10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SAN DIEGO SUPERCROSS

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103656_Dungey-SanDiegoSX2015-Cudby-018_4928Safe and sane seems to be working. Ryan Dungey held onto the red plate for another week. Dungey’s third make him the only rider to finish in the top five every round. Ryan has gone 4-3-2-2-1-3.

(1) ONE YEAR AGO: Historically race six of the season is considered the point in which the cream rises to the top and the effluvia sinks to the bottom. This year, at race six, the cream is Dungey, Roczen, Tomac and Canard. At this point last year it was Villopoto, Roczen, Reed and Stewart. By the end of the 17 races in 2014, the accolades went to Villopoto, Dungey, Roczen and Stewart. This year, with Villopoto in Europe, Stewart in drug limbo, Roczen showing lots of speed, Tomac struggling to stay on two wheels, Canard injury free and Dungey playing the strategy card, we don’t see anyone outside of the current top four making a run on the 2015 Supercross crown. Dungey has a 9-point lead on Roczen (which is the difference between a first and a fifth in one race). Trey Canard is 18 points back from Ryan Dungey, but only 9-points behind Roczen. Eli Tomac, who fell down early in the San Diego main event and battled back fifth for the night, is 27 points behind Dungey, 18 points behind Roczen and, amazingly, 9-points adrift of Canard. As for the chasers: Jason Anderson can’t buy a start and the promise he showed at the first two rounds has been muted by the need to take chances to get near the front. Anderson is fifth in points, but 42 points off the lead. Cole Seely has a hot hand right now, but is in the opposite situation as Anderson. Anderson was fast at the beginning and troubled since then — Seely was cold in the beginning (two 14th place finish at rounds 1 and 2) and his hot now (6-5-2-6 since round three)). Cole is only two points behind Anderson, but 44 point off the front runner. If Chad Reed got the points he lost when he was disqualified for playing bumper pool with Trey Canard, he would most likely be ahead of Anderson, and closer to the front four. But, Chad isn’t getting his points back from that night…and since he didn’t finish the race we have no idea how many points that might have been. Justin Barcia didn’t race at San Diego because of a practice crash during the week. JGR thinks that he will be back at Dallas next weekend, but he hasn’t shown enough speed to knock off the front four consistently enough to make up his 56-point deficit (which means he is two full races behind Dungey).

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(2) THE MINOR MIRACLE: Josh Hill had a very short leash at the Valli Yamaha team. They had signed him to a six-race-only deal for A1 through San Diego. It was a nice gesture to help him get back on his feet after getting no offers over the winter — and Valli’s express goal was to help Josh get to the first 6 races in hopes that he would do well enough to get a fill-in ride. But, they weren’t going to help him after San Diego. And luckily for Josh, he pulled out a minor miracle at A3, not just by qualifying for the main, something he hadn’t done in Phoenix, Anaheim II or Oakland, but by scoring an impressive 10th. Josh’s only other result was a 16th at A1. But that 10th was good enough to get him a fill-in ride, maybe not at Team Kawasaki, RCH Suzuki or KTM, but at the Rock River Yamaha team (starting at San Diego). The downside? Rock River bounced Ben Lamay (who had also failed to make three main events out of five) off the team. Ben wasn’t happy. As for Josh, he didn’t qualify for the main in San Diego either.

trey2015_0543Trey Canard got his second win out of the first six rounds, by catching and passing Ken Roczen — then refusing to crack under late race pressure from Kenny.

(3) SKIPPY’S STORY: If Chad Reed was going to win anywhere in 2015, it was most likely going to be in San Diego. Chad has won the San Diego Supercross six times (the last time in 2011). Last year in San Diego his season came to an end when he clipped Ken Roczen’s rear wheel and wrecked his shoulder). Jeremy McGrath won San Diego in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1998. He didn’t lose in 1997 — there wasn’t a San Diego race that year or he’d probably have six wins also. All of Chad and Jeremy’s wins came at Jack Murphy Stadium. This year the race was moved downtown to Petco Park. Building an urban Supercross track makes getting the necessary dirt problematic. And…Reed had a good enough night, but never looked like he had what it took to knock off the new big names (Roczen, Canard, Dungey). In his heat race, Chad crashed. In his Semi, Chad took the win, but not before knocking his teammate Josh Grant off the track and into the Last Chance. In the Main, Chad ran up front behind Roczen, Dungey, Millsaps and Short. He gained one spot when Millsaps crashed out, but lost one when Canard came steaming by and ended the night in fourth just in front of Cole Seely (who hadn’t been in the top ten for the first eight laps). All in all, a fourth was a great outcome…for everyone but a six-time winner.

103691_Anderson-SanDiegoSX2015-Cudby-022_4928Jason Anderson (21) and Brett Metcalfe (24) fought over 10th place. It went to Anderson. Jake Weimer (12) ended up 15th. Only Dungey and Anderson have made the top ten at all six 450 races.

