There's something huge happening this weekend in the wide, wide world of sports and it's taking place for the first time in a specific football stadium.
I just can't remember what it...oh, wait now I remember. The debut of Monster Energy Supercross at University of Phoenix Stadium, the home of the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals, is Saturday.
The new venue in Glendale, Arizona replaces 17 years of racing at Chase Field in Phoenix but it doesn't negate the records and other statistics that follow the Phoenix round though he who wins gets the distinction of first-time winner. The football stadium offers an interesting layout which runs the track outside the field of view similar to the Monster Cup tracks at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
Don't expect it to stop Ryan Dungey.
Dungey is looking for a career best fourth-straight win and by doing so would give him the points equivalent to one full round, at a minimum. Jason Anderson or Chad Reed, both tied with 75 points and 22 back from Dungey would need a second-place to keep damage at a minimum. The good news perhaps for anyone not named Ryan Dungey is it's been four years since Dungey last won in the desert and this round boasts five different winners in the last five years.
Ryan Dungey is flying high so far this year
Eli Tomac, coming off his worst race of the year in Oakland, won this round last year, and with the long opening straight-away he has a chance to repeat if he can get out front. Last week, he started 12th but managed to jump five spots to seventh, three lower than his first three results. But Dungey grabbed his first holeshot of the year last week so if he's getting those dialed in he might as well start dusting off the mantle next to his 2015 Supercross Championship trophy.
Ken Roczen is an on upswing, looking for his third straight podium in Arizona
Ken Roczen is the second best rider of the last two rounds and with a win on Saturday can enjoy a three-race stretch of third, second and first place. He started third in Oakland and got around Marvin Musquin fairly quickly and that's how the race ended. Despite his best finish of the season, Roczen didn't have a chance at catching Dungey. His results though have put him into fourth-place just two points behind Anderson and Reed.
Speaking of Anderson and Reed, both bring the rear fenders of two cities so far this season. Anderson sort of surprised everybody with a resounding win to open the season and for five days after got everybody wondering if he was the new "it" rider. Then he finished in fifth, then fifth again and finally fourth. Reed started, to nobody's surprise, in sixth-place but followed that by chasing Dungey really close for second and then not so close for second again before a fifth-place last week. For nearly two weeks Reed was punching Father Time in the back of the helmet and got everybody wondering if he was the new "it" rider.
Chad Reed and Jason Anderson are locked in points
But since you're only as good as your last race that talk has already jumped dirt bike. Does anybody remember Cole Seely? He was that guy who finished on the podium twice to open the season then back-to-back fifth place results sent him to fifth place in the standings. However, another podium by Marvin Musquin can keep him in discussions, at least for another week, as a contender to land on the Championship podium. His third-place result in Oakland was a bit of a surprise for the 450 rookie who opened the season in 14th place. Well, at least a surprise for happening so quick, he is after all training alongside Dungey at the Bakery with Alton Brown, I mean Aldon Baker.
James Stewart and Trey Canard both sat out last week and announced another week of rest to rehab their injuries, so they're out. Blake Baggett is also sidelined after a gnarly crash during his Heat race in Oakland where he landed on his surgically repaired shoulder. He broke his collarbone during the pre-season but did not break it again. He's expected to return for San Diego 2.
I swear something else is happening this weekend.
Anyway, clearly the best thing that can happen for the riders in second place and beyond in the 450 class is for some of Cooper Webb's bad luck to rub off on Dungey.
If not for the mechanical issue that stalled Webb's bike in Oakland with three laps remaining the defending 250SX West Champion would have a 25 point lead rather than sitting two points back in second. Webb who had his best start of the season and was cruising towards his fourth straight win of the year pushed his anesthetized bike off the track and took home one point.
Joey Savatgy got his first Supercross win last week
The breakdown enabled Joey Savatgy to grab his first career Supercross win, second podium of the season and the points lead. Of course, if Webb recaptures the magic that propelled him to an 18-point lead after the first three rounds then Round 4 is simply a speed bump, albeit a large one, on the way to back-to-back titles.
Christian Craig has made it close but shouldn't expect another mechanical failure to keep Cooper Webb behind him
With the point spread suddenly so close, the 250 Championship race looks more like a barnburner. Zach Osborne is no longer fighting for a spot on the final podium but now the center spot. He's just three points back from Webb and has a second and third place on the season. Colt Nichols brings his impressive run into Arizona and looks to double up or improve upon his second-place performance last week. He's in fourth-place and just behind him is Christian Craig with a fourth-place and two third-places in the last three rounds. And imagine this, if not for that rough 17th place start to open the season, had Craig put across four consistent finishes thus far he could very well own the red plate this weekend.
Now that I think of it, there's a big sports event on Sunday. Right? I think.
But Saturday is first and that's when the gates drop for Round 5 of the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross season in Glendale, AZ. Buy tickets online or at the box office.
I remember now! The Professional Bowlers Association tour continues on Sunday with the United States Bowling Congress Masters in Indianapolis. I knew there was something.
2016 Monster Energy Supercross Season Standings
450SX Class Season Standings
- Ryan Dungey (97)
- Jason Anderson (75)
- Chad Reed (75)
- Ken Roczen (73)
- Cole Seely (70)
- Eli Tomac (68)
- Marvin Musquin (51)
- Justin Brayton (47)
- Jake Weimer (46)
- Davi Millsaps (45)
250SX West Class Season Standings
- Joey Savatgy (78)
- Cooper Webb (76)
- Zach Osborne (73)
- Colt Nichols (65)
- Christian Craig (62)
- Jordan Smith (61)
- Jimmy DeCotis (59)
- Kyle Peters (51)
- Mitchell Oldenburg (48)
- Kyle Cunningham (41)
Written By: AndrewT