Wow. It’s here. Another year of Monster Energy AMA Supercross has begun. There’s so much to dive into when it comes to the first race of the year. It’s just cool that we, the “experts,” get to see if what we’ve been hearing is true or not. We see who’s done their work in the off-season and who hasn’t. So much to talk about! Thank god because I was starting to get a bit nutty trying to think about things to talk about. Let’s get into it!
Anaheim 1 track was… good? Usually, the Anaheim 1 track is a bit on the tame side to let the riders break into the series gently. Not this year. I thought the track was pretty good and of course the rain made it a bit tougher. The two doubles in the center of the track were a cool addition (I thought they should’ve ran the track where the riders went underneath the guys in the air, but what do I know?).
We’ve seen a lot of Anaheim openers that have some wacky results and then things settle down later in the series, so when we think about that, and also factor in the weather, Justin Barcia and Colt Nichols winning their respective classes has to temper expectations a bit. Still, it was cool to see the Yamaha riders each grab a win and I think there are reasons to believe both can be title threats in their respective classes.
Let’s start with Barcia. He’s more comfortable on the Yamaha than he was before and before the rains came he was in the top five of qualifying for much of the session. Justin’s win wasn’t surprising, because he was back on track last year before he got hurt. Still, this win was his first in almost six years, the third longest gap between wins in SX history. And it’s Yamaha’s first win in almost seven years. Sweet Jesus that’s a couple of streaks that were long, huh?
Anyway, Barcia’s in a good spot on the team. He told us on the PulpMX Show Monday that he worked on suspension this off-season and that he didn’t ride as much as he normally would. He also said that the data guys told him he didn’t over-rev the bike, which for him is key. Look, we think it’s Eli, Marv, Jason, and Ken for the title but could Barcia be in that mix? Yeah, I think so. He and the bike are both built for starts and that’s a huge part of the game. This win is so interesting to me, I can’t wait to see him this weekend.
Because, and there’s always a flip side, he’s always good in the rain and maybe that’s what helped him out on Saturday. I don’t think it was that big of a help; the track was still pretty good out there.
And Nichols, well he rode a flawless race. Colt didn’t have the traditional climb out of the amateur ranks. He raced arenacross at some point, he was racing down in Costa Rica at one point, and looking for his break. CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha gave him one. Nick Wey and his mechanic Big Nasty were always telling me about this Nichols kid and how good he was, how much skill he had, and how he needed a chance. The thing with Colt is he’s been hurt a lot in his career. But he’s shown a Trey Canard-like ability to come back from injury and be exactly as fast as he was before he got hurt. “We” thought we had the title contenders figured out, but hey, maybe Nichols can get in there? He’s certainly talented enough. Both Barcia and Nichols are very interesting stories.
Dean Wilson led 14 laps of the main event. He was crushing it out there and it’s got to be a bit of a bummer he didn’t make the podium. He had to toss his goggles late, got roosted, and dropped back. Looked like he got a bit tired also. We know the story now: he was dropped by Rockstar Energy Husqvarna and Shift, tried a bunch of bikes out but in the end Rockstar Energy stepped up to keep him on the white bike with factory services engines and good suspension. And he went back to O’Neal gear. Is he a privateer? Hells no, but it’s still a cool story.
He was fast in qualifying and it’ll be interesting to see if he can really step up and improve his results out of his van. It’s a tough go but equipment is a big part of the battle and he’s got that handled. His old mechanic Paul Perebijnos was working for him even though he has a full-time job with Pro Taper.
Dean took a month off social media prior to the season, which meant that he got very serious for 2019. It was cool to see good things happen to good people.
Let’s take a look at the results, shall we?
Another point about Nichols’ race. It was a textbook race and he also seemed—to me—able to get through lappers with ease. Could Nichols get into the “big three” mix week in and week out? That’s why this weekend is so interesting.
2nd | #34 Dylan Ferrandis | Murrieta, CA| Yamaha YZ250F
Ferrandis almost had a huge crash in practice. Well, he did have a huge crash but he landed directly on top of a Tuff Blox and he just sank softly into it. Could’ve been bad, bro. Anyway, Dylan was in this huge battle with Adam Cianciarulo all day long to be the fastest qualifier and I have a feeling it will continue all season long. Ferrandis was very good.
3rd | #12 Shane McElrath | Canton, NC | KTM 250 SX-F
At different points I thought Shane was going to take a run at the leader but he couldn’t get consistent laps down. Like any title contender, you take a podium in these conditions at the first round and live to fight another day.