(4) THE AUSSIE MASSACRE: Although not on the level of Gallipolli, the first 450 heat race in San Diego had to leave the Oz fans depressed. With Chad Reed, Brett Metcalfe and Adam Monea in the field, it had the makings of a great heat for the yellow and green. Then, there was mayhem as Brett Metcalfe crashed and, of all the people he could have collected — it was Monea who went down with Brettcalfe. Meanwhile, Chad Reed found himself in heap of his own making. The Aussie squad needed to be in the top four to advance, but found themselves in 7th (Reed), 16th (Monea) and 18th (Metcalfe). Brett came back in Semi 1 to get third and make the main (where he finished 11th), but Monea had to go to the LCQ. Reed won Semi 2 and moved to the main (where he finished 4th). As for Monea, he got 17th in the LCQ and watched the main from the stands.

103657_Dungey-SanDiegoSX2015-Cudby-019_4928Here are some of the keys players for the rest of the season, minus Eli Tomac, who never gets to be in any first turn photos. Cole Seely (14), Ken Roczen (94), Trey Canard (41) and Ryan Dungey (5). Josh Grant (33) does get in a lot of first turn photos, but this hasn’t been his year to stay up there for long.

(5) THE BEST FINISH: The absolutely best race of the night was between Killy Rusk and Broc Tickle in Semi 1. Although when French rider Jason Clermont tripled into the back of a doubling Blake Baggett it was also a tense moment. But Baggett came back to finish 7th in the 450 Main. Killy Rusk had the best race of his Supercoss career, most of it spent in the 250 class. He had the lead with three laps to go in Semi 1 when RCH Suzuki rider Broc Tickle moved up behind him. It looked like Killy would have his moment in the sun, albeit it artificial sun, taken away from him by the more established Tickle, but hope springs eternal in young hearts…and Killy Rusk fought like a man possessed. Everything that Tickle tried, Rusk thwarted. The crowd was enthralled by the battle between the haves and the have-nots. Then, on the very last straight, Tickle blew by Rusk and the crowd cheered and ahh’ed at the same time. Then, the shocking thing happened, Rusk held his Yamaha wide open, thrust up behind Tickle on the banked finish line corner and peeled off like P-51 diving on its prey. Tickle, perhaps a little overconfident, didn’t fully realize that Killy had done the impossible feat of coming from behind in the last corner to pull even with Broc. As they rocketed up the face of the finish line jump, it looked like Tickle had the win as he sailed over the lip in front of Killy. Instead, the slo-mo replay revealed that Killy beat Broc by six inches to the hidden electronic scoring wire. No big deal for Broc Tickle — he qualified to the main with his second place. But, for Killy it was the fulfillment of a life-long wish come true. He won in front of 40,000 screaming fans. Yes, it was only a Semi, but what a Semi!

103683_McElrath-SanDiegoSX2015-Cudby-001_4928Shane McElrath (40) had a breakout night in San Diego.

webbcooper1099Cooper Webb crashed hard in practice, but his shoulder felt good enough to race…and race he did.

(6) COOPER WEBB: Since the 250 West is over for the foreseeable future, with the 250 East starting up in Dallas on Saturday, Cooper Webb can rest on his laurels. He won 4 out of the 6 rounds so far and has a 30-point lead heading into the break. The bad break falls on Shane McElrath, who was suddenly flying. Too bad he started flying at the last race before a two-month hiatus. Will he be able to keep percolating after 60 days off? The big plus for the 250 West riders is that they had six rapid-fire races, with very little traveling and almost zero airliner time (a bonus during flu season). An even bigger plus is that now they have a couple months to start testing their bikes for the outdoor Nationals. By the time, they have to race in a stadium again, they will be set to go for the Nationals. Conversely, the 250 East riders face a long eight-race stint, which save for the two Atlanta weekends, will take a toll on them. And, during the rush to the final race, they will have very little time to commit to getting ready for the outdoors.

 

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(7) BOWERS FITNESS: What fitness? Everyone makes a big deal of Bowers “Rollerball” style of racing that came from winning four Arenacross Championships. However, they should also think about the fact that he spent all those years sprinting on micro tracks for micro length amounts of time. In fact, Bowers either doesn’t have the muscle memory of what it takes to go 15 laps or he’s totally out of shape. Any rider who builds up big leads and then gives it all back in the the last five laps needs to try hypnosis, 30-minute practice motos, a gym or all three. Bowers is fast, but he’s wheezing at the end of every moto.

roczencamoKen Roczen is wearing the color of camo that you would wear if your were invading Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

(8) MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT: Well meaning ideas, like Military Appreciation Night or Retro Night, are good concepts when properly hyped and supported by the teams, but over time they lose a lot of support. This time a handful of gear companies added camo to their rider’s gear, but the downside of camo is that it is, not surprisingly, not visible to the fans in the stands. In fact, except for Troy Lee’s bold approach to colorizing his team, gear company’s logos or even what brand of gear the rider is wearing, is lost from the distance that the fans are from the riders (who are normally at speed). Thus, special gear, only works at a photographic level…after the race is over and the fans go home and read about the race the next day. Two other notable things at San Diego were: (1) The fact that Ken Roczen has a list of sponsors on the front of his jersey that is so long that some of them are tucked into his pants makes us forget how stylish Ken used to look and think of him as a human White Pages. What sponsor pays to be next to the rider’s tidy whities? (2) Husqvarna owes Geico Honda a big “Thank You” for turning their bikes into Husqvarnas for the night. The white plastic may have seemed like a great idea in the art department, but it didn’t do as much for Honda as it did for Sweden.

tomacwhiteThis is a Honda. This is Eli Tomac. Can you see him with his camouflage gear on?

