THE AFTERMATH | 2019 GLENDALE SUPERCROSS
The 450 main event lined up for a staggered start after Malcolm Stewart crashed and the race was red flagged.
Photos by Brian Converse
Story by Josh Mosiman
The second round of the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross season was a night filled with great battles, great success and unfortunately great heart break. We had a new first time 450 main event winner and one of the crowd favorites went down hard, it was a roller coaster of emotions for the fans and people in the industry.
The Arizona Cardinals’ State Farm stadium is beautiful. Rain was in the forecast and it came, but luckily the stadium has a retractable roof and it was closed in time to keep the track dry. How would it all shake down? Find out here in Motocross Action’s “The Aftermath.”
The track was long and technical. During track walk, immediately we noticed that the dirt was by far better than last year. The Phoenix soil is known for developing to be hard pack and slick. Usually the Dirt Wurx crew floods the track in hopes of creating more traction. This year it seemed like the dirt was holding moisture better and they didn’t have to water it as much on Saturday morning. The track still developed to be hard pack and slick, but qualifying was by far better than it was in 2018.
We heard mixed reviews about the track from the riders, but they were generally positive. The long and technical rhythm sections made for many different rhythm options and they weren’t easy. The whoop section was also difficult on Saturday. They weren’t very big, but were hard pack and blue grooved. The Dirt Wurx crew never prepped throughout the day. As a fan, the tough track made for great racing to watch, on any lap a rider could gain or loose multiple seconds by missing the rhythm or by making a mistake in the whoops.
The major bummer of the night was the SmartTop Moto Concepts rider Malcolm Stewart. Malcolm has been on fire lately and it was heart breaking to see him go down. In the 450 Supercross main event while running sixth place, Malcolm crashed coming out of the whoop section and broke his femur. Malcolm was a stand out at the Anaheim 1 Supercross where he qualified third and ran second for most of the 450 main event. Malcolm was shining again in Glendale, he qualified sixth, only six tenths of a second behind the fastest qualifying time. The speed and confidence that he carried into the whoops was amazing to watch, he was considerably faster than everyone else in that section. It was awesome to watch Malcolm at the first two rounds, we are saddened for him. MXA wishes Malcolm all the best in his recovery process.
Dylan Ferrandis topped qualifying in the 250 class with a 1:01.270. He was just .01 of a second faster than Adam Cianciarulo who ran a 1:01.286 and he was .2 of a second faster than his teammate Colt Nichols who qualified third.
Eli Tomac was excited to race in Glendale, Arizona. When interviewed during opening ceremonies Tomac said that Glendale was his favorite race of the year and that he had a lot of family there to watch him.
Chad Reed has never won in Glendale and he stated in his opening ceremonies interview that he wanted to win at what could very likely be his last time racing in Glendale. Who knows how much longer Chad will be racing Supercross, but we appreciate having him at the races and hope he keeps going!
Jacob Hayes #156 was very impressive all day. He ran third for most of the first 250 heat race before RJ Hampshire passed him and finished fourth. Jacob was the 2018 Arenacross champion, but now that Arenacross is no longer, the Cycle Trader Rock River Yamaha team called Hayes up to the big leagues and so far his future looks promising.
Jimmy Decotis charging hard in the second 250 heat race. Jimmy got the holeshot and held on for second after Colt Nichols passed the JGR Suzuki rider.
After a rough weekend of bike issues at Anaheim 1, Mitchell Harrison was ready for redemption at round two. He finished sixth in the second 250 heat and was riding awesome all day on his new Rockwell Yamaha ride. Unfortunately another bike issue for Mitchell on the sight-lap caused him a DNS (did not start) in the main event.
Marvin Musquin got the holeshot in the first 450 heat race of the night, here he grabs a handful of throttle as he tries to pull away.
Malcolm Stewart was flying through the whoops and actually made the pass on Marvin for the lead in the 450 heat. Malcolm led for just two corners before he made a mistake which caused him to have to slow down and double the big triple. Musquin was able to get back by him.
Soon after Malcolm’s mistake Cole Seely was able to get around Stewart and finish second in the heat.
Justin Barcia, Cooper Webb and Dean Wilson battled back and forth before finishing fourth, fifth and sixth in the first 450 heat race. The 450 class is stacked with fast guys this year and the Glendale track provided for great battles.
