This Week in Monster Energy Supercross: Anaheim

2015-01-17 19:51
After two races in the 17-race Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, the 450SX Class has seen two different winners emerge to stake their claim for #WhosNext. RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's Factory Suzuki's Ken Roczen and GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac have risen to the forefront of the championship, with Roczen maintaining control of the red number plate as the world's best riders make their return to Anaheim, California, on Saturday night for the second of three visits to Angel Stadium. In the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha rider Cooper Webb's first career win helped him close in on current points leader Jessy Nelson and his Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull KTM.

PROGRAM ALERT
**FOX Sports 1 will air the second Anaheim race live at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET**
**Coverage from Anaheim will also be available on the authenticated FOX Sports GO app**
**The 2015 debut of Monster Energy Supercross Behind The Dream airs on FOX Sports 1 Sunday at 10:30am EST / 7:30am PST**


450SX Class

Another strong start in the Phoenix Main Event put Roczen in the lead again and gave him the opportunity to start the season with back-to-back victories, but a spirited battle with Tomac became the early highlight of the 2015 season and Roczen ultimately brought home a runner-up effort to maintain control of the championship. As the only rider with multiple podium finishes this season, Roczen will look to return to the top of the podium inside Angel Stadium, a race he finished second in one year ago.

"We had a great night," said Roczen. "The track was a lot trickier than it was last weekend. I got off to a great start and that definitely helped. I wasn't feeling it before the main event and the track was definitely not the easiest. The first 10 laps were good racing and I just tried to play it safe. Eli [Tomac] beat me straight up, but that's ok. We finished with a second place so I think we're all good for the championship. It's all about being consistent. I'm going to work on myself again this week. I need to focus on getting good starts, not crashing and we're going to try and get another win."

Fellow RCH Racing rider Broc Tickle narrowly missed out on a top-10 finish in Phoenix and currently sits ninth in the 450SX Class standings.

"The Main Event was a cluster for me," commented Tickle. "I didn't get a good start. I ended up with a bunch of guys in the beginning and just had to ride around for the first five laps. I made a mistake around Lap 6 and ended up doubling a triple so that cost me a position. I was creeping up there and getting faster as the Main Event went on, which was good, but I needed to be a little better at the beginning of the race. There was a group of guys in front of me at the end and if I would have had a better start, I think I could have been in front of them. I'm looking forward to going back to Anaheim. Anaheim is always a good place for me. I want to have a good week and work on the stuff I need to so I can be better next weekend."

Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey earned his first podium finish of the season in Phoenix, and as a result moved from fourth to second in the championship standings. Dungey is known for his consistency and he's beginning to dial in his new motorcycle, with hopes of potentially breaking through for victory on Saturday night. The former champion finished sixth at the second Anaheim race a year ago.

"This wasn't a bad result," stated Dungey. "But I definitely want better. I'm glad to be on the podium and am looking to keep this momentum going into the race next weekend."

Dungey's rookie teammate, Dean Wilson has endured ups and downs in his first two starts with the team, but he's shown consistency speed in practice. With another week under his belt Wilson hopes Anaheim is where he shows what he's capable of on the big bike.

Following an impressive runner-up effort in his very first 450SX Class start, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Jason Anderson was strong again in Phoenix. Last year's Western Regional 250SX Class Champion showed his resiliency by overcoming a start outside the top 10 to battle his way to fifth. He sits third in the 450SX Class standings and has aspirations of another podium finish in Anaheim.

"My weekend was alright," said Anderson. "I managed a bad start and ended up with a six. I'm still up there in points so that's good. It was tough to pass on this track but you just have to force your moves every lap, which I think I did pretty well. I'm looking forward to next week - hopefully I'll get a better start and be in the race."

Team Honda's Trey Canard was another rider who had to fight his way to the front in Phoenix. A hectic opening lap left Canard near the tail end of the field, but he put on a hard charge to break into the top 10 and finish eighth. While it wasn't the result Canard was looking for, he's confident he'll be in the hunt for victory on Saturday night. Canard is fifth in the points.

"It was a good night in that I left healthy and ready for next weekend," said Canard. "I'm not happy with the result, but I believe that over the course of the season all the top riders will have a night like I had here at Phoenix. I'm really excited for my fellow Honda rider on his win, and for all of HRC. Hopefully we can continue the success for them as we go forward."

Fellow Team Honda rider Cole Seely has experienced a little bit of everything in his rookie season, earning his first Heat Race win last weekend. However, in the Phoenix Main Event he was unable to keep the momentum going and eventually finished 14th. Seely is currently 16th in the 450SX Class standings but his win at the second Anaheim race in the 250SX Class a year ago has him optimistic for Saturday.

