AMA Supercross heads to San Diego for Round 2


1/14/2016

Story and photos by Jeff Kardas

With Round 1 wrapped up in spectacular fashion, the 2016 AMA Supercross Season heads to downtown San Diego's Petco Park for Round 2. 


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The opener in Anaheim was a jaw-dropping edge-of-your-seat extravaganza, for sure. In a nutshell, we lost (temporarily) a title contender, had a surprise leader for half the 450SX main event, witnessed a surprise (and first-time) 450SX winner (and a first time win for the manufacturer), saw dramatic fades (and charges) by top racers, a 450SX main event re-start, and a bit of a brawl that ended with a fine and suspension. 

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Let's start with the 450SX main event winner, Husqvarna Factory Racing's Jason Anderson. While a bit of a surprise in that one of the obvious picks (Dungey, Roczen, Stewart, Canard, etc.) didn't get the win, it was a bit less surprising when considering Anderson's history leading up to Round 1. Anderson's been groomed over the past several years to reach this spot, being on factory-supported teams his entire pro career, and over the past year or so has been training at the elite Baker's Factory in Florida under the tutelage of the most successful trainer/coach in the sport's history, Aldon Baker. Alongside Anderson, there are Ryan Dungey and Marvin Musquin, and previously Adam Cianciarulo. That's a lot of fast company to spend the prime hours of each day with and with his borderline dominant come-from-behind win in Anaheim, it's clear that Jason Anderson is the new kid on the block when it comes to picking title favorites this season. Expect a roll to begin in San Diego, as Anderson's confidence is certainly at an all-time high.

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Of course, Ryan Dungey must be fairly happy with his Anaheim 1 performance as well, and while he didn't come away with the win, he did better than his fourth place from last year and is in better shape, relatively speaking, for the title chase heading into San Diego. Remarkable about his performance is that Ryan had a couple of run-ins on the track, which made it a bit of a surprise to find him on the podium at the end. After being taken high in a turn and ending up on the ground early in the main, Dungey battled back from around seventh to pass riders, such as a fading Justin Barcia, Trey Canard, Chad Reed and Eli Tomac, before finally getting Cole Seely on the final lap.

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Rounding out the podium was early race leader Cole Seely, who sprinted to the lead after the second start of the 450SX main event. At this point, he checked out, somewhat, getting a nice gap on the field that was very busy sorting itself out behind him. It was a great run for the first half, but then as Anderson found his groove and started closing the gap, Seely allowed himself to get reeled in and on the last lap also lost second place to Dungey. It was an eye-opener for Cole, and he'll no doubt come in better equipped in San Diego to hold on for another win in his young career.

Other notable rides (both good and bad) were put in by pre-race favorite Eli Tomac, who no doubt is scratching his head a bit after bouncing around from third to fifth throughout the main and being passed (often more than once) by rivals such as Anderson, Dungey and Canard. Tomac and the Monster Energy Kawasaki team aren't worried just yet, but things may change up a bit for Tomac at Round 2, putting a bit more emphasis on his start and trying to run away early in the race.

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Of course, we can't go without mentioning the unfortunate racing incident that lead to James Stewart hitting the ground hard enough in the 450SX main event to knock him unconscious on the track while the race was just getting started. Due to this obviously dangerous situation, the AMA red flagged the main event, but Stewart was done for the night. This does not bode well for his title hopes, and the fact he seems unlikely to appear in San Diego this weekend may ruin his title chances.

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Ken Roczen was another of the pre-race favorites, but a hard first turn crash in the main event put him way back in next-to-last place on the first lap. A very impressive push through the pack found him all the way up to fifth (just behind Tomac) at the finish. In what could have been a disastrous first race, Roczen salvaged a great result (considering the crash) to keep himself in the title hunt heading to San Diego.

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Justin Barcia looked to have the goods early in the first 450SX main event start, and again in the second one, but it was not to be as it appeared he simply dropped an anchor as he faded from second place on the sixth lap to fifth on Lap 9 then to 10th on Lap 16. Ultimately ending up 15th, this is a race that Barcia and the JGR/Toyota/Yamaha team will try to forget. Add to that the Weston Peick fine and suspension for fighting on-track, and JGR needs to bounce back in a big way for Round 2.

The 250SX West Regional series kicked off as well, and the results here were somewhat more predictable. 

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Cooper Webb was finally able to make his way past Jessy Nelson and into the lead during the main event, but it wasn't without pushing the pace quite hard in the process. Webb certainly wasn't just cruising to his first win of the year, as a couple of mistakes held him up and actually had him off the track at one point. All things considered, though, and especially with the latest development on Nelson (see below), Webb looks to be a solid lock to defend his #1 plate from last year.

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Jessy Nelson was able to lead much of the 250SX main event, keeping Webb and everyone else at bay until Lap 11. Nelson's run at the front wasn't a surprise to anyone and, as Webb eventually ran him down, it felt like a replay from several rounds from last year's 250SX West races. Unfortunately, Jessy Nelson sustained un-specified injuries during a crash this past week and will be out of commission for San Diego (at least), so Webb's position just got even stronger.

If you want to keep up with the action this weekend in San Diego, check out our Facebook page AMA Supercross Championship, Instagram @AMASupercross and AMASupercross.com for Live Timing & Scoring. If you're a SUPER Supercross fan, download our $0.99 smartphone app: "AMA SX" on iTunes and the Google Play store. TV schedules are available at Supercrossonline.com


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