The 2018 Monster Energy Supercross season returns to Houston on Saturday for the first time since 2015 and the Round 2 date represents the earliest in the city and Texas since Round 4 in 2009.
Banged up and bruised, some riders didn't escape the opening round in Anaheim without significant injury perhaps already throwing a wrench into the Championship race while others dominated as expected.
Marvin Musquin heads to Houston where many expected - in first-place. He keeps on winning as he did all off-season and took advantage of an Eli Tomac crash to get out front and lead the final 14 laps for the victory. Jason Anderson, who trains with Musquin, finished second and one of the bigger early season surprises was Justin Barcia who led a privateer effort on Honda until Factory Yamaha picked him up to replace the injured Davi Millsaps. It was his first podium since a 2014 second-place effort in Houston.
Marvin Musquin heel clicks his way into Houston
Meanwhile, Tomac, heads into Houston where many did not expect (ok, perhaps some) - in last place. A heavy favorite for the Championship, Tomac did not finish after crashing. He got bounced pretty good off his bike while leading, got back on the bike then pulled off to get his pants secured. Those rather apropos Duran Duran lyrics: "Because I'm falling down/With people standing round/But before I hit the ground/Is there time/Could I find someone out there to help me?" probably raced around in his head as he tried cinching his pants with that overly complicated buckling system. Stupid pants. Where's the Velcro attachment when you need it? Sounds like an opportunity for some young intern working at a gear company.
Alas, shortly after that incident he delicately cruised around the track before calling it a night. Reports indicate he bruised one of his surgically repaired shoulders in the crash. No word on the extent of the injury or if he skips Houston. As he did last year, he's dug himself a hole to start the season but a pretty deep one this time around now down by 25 points.
Eli Tomac needs a rebound round in Houston to remain pertinent in the Championship chase
Ken Roczen heads into Houston a winner even though he didn't win. Roczen qualified first, bobbled once in the Main but recovered and looked strong all evening finishing fourth. He proved many wrong and others right successfully returning to the track after last year's crash at Anaheim 2 that ended his season and almost his career. No, he didn't show the speed from the first two blow-out wins to start 2017 but he finished fifth at A1 in 2016 and overall second on the season, so he begins 2018 definitely in the mix and only gets stronger from here.
Make no mistake, Roczen is back.
Ken Roczen rode well a year after an arm injury almost ended his career
Elsewhere, Chad Reed showed a bit more worse for the wear as he recently started riding after breaking his ankle at Red Bull Straight Rhythm in October. He got lapped but still placed a respectable 15th and the 35 year old can ride into Houston five spots ahead of where he started the 2017 season ultimately finishing ninth on the year just three points back of Dean Wilson in eighth. Wilson meanwhile endured a rough start to 2018 with a Heat race crash ending his night. Wilson who has dealt with numerous injuries in Supercross over the years, raced every round in 2017 but now appears headed for the sidelines on Saturday.
Broc Tickle, who joined Musquin and Anderson at the Baker Factory taking the spot of the dearly departed Ryan Dungey during the off-season, posted his best season-opener since 2015 with a ninth-place finish. It took him until Round 6 last year at Arlington to break into the Top 10 with a sixth-place finish. He finished eighth in Houston in 2015.
Looking back, Musquin last raced at NRG Stadium in 2013 for the 250SX East class finishing third. The following year Houston was scheduled as part of the 250 West class. Cole Seely won it in 2015 for the 450 class followed by Dungey and Tomac in third. Barcia finished ninth that year but brings success with the second-place finish from 2014.
Shane McElrath checked out on Saturday and looks good going into Round 2
In the 250 class, Shane McElrath and Aaron Plessinger head into Round 2 in first and second, respectively, just like last year. And, Justin Hill your 2017 250SX West Champion slips to seventh-place to start the season from his fifth-place finish top open 2017. Don't expect him to flounder for long.
Lots of big names fill out the Top 7 with anyone of them capable of winning: Adam Cianciarulo, Joey Savatgy, Christian Craig and Mitchell Oldenburg fill out the third- through sixth-place spots. McElrath won Round 2 last year and finished second in the Houston round from 2015. Hill bounced back with a second last year with Plessinger in third. Plessinger also has success in Houston with a fourth in 2015 behind Malcom Stewart who may or may not be racing in the 450 class this year.
Our Podium Picks for Houston:
- Jason Anderson
- Marvin Musquin
- Ken Roczen
250SX West class
- Shane McElrath
- Aaron Plessinger
- Justin Hill
Check out the track map for Round 2:
2018 Supercross Season Standings
- Marvin Musquin (26)
- Jason Anderson (23)
- Justin Barcia (21)
- Ken Roczen (19)
- Weston Peick (18)
- Cole Seely (17)
- Justin Brayton (16)
- Broc Tickle (15)
- Joshua Grant (14)
- Cooper Webb (13)
250SX West Class
- Shane McElrath (26)
- Aaron Plessinger (23)
- Adam Cianciarulo (21)
- Joey Savatgy (19)
- Christian Craig (18)
- Mitchell Oldenburg (17)
- Justin Hill (16)
- Chase Sexton (15)
- Justin Cooper (14)
- Kyle Chisholm (13)
Written By: AndrewT