This was the start of an epic heat race. Justin Brayton got the holeshot in the second 450 heat and his teammate Vince Friese ran second. Eli Tomac had issues with his brake on the first lap, he crossed the line 17th on the first lap. Last year’s champion, Jason Anderson was 8th off the start.
On the first lap of each heat race the riders learned that every part of the track had been groomed, except the whoops. Since the riders don’t have a sight-lap to view the track before the heat races the riders didn’t know that the whoops would still be blue groove and have kickers from practice.
Photo one, Aaron Plessinger block passes Chad Reed.
Photo two, Chad Reed gets him back. Chad was fifth on the first lap in the heat, but he found his groove and the old Chad appeared! He sliced his way through the pack passing Blake Baggett, Aaron Plessinger and Vince Friese. He also caught up to Justin Brayton who had a big lead. Chad finished second and was looking good going into the main event.
Ken Roczen started the 450 heat in sixth and after Jason Anderson and Justin Hill both passed him at the same time in the corner after the whoops, he finished the heat race in eighth.
Jason Anderson and Justin Hill went back and forth throughout the heat but eventually finished sixth and seventh. These two were both on the gas, but they didn’t even get into the top five in the heat race. How crazy is that? The top eight in 450 heat two were all on fire. We didn’t have enough eyes to enjoy all the battles going on.
Justin Brayton celebrates his heat win with a scrub across the finish line. 450 heat race number two was filled with amazing racing and the battles weren’t even for the lead. Justin was one of the only riders we noticed going double-double-triple-triple-triple-double through the very long rhythm section on the west side of the stadium. He looked confident in the lead all race.
Shane McElrath was second off the start and he ran in the number two spot until Colt Nichols came up the inside of Shane on lap eight. Colt cut Shane’s line off and they both had to double the big triple, but Colt secured the second place position.
Dylan Ferrandis was third after the start, but Ferrandis would go down on the straightaway passing the mechanic’s area. This straight was slick all day, Dylan landed off the single just a little too hard on the gas. The rear end kicked out and high-sided the Frenchmen off the bike quickly. He bounced up quickly and charged back to finish sixth.
Jimmy Decotis means business in 2019. The whoops only got tougher and tougher throughout the evening in Arizona and Jimmy was fast in them. He actually passed Colt Nichols and held him off for a bit, but Colt was able to get him back. Jimmy finished fifth in the main event and now sits sixth in the point standings.
250 SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDING (ROUND 2 OF 9)
- Colt Nichols-49
- Adam Cianciarulo-44
- Shane McElrath-42
- Dylan Ferrandis-40
- RJ Hampshire-38
- Jimmy Decotis-34
- Garett Marchbanks-31
- Chris Blose-30
- Michael Mosiman-24
- Jess Pettis-24
The 450 main start, Ken Roczen actually got the holeshot. After placing eighth in his heat race Ken had sixteenth gate pick for the main, but the bad gate pick actually turned out to be good for the fan favorite from Germany as he was able to grab the holeshot and the lead in the 450 main.
Malcolm was on fire in the whoops all day. Unfortunately it was his favorite section that bit him. Malcolm went down hard early in the race which caused a red flag and the race to be restarted with 13 minutes remaining.
Ken Roczen charging forward as he tries to pull away from the pack. Ken had a commanding lead until the red flag came out. After the red flag, they restarted the race in a staggered start. Ken was still in first place, but now second place Jason Anderson was right behind him.
Jason Anderson block passed Marvin Musquin in the same corner that he took out Ken Roczen in just a few laps later. The only difference between the two situations was that Marvin wasn’t cutting down as tight in that corner, he was riding the outside line. Ken was cutting down sharper and the end result was a take out.
It’s always a bummer to see a rider go down and get hurt. It’s extra hard when the crash causes a red flag because we all know the injury is serious. It takes mental toughness for these riders to see their fellow competitor hauled off on a stretcher and then line back up to finish the race. So far we’ve seen a lot of Malcolm Stewart’s competitors post on social media sending their best wishes to Malcolm.
Baggett was fourth early in the main. He was patient but quick and he let the race come to him. He made the pass on Musquin on lap four and was in the third position when the red flag came out. After the restart it was Roczen, Anderson and Baggett one, two and three. At first Roczen and Anderson pulled a gap on Blake and after Anderson took out Roczen, Blake was able to inherit second.
Cole Seely had a solid night finishing 2nd in the heat race and 9th in the main. Cole is racing himself back into shape after breaking his hip in February of 2018 and missing the rest of the 2018 season. Cole has a one year contract with the Factory HRC Honda team.
