ANAHEIM SUPERCROSS: NOTES FROM THE A1 TRENCHES

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Photos by John Basher

Jason Anderson joins a very elite club.

JASON ANDERSON’S STUNNING VICTORY

It wasn’t stunning that Jason won the Anaheim Supercross—because somebody was going to win and Anderson has been a podium finisher in the past. What was stunning was the speed that the Husqvarna rider uncoiled on his way through the pack. He closed gaps that seemed insurmountable, reeled in Cole Seely’s 5-second lead in two laps and pulled away to a dominating win. He was also on the ragged edge at least once on every lap.  He was the fastest guy on the track because he was the only guy willing to push the edge of adhesion.

A win for a rider who gave it everything he had and risk it all—that’s the best kind of win.

HUSKY’S MOMENT OF GLORY

You would have to go back to 1972-73-74 to find a Husqvarna in the Supercross record books—and then it would only be as a footnote. In 1972 Mark Blackwell won the 500 class at the Daytona Supercross. In 1973 Bob Grossi won premier class at the Daytona Supercross. In 1974 Gary Semics won the 500 class at the Houston Supercross. The caveats are: (1) There was not an AMA Supercross series of note in 1972 and 1973. (2) Daytona was part of the AMA Nationals in 1972 and 1973. (3) The 500 Supercross class faded away after 1974 (and there were only 6 Open Class events ever held—won by Mark Blackwell, Bryar Holcomb, Pierre Karsmakers, Robert Plumb, Roger DeCoster and Gary Semics. Thus, Jason Anderson’s 2016 Anaheim 1 victory is a first for the sport, for Husqvarna and for Jason.

You won’t see Weston Peick in this 450 main event start photo. Weston was disqualified after his heat race whippin’ of Vince Friese—for which many AMA riders thought he should have been given a medal and been allowed to start the main in the first turn.

PEICK BY A TKO

The AMA has a “Hands-off” policy in racing—which means that one rider cannot push, shove and touch another rider in anger. Sometimes it is enforced and sometimes the AMA looks the other way, but there was no looking away at Anaheim 1 when Weston Peick went Sugar Ray Leonard on Vince Friese after what appeared to everyone in the stands and country to be a take-out move by Friese. It is widely accept that the unpopular Vince Friese is a pariah in the sport. He has a reputation as a dirty rider, so when Peick started throwing lefts to Friese’s helmet the crowd cheered (and every Pro rider that Friese had ever rammed, submarined, slammed or swerved into during his incident-filled career hoped for the knockout blow). Most of the punches were harmless as they glanced off Friese’s helmet (which could be some sort of helmet promotion), but Weston threw them with such conviction that even Announcer Ricky Carmichael, obviously not a fan of the way Vince Friese has conducted himself over his tainted career, made it clear that he thought the AMA should pull Vince Friese aside and warn him that his style of riding is unacceptable. Of course, Weston Peick was disqualified for the night and will face a $5000 fine and have to miss San Diego on Saturday, January 16.

BUBBA GOES DOWN FOR THE COUNT

Bubba looked good in practice and logged the third fastest qualifying time, but someone will have to tell him what happened in the main event.

James Stewart struggled at Anaheim. He had moments of brilliance, but he couldn’t put them together. And, while he probably wasn’t sharp enough on this night to win, he had a fighting chance to be in the top five, but he got bit by “bowl turn fever.” In the first 450 Main event (there were two on this night), Stewart was dueling with Jason Anderson when they came into one of the track’s ubiquitous bowl turns. Stewart chased up behind Anderson’s Husky and then broke off the banking and tried to come down off the top. Unfortunately, Ryan Dungey had taken a diagonal line up the inside (and worse yet, kicked off the last jump of the triple leading to the banking so he could get on the brakes early). You don’t need a PhD in geometry to know what happens when two intersecting lines meet. Dungey got hard on the brakes, but his front tire center-punched James’ Suzuki engine cases. James rag-dolled into a high-side and hit his head in classic slap-down fashion. James was out cold. The race was red flagged in the name of safety — although it probably could have been handled with yellow flags and a few well-placed Tuff Blocks. James will have to take the concussion test before he will be allowed to race next weekend.

A GOOD START IS ONE THAT YOU FINISH

Eli didn’t look comfortable at Anaheim 1. He made a lot of mid-turn corrections, pushed the front end in flat corners and stood it up on the high bankings. What do you expect? New bike, new team, new shoulders and a long lay-off.

Let’s not put too many expectation on Eli Tomac so early in 2016. He obviously struggled at A1. Eli and the KX450F were miscommunicating all night long. He showed flashes of speed and then would snowplow through the next corner. He has a lot of ring rust (boxing metaphors make a lot of sense when talking about Anaheim 1). He’s coming off double shoulder surgery, switching to a new bike and under the microscope of way too much buzz (left over from his short-lived dominance of last year’s 450 Nationals). In the end, Eli got a strong fourth, wasn’t dropped and will live to fight another day. Eli and the KX450F will get better with each race.

