Round 3s are a, um, bummer.
As the Supercross world copes with the loss of one of its star riders, the show must go on and indeed it does as the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross season heads to Phoenix for Round 4 on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The collective gasp as Ken Roczen flew through the air and landed with a skidding thud at Anaheim 2 last week reverberated in the days that followed to a eulogy-like milieu. Yes, the season ended abruptly for the points leader who won the first two rounds and was widely expected, if not hoped by many, to dethrone the two-time defending Champion Ryan Dungey who clinched his last two titles well before the year ended.
Roczen's crash continues a troubling trend of Round 3 exits ultimately quashing the Championship hopes of the leaders. Eli Tomac's so close to historic run in the 2015 Motocross season ended after a brutal crash and Dungey, just two points back from Roczen entering Round 3 in last year's Outdoor season, left Thunder Valley with a cracked vertebra ending his year. But Roczen being Roczen, he's already back on the bike, even if it's a stationary exercise machine.
Regardless, he's got a long recovery period ahead to heal a compound fracture to the radius and rehabilitate a dislocated wrist and elbow. Plus any psychogenic battles he'll face once back to riding. One last time, here's the harrowing crash in case you missed it:
Roczen's get-off completely overshadowed an excellent ride by Dungey who seemed well on his way to his first win of the season anyway and confirming what fans hoped: A showdown of epic proportions with a Champion To Be Determined in Las Vegas four months from now. Sure, that dream is over and the cards shift to Dungey's favor for a three-peat and four career 450SX Championships but 14 rounds remain and Marvin Musquin sits just seven points behind the new leader.
Musquin has tailed Dungey every round this year though did get blown out comparatively in Round 2 as Dungey dueled with Roczen upfront. It's Musquin's second year in the 450 class and he's no stranger to the podium - just the middle part. A win or two in the next few rounds keeps the points race tight. And it's certainly possible. Arizona is no friend to Dungey; he hasn't won there since 2012. Ultimately, these two training partners could make for an exciting run for the crown.
Ryan Dungey seeks to end a five year drought in Phoenix on Saturday
But contenders aplenty in this field and much time remains to chip away points. Cole Seely finished third last week and has won before, meanwhile Tomac continues to struggle with starts but he also can win, a feat widely expected this year. Arm pump in Round 1 kept him from a shot at the podium but since then he's fallen further. He won Phoenix two years ago and reached the podium for the first time last year in the desert so a statement round could be in the works for Saturday.
Jason Anderson likely punched his way out of Championship contention in Anaheim after a helmet slap to Vince Friese resulted in his disqualification. He dropped from fourth-place to ninth in the standings but that doesn't mean he can't win rounds as he did twice last year. He'll need a lot more checkered flags to climb back into the thick of it but Weston Peick didn't fare well after a similar but more striking incident last year, also with Freise (this guy sure knows how to tick people off!), that resulted in two DQs and he placed no higher than seventh all season.
Rookie Cooper Webb (l) is proving he belongs and Weston Peick is so far having a career year
Speaking of Peick, he finished fifth last week and is just a point behind Tomac, sixth-place in the standings - a career high after three rounds. Another solid ride this week could put him into the Top 4 overall as he'll move past Roczen. Other notables include rookie Cooper Webb who grabbed the holeshot and finished a season and career best fourth-place last week. Though the first two rounds were forgettable for the two-time 250SX West Champion, another Top 5 performance on Saturday should serve everyone notice - he's a podium contender from here on out. Malcolm Stewart, the 2016 250SX East Champion, finally secured a ride and began his 450 career last week but without any testing. He looked strong at the start, making the Main and qualifying third, but at the end of the day finished 18th. Still no word on when James Stewart returns to the gate but all signs point to any given Saturday between now and May.
Shane McElrath holds the red plate but competition is heating up in the 250 West class
In the 250SX West class, Justin Hill put a stop to Shane McElrath's win streak with a rather dominating performance at A2 where he led all 17 laps. McElrath finished third to stay atop the point standings leading by six over Aaron Plessinger. McElrath and Plessinger have reached the podium every round thus far and with Hill charging, in third-place just a point behind Plessinger, it looks like a showdown brewing among the three riders.
Our podium picks for Phoenix:
- Ryan Dungey
- Eli Tomac
- Marvin Musquin
- Aaron Plessinger
- Shane McElrath
- Justin Hill
Check out the track map for Round 4:
Practice and qualifying start at 12 p.m. and opening ceremonies for Supercross Round 4 begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. Buy tickets online or at the box office.
2017 Supercross Season Standings
- Ryan Dungey (69)
- Marvin Musquin (62)
- Ken Roczen (51)
- Cole Seely (51)
- Eli Tomac (44)
- Weston Peick (43)
- Davi Millsaps (39)
- Josh Grant (37)
- Jason Anderson (36)
- Cooper Webb (36)
250SX West Class
- Shane Mcelrath (70)
- Aaron Plessinger (64)
- Justin Hill (63)
- Martin Davalos (54)
- Austin Forkner (47)
- Jimmy Decotis (42)
- Jeremy Martin (40)
- Tyler Bowers (33)
- Dan Reardon (32)
- Phil Nicoletti (26)
Written By: AndrewT