It looked like Anderson was going to walk away with the win and Blake would settle for the second spot but then the tables turned and Blake slowly started to catch Jason. We could almost see the light bulb go on in Blake’s head from the stands, his confidence rose and Blake went into El Chupacabra mode. He was looking over at the clock while in the air on the big triple and he was patiently waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. It seemed like Blake could do no wrong. He was doing a different rhythm from Jason on the west side of the stadium and making up time. Blake got up next to Jason in the bowl turn before they go backwards on the start straightaway and Jason checked up to make sure Blake wouldn’t cut down the inside, but Blake was too quick, he dived down the inside and they drag raced into the next corner and it was all Baggett’s race from there. Jason settled into second and Blake took his first ever 450 Supercross win.
After being taken out by Anderson, Ken Roczen picked up his bike in fourth and chased down the number 25 of Marvin Musquin. Marvin then lost his drive in the whoop section when he had to change his line because of a lapper and Ken skimmed by him to put himself back in podium position.
After the restart, Tomac passed Justin Barcia, but Justin wasn’t going to settle easily. Justin came back up the inside of Tomac immediately after and moved him out of the way. Eli would soon pass Barcia again and move on to finish fourth with Barcia in sixth.
Dean Wilson was riding great at round two and he finished eighth in the main.
Blake Baggett stated in the press conference:“The last five laps were a blur. Literally a blur. All I remember was on the last lap there was somebody rolling, not deciding which way he was going to roll in the whoops and I came out of the turn and looked up and I’m like I don’t know if he’s going left or right and so I went down the middle and it was a terrible line and thats literally the only thing that can stick to me with the last five laps. I was just being patient and trying to capitalize on any mistakes.”
450 SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDING (ROUND 1 OF 17)
- Ken Roczen-44
- Justin Barcia-43
- Eli Tomac-40
- Blake Baggett-37
- Dean Wilson-34
- Marvin Musquin-33
- Jason Anderson-32
- Cooper Webb-31
- Aaron Plessinger-29
- Justin Brayton-28
TOP NEWS AFTER ANAHEIM 1:
Ken Roczen stated in the press conference: “I didn’t think about him (Jason Anderson) diving in there like that, I didn’t hear him either. I feel like the ruts the last few years especially kinda go up and they hook down pretty hard so I was just committed to the inside rut, but I saw a white bike there so I went down. I tried to get back up as quickly as possible, luckily my bike was still running and once I got back going and went over the finish line jump I knew I was in fourth. The front two guys had a little bit of a gap on me, so I was just trying to get on the podium.”
When asked if Blake wanted to be leading the last few laps he responded: “To be honest no, I already saw what went down a few laps before that (Jason taking out Ken) so I was being patient and trying to find a spot and I didn’t want it to get into a slugging fest and then all the sudden the train (of riders) was going to be back up on us. So I was trying to just wait for a mistake because there was nowhere to pass, the place is like concrete out there. You fight for traction and as soon as you are a little aggressive you lose the front wheel or slide or spin or something. I quit tripling on (to the step-on step-off) and I honestly thought Jason was going to get away from me because I couldn’t get the thing to bite and get up on there. I wasn’t comfortable with it and we kind of banjoed a little bit and he kinda came back to me. I was just trying to find somewhere. It might have looked like I was laying up but I was really just trying to find traction and just find a spot where it was going to be feasible.”
Shane McElrath said about the track: “It really was a tough track tonight, it required a lot of focus and a lot of patience and it was really tough to be consistent. The whoops were probably the hardest part, they weren’t that big but the third practice they started having the black marks on them. From then on the track crew couldn’t really do anything about them. They held their shape all the way from the first practice through our main event. So it was really tricky because it really required a lot of body position and technique through there. I had a few mistakes there and it really cost me a lot. It was kind of like riding at the test track. I know this week we had some rain so the test tracks were really good, but we should have rode the test track dry to prepare for this.”
Adam Cianciarulo said: “For me it’s always about being stronger on the bike. You guys have seen me, everybody jokes about ‘you know, he’s doing a heater but it looks like he’s about to die.’ Basically that’s really what I worked on, just kind of being stronger on the bike and to trying make things more repeatable. So that’s the biggest change, and for me I’ve been a little more locked in mentally. I’ve been kind of in this same head space and working towards this goal since the summer. It’s nice to see a sign that we’re going in the right direction.”