AS FOR THE REST OF THE 450 FIELD

See Cade Clason (761) on the right side of this photo. When all is said and done, he will apply the coup de grace to Ken Roczen’s heat race crash.

Ryan Dungey does what Ryan Dungey does. He put himself on the podium—even after spending a little too much time on the Anaheim ground. Second place is the foundation of a Championship chase—because you can’t win them all.

“Chad Reed is back.” The sport has been saying that for years as Chad burned bridges, looked like he was on the ropes (more boxing talk) and kept coming back from the eight count. For 2016, Chad got his new 2016 Yamaha ride at the 12th hour and he should be very happy. We know that the in-house Yamaha crew had worked hard to make this happen. Chad was sixth.

Ken Roczen is a lucky man. He got squeezed in the start of his 450 heat race and went for a wild ride over the bars—only to get a Dunlop enema while laying on the ground. He shook it off for the main and then blew both the first start and the restart—only to work his way into a points-saving fifth place by the flag. That was a good night for a guy who never saw the front of the pack all night long.

Trey Canard was blazing fast and if it hadn’t been for the other-worldliness of Jason Anderson, Trey would have easily been the runaway winner. But, he wasn’t. He raced up front, even managing to knock Ryan Dungey off the track at one point in the race, but Dungey came back for second while Trey fell by himself and ended up seventh.

The 250 West is weak! Or is Cooper Webb too good?

HO-HUM IN THE 250 WEST

You can’t take anything away from Cooper Webb’s victory in the 250 West race. He let Jessy Nelson get way out front and then reeled him in like a bass at Lake Wobegon. After Webb and Nelson came Zach Osborne. Then a group of survivors led by Geico fill-in rider Jimmy Decotis with Jordan Smith, Alex Martin and Colt Nichols in tow. As for potential contenders Joey Savatgy, Christian Craig and Chris Alldredge—they didn’t live up to their potential at A1.

Ryan Dungey had a terrible night. He crashed in his heat, had to go to the semi, crashed in the main and finally settled for a lowly second place. Say what?

ANAHEIM I RESULTS: 450 CLASS

1. Jason Anderson…Hus
2. Ryan Dungey…….KTM
3. Cole Seely………….Hon
4. Eli Tomac…………..Kaw
5. Ken Roczen…….….Suz
6. Chad Reed…..…….Yam
7. Trey Canard…….…Hon
8. Davi Millsaps……..KTM
9. Dean Wilson……….KTM
10.  Justin Brayton…..KTM
Other notables: 11. Broc Tickle; 13. Justin Bogle; 14, Marvin Musquin; 15, Justin Barcia; 18. Christophe Pourcel; 21. Lawson Bopping.

USGP winner Jessy Nelson got tight towards the end and got reeled in by Cooper Webb. Race one of any series just sets the stage—Jessy has many more battles to fight in 2016.

ANAHEIM I RESULTS: 250 WEST

1. Cooper Webb……..…Yam
2. Jessy Nelson….…..…KTM
3. Zach Osborne…….…Hus
4. Jimmy Decotis………Hon
5. Jordan Smith…….….Hon
6. Alex Martin…………..Yam
7. Colt Nichols……..……Yam
8. Joey Savatgy………….Kaw
9. Mitchell Oldenburg..KTM
10. Kyle Peters…………..Hon
Other notables: 11. Hayden Mellross; 13. Mitchell Harrison; 14. Fredrik Noren; 15. Zach Bell; 17. Christian Craig; 20 Maxime Desprey.

The Anaheim 1 layout. Next week is San Diego 1, then the circus comes back for Anaheim 2. Oh yeah, there will also be a San Diego 2. And that’s only 4 races of the 2016 AMA California Supercross Championship. There are 6 races in the land of fruits and nuts.

450 POINTS STANDINGS

(After 1 of 17 races)
1. Jason Anderson.…25
2. Ryan Dungey……..22
3. Cole Seely…………..20
4. Eli Tomac…………..18
5. Ken Roczen……..….16
6. Chad Reed…..……..15
7. Trey Canard…….…14
8. Davi Millsaps……..13
9. Dean Wilson……….12
10.  Justin Barcia…….11

250 WEST POINTS STANDINGS

(After 1 of 9 races)
1. Cooper Webb…….….25
2. Jessy Nelson….…..…22
3. Zach Osborne…….…20
4. Jimmy Decotis………18
5. Jordan Smith………..16
6. Alex Martin……..……15
7. Colt Nichols……..……14
8. Joey Savatgy………….13
9. Mitchell Oldenburg..12
10. Kyle Peters…………..11

 

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