"The Heat Race was good-I felt like I was flowing and riding well-but the Main Event just kind of unraveled on me," said Seely. "My start was okay, but I got into it with Chad Reed and a couple other riders. I started going backward and got arm pump, so it was tough. I'll just take the Heat-Race win, build off of that and keep plugging away. The bike felt good all night."

Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha's Weston Peick was the breakout rider in Phoenix, giving Dungey all he could handle in the battle for third. Peick controlled the position for the bulk of the Main Event but a late mishap on a triple jump ultimately caused a broken bone in his foot and dropped him to fourth, which is still a career-best finish. Peick underwent surgery to stabilize the bone this week but intends to give it a go on Saturday in hopes of keeping a hold of fifth in the points.

Peick's JGRMX teammate Justin Barcia had one of the toughest tasks of any rider in the Main Event in Phoenix, crashing on the opening lap and starting dead last. He was determined to overcome the misfortune and managed to pass 11 riders to narrowly miss out on the top 10 in 11th. While Barcia hasn't had the results he'd hoped for thus far, the speed is there and he's gaining confidence on the Yamaha with each lap. He currently sits eighth in the 450SX Class standings.

BTO Sports KTM's Andrew Short was arguably the surprise of the opening race of the season and last weekend in Phoenix he earned another top-10 finish in seventh. Short is enjoying the new KTM and it's showing, currently sitting sixth in the championship. He finished inside the top 10 at the second Anaheim race last season and wants to keep the momentum going.

Short's BTO teammate Justin Brayton is still acclimating to his new bike, but he hopes Anaheim is the place to get his season headed in the right direction. Brayton finished 15th in Phoenix and was fourth at this race in Anaheim a year ago.

Despite a 20th-place at the opening race following a pair of crashes, Tomac was the rider to beat in Phoenix and showed how well both he and the Honda are performing by chasing down Roczen, passing him and pulling away over the final stages of the Main Event. The win was huge for Tomac as it vaulted him to seventh in the championship and he knows he has the ability to go back-to-back on Saturday night to continue his upward climb.

"Just the way it happened, it's something I can't really believe, but it did happen," Tomac said. "The points are something I can't dwell on because considering how long the series is, it's not worth worrying about. Maybe some people thought it was over but I sure didn't. Early on I was staying right there with Roczen, so I knew he wasn't way faster than me. I was riding a comfortable pace with him. We look toward the future and not just one race, like it's the end of the world. This was fun."

Monster Energy Kawasaki's Davi Millsaps was another rider who had to dig himself out of a hole following a difficult start to the season. In Phoenix Millsaps was back in the front half of the field, bringing home a fifth-place finish. He made up ground in the points and is dialing in his Kawasaki to his liking. For Millsaps, a podium finish would really give him some much-needed momentum. While he's still yet to break into the top 10 in points, another solid ride will surely push Millsaps into it.

"We continued to make progress this week," said Millsaps. "Phoenix was much better than the opening round and we're hoping to make up even more ground at Anaheim. We dug ourselves a pretty big hole, but nothing we cannot overcome. I'm looking forward to redemption at Angel Stadium."

In Phoenix Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports' Chad Reed showed the speed that has made him one of the sport's most successful riders. While his 10th-place finish isn't exactly what Reed was hoping for, he's got a pair of them to start the season and appears to be generating some upward momentum. A year ago in Anaheim Reed earned a truly memorable win and he's eager to try and repeat that performance on Saturday and move up from his 11th-place position in the championship.


250SX Class

Nelson backed up his first-career win at the season opener in Anaheim with a third-place finish in Phoenix. Nelson is riding more confident than ever before in his professional career and its culminating with the California native maintaining possession of the red number plate as the points leader. Nelson would love nothing more than to repeat in Anaheim and reassert his control on the championship.

"The race tonight was pretty good," said Nelson. "It wasn't my best race, but I'll take what I can because I felt like I rode a little tight there at the end. I'm definitely super happy to get on the box and still have the points lead."

Fellow Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull KTM rider Shane McElrath is also showing signs of confidence. In his second season of competition McElrtath is riding at his best and has sixth and eighth-place finishes to currently land him seventh in the points.

Webb's dominant ride to victory in Phoenix was also a statement in his hopes of battling for the title. Webb jumped to second in the championship and has the momentum coming into Anaheim. He earned an impressive second-place finish at the second race in Anaheim last season and thinks he has the speed to make it two-in-a-row in 2015.

"In the Main I got off to a really good start and just made my way in first throughout fourth lap and just went and rode my on race really," said Webb. "I got a nice lead and was able to win, what felt like pretty easily. So I am super excited and just very pumped to get my first one and try to keep the momentum building. I'm really excited for Anaheim. I really enjoy racing at Anaheim, so I'm excited to go back and hopefully look in to continue to win and do well, so that's the goal for the weekend."

Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha rookie Aaron Plessinger has arguably been the biggest surprise in the 250SX Class. Plessinger has not only earned a pair of fifth-place finishes to start the season, he's done so by moving through the field. He's shown no intimidation through two races and thinks he could contend for the podium on Saturday.

"I actually got a pretty good start and then worked my way up to fourth and caught Jessy Nelson for third but we battled for a little bit and then I made a little mistake and Bowers got by me for fourth so I ended up fifth but I'm really happy for that," said Plessinger. "Heading into Anaheim, I'm going to do my homework this week, and try and get up on that podium, which I think I can do since I caught all the way up to third place. I'm feeling good, feeling fit and I'm going out there to get on that podium."

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Tyler Bowers may have just missed out on his second straight podium finish of the season in Phoenix, but he's still very much a player in the championship. Bowers knows he can be the rider to beat this weekend and is ready to give it all he has in hopes of earning a second career win. Bowers currently sits third in the Western Regional Championship.

"We're planning to be back on the box in Anaheim," said Bowers. "I'm sitting one point out of second in points and we're continuing to try and find that extra edge. The track looks like it's going to be fast this weekend, and it's no question our Kawasaki's are fast."

Fellow Pro Circuit rider Chris Alldredge missed out on making the Main Event in his first career Monster Energy Supercross start, but bounced back in Phoenix and rode better than his 15th-place finish suggests. With a Main Event under his belt, Alldredge is looking to build off what he learned.

"I'm learning something new every weekend," said Alldredge. "In Phoenix I got a taste of what the pace is like at the front of the field, and really worked to maintain that intensity this week. I'm looking forward to being out there in front of another sellout crowd in Anaheim."

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Zach Osborne raced in Phoenix despite breaking his thumb at the opening race. While he ultimately suffered from the pain in the late stages of the Phoenix race, Osborne salvaged a seventh-place finish to sit fourth in the points.

"Overall it was an okay day," said Osborne. "It's tough with the injury, but I'm trying my best to ride through it. My start was good, but I should have done a little better. I'm only nine points out of the lead and I'm ready to move on to next week's race at Anaheim."

Teammate Zach Bell finished inside the top 10 in Phoenix, in ninth, and currently sits ninth in the Western Regional standings.

"Today was okay," said Bell. "I had a good Heat Race and finished fifth. I was riding really well in the Main and, after getting caught up in the start, I went from the back all the way up to ninth. Overall I felt good on the bike and I feel strong. I'm getting better and better each week I'm and looking forward to getting on the podium."

Red Bull KTM's Justin Hill revealed he's been battling an illness since the start of the season. While he's undefeated in his Heat Races, Hill has had to fight to maintain his speed in the Main Event as a result of his illness. Nevertheless, the Oregon native has finishes of 4th and 6th to start the season and is fifth in the championship standings. Hill earned a top-five finish at the second Anaheim race last season.

"Overall, I was hoping to be in podium contention tonight," stated Hill. "I struggled with a head cold earlier this week and it affected my riding tonight. I am hoping to feel 100% this next week and come back stronger for the next Anaheim event."

GEICO Honda celebrated a career-best finish for Malcolm Stewart in Phoenix. The Florida native led the early stages of the Main Event before settling in behind Webb and coming home in second. It was a huge confidence booster for Stewart following a DNF at the opening race and he moved into eighth in the standings. Anaheim was good to Stewart last season, finishing third.

"It's a huge weight off my shoulders going into this weekend," Stewart said. "I felt that the first couple races on the bike were like a black cat luck-wise. The results really came around at the end of Phoenix though during the LCQ and the Main. I definitely feel like it was a big reset button for me, so now I can move forward and focus again."

Matt Bisceglia has shown speed on his GEICO Honda, but he's had to deal with misfortune each week. In Phoenix Bisceglia finished 11th and is currently 13th in the points.

"It was unfortunate in that first corner," Bisceglia said. "It was just something that happened. I'm excited for this weekend and doing what I can do. I've got to keep looking ahead. I need to learn from what I saw in Anaheim."

Headlining the 2015 Monster Energy Supercross television package will be the first-ever live FOX network broadcast from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday, April 25 at 3pm E.T. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast 12 races live and FOX Sports 2 will broadcast 3 races live. Each race will include a next-day re-air on FOX Sports 1. In addition, the authenticated FOX Sports Go app will live stream each race.

As a precursor to the live television, don't forget to catch all of the pre-race coverage with Supercross Race Day Live, which will stream on www.SupercrossLive.comfrom 12:50 - 4:30 p.m. local race time each Saturday during the season. Practice, qualifying, behind the scenes features, and key rider interviews will all be highlighted on the Supercross Race Day Live webcast.

Source: Feld Motor Sports

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