Now that Ryan Dungey has been crowed Champion there's probably some ball games worth watching on Saturday instead of tuning in to Round 15 of the 2015 Monster Energy Supercross season at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
OK, the slow drip of molasses that is Major League Baseball still can't compare to a round of Supercross even when the Champions in both classes have titles in-hand. First off, the rest of the field has much to ride for, and secondly, even the noon practice time beats a meandering stroll around the bases in April.
The focus for the rest of the season turns to who steps alongside Dungey and Cooper Webb on the Championship podium. In the 450 class, 75 points remain up for grabs but of those in contention only three riders have won this year, four if Dungey is included in the mix. Whoever gets on the box on Saturday also gets a bit of history as the first to win at the new home to the San Francisco 49ers. Therefore, include Dungey in the mix. Check out the track for Santa Clara:
Eli Tomac brings three straight podiums to Levi's Stadium in his pursuit of locking down second-place. Hot on his fender is rookie Cole Seely who won for the first time in Houston and has three podiums in the last four rounds. Seely has not finished lower than fourth place in the previous five rounds and is just 13 points from Tomac. A strong finish for Seely also locks up Rookie of the Year honors, if it's not his already.
Trey Canard is in fourth-place but not for long as the injured rider is recuperating a broken arm in order to return for Motocross. Chad Reed holds up in fifth and should pass Canard for fourth this weekend. Reed who won in Atlanta but since then has only reached as high as fourth-place, is 24 points from Seely and needs to regain his Atlanta 1 form to close in on the final podium.
Blake Baggett is sixth and didn't ride particularly well in Houston but managed to break a points tie with Jason Anderson who notched his third single digit points race in four rounds. Lots of on-the-track skirmishes involve Anderson and other riders, most recently Weston Peick who hit the dirt after a run-in by Anderson and then Anderson and Reed both went down later in the race at Houston. Reed got back on the horse and managed a fifth-place result but Peick called it a night and scored a last place finish despite starting in fifth. Check out Anderson's take-out of Peick at the 1:15 mark:
Peick was none too happy tweeting after the race: "If it were 2 years ago, I would have put a special someone to sleep after tonights race........"
If riders look for a little payback for Anderson's aggressive riding now is the time for fans to watch. Anderson started the season on the podium, then finished in the Top 10 every round through Daytona and looked to be the Rookie of the Year but with Seely's surge the last few rounds and Anderson chalking up three finishes out of the Top 15 in the last four rounds that early season success is already overshadowed despite a seventh-place in the point standings. He'll be riding hard but so will others.
Still no word on Ken Roczen who it was hoped would return for Houston but then held off thanks to that bad ankle. Roczen started as a title contender as he won two of the first three rounds and stepped on the box five of the first seven rounds, now he's trying to get healthy for Outdoors. He's missed five straight rounds and if he's to defend his 2014 Motocross title he'll probably call it a Supercross season.
Nick Wey is so close to a Top 10 finish will a new venue be the spot?
In the MotoSport class, Nick Wey continues a strong ride to end his long career but he's got some challenges to get into the Top 15. He's posted his best results of the season the last three rounds but sits in 18th place 17 points back from Kyle Chisholm, in 15th, who's riding about on par with Wey.
Too bad Mitchell Oldenburg won't be riding in the 450 class again. The MotoSport rider is in 14th for the 250 East class but his 14th place finish in Houston on the big bike surprised some but not others. Either way, he finished higher than his mentor and teammate Jimmy Albertson did this year prior to his season-ending shoulder surgery last month.
In the 250 class, Webb has signaled every indication he'll ride and ride hard to end the season so with one round left it shouldn't surprise anyone if Webb caps off his Championship season with another win. Zach Osborne will need to do better than seventh-place as he did in Houston if he's to hold on to second since Shane McElrath has finished runner-up to Webb the last two rounds. Osborne said he dealt with a "gnarly stinger" in his arm and neck after a crash in his Heat race that affected him early in the Main.
So here's the catch in the 250s, two of the final podium contenders are done for the season. Tyler Bowers started in Houston and ended after a few laps in the Main and later his team announced back surgery would end not only his Supercross season but Motocross as well. He entered Houston in third-place just two points back of Jessy Nelson.
Josh Hansen is pretty much a lock to finish in the Top 10
And speaking of Nelson, his Supercross season is also over as he crashed while testing for Motocross and decided it would be best to rest up for the Nationals rather than risk further injury. So Nelson dropped to fourth and Bowers slipped to fifth allowing Osborne to jump from fourth to second and McElrath fifth to third.
Another Top 10 finish assures Tommy Hahn of an 11th place finish for the season
Aaron Plessinger could prove spoiler though gaining a 10-point advantage on McElrath the way he's riding is unlikely. A second straight fourth-place all but guarantees Plessinger fourth-place in the standings unless Justin Hill comes out of nowhere to win.
As for MotoSport riders, Josh Hansen finished out of the Top 10 for just the second time this year and fell two spots to 10th place tied in points with Malcolm Stewart who rounded up his second podium of the year in Houston. Hansen is unlikely to fall out of the Top 10 as Thomas Hahn, also a MotoSport rider, needs to cross the checkers first to pass Hansen in points.
Now for the predictions:
Santa Clara 450 Class Podium:
- Eli Tomac
- Ryan Dungey
- Cole Seely
Santa Clara 250 West Class Podium
- Cooper Webb
- Shane McElrath
- Alex Martin
Supercross Round 15 starts with practice at 12 p.m. and the Main at 7 p.m. Saturday at Levi's Stadium. Buy tickets online or at the box office, 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way in Santa Clara, CA.
450SX Class Season Standings
- Ryan Dungey (318) - 2015 Supercross Champion
- Eli Tomac (236)
- Cole Seely (223)
- Trey Canard (204)
- Chad Reed (199)
- Blake Baggett (175)
- Jason Anderson (170)
- Broc Tickle (159)
- Ken Roczen (156)
- Andrew Short (152)
250SX West Class Season Standings
- Cooper Webb (161) - 250 West Champion
- Zach Osborne (116)
- Shane McElrath (108)
- Jessy Nelson (106)
- Tyler Bowers (105)
- Aaron Plessinger (99)
- Justin Hill (94)
- Alex Martin (91)
- Malcolm Stewart (89)
- Josh Hansen (89) - MotoSport rider