The 2018 Monster Energy Supercross series returns for Round 3 on Saturday in Anaheim and already the year is rewriting the energy drink's catchy slogan of #whosenext from past seasons to drum excitement for the next Champion into chronicling the walking wounded.
- Eli Tomac - crashed in the opening Main round, DNF and sat out Houston
- Dean Wilson - crashed in the opening Heat round, DNS and sat out Houston
- Marvin Musquin - crashed last week in his Houston Heat race and DNS the Main
And that's just the 450 class not to mention Davi Millsaps and Justin Bogle who didn't start the season and remain out. Tomac and Musquin were considered top contenders for the Championship but now in deep holes to climb out of and Wilson, a legitimate threat for the podium, was coming off a career year in 2017.
Adding to the drama, Ken Roczen faces his demons on Saturday as A2 recalls the crash last year that ended his season and nearly his career. Thus far, Roczen has proved many critics wrong fighting back from multiple surgeries and a near arm-amputation with a fourth-place to start the season, second last week and he rides into Round 3 in second-place for Championship points. He qualified first at A1 and second, less than half a second behind Jason Anderson, in Houston.
Jason Anderson looks more and more like a legitimate threat for the 2018 title
Meanwhile, Anderson holds the Red Plate on Saturday as he channels the retired Ryan Dungey. His patience is paying off and now in his fourth year on the big bikes, Anderson rides like a veteran methodically surveying the field before making his move. At A1 he started sixth and moved towards the front finishing behind Musquin by eventually passing Justin Barcia who led for three laps, and last week Anderson started fourth taking 13 laps to pass Roczen for the lead and held it. Anderson said it was the best night he's ever had saying "...it's about time for me to start doing that, be a championship contender."
If not for Roczen's emotional return and the downing of two of the best, the biggest talk of the season surely goes to Barcia who floundered a bit in recent years partly from injury, entered the season as a privateer on Honda then got picked up by Factory Yamaha to fill in for the injured Millsaps. The return on investment is two straight podiums and third-place in points, tied with Roczen. Barcia last raced A2 in 2015 when he finished fourth behind Tomac, Dungey and Roczen. With lingering injuries to Tomac and Musquin it's not a stretch for Barcia to continue his podium streak.
Justin Barcia rides into Anaheim 2 with his best 450 class start to the Supercross season since his rookie year in 2013
And you know who rounds out the Top 5? Cole Seely and the Rob Gronkowski of Supercross, Weston Peick. Actually both tied in points and if you want to be super generously technical put Roczen and Barcia in a tie for second and Seely and Peick tied for third. Justin Brayton, a veteran on the American scene and now two-time defending Australian Supercross Champion is in sixth or fourth depending on how you want to look at it. Yes, it's early and wheels can still fall off, tempers can flare and #whosenext could grow but for now Anderson leads an eclectic field and carries all the momentum.
In the 250SX West class, five riders have staked claim to the podium with only one repeat in Aaron Plessinger who leads in the standing thanks to a 2-1 punch to start the season. Last week in Houston, Plessinger passed Joey Savatgy and led the final six laps to cross the checkers for the first time since Seattle last year. Savatgy appeared on his way to checking out after taking the holeshot but settled for second while Chase Sexton grabbed his first career podium in third.
With his win in Houston, Aaron Plessinger holds the Red Plate for A2
Shane McElrath who started the year on top gets another shot to resume control and get his first career A2 win. He fared well last year with a third-place finish after winning two straight but it also marked the rise of Justin Hill who picked off four straight wins en route to the 2017 title. However, Hill has yet to reach the podium in defense of his Championship and sits in eighth-place, 20 points behind Plessinger. Joey Savatgy finished fourth at A2 in 2016 but behind Cooper Webb (now in 450s), Zach Osborne (250SX East) and Christian Craig but with the departure of some comes others as the field is deep out West with Adam Cianciarulo and Sexton with podiums while Craig sits just on the outside with two fourth-place finishes thanks in part to a gnarly ankle injury he suffered just prior to Houston.
Alex Martin and rookie would-be phenom Justin Cooper both sat out last round because of injury and their status for Saturday remains uncertain.
Our Podium Picks for Anaheim 2:
- Ken Roczen
- Jason Anderson
- Justin Barcia
250SX West Class
- Shane McElrath
- Aaron Plessinger
- Joey Savatgy
Check out the track map for Round 3:
Practice for Supercross Round 3 starts at 12 p.m. (PST) on Saturday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim with Opening Ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. and the gate drop at 7 p.m. Anaheim 2 represents the first round of the Triple Crown format with three shortened Main Events and the overall decided via Olympic style scoring - lowest combined score of the three races. Buy tickets online or at the box office. Nice weather expected with temperatures in the low 60s.
2018 Supercross Season Standings
- Jason Anderson (49)
- Ken Roczen (42)
- Justin Barcia (42)
- Cole Seely (36)
- Weston Peick (36)
- Justin Brayton (33)
- Broc Tickle (30)
- Joshua Grant (28)
- Blake Baggett (27)
- Marvin Musquin (26)
250SX West Class
- Aaron Plessinger (49)
- Shane McElrath (45)
- Joey Savatgy (42)
- Adam Cianciarulo (37)
- Chase Sexton (36)
- Christian Craig (36)
- Mitchell Oldenburg (34)
- Justin Hill (29)
- Bradley Taft (27)
- Kyle Chisholm (27)
Written By: AndrewT