We're past the halfway point of the 2016 AMA Supercross season. And to this point, there have been as many surprises as predictable results. Returning this weekend to Detroit's fabulous Ford Field, the renaissance in the Motor City should no doubt lead to a solid crowd, as is usually the case. At this time of year Detroit's weather can be frigid, but this early spring/late winter has been relatively mild lately which should lead to a solid crowd turnout. As is historically correct, the Detroit-area round (previously Pontiac, back in the day) has a small section of track that goes up into the stand. This year the feature returns with a twist - it's now at the end of a super-long straightaway that should see the riders supermoto-style sliding up into the stands. Look for this feature to provide some interesting moments for sure.
Last weekend's return to Toronto was met with a great crowd turnout and a very energetic vibe. After a year off for maintenance and changes to the stadium surface, The Rogers Centre didn't miss a step as the track came around nicely with some looser-than-normal dirt and a whoop section that was so big and gnarly that it needed to be knocked down a bit for the night show. Never have we seen so many top-tier riders skipping the whoops lap after lap in qualifying just because the chances for disaster were too high for their liking.
Here is your 450SX main event podium, just as they were leaving the starting line: Ken Roczen, Ryan Dungey and Marvin Musquin went 1,3,2 by the end of the 20 lap main, with Roczen making a real statement by moving by all of the others and pulling away. Musquin took advantage of a last minute error by points leader Dungey to sneak into second on the closing lap.
With his third win of the season, Roczen has now established himself solidly second in points, but he's still 34 down on Dungey. While not an insurmountable lead, one mechanical DNF for Dungey and we're suddenly looking at a title fight. But it sure must seem like a mount of points to Roczen. A past outdoor champ and FIM World champ, the #94 knows just what it takes to hunt down the points leader, but that'll take a bit of cooperation by...
...defending champion Ryan Dungey. In what may have been his only significant mistake of the entire season, Dungey's small wash-out in a corner on the final lap was the only thing that put him as far down as he ended up: third. When a rider's worst day is third, the rest of the field knows they have their work cut out for them.
Then there's this guy, Eli Tomac, who had the weight of the world on his (recently rebuilt) shoulders coming into this season. After a few races last year that had him absolutely destroying this very same field of competitors, everyone expected Tomac to come out with both guns blazing. What's happened so far has been somewhat less impressive than that. But if we look at the scoreboard, Eli is sitting a solid fourth in points, just five out of third place. That's not so bad now is it? Well, it's not so bad unless your name is Eli Tomac. One of these weekends he's going to turn it all around. Starting to sound like a broken record?
Pulling in the clutch and switching gears to the 250SX East Regional class now, the photo above shows how Jeremy Martin's main event started out... in a heap atop his teammate Aaron Plessinger in the first turn. The photo below...
...shows not only how it ended up, but how Martin felt about his amazing ride from nearly dead last to second place by the checkers. Looking stoic on the podium, Martin felt he was clearly the fastest rider on the track and it wasn't that important that he "only" made it to second. Now with the points lead (in part thanks to former points leader Martin Davalos' inability to make it into Canada), Martin has proved he doesn't need a great start to finish at the front. Thus far, it'd only been Davalos who showed enough speed to beat him, but after Toronto there was another rider who stepped it up to where many felt he should've been all along.
That rider is Justin Hill. Brother of Josh, son of Monty, Justin has always been the little brother but is finally stepping out of the shadow and showing his full potential. With the first win of his not-so-young career, Hill pushed his teammate Shane McElrath early in the race (McElrath ended with a DNF due to a flat tire) before moving into the lead and pulling away. He's the only rider that Martin couldn't catch, and is currently the closest to him in points, just two behind. Detroit will be the beginning of what should result in an outstanding run to the finale, as these two riders along with Davalos sure seem to be the cream of the crop in the east.
It's time we gave a nod to some of the lesser-known 250SX riders, each of whom had stand-out performances at Toronto. Matt Bisceglia (above) had previously been with the Geico Honda squad since before turning pro a few years ago. This year on a private Suzuki team, Bisceglia has been looking for a breakout performance and he did that by landing on the podium last weekend. Full of potential, don't be surprised to see him up there again in Detroit, as he may have rounded a bend with his speed as well as confidence level.
Also remarkable is AMA Supercross rookie Alex Frye. Finishing fourth at Toronto and teammate to Hill and McElrath on the TLD Factory KTM squad, Frye has been a bit of a sleeper so far. Relatively un-decorated as an amateur, Frye's still very young and is still getting the hang of riding in packs where nearly everyone is at least as fast as he is. He looked great in Toronto, though. Now that he's had a whiff of the podium, he may just be able to pull something together in Detroit.
Last but not least, and speaking of turning a corner, Victoria Golden was again able to qualify for the night show in the 250SX class. Qualifying 37th out of 42, Golden didn't exactly set the track on fire but many, many times in the pits and trackside, people were talking. "...she looks better than ever... I've never seen her jump everything so consistently... she really is improving...." This is great news and will no doubt build a lot of confidence in the inspiring young woman's future in the sport. Be sure to cheer on the #423 when you see her in Detroit. She thrives on the attention and is anxious to once again make it into the Fast 40.
Round 11 of the 2016 AMA Supercross Championship looks again to provide a great night of racing in Detroit. Look for complete coverage on 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.