERO good reasons (in my opinion) to have the FIM associated with supercross (Feld and the teams can come up with their own drug testing and penalty system), but there are political reasons for Feld to be partnered up with the organization. I heard Feld was also critical to the FIM in the sense of, “You see how unhappy these OEM’s are, try to fix it.” Let’s see if anything comes of this, but I’m glad the OEM’s pushed back. They should!
Thanks for reading, welcome back to another year of Observations! I'm well into my second decade writing this column and I still enjoy it. Hope you do, to. Email me at email@example.com if you want to chat about this or anything else.