RJ took Cianciarulo down in a classic case of a rider repaying what was done to him but twice as bad. Hey man, it’s the 250SX and this is what happens, right? Hampshire won his heat which was cool and this is just the first of 38 times that I’m going to write that it’s a big year for Hampshire. He’s travelling to the races in an RV with his wife so if he doesn’t get “Griswold” on the back of his pants ASAP, I’m gonna riot.
5th | #92 Adam Cianciarulo | New Smyrna Beach, FL | Kawasaki KX250
Adam to me on Sunday: “It sucks because I’m a different rider than last year but I didn’t show anything to prove I’m not.” No Adam, you did not. Adam 1.) Was hella fast all day and even won his heat; 2.) Went off the track two times; 3.) Crashed; 4.) Made an aggressive pass on a dude; 5.) Then got taken out right after; 6.) Had about 74 close calls; 7.) Still ended up fifth. Watching Adam’s main event was like doing a bunch of drugs and then getting into your Ferrari. You just have no idea if it’s going to go awesome or incredibly bad.
6th | #61 Garrett Marchbanks | Coalville, UT | Kawasaki KX250
The rookie was pretty good, right? I’ve heard Garrett has had issues with whoops (predictable for a rookie) and the ones at Anaheim were not that huge, so we don’t know yet. He had a steady race and should be stoked.
7th | #64 James Decotis | Peabody, MA | Suzuki RM-Z250
Jimmy D was bummed at our 250SX preview, mostly at Weege because he never spoke up that he had seen Jimmy ride at the JGR track and he was pretty good.
8th | #156 Jacob Hayes | Greensboro, NC | Yamaha YZ250F
Hayes raced one SX in his life and broke his collarbone in qualifying at that one. Since then he’s had a wayward career path and ended up winning the Amsoil Arenacross title in 2018. When the series went away, he just wanted a shot at SX and he got it with the CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha team. Pretty good start for sure and he led his heat race early on. Great work for him and the team. If you want a sleeper podium pick later on in the series, look at Hayes.
Blose is back in supercross and running JMB’s number! He’s SX savvy and knows what to do out there; I can’t wait until he gets together with his AX nemesis Hayes out there. They’re going to be close to the same speed all year long. Could be epic.
10th | #160 Jess Pettis | Prince George, Canada | KTM 250 SX-F
Oh Canada! Pettis raced some supercrosses last year and was pretty good but holy crap was he sketchy to watch. That’s all gone now. He’s got experience racing this stuff, he’s on a KTM now, and has been on the Troy Lee Designs track a bit and just looked way smoother and in control. Great to see a Canadian get a top ten, it’s been a while.
11th | #44 Cameron McAdoo | Chesterfield, SC Honda | CRF250R
McAdoo has to be bummed. He crashed and jacked up his bike, so it was a struggle out there so he went backward. #RamIt
12th | #36 Michael Mosiman | Menifee, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
Mosiman was pretty much dead last at one point early on so this was a good finish for him. Lots of eyeballs on him as the lone Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory rider in the 250SX West Region.
Castelo’s IB Corp team isn’t around anymore (which robs us of Ryno on TV), but he’s still got the truck and is now on Suzukis. He was the first real privateer, which is super cool for Martin and Suzuki.
14th | #194 Jerry Robin | Corcoran, MN | KTM 250 SX-F
Jerry’s changed everything up, bro. Bike, training program, motor program, coast he’s racing—Jerry is a new man. And he rewarded his fantasy owners with a solid ride, although he had to do it by getting fourth in the LCQ.
15th | #67 Enzo Lopes | Wildomar, CA | Suzuki RM-Z250
Lopes looked like he struggled a bit in the whoops in his first ever SX race, but hey, they don’t have stadiums and tracks like Anaheim in Brazil, right? Good finish.
16th | #40 Sean Cantrell | Murrieta, CA | KTM 250 SX-F
Cantrell crashed early on and it was a struggle from there.
17th | #221 Matthew Jorgensen | Bjerge, Denmark | KTM 250 SX-F
Is Matthew related to the Dane Brian Jorgensen? Wasn’t he from Denmark? Anyone know?
18th | #321 Bradley Lionnet | Menifee, CA | Yamaha YZ250F
I know the AMA sign up sheets are a source of comedy for us almost all the time but I’d like to see Lionnet have Zambia listed as his country again please.
19th | #68 Brandan Leith | Eagle Mountain, UT | Husqvarna FC 250
Leith, like Lionnet, is a vet that can easily make a main and threaten to get into the top ten almost every week.
20th | #910 Carson Brown | Ravensdale, WA | Husqvarna FC 250
Can’t say anything bad about Brown because this was his first supercross ever and his mob of fans will beat me up if I do.
