The Cooper Webb show heads to Detroit for Round 8's Triple Crown.


2/21/2019

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Arlington was a race for the record books. Cooper Webb's margin of victory - .028 seconds - was the narrowest on record (going back to 2003). To get there, he came through the pack and beat every rider that was expected to beat him in the title chase, ending with Ken Roczen. In a final corner pass, Webb pushed Roczen to the edge of the track, stood him up out of his rut, and forced a pass that put him a quarter of a wheel ahead at the finish line. It was epic.

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Roczen was stunned. This was the second time Webb had done it to him this year - a last corner pass for the win - the first being in main event No. 1 at Anaheim 2. Roczen came into Arlington as the points leader, but left with a two point deficit to Webb, who will run the red plate in Detroit (the second of the Triple Crown races) this weekend. Roczen's been the most consistent racer thus far this year, yet hasn't been able to score a main event win. Webb, on the other hand, has been all over the place, though his four wins have proven to trump Roczen's consistency thus far. 

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Webb is no doubt the surprise of the series thus far. After his truly remarkable ride in Arlington, it appears that he may have no real rival when it comes to speed or aggressiveness. He made short work of every other title favorite in Arlington, running down Musquin, Tomac, Roczen and several others on his charge to the front. They simply had nothing for him on any level, as he was able to ride away from each of them with apparent ease and while looking completely in control. 

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This may be the best Webb we've ever seen, which is quite a statement because he's had some great 250 seasons in the past. In other words, we may have witnessed a changing of the guard at Arlington - the competition was put on notice that there's a new sheriff in town. Whether it's the KTM vs. the Yamaha, or the team atmosphere, or training in Florida with Aldon Baker and his teammate Musquin, or his re-affiliation with Red Bull, or the magical combination of all of the above, there's no question that whatever it is, it's working. His results have come around miraculously, the aggressive but controlled raw speed is there, and it looks like the title is his to lose at this point. All aboard the Cooper Webb train!

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The rest of his competition, not the last of which is Eli Tomac, was no doubt caught by complete surprise. No one saw this coming (save maybe his teammate Musquin who rides and trains with him), pundits included. Who the 'best of the rest' is remains to be seen, but at this point it seems to be Roczen. His starts are consistent and his speed is good enough for a podium spot and, who knows, maybe that will be all it takes for the title. Eli Tomac, on the other hand, has lacked everything that made him such a title threat last year. His starts have been sub-par and,  as was the case in Arlington, even when he can pull a holeshot, he doesn't seem to have the raw speed to run away from the pack like he did last season. What's wrong with Tomac? Nobody seems to know, because he sure isn't talking about it.

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Meanwhile, the 250 East continues to be a riding clinic hosted by Austin Forkner. Fastest in qualifying, winning heats and mains with relative ease, he's the head of the class for sure. Otherwise, riders like Mitchell Oldenburg, Justin Cooper, Jordon Smith and Chase Sexton have put in some remarkable rides but they rarely get a whiff of Forkner's exhaust. 

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This kid is on fire. In his third season of AMA Supercross, Forkner had thus far been considered an under-performer and a bit of a crasher. Fast, yes, but not consistently the fastest and when he was, he'd typically end up on the ground. Whatever Forkner has done this past off-season has clearly worked, as his domination comes in a field full of very fast, deserving riders.

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One such rider is one of Forkner's biggest rivals from the amateur ranks, Chase Sexton. In his second full season of Supercross, Sexton has now taken over the crown of being the fastest crasher. In Arlington he hit the dirt several times, nearly giving up his hard-fought podium finish with a mistake in the main event that dropped him a position. Working closely with fellow Honda rider Roczen, the  No. 94 was heard after the 250 main event telling the youngster  (paraphrasing) 'you're better than this! You are riding so great but then you make dumb mistakes! Stop doing that!'. Easier said than done, no doubt.

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This weekend's race in frigid Detroit marks the second of three Triple Crown events, where each class races three main events to determine an overall winner. The soil will likely be damp and thus the formation of ruts is likely. Since the track crew plans to use less soil stabilizing agent than in the past, this may end up with a track that gets trickier as it deteriorates throughout the night, so that will favor more technically adept riders such as Musquin, who has proven to perform well in these types of conditions. Regardless, who wants to bet against Cooper Webb at this point? Be sure to check out the action right here for live timing and scoring, as well as on our Facebook and Instagram pages for photos throughout the day.


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