So many stories when you’re dealing with #deepfield at the opening round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross. We’ve tracked some stories here from riders who were off the podium at NRG Stadium, taking info from post-race press conferences, and also team press releases. Read on to learn more about Houston 1.
Adam Cianciarulo | 4th in 450SX
“I think, initially I was okay in free practice, but I was uncomfortable once the track got worn in, with the bumpier ruts and some rough transitions. I haven’t really raced a 450 in those conditions, other than Tampa, and that’s kind of a bigger floor, so I haven’t raced those tighter, east-coast style conditions on a 450 much. I was trying hard but obviously I just didn’t have it. I improved steadily throughout the night, but I just didn’t have the raw speed to run with those top two guys. On a night when I didn’t feel my best and maybe didn’t jell with the track and other things, I’m pretty happy with a fourth. It was an uneventful, quiet night, and I don’t have many of those so I will take it! Normally my nights are a highlight of me doing a backflip or something crazy, so I’ll take it.”
Note: Adam lost some time in the off-season getting a procedure done on his arm, as a nerve was blocked in his elbow led to some problems with his grip strength.
“I definitely think I would be stronger if I was able to put together more time in the off-season, but I do feel stronger than I did last season. I felt strong at the end of the race. Yes, the arm is still a problem for me. The more bumpy a track is, like the turn before the whoops for example, that type of spot is still difficult for me. I wish I was able to be a little stronger with the arm but everyone is dealing with something. According to my doctor, after two or three months my arm should be feeling better, and it’s already starting to get better which is encouraging. It’s not like I’m going to fall off the motorcycle, it’s not that bad, but it’s just not ideal.”
Malcolm Stewart | 5th in 450SX
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous at the beginning of the day. A new team, new bike, new year, it was just the typical jitters. We went to the main event and I finally got the jitters out. I didn’t get the best start. I think I looked at the gate just a little too quick when the 30-second card went sideways. It’s about five to seven seconds typically when it drops. I was probably staring at that thing for seven seconds. I made a few mistakes in the beginning and got around some guys, but just kind of gapped myself. I knew that it was going to be a long race, and it was. We did 28 laps. Third and fourth were right there. I did everything I could to try to get them. I was sitting in fifth and I felt like I was just kind of riding by myself in my own little zone, but I stayed charging. Adam Cianciarulo was dangling the carrot in front of me and it just kept me motivated.
“I feel like it was a track that the more you pushed the harder it was. The track started to go away really fast, the harder you pushed the more time you lost. The whoops, they were probably the hardest jumping whoops I’ve ever hit. Even a simple rhythm could get tough. Adam was there, he was dangling the carrot in front of me and honestly it helped me to make me keep pushing.
“Honestly, going into this race, the first race, getting a top-five, and a top-10 for the whole Star Racing Yamaha team is awesome. I’m very happy with the team and the progress that everybody’s made.”
Justin Brayton | 6th in 450SX
From Muc-Off Honda PR:
“We got great starts all night and the team worked hard preparing for this weekend. It’s a credit to them and how our decisions as a team really paid off. You know the Pirelli tires were amazing tonight, the bike was smooth, it's been a welcomed weekend of intense competition. Sixth was my top result from last year so this is a great way for me to start the championship, something I can certainly build up from and refine each week. The CRF450R out of the box is amazing, so we are confident in it and together with our great partners and resources, we will aim to be faster each week.”
Dylan Ferrandis | 7th in 450SX
“Honestly, it was a surprise. The result was really good and I was happy about it. It was hard, everything is new for me and the team. The team doesn’t have the experience with a 450 in race conditions, and we had to really learn during press day and every practice. I struggled to find myself and my rhythm with the top guys. In the main event the conditions were great for me and I gave it everything I had until the checkered flag. We learned a lot. I’ll try to improve what I can with the bike and get better for the next race.
“For me where I struggled in practice was to accept that I earned this place in this sport and in the 450s. When I was on the track with these guys, I realized these were guys I always admired watching on TV, both when I was younger and also the last few seasons. So the mindset of that, I’m one of those guys now. It was pretty crazy because I was battling with Webb and Anderson. It was really hard, I have to accept that I’m with those guys and I have to race and fight with them. I’m glad that’s over and we can move to the second one.”