21st | #773 Thomas Do | Saint-Romain-en-Viennois, France | Suzuki RM-Z250
I’ve seen Do race a lot over the years and he’s a good indoor rider; I was not surprised to see him in the main event.
22nd | #471 Logan Karnow | Vermilion, OH | Kawasaki KX250
The Quebec AX champion made the main event and was up there at some point.
I said it up above and I’ll say it again: What a story for Barcia and he’s also turned into a pretty funny guy that’s got a good sense about himself. Maturity hits everyone differently.
2nd | #94 Ken Roczen | Clermont, FL | Honda CRF450R
I had heard from people around the podium that Roczen didn’t seem stoked with his runner-up finish after the race and I guess I understand. This guy wants to win badly and he’s come so close to that in the last year (in SX) so another second is not cool. But he rode a great race, his fitness looked good, and he was steady throughout. At one point he got real close to Barcia and it looked like he was ready to pounce. Lappers hurt him also. His gear was sweet, throwback AXO-ish?
3rd | #3 Eli Tomac | Cortez, CO | Kawasaki KX450
Have you looked at Tomac’s previous Anaheim 1 results? Yeah, they’re not good. In fact, he’s had some terrible things happen to him at the opener so to take a well earned third? He’s got to be happy with that. He wasn’t his usual, like, blazing fast out there. He didn’t go all berserker Eli at any point in the day but he was very good and I thought his fitness proved to be his strong point—he wore a lot of dudes out.
4th | #15 Dean Wilson | Clermont, FL | Husqvarna FC 450
Wilson got Ignite, a company that produces CBD oil, among other items, as a sponsor which is cool but a bit edgy when you check out their social media. The oil, which is made by extracting CBD from a cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil, is not legal everywhere yet, so NBC, the new network of the series, isn’t allowed to show it. Hence Dean had to cover the logos up.
Uhhhh, wow. Coop was down in the first turn and picked his bike up last in the first corner. Then he got on it and was killing it. He set the fastest lap of the main also as he ripped through the pack to this finish. It was awesome to see and rain or not, will give Coop a lot of confidence going forward. New bike, new trainer, new everything—Cooper has to be stoked.
6th | #7 Aaron Plessinger | Hamilton, OH | Yamaha YZ450F
As we know, Aaron’s off-season was a bit rough and so was his qualifying time at Anaheim. But he’s a mud master and when the rain fell, he was right in his element. Plessinger is becoming one of my favorite riders. He’s got such a cool attitude and is really funny. Here’s what he told me about his night: “I came back to the truck freaking out because I got third in a 450 heat race. Dude, I’m stoked. I’m stoked to just be out here. Doing this is amazing. I’m super stoked. Tonight went great. I’ve only done two, 20-minute motos so far. I’m super stoked to get a top ten and almost a top five.” That’s four “stoked’s” in like six sentences!
7th | #27 Malcolm Stewart | Haines City, FL | Honda CRF450R
Ah man, Malcolm was second for the longest time in the main event. He was riding great! I texted him that and he replied with: “Coming from you, that means a lot.” Which I don’t know how to take. Like, I don’t dish out compliments much which means I’m a curmudgeon OR he knows I’m a four-time Manitoban champion so when I say you rode well it’s a great thing. I’ll bet on the former. You know who told us that Mookie could win? His team manager Tony Alessi was in the press box before the main and told Weege and I that he could do it. I was just like “Yeah sure Tony…” but dammit, he was in the fight for the victory! What a start for the 27.
8th | #25 Marvin Musquin | Corona, CA | KTM 450 SX-F
I mean, it is a bit jarring to see Marv this far back and watch him just sort of ride around out there, but he didn’t have much time on the bike this off-season due to a knee injury. Things were a bit rough for Marv at A1 and he should be better going forward but he’s just got to start close enough in the points.
9th | #22 Chad Reed | Dade City, FL | Suzuki RM-Z450
Reed wasn’t good. I was shocked at how far off the pace he was if I’m being honest. This result was good and it was earned with veteran poise on a tough track. He was just steady throughout the main and picked guys off. Before then? Eeeesh. Let’s give Chad a mulligan for round one, ok?
10th | #14 Cole Seely | Sherman Oaks, CA | Honda CRF450R
I gotta be honest, I didn’t watch or notice Cole that much out there. But a top ten for him in these conditions I have to think is ok. He bettered his qualifying spot which is always good.
11th | #10 Justin Brayton | Mint Hill, NC | Honda CRF450R
Brayton’s not a mudder so he started eighth, fell back to 16th, and then ended up here. Which isn’t too bad for him. Of course he looked great in practice; the more technical the track the better for him.
