The gate drops in Anaheim for the 70th time as the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross season returns to Angel Stadium on Saturday for the second and final date in Southern California where Ken Roczen attempts a season sweep of the venue and remain undefeated for the year.
Roczen had his hands full in San Diego last week as two-time defending 450 class Champion Ryan Dungey grabbed the holeshot, led for seven laps until relinquishing the lead, and if not for a bobble on the final lap, might have taken the checkers. Roczen won the opener wire-to-wire by 16 seconds but the two certainly seem destined for a showdown every week.
It's the best start to a season for Roczen since 2015 when he won two of the first three rounds and led Dungey by 12 points. He also led the field after three rounds in 2014 but in both years, injuries and crashes pulled him from contention, as Dungey took the trophy in 2015 and Ryan Villopoto in 2014.
Ken Roczen likely expects a bigger challenge at A2 on Saturday than he got at A1.
Roczen said it was a battle for victory last week and was happier with Round 2's win compared to his blow-out to start the season. Dungey's start proved better than the first go-around in Anaheim thus he kept it close. The man who makes few mistakes came in too hot in one of the final corners leaving enough of a gap to give Roczen his second-straight victory.
Can Ryan Dungey get his first win on Saturday?
Anaheim 2 is hardly a must-win for Dungey as he sets his sights on a third-straight Championship but losing additional ground to a red hot Roczen who won 20 of 24 Motos in the 2016 Motocross campaign makes it that much harder. Roczen is certainly not the rider he was a few years ago and he's still searching for his first 450 class Supercross title. Conversely, Dungey shows no ill effects from his get-off in Round 3 of Motocross last year when he fractured a vertebra in his neck and exited the season.
While Roczen and Dungey take charge, Marvin Musquin and Jason Anderson have so far cemented their positions in third- and fourth-place respectively. However, the intervals tell a bit different story. Musquin finished 21 seconds back of Roczen in San Diego while Anderson crossed the line nearly 30 seconds back. At A1, it was 17 and 26 seconds. Both riders, it seems, have their work cut out for them in terms of claiming higher spots on the podium or reaching it outright.
Can Eli Tomac stay in front of Jason Anderson?
Now, this weekend looks more and more like a must-win for Eli Tomac or at least a must-podium. Tomac was widely regarded as a contender but arm pump in Round 1 cost him a Top 3, landing him in fifth, and last week he dropped a spot. He's in fifth overall, tied with Cole Seely, and 19 points back from first isn't a title-breaker yet but with a dialed in Roczen so far, Tomac needs some wins or he might start looking ahead to the Nationals pretty quickly. As for Seely, he hasn't won since Houston 2015 (first and only career 450 win) but managed a couple of podiums last year. He'll need a lot more in the tank if he's to compete with Roczen and Dungey every week.
As was reported this week, Malcolm Stewart makes his debut in the 450 class though he did race the Daytona Beach round in 2014 while competing in the 250SX West class. The 2016 250SX East Champion was unable to secure a factory ride or enough sponsors to start the season at A1 but appears ready to tackle the rest of the year. His brother James Stewart is also rumored to return to racing after a forgetful 2016 but likely not until Oakland next month.
A win on Saturday gives Shane McElrath a sweep of Southern California dates
In the 250 West Class, Shane McElrath continues to surprise and impress with two straight wins. Last week he edged out Justin Hill by a tread and at A1 he notched his first career win by less than three seconds over Aaron Plessinger. McElrath holds an eight point lead on Plessinger who finished third in San Diego. Hill's runner-up spot puts him in third in the West standings, tied in points with Martin Davalos.
Austin Forkner and Jeremy Martin tied at the hip entering Anaheim 2
Rookie Austin Forkner bounced back from an eighth-place opening round finish to take fifth. Two-time defending 250 Motocross Champion Jeremy Martin continues his struggles (and bad starts) in Supercross taking sixth and seventh to open the year. An acrobatic somersault over the bars and into the tuff blocks last week during qualifying looked much worse on film as he bounced right up and continued his day eventually qualifying fourth which didn't help much as he started 22nd in the Main. Martin and Forkner come into A2 tied in points and need wins if they're to catch McElrath with just seven rounds remaining.
Our podium picks for Anaheim 2:
- Ryan Dungey
- Ken Roczen
- Jason Anderson
- Shane McElrath
- Aaron Plessinger
- Austin Forkner
Check out the track map for A2:
Practice and qualifying for Round 3 start at 12 p.m. (PST) and the Main Event begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA. Buy tickets online or at the gate.
2017 Supercross Season Standings
- Ken Roczen (50)
- Ryan Dungey (44)
- Marvin Musquin (40)
- Jason Anderson (36)
- Eli Tomac (31)
- Cole Seely (31)
- Davi Millsaps (27)
- Weston Peick (27)
- Josh Grant (22)
- Justin Bogle (20)
250SX West Class
- Shane McElrath (50)
- Aaron Plessinger (42)
- Justin Hill (38)
- Martin Davalos (38)
- Austin Forkner (29)
- Jeremy Martin (29)
- Jimmy Decotis (27)
- Tyler Bowers (20)
- Mitchell Oldenburg(18)
- Dan Reardon (18)