(9) WOE IS DAVI: You have to feel for Davi Millsaps. He spent 18 months having his legs rotated on their axis, his knees rebuilt and working off the ring rust, only to be thrown into the arena as “Kawasaki’s new Ryan Villopoto.” Davi is 11th in 450 Supercross points and got there with a 19-5-9-7-11-20 season so far. No one is going to say that this is what they expected of Davi, but it really is what should have been expected. Davi will improve the more he rides his KX450F. It isn’t easy to undergo major surgery, miss a couple big racing series and come off the couch on a new bike. Heck, it isn’t easy to switch bikes between seasons. Davi isn’t going to be the second coming of Ryan Villopoto and maybe not even the second coming of the Davi Millsaps from a couple years ago, but whatever Davi morphs into, he will be in the top five by the end of the 2015 Supercross series.

103599_Dungey-SanDiegoSX2015-Cudby-011_4928When we say Petco Park is downtown, we mean downtown.

(10) THE RYTHYM METHOD: Petco Park is a lovely place, but not necessarily the best Supercross venue. First off, it’s downtown and has a parking lot that rivals the one at the 7-Eleven on the corner. The Supercross track designers decided that Petco Park would be the perfect place to throw in a right-hand first turn. Come on geniuses, the only place that is perfect for a right-hand first turn is on a freeway on-ramp. The fact that the riders dodged the first-turn bullet at Petco isn’t because the  Supercross promoters cared about 22 of them blasting into the first turn without rear brakes, it’s that the riders showed some reserve. Petco’s right-hand first turn could have been a left-hand first turn if the track builders had flipped the blueprint over. And, enough with the rhythm sections already. It is beginning to remind people of the race car scene from the Elvis Presley movie “Viva Las Vegas.” The repetitive ups and downs makes the viewers nauseous. Just build a real racetrack and leave the roller coasters to Six Flags.

 

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SAN DIEGO SUPERCROSS RESULTS: 450 CLASS
1. Trey Canard…Hon
2. Ken Roczen…Suz
3. Ryan Dungey…KTM
4. Chad Reed…Kaw
5. Eli Tomac…Hon
6. Cole Seely…Hon
7. Blake Baggett…Suz
8. Andrew Short…KTM
9. Brock Tickle…Suz
10. Jason Anderson…Hus
Other notables: 11. Brett Metcalfe; 12. Josh Grant; 13. Mike Alessi; 15. Jake Weimer; 17. Nick Wey; 19. Killy Rusk; 20. Davi Millsaps.

103592_Dungey-SanDiegoSX2015-Cudby-004_4928Ryan Dungey’s dog tag paint scheme.

2015 AMA 450 SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDINGS
(After 6 of 17 races)
1. Ryan Dungey…127
2. Ken Roczen…118
3. Trey Canard…109
4. Eli Tomac…100
5. Jason Anderson…85
6. Cole Seely…82
7. Chad Reed…75
8. Justin Barcia…71
10. Andrew Short…66

SAN DIEGO SUPERCROSS RESULTS: 250 WEST
1. Cooper Webb…Yam
2. Shane McElrath…KTM
3. Tyler Bowers…Kaw
4. Josh Hansen…Kaw
5. Alex Martin…Yam
6. Zach Osborne…Hus
7. Zach Bell…Hus
8. Jessy Nelson…KTM
9. Tommy Hahn…Hon
10. Chris Alldredge…Kaw
Other notables: 11. Cole Martinez; 14. Aaron Plessinger; 15. Matt Biscelgia; 16. Austin Politelli; 21. Malcolm Stewart; 22. Justin Hill.

StewartM-Anaheim3SX20_1ABDEMalcolm Stewart crashed himself out of San Diego, but hung onto the top ten in points (although 67 points behind).

2015 AMA 250 WEST SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDINGS
(After 6 of 8 races)
1. Copper Webb…136
2. Jessy  Nelson…106
3. Tyler Bowers…104
4. Zach Osborne…102
5. Shane McElrath…86
6. Aaron Plessinger…81
7. Justin Hill…79
8. Josh Hansen…79
9. Alex Martin…75
10. Malcolm Stewart…69

 

Photos: KTM, Husqvarna, Geico Honda, John Basher, Travis Fant, Honda

 

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