The seventh annual million dollar dirt bike racing fest that is Monster Energy Cup takes place under the lights on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
The Supercross/Motocross hybrid track - redesigned every year - attracts the best racing pros with the carrot stick of $1 million if a rider can win the three 10 minute Motos. The now retired Ryan Villopoto took home the big cash payout in 2011, the event's inaugural year, but no one has won the grand prize since.
Regardless, if no one sweeps, the Cup always anoints a crown to the rider winning the overall who takes home $100,000. Points follow the Motocross of Nations system of one point for first-place, two points for second-place and so on rather than traditional Motocross scoring which gives 25 points for first, 22 points for second, etc.
Marvin Musquin finished third at the 2016 Monster Energy Cup
No repeat Champions in six years of this one-of-a-kind event as past winners of the Monster Energy Cup include:
- Ryan Villopoto - 2011
- Justin Barcia - 2012
- James Stewart - 2013
- Davi Millsaps - 2014
- Ken Roczen - 2015
- Eli Tomac - 2016
In 2014, Trey Canard grabbed the first two Motos but crashed in the final race which not only ended his chance for the million but the overall as Davi Millsaps took the win and Canard settled for third.
Last year, Ken Roczen won Moto 1 and Moto 3 but a crash while leading Moto 2 (eerily similar to the crash that ended his racing season at Anaheim 2 this year) ended his chance at the million and as first repeat Champion. Eli Tomac took the win and is a heavy favorite to repeat this year. Ryan Dungey, who retired in May after winning his fourth Supercross title, never won the Monster Cup. He finished second in 2016.
Ricky Carmichael, a five-time Supercross Champion, designed the track, as he has every year. It includes an elevated split starting gate with a portion of the track built into the stadium seating. The Joker Lane returns which has dashed the winning hopes of many who realized after crossing the checkers they forgot to take the mandatory speed suck or face a position penalty. However, this year's Joker Lane also serves as a short-cut so while it's slower the shortened distance keeps racing interesting. Check out the track map:
The Monster Cup always proves a nice break for fans looking for action in the middle of Silly Season and its enticement of $1 million normally brings popular riders. This year is no different as fans can expect past winners Barcia, and Tomac lining up behind the gate along with Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson, Justin Bogle, Christian Craig, and Broc Tickle, among others. Tim Gajser of Slovenia, the 2016 MXGP class Champion and the 2015 MX2 class Champion in the Motocross World Championship (MXGP) series makes his debut. Millsaps suffered a crash last week while testing for the Monster Cup and is now a question mark.
Among the riders injured, recovering from injury or just not attending include Roczen, Blake Baggett, Cooper Webb, Justin Brayton and Cole Seely, who had a plate removed from his hand last week.
The Monster Energy Cup is an all-day affair with a Pit Party outside of the stadium opening at 12 p.m. Entertainment includes head-to-head truck racing and a "Best Whip" contest. The Cup gets under way at 6 p.m. and features an Amateur All-Stars race and SuperMini Class race. Buy tickets online or at the box office. Fox Sports 2 (and FOX Sports GO app) broadcasts the Monster Cup live at 6:30 p.m. (PST) Saturday or watch a FOX broadcast network encore-special on Sunday following the regular airing of NFL games.