The 2018 Monster Energy Supercross series returns to the traditional one Main format on Saturday in Glendale, AZ as last week's Triple Crown threw riders off their regular strategy a bit, but mostly had little impact on podium results.
In the 450 class, Jason Anderson keeps the Red Plate for Round 4, actually extending his lead to 11 over Cole Seely despite a third-place overall finish for A2. Anderson is the only rider to reach the podium every round this season as multiple contenders manage early season crashes and injuries or just plain bad rides.
Anderson said the Triple Crown format of having three shortened Main Events was a curveball for him and instead of dealing with race nerves once he had to endure them three times. He finished seventh in the first, shorter Main event before settling down and taking third in the second race and winning the longer final.
Meanwhile, Eli Tomac returned to racing after a DNF to start the year and a DNS in Round 2 digging a huge hole for an expected Championship run but nonetheless took the overall for his first podium and win of the season. It certainly turned off the spigot of point losses and 14 rounds remain however Tomac heads into the desert in 13th place, 43 points from where many rightfully assumed he'd be at this point in the series. Tomac seems better suited as hunter than prey so with perhaps some pressure off (dang, another Duran Duran reference for him) expect him to string together some wins, just like last year.
Cole Seely won the first and shortest of the Triple Crown races, can he stay up front in Glendale for 20 minutes?
Seely got his first podium since Round 6 of 2017 and was in line for the overall after winning the first Triple Crown race and taking second in the follow-up but a seventh in the third race dropped him to second overall for the night. But he moves into second in the standings behind Anderson thanks in part to an off night for Ken Roczen. Seely said the three race format is unforgiving but apparently so far so good for him. He finished fourth at University of Phoenix Stadium last year and eighth the year prior. Speaking of Roczen...
Not a great night, perhaps more reflective of what most expected from him to start the season, but clearly last year's crash at A2 proved a bit haunting but he went in fighting, even wearing the same gear he wore the night of the crash. Psychological warfare aside, Roczen managed a fourth-place in the third race of the Triple Crown which followed rather meager 11th and 12th place results for ninth overall. He drops from second in points to fourth but with the past now the past Roczen can now focus on the last time he raced in Glendale (2016) when he finished first.
Not a good sight for the competition
Elsewhere, Justin Barcia retains his hold on third-place in the standings despite finishing eighth overall without a Top 3 in any of the Triple Crown races. Weston Peick has rolled Triple 5s thus far for fifth-place and veteran Justin Brayton just missed his first podium since Round 2 of 2014 finishing fourth (tied with Anderson for Triple Crown points). It was the two-time Australian Supercross Champion's best result since a fourth in Toronto in 2014, and he enters Arizona in sixth-place. By the way, that last podium for Brayton was second-place in Phoenix just a second behind winner Ryan Villopoto. Also, Marvin Musquin returned to action after sitting out Round 2 after a Heat crash with the idea to salvage points which he did with a 13th overall. Like Tomac, Musquin's hopes for the Championship took a dive early in the season and he sits in 11th place 34 points from where many rightfully assumed he'd be at this point in the series.
Joey Savatgy rides the Red Plate on Saturday in Glendale, AZ
In the 250SX West, Joey Savatgy carries the Red Plate into Glendale just as he did in 2016 coming off a win the round prior. Savatgy is tied in Championship points with Shane McElrath but he was nearly untouchable in the Triple Crown race with a 1-2-1 night, far and away better than McElrath and Christian Craig who finished second, and third, respectively, tied in Triple Crown points.
Not too surprising, Savatgy enjoyed the format, his first win since the 250SX East opener last year in Minneapolis. With the Triple Crown win, Savatgy has three Top 4 finishes to start the year and a return to the regular format should prove telling. He finished third in Glendale two years ago when Craig checked out for the win who by the way seems awfully ripe for a win or two which he just might get this weekend.
Christian Craig (L) and Shane McElrath (R) ride momentum into the desert
Aaron Plessinger's hold on the Red Plate didn't last long as he fell off the podium last week for the first time this year with a sixth-place finish. He dropped to third-place in the standings but remains within striking distance of Savatgy and McElrath sitting just two points back. Adam Cianciarulo holds steady in fifth-place just a point behind Craig after finishing fourth last week despite a gnarly get-off in practice that appeared a night-ender for him. Cianciarulo races Arizona for the first time this weekend.
Our Podium Picks for Glendale:
- Ken Roczen
- Jason Anderson
- Eli Tomac
250SX West Class
- Christian Craig
- Shane McElrath
- Joey Savatgy
Check out the track map for Round 4:
Practice for Supercross Round 4 starts at 11 a.m. (MST) on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. Opening ceremonies kick off at 5:30 p.m. (MST) with the gate drop at 6 p.m. (MST). Buy tickets online or at the stadium box office. It's a dome with a retractable roof so who cares what the weather is like! However, if you want to enjoy the area expect sunny skies in the mid-70s.
2018 Supercross Season Standings
- Jason Anderson (70)
- Cole Seely (59)
- Justin Barcia (57)
- Ken Roczen (56)
- Weston Peick (54)
- Justin Brayton (52)
- Josh Grant (45)
- Blake Baggett (43)
- Broc Tickle (37)
- Cooper Webb (37)
250SX West Class
- Joey Savatgy (68)
- Shane McElrath (68)
- Aaron Plessinger (66)
- Christian Craig (57)
- Adam Cianciarulo (56)
- Mitchell Oldenburg (52)
- Chase Sexton (51)
- Justin Hill (42)
- Kyle Chisholm (39)
- Hayden Mellross (34)