This Saturday night in Anaheim, California, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey will lead the world’s best racers back to the third and final Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, race at Angel Stadium in 2015, just one week after taking over the points lead in at the previous race in Oakland.
In the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb maintains his hold on the points lead and will lead the field into Anaheim.
Some key insights to watch heading into this Saturday night’s race:
- How will Ryan Dungey respond to gaining control of the points lead? Will he be able to win the third race at Anaheim for the second time in his career?
- Can Ken Roczen rebound from a hard-hitting crash in Oakland, where he finished 15th and lost control of the points lead, to sweep Anaheim and join the elite group of James Stewart and Chad Reed as the only riders to win all three races in Anaheim in the same season?
- Can Trey Canard go back-to-back? It would be the first time Honda has won consecutive 450SX Class races since Kevin Windham won St. Louis and Seattle in 2008. Canard could also become the first back-to-back winner of the 2015 season. Could there be a fourth different 450SX Class winner in five races?
- Can Justin Barcia, Cole Seely, Davi Millsaps or Andrew Short earn their first podium result? They are the only riders in the top 10 in the 450SX Class standings yet to do so.
- Will Jason Anderson be able to give Husqvarna its first win in its return to the sport, also earning his first career 450SX Class victory by doing so?
- Will the momentum of his first podium of the season thrust Chad Reed into contention for a win, just two weeks after a black flag disqualified him from the second race at Anaheim?
- Can Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki get its first win of the season before the West Coast swing is over?
- Will the brewing tension between Western Regional 250SX Class title contenders Cooper Webb and Tyler Bowers erupt in Anaheim and result in a major swing in the championship battle?
- Can Malcolm Stewart follow up his first career 250SX Class win with another strong performance?
Team Honda’s Trey Canard became the third different winner in the first four races of the 2015 Monster Energy Supercross Championship, passing Discount Tires/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed on lap six and riding to his first win since Arlington, Texas, back in 2011. With a win this weekend, Canard can give Honda its first back-to-back wins since Kevin Windham did so in 2008 with victories in St. Louis and Seattle.
It was a huge way for Canard to bounce back from a controversial race in Anaheim the previous weekend, when he and Reed had a pair of incidents that ultimately resulted in a black flag for the Aussie rider and an 11th-place finish for Canard.
As fate would have it, the battle for the win in Oakland came down to Canard and Reed, but this time there was clean racing between the two riders, who have both moved past their conflict.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Canard following the win in Oakland. “I didn’t think I would be on the podium after the first few laps; it was busy out there. It has been a long haul to get here on top of the podium, and I am really happy about it.”
Heading into Oakland, RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s Factory Suzuki’s Ken Roczen held a 12-point lead in 450SX Class standings over Dungey, but a crash off a triple jump after passing Reed for second on lap one forced Roczen to re-enter the race at the tail end of the field.
Battered and bruised, Roczen salvaged a 15th-place finish but gave up his points lead in a 16-point swing that fell in Dungey’s favour. It also signified the first time this season that Roczen failed to lead a lap in the Main Event.
His first two wins of the season came in Anaheim, and the German rider, who has never finished off the podium in his five career starts in Anaheim, hopes to become the third rider in history to sweep all three races with a win this weekend.
Dungey turned in his second consecutive runner-up finish and now has a four-point lead in the 450SX Class standings. The most consistent rider in the field, Dungey is the only rider to finish within the top five at every race this year.
Dungey is a past winner at the third race in Anaheim, putting his KTM atop the podium during the 2013 season and he hopes to earn his first victory of the season by repeating that success.
“All things considered, tonight’s track was really tough,” said Dungey after the race in Oakland. “I wanted to make up some ground on Trey [Canard] for the lead, but it didn’t work out. It’s nice to take over the points lead, but the season is still young.”
Reed’s comeback from the black flag he received in the incident with Canard in Anaheim, which is a disqualification from the race, resulted in a season-best third place effort, which moved him into 10th overall in season standings. Reed can pass Jeremy McGrath and James Stewart on the all-time win list in Anaheim with a victory this weekend.
After starting the season in 20th place, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac turned in his third consecutive top-five finish with a fourth in Oakland. Tomac earned the first 450SX Class win of his career at the second race of the season in Phoenix, and his resurgent consistency since then has helped him climb all the way to fourth in the championship standings.
In his first full year of 450SX Class competition, Team Honda’s Cole Seely earned a season-best fifth place in Oakland, which was his first top-five finish in the class since a podium result Indianapolis last year. Seely has rebounded from a pair of 14th-place finishes at the start of the season to post back-to-back top-10 efforts and move into seventh in the 450SX Class championship.
The sequel to Webb versus Tyler Bowers played out Saturday night in Oakland during the Western Regional 250SX Class Main Event. Stemming from a pass by Webb on the last lap of the second race in Anaheim the week prior that forced Bowers’ Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki off the track while leading. Bowers responded in Oakland with a forceful pass on Webb while the pair battled through the field in the Main Event.
The heavy contact forced Webb to the ground and outside the top 10, but he bounced back with a torrid run through the field, re-passing Bowers en route to a runner-up finish.
Out front, GEICO Honda’s Malcolm Stewart, who made his 36th career start on Saturday, was victorious in Oakland, picking up the first Main Event win of his career. Stewart, who led the race in the early stages, was passed by Red Bull KTM’s Justin Hill and followed in second place. Stewart would capitalise on a mistake and eventual crash by Hill to retake the lead on lap seven and ride to victory.
“This is a big moment for me,” said Stewart. “First of all, I want to thank my brother. I want to thank these fans out here tonight; I am an Oakland Raiders fan, so you guys are great. I knew I could do it, and tonight it finally paid off.”
Cycle Trader/Rock River Yamaha’s Alex Martin finished on the podium with a third place for the first time in his career.
Webb holds an eight-point lead in the championship standings over Bowers, and all eyes will be on the newfound rivals and training partners on Saturday night. With his win, Stewart moved up one spot in the standings and currently sits sixth.
During the first two visits to Angel Stadium this season, Roczen compiled a pair of dominant performances in which he led 39 of the 40 laps across both 450SSX Class Main Events to take a pair of easy victories.
The first Western Regional 250SX Class race, Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull/KTM’s Jessy Nelson raced to the first win of his career. Two weeks later, Webb made the dramatic last-lap pass on Bowers to claim his second victory of the season and take over the championship lead.
This weekend’s race will mark the 66th Monster Energy Supercross race in Anaheim.