Fire the cannons! For those not familiar, that is the battle cry when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers score a touchdown. We will be racing Monster Energy Supercross inside Raymond James Stadium this weekend, home of the 2021 Super Bowl champs. February weather in Tampa is typically all-time great but there is a serious chance of rain this Saturday. Rain this time of year is usually affiliated with a definitive weather front versus the daily showers that summer brings. I would expect a modified schedule with protecting the track at the top of the priority list.
The start this weekend is back to the longer variety with a long left 180 first turn. This is the best version of SX starts, by the way. The first rhythm is going to be very straight forward as there may not be many options. Riders will likely wheelie (or double) over the small bumps exiting the first corner and then go 2-3-1 into the next netted bowl berm (the same netted corner that Baggett spider-man’d into).
Exiting this right-hand bowl, there is a seat bounce triple that riders will want to get right because the whoops are up immediately behind it. Casing it or having to go 2-1 will severely impact rider entry speed. The whoops are long, too, only exacerbating that need for entry speed. With a long set of whoops and an opportunity for a lot of entry momentum, blitzing will likely be the move (providing it’s not a full mud race).
A 90 degree right brings riders along the far end zone section of the stadium and into a 2-3, with the triple being the standard supercross length and variety. Upon landing the triple, there is another 90 right that brings riders along the would-be sidelines. There is a chance for riders to triple onto a tabletop and step off would set them up nicely for the next set of shorter whoops. There are a few small doubles after the whoops, but I don’t expect these to be much to worry about.
A netted bowl berm sends riders back the other direction and into a very interesting sand section. Remember back in 2020, this similar type of sand section wreaked havoc on riders. This could be a pivotal section, especially if we get a deluge on Saturday night.
After the sand, a left-hand bowl berm (watch for block passing here) sends riders careening down the start straight backwards and past the mechanics area. This long straight into a tight right hander will also be a block passing zone, especially given its proximity to the finish line.
A step on-step off is on the exit of said tight right hander but watch for riders to go inside and roll-step over on the final lap to protect the inside. The finish line jump is a steep double with an immediate left-hand corner on the landing that begins lap two.
I know, I know, Eli Tomac is way too obvious. But, what am I supposed to do, not put him here? He’s won every race but A2 and overcame a surging Sexton at Houston.
Speaking of Sexton, that guy is going places. I mean, he really looks like he’s got something. I was more impressed by his mental approach post-race, though, where he was more interested in what he did wrong and how to address it moving forward. Impressive stuff and I’m not easily impressed.
Jason Anderson has gotten back-to-back podiums and although he’s frustrated with his inability to go with the top two, he is not making the critical mistake that haunted him early on.
Aaron Plessinger was very aggressive in Texas. I am sure he felt comfortable with the cowboy hat ratio but his riding was noticeably different. Is this the start of an uptrend?
Hunter Lawrence rode by himself for the majority of the 250 main event. Most had him as the favorite coming into this race and he delivered.
Max (not Maximus) Anstie was fastest in both qualifying sessions which was surprising but then confirmed his status with a runner-up finish in the main event. I did not have Max getting second place on my bingo card, but he was legit.
Jordon Smith was extremely fast but, stop me if you have heard this before, a mistake cost him from battling further forward. He will be in the mix to win races this season.
Haiden Deegan was loose in Houston but absolutely got it done. As Harry Hogge would say “loose is fast and on the edge of out of control”, but if he can keep it upright, he will be a force as he matures.
KR94 had an off day in Houston but should use that as motivation to get back on track in Florida.
Dylan Ferrandis had a scary crash, landing on the side of Ken Roczen. He was said to be unconscious for nearly two minutes and everyone in attendance held their breath for nearly as long.
Cooper Webb is iffy for this list, but the important part is that he can’t let Tomac and Sexton slip away in the points chase.
Nate Thrasher crashed in the sand twice. Note: Crashing twice has a negative impact on results.
Michael Mosiman came into the series with championship hopes but really wasn’t in contention all day. He’s still plenty fast enough to win but he needs to get the details ironed out.
Heavy rains force a radical track change, reverting to the Monster Jam layout. Doubles are constructed from late model Buick Skylark’s.
Max Anstie’s podium speech extends well into Sunday morning.
Eli Tomac changes his opening ceremonies song to Enter Sandman.
As the acting senior citizen of the 250 class, Chris Blose enjoys his time in south Florida. He decides to stay, buying a golf course home in Naples and absolutely dominating his local Tuesday night bingo game.