This was the goal: The 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Cup. Every racer who lines up at the gate each weekend at the 17 rounds and every racer who can't get to the gate each weekend as well is vying for the title. This time, we gave it away a little bit early...
...and of course by now you know, it was Ryan Dungey who repeated as 450SX champ for 2016. This was Dungey's third premier class title (previously in 2010 and 2015), and he did so in a remarkable and dominating manner that surprised even his own fans. Heading into this weekend's finale in Las Vegas, Dungey has won 50 percent of the main events so far (8), while finishing no worse than fourth - and he only did that once (last weekend in East Rutherford). In the process, he set a Supercross record by going on a 31-race run of podium finishes, going all the way back to Anaheim 1 in 2015 and ending at MetLife Stadium last Saturday. That's domination right there, folks.
Ken Roczen was coming on very strong heading into New Jersey after winning the previous round and a trio of second places prior to that. It was clear that the German former FIM World Motocross champion had figured out whatever was hurting his consistency earlier in the season (finishing as poorly as sixth place three times, and fifth twice), and it was clear that he was never happy if not winning. He came out of the gate in New Jersey, grabbed the lead almost immediately, and set out to put more than 19 seconds on the pack - the biggest win gap of the entire season. It was impressive, and it'd be safe to expect more of the same this weekend.
Also coming on very strong lately is Eli Tomac, who made a statement of his own at MetLife Stadium. Caught up behind a battle for second between Cole Seely and Dungey, Tomac came up from behind and passed them both within a couple of corners of each other and set off after Roczen. It was impressive to say the least, and it was the Tomac that many had expected to see all season long but had only materialized a couple of times. With that second place in New Jersey, Tomac probably wants to keep the ball rolling through Vegas and right into the outdoor motocross season that starts in just two weeks. Fourth in points, if Tomac can pull of his second win of the season at Sam Boyd Stadium this Saturday night, he'll send a powerful message that he's back to where he belongs.
Performing perhaps a bit above expectations for the season thus far has been Jason Anderson. With two wins (A1 and Detroit), Anderson is solidly third in points leading into the finale. In his sophomore year in the 450SX class, Anderson's been training this past year with Aldon Baker alongside Dungey and Marvin Musquin and it's clearly taking him to the next level. Always hungry for a win and exciting to watch with a somewhat on-the-edge style, Anderson's consistency is the only chink. Although his worst finish was a ninth, which when coupled with two wins and six podiums, lands him on the podium for the season. Anderson has little to gain and nothing lose with a great ride in Vegas, but he's likely to give it his all, as usual.
After being honored for his 200th main event start in Foxboro a couple of weeks back, Chad Reed comes into the finale sitting a very respectable and comfortable fifth in points. With three podiums and finishing outside of the top 10 only three times, the 30+ rider is quite literally a living legend at this point. His solid and extensive history in Las Vegas will add to his confidence, and his a wild card pick for a podium this Saturday night.
Trey Canard's season has been...trying. Always considered a favorite for wins if not title chances, the former 250SX regional champ is having a season he'd probably rather forget. With Canard's record with injuries though, it must be a silver lining to know he's made it through all 16 rounds thus far without any significant problems (although a hand injury kept him out of two rounds earlier in the season). After a streak of four top five finishes heading into last weekend, a scary practice crash at MetLife Stadium last Saturday probably shook him up and made him a bit gun shy, allowing for only an eighth place finish. It will be interesting to see if Canard puts it all on the line this weekend to finally get that coveted podium spot, or if he backs it down and calls it a win for just making it to the final round and healthy for the motocross season.
So here we are, again at Sam Boyd Stadium and the finale for the AMA Supercross Championship. As stated, while we've already handed out the 450SX title, there's always motivation to be found further back in the field and racing under the Las Vegas lights seems to bring out desire like few other races can.
Round 17 - The Final - of the 2016 AMA Supercross Championship is coming up in less than 24 hours. Look for complete coverage on our Instagram account - @AMASupercross
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