Aaron Plessinger | 8th in 450SX
“Today started off kind of rough. I wasn’t really jelling with the bike. Went out in the first and second practice and I qualified really, really bad. I just needed to calm down and let my nerves just ease up a little bit. That’s what I did in the Heat race. I got off to a great start right behind Coop (Cooper Webb), and unfortunately, I made a few mistakes.
“When I was behind him just chillin’ there for a minute, I was cool and I was calm. But when I actually started to close in on him, I was like ‘I can actually do this!’ And I think I got excited and that actually kind of overpowered my riding skills! I just went in and tried to make a pass, didn’t make it stick, and then I started making mistakes. I got a little excited, tried to push the issue and started falling apart after that. But now that I know I can run up there, I think it will be a lot better.
“I took that with me to the main. I didn’t really get a good start, but I made the best of it. I just took it stride by stride. I was right there with (Justin) Brayton for a while and tried to push it in on him. Then I tightened up and Dylan ended up getting me at the end. Overall, it was a good day. Eighth place for the first race of the year. We’ll come back on Tuesday and rip it again.”
Cooper Webb | 9th in 450SX
From Red Bull KTM PR:
“The heat race went pretty good for me, I got the holeshot and led a majority of it and got second. In the main event, I got a really bad start and just struggled to come through. The track was really hard to gain time on tonight and I made a few passes but I struggled. We’ll look to get a lot better for Tuesday.”
Zach Osborne | 10th in 450SX
From Rockstar Energy Husqvarna PR:
“We had an unfortunate incident yesterday and I am really lucky to be riding today, so I was happy to start to feel like myself again in qualifying, get a heat win and have a decent main event. I would have obviously liked to have been a little better than 10th but to be down in the first turn, come back to 10th and get some valuable points is a positive takeaway for me after yesterday.”
Dean Wilson | 12th in 450SX
“Just the start. It’s pretty hectic back there and there’s so many fast guys. I watched my video and there were five guys behind me off the start! There’s so many good guys in this class, I was battling outside the top ten with Cooper [Webb]! It was pretty crazy from my perspective in the back. For me I’ve been riding in Florida so we were actually riding a softer dirt compared to this. That caught be off guard a little bit. Texas dirt was pretty grippy so I like it a lot.”
Eli Tomac | 13th in 450SX
From Monster Energy Kawasaki PR:
“Man, the first race of the season is always an interesting one. To be honest, I had a really great offseason with my entire Kawasaki team, and have just been loving riding my KX450 lately, but today was just not my day. I had a good flow throughout the qualifying sessions today, but in the heat race and main event tonight I got decent starts but got shuffled back in the first turn. With the way the track broke down tonight it became very one-lined and difficult to make passes. The competition this year is deeper than ever and what we learned last year is that you have to be consistent every race to be in the hunt at the end. The good thing about this new schedule is that we get to line up again in a few days, so we will regroup and come out swinging at Round 2 on Tuesday.”
Chase Sexton | 14th in 450SX
From Honda HRC PR:
“Things started off okay; I qualified fastest in practice, which was good for me. Then I went to the heat race and got a pretty bad start. I came from ninth to fourth and caught the lead group but just ran out of time. The main event was pretty much a disaster. I started off ninth or 10th and ended up getting together with Martin Davalos. From there it just kind of went downhill and I made a few more mistakes. It was just kind of a rough main event overall, but I’m looking forward to going racing again Tuesday. That’s one of the positives about being here in Houston. We have three races in a week, so hopefully I can redeem myself and get on the box.”
Jason Anderson | 15th in 450SX
From Rockstar Energy Husqvarna PR:
“My night was not that good but we’re going into the next round and going to stay positive about it. I was up to seventh and then I got arm pump and kind of went backwards but all-in-all, we started the season and I’m happy to be back racing so let’s go from there.”
Vince Friese | 16th in 450SX
From SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda PR:
"Round one wasn't great, but it wasn't bad. I had a great start in the main event but got tangled up with Eli [Tomac], and the race went downhill from there. It's not what I wanted, but it's something to build from, and we have another race on Tuesday."
Broc Tickle | 17th in 450SX
From Smartop/Bullfrog Spas MotoConcepts Honda PR:
"My night was tough, but there were a lot of positives to take from it. I felt decent on the bike, and we know what to work on. The class is gnarly, and there are a lot of accomplished guys in the field, but it's about focusing on yourself. And that's the goal for me as we head into the next race."