12th | #4 Blake Baggett | Grand Terrace, CA | KTM 450 SX-F
Baggett qualified fastest on the day but he’s SoCal through and through so no chance that once the rain came he was going to hold onto that top spot—although it was drizzling when he set that fast time. Anyway, same bike as last year for Blake so there shouldn’t be some of the issues he had early last season, but as with many riders, the jury is still out after round one.
13th | #42 Vince Friese | Cape Girardeau, MO | Honda CRF450R
Good ride for Friese, this is about where he was last year when we all talked about his improvement from 2017. With these conditions, nothing wrong with starting your year out in this position.
This was terrible. The heat race wasn’t much better. Weird to see Anderson look this bad. He started third and I don’t think he fell on his way to this finish. Rumors are that he hurt his wrist/arm a while ago, enough to make a hospital trip anyway. He looked ok in practice, but man, once the rain came Anderson was a shell of what we saw last year. Hey, he’s from New Mexico, let’s cut him some slack.
15th | #46 Justin Hill | Yoncalla, OR | Suzuki RM-Z450
Hill was rocking what looked like pajamas with little anchors on them in the morning. That was bold for sure. Then he went out and laid down some fast qualifying laps. This dude is so good, it’s ridiculous. He had a rough main event but they’ll be some of those. And then there will be some amazing moments of brilliance.
16th | #17 Joey Savatgy | Tallahassee, FL | Kawasaki KX450
The last time we saw Joe Dog he was pulling over to give his teammate the lead at the Monster Energy Cup. So this was a big day for him to show everyone that he could back it up but then the rain came and everything we thought about went out the window. He was tenth overall in qualifying; that’s about where he should be, right? He rode well in the heat until he flew over a berm so there’s that.
17th | #805 Carlen Gardner | Paso Robles, CA | Honda CRF450R
Gardner won the LCQ over Chad Reed. I don’t even know what to say about that. Great work for the 805’er out there
18th | #41 Ben LaMay | Anchorage, AK | Honda CRF450R
LaMay’s solid, bro. He’s the guy that Bob Seger was singing about when he wrote “Like a Rock.”
19th | #19 Justin Bogle | Cushing, OK | KTM 450 SX-F
I mean, the main didn’t go great for him. I think he crashed in the same spot twice! But as you know from listening to the PulpMX Show, he had three days on the bike before Anaheim. With this field, I was even questioning him making the main event. He’ll get better as this thing rolls on.
Congrats to Breece. He’s “that guy” that makes a stacked main event who everyone is like “Huh?” He joins Tevin Tapia, Friese (back in the day), Alex Ray, and more in the annuals of guys in the A1 main that no one predicted.
21st | #43 Tyler Bowers | Lake Elsinore, CA | Kawasaki KX450
The Bear went down pretty good about halfway through the main and that was all she wrote. He was a huge help to the factory Kawasaki guys in setting up the all-new 2019 KX450 last summer and they were pretty thankful for that. The Bear, like Breece, won’t be at the race this weekend as they have to finish the German SX series off in Dortmund.
22nd | #11 Kyle Chisholm | Valrico, FL | Suzuki RM-Z450
Chiz is on the HEP Motorsports Suzuki squad and was the only one on the team to make the main event but it didn’t go well once he got there. Kyle’s still working on getting his bike right for him so he’s not 100 percent comfy but he’s a pro and he’ll give you what he’s got every weekend.
Some other news and notes from the weekend:
- My buddy Kris Keefer noticed that Jason Anderson went back to the old style cylinder head on his Husqvarna and according to Kris, it’s because he went to more of a MXGP style of power after riding a set-up that Antonio Cairoli preferred. Weird for sure, I would think that he would just line up with what got him a 450SX title last year but hey, what do I know? I bet he might end up back on the newer style head for this weekend.
- Best looking bikes, I think, were the GEICO Honda’s. They combine old school and new school and look pretty sweet. As someone that worked at Yamaha for years it’s bizarre that they’re 3/4 black now. What happened to the blue? I know that money talks so Monster gets what they want, but it’s weird looking.
- The press conference on Friday was classic. As usual, the riders basically said nothing. Direct questions were just swatted away with precision accuracy. We don’t know who hurt anything or what anyone did in the off-season. They just all love their bike, they’ve all never felt better, and they’re all ready to go.
Ok, man, it’s been a blast. I gotta go but thanks for reading the column as usual. It’s my tenth year of recapping the races in this format and it’s been a ton of fun. I’ll be here all year long, email me at [email protected] if you want to chat about Anaheim or anything else.