Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Anaheim 2
After the first two rounds of the season, and the first Main Event on Saturday, I was starting to let a little bit of doubt enter my mind about Shane's chances of winning the title. He didn't look comfortable, and, to be frank, he didn't look to have the speed to compete with the front two guys for the win at either round. So given that he was thought of as a pre-season favorite by many people (including myself), I was a bit surprised by his performances until the second race of the Triple Crown. Something changed in that race, and all the sudden it was like the old Shane McElrath was back in business. He went on to finish second in the second race, and then he claimed a fairly dominant victory in the third race after getting by Adam Cianciarulo. And poof! Just like that, Shane is only two points down from Colt Nichols after three rounds. Shane talked about bike setup after the race, and how he had struggled to find a comfortable setting at the first two rounds. Well, clearly he found something that suits him pretty well at Anaheim 2. This might spell bad news for the rest of the field if he can keep the momentum rolling. With how stacked this 250 field is, though, that won't be a simple task.
The Bad: Jimmy Decotis | 13th Place Overall
Jimmy has had a fairly solid season so far and is still sitting in sixth place in the standings after Anaheim 2, but it definitely wasn't the day he was looking to have. The first race went decently with him finishing in seventh, but a gnarly crash in the second race ruined his chances of a decent overall for the night. I'm sure it also left him pretty sore for the last race, and he had to tough it out for a 12th and 13th place overall. Not a satisfying result for him or the team, but he did make it out healthy so there's always next week. Really, I just hope that Jimmy is able to stay healthy for the entire season and get a good start in a Main Event at some point. It's been a while since we've seen him run up front.
The Ugly: Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Sometimes it really does seem like teammates in this sport are linked, even though it's largely an individual sport. Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Adam Cianciarulo and Garrett Marchbanks both struggled throughout the night with multiple crashes each. Adam looked to be ready to continue his winning ways from Glendale in the first race before going down. He was able to mount a charge and come back to fourth place, but then he was pretty impatient in the second race and made several mistakes leading to a 14th-place finish. He seemed to get himself back in check for the third race and didn't ride over his head, which led to a second-place finish in the race and a salvage job of fifth place overall. The Triple Crown format actually worked in his favor as he didn't lose a bunch of points, and he is still well within striking distance of the championship lead, but still not a great night overall. Garrett Marchbanks, on the other hand, just had a straight up horrendous night of racing. He crashed in each of the first two races, and I don't believe he lined up for the third race. This is his rookie season in Supercross, though, so the occasional bad race is to be expected. I hope he's physically okay and is able to race next weekend in Oakland.
The Good: Cooper Webb | 1st Place Overall
Is this our new normal? Are we all dreaming? No? Fantastic. Three different winners through the first three rounds of the championship, and none of them were one of the pre-season favorites. This is absolutely wild and I love it. The Cooper Webb of old is back!...? He was definitely the man at Anaheim 2 and proved that he does have what it takes to win on a 450, but he also straight up got 10th place the weekend before. So while I definitely think that Cooper Webb's race-winning speed has reappeared, I'm not completely sold that he's going to be making a run at the championship this year. We'll have to see how he does over the next few rounds. If he continues to win or podium, though, I'll have to eat my words. Also, how about the finger gun gesture at Ken Roczen after the first race? Upon scrolling through Instagram shortly after the race was over, it was made pretty clear to me that a lot of people were not pumped with that move. I guess we've reached a point where a rider can't even celebrate and poke a little fun at another rider after a race without him getting some heat...or maybe everyone just had a flashback to when their buddy did the same gesture at them in a friendly race of MX vs ATV back in 2009 and got irrationally angry. Any-who, I look forward to seeing how Cooper will do next weekend now that he has gotten the "first 450 Supercross win" monkey off of his back.
The Bad: Jason Anderson | 9th Place Overall
The Anaheim 1 and Anaheim 2 versions of El Hombre looked pretty similar, but I don't think either one is the real El Hombre. His finishes were 6-6-17, aka not what the defending champion is looking for. I'm not sure what's up, folks. I thought the fisherman was back in the boat after Glendale. The Anaheim 1 obligations and nerves were long gone, and it was time for him to return to his 2018 ways! However, it's looking like it might be an up-and-down season for him unless he really does get back on track soon. He doesn't even need to win or podium at this point. A string of top fives would be a good stepping stone for him. Some guys on the forum seem to think that he's hiding an injury. Possibly? Of course, a lot of these guys hide an injury from everyone at some point during the season, but I'm not really going to buy into that idea unless something official is said about it. I think how he does in Oakland will provide further insight, or maybe even more confusion, about the state of Jason Anderson.
The Ugly: Justin Barcia | 10th Place Overall
Justin's season started out in the most perfect way with his Anaheim 1 win. He was in a great position to contend for the title if he could remain consistent over the course of the season, and it added another chapter into the story of his comeback. Glendale didn't go amazingly well, but he was still in the fight, and then it all came crashing down in the final race on Saturday. He got ejected from his bike in one of the super-rutted rhythm sections and landed hard. The early word on his injury has been a bruised tailbone, which is positive because it means nothing is broken, but it could still prove detrimental to his season. A bruised tailbone is no joke, and I'm not sure if he'll be able to race (at least very well) at Oakland. We'll just have to wait see what his camp decides to do as the weekend approaches. Also, on the bright side, with how the points work in the Triple Crown Events he still ended up 10th place overall after not finishing the final race, which definitely helped him out in the standings. I hope Justin's back to 100% sooner rather than later.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson