60,873 fans braved a heavy, wet, spring snowstorm to witness the sporting, entertainment phenomenon that is Monster Energy AMA Supercross at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium—the massive, hangar-like house of the NFL’s Colts.
The storm killed the pit party that normally gets the fans lit and hyped for the night’s race, and kept everybody indoors all day. “It’s kinda nice watching everybody practice,” noted Marvin Musquin, who clearly observed well as he dominated the 450 final later in the evening.
But before the snow, before the event—before Saturday, even—I had the good fortune of recognizing familiar faces moving through the windswept paddock on Friday. It was Steve McKinney—brother of PDRA Pro Mod bike owner Scott McKinney—and Steve’s grandson Jake—cousin of multi-time Pro Mod champ Eric.
Jake was fresh off a top ten finish the week before at the Denver Arenacross race, where he races the Lites class. But on the bigger Supercross circuit, the 6-foot, 180 pound, 20 year-old McKinney needs the extra oomph of the 450 to have a chance. “He’s too big for 250s!” laughed Steve.
And it’s only a chance at best for a competitor like McKinney, trying to break into the most rarefied motocross air in the world via afternoon qualifying. In the Group C qualifying group, McKinney and everybody else have a very limited time to learn the course in a practice session, then try to find the right gap in the crowd to craft that one perfect lap—attacking the course’s many challenging sections without getting bitten.
Group C has the additional challenge of a deteriorating race track. “This track is gonna get torn up quick,” said Jake’s dad Mark. “And we’re the last ones out.”
Jake was 8th out of 12 in the practice session, and the pressure was on to improve. With 4 minutes to go in the first qualifying session, Jake seemed to be getting a rhythm and attacking the track. He finishes the session 5th in the group with a best lap 52.109 seconds.
After duffing a couple of spots early, Jake put together a 50.23 that took him to 6th in the final qualifying session, then hit the tuff blocks one berm away from the finish of what looked like a good lap. Undaunted, Jake picked the bike up and attacked the track again with the full fury of his Web Cam-equipped Custom Powerports Kawasaki. Still, this was not the day he’d advance to the evening program.
Watch this interview with Jake here:
And trough it all, the snow continued to fall and pile right up through opening ceremonies for Supercross Round 12 and deep into the night. This being Indy, there were a lot of race car drivers that braved the snow to see the Supercross race, including multi-time NHRA Top Fuel Car champ Antron Brown, multi-time CART/IndyCar champ Sebastien Bourdais, and current IndyCar champ Josef Newgarden.
The Legend and Heroes Tour traveling moto museum honored Brown at the event. As Eatmyink readers know, Brown got his competitive start racing motocross before being tabbed by cousin Troy Vincent to pilot his Team23 Pro Stock Suzuki. Then came Top Fuel Car glory with Don Schumacher Racing.
Kawasaki team rider Eli Tomac has had a torrid season, either crashing or winning as he often does. Tomac went down in the Cooper Tire berm in the first qualifying round, then was pushed by his CP-Carillo rods and pistons (and cams that might be the same brand as Jake McKinney’s) to a session-leading 44.71.
Musquin and Tomac (who dominated Heat 1) were making everybody else look like a joke in the 450 Main until Eli—running in second—racked himself up getting out of rhythm in the rhythm section, taking the handlebars in his gut. He finished a lap down in 15th.
A first turn pile up collected points leader Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson, who started 21st and found his way to fourth by the checkers.
No one got close to the Frenchman Musquin after Tomac crashed, and he returned to the top of the 450SX Class podium for the first time in 11 weeks.
Team Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Broc Tickle and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Dean Wilson battled for the podium behind the leader until Tickle was unable to hold off an aggressive Wilson. Basically, Tickle fell, Wilson caught him and pounded him into the loose dirt.
Watch the entire race replay:
Musquin nailed his first holeshot of the season before leading all 27 laps in the Main. “I got a great start, you know, I chanced it, I went inside and I got the holeshot so that’s the best feeling,” Musquin said after the win. “That was a weird race but I knew it was gonna be crazy. It’s good to be back on top.”
450 press conference:
In the unique 250 East-West Showdown, GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin lead all 21 laps of the Main Event ahead of a wild battle for points with the two red plates tangling in a first turn pileup. “This is just a blessing to be able to be out here so I’ve got to give it up to the man up above. I’m doing what I love to do and I’ve got a dream team,” Martin said on the podium.
“It was a great race. I got the holeshot, and then I just rode my own race and raced the track. That’s why we put in the time during the week and suffer.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo ran down a second-place finish after starting eighth. The Floridian won his heat race and got a nice jump off the start to be one of the first into the sharp 180 degree turn in the Main. But after the chaos of the first lap was complete, Cianciarulo was in eighth and quickly passing riders. He made it into fourth by the fifth lap and wasn’t done, making a great last lap pass for second.
“Everyone was bringing up my string of crashes in practice and I just looked at it as something in the past,” said Cianciarulo, now third in the Western championship. “It’s something I have to learn from and be able to put out of my mind as we go into the night race. I won the heat and pushed really hard in the main event to get that second place.
“I have a great team of people behind me, always helping me see failure—like the crashes—as something that can motivate me to do better. I can’t wait to be back in a few weeks.”
Unlike his teammates, Austin Forkner has been lining up for a race every Saturday for the past month and a half. It showed with a win in his heat race and good outlook for the main event. Forkner didn’t get the start he was looking for in ninth, but despite the stacked field was able to work his way forward and finish sixth.
“I didn’t get the start I wanted to in the main and that hurt me getting to the front and challenging for the win,” said Forkner. “The track was tough and there were a lot of fast guys out there in front of me. It wasn’t where I wanted to finish, but it’s time to get a few weeks off and come back fresh and ready to battle for some wins.”
Joey Savatgy was showing steady speed all day and it translated into the night show with a fourth-place finish in his heat race. On the Main Event start, he was able to make it through the first turn pile up-and come across the green flag opening lap in sixth. He was working his way forward when he went down, taking some time to get up which pushed him back to 13th. Savatgy would be able to make it up to 10th and salvage as many points as possible with three rounds remaining.
“We weren’t able to capitalize tonight like we had hoped, but if I’ve learned anything from the past, the championship isn’t over until the final lap of the last race,” said Savatgy. “We get to lineup again in two weeks and I’m looking forward to getting another chance to be up at the front.”
Luke Renzland rounded out the podium with a solid third.
Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Aaron Plessinger stormed his way to fifth after a 17th place start to hold on to the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship points lead.
The Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship points leader, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne, suffered a second-to-last place start in 21st and salvaged a seventh-place finish.
Here’s the 250 post-race press conference. Note how young and funny these guys are compared to the 450 guys:
At the end of the night I go back out to my Honda and find that the snow has streamlined it’s banal shape:
The 2018 Monster Energy Supercross season continues April 7 with Round 13 inside CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Watch the action live on FS1 at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET.
story by Tim Hailey, Feld Entertainment, and Pro Circuit
450SX Class Results
- Marvin Musquin, Clermont, Fla., KTM
- Dean Wilson, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna
- Justin Brayton, Mint Hill, N.C., Honda
- Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.M., Husqvarna
- Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., KTM
- Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki
- Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha
- Benny Bloss, Oak Grove, Mo., KTM
- Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Husqvarna
- Blake Baggett, Grand Terrance, Calif., KTM
450SX Class Championship Standings
- Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.M., Husqvarna (265)
- Marvin Musquin, Clermont, Fla., KTM (230)
- Justin Brayton, Mint Hill, N.C., Honda (210)
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (194)
- Blake Baggett, Grand Terrance, Calif., KTM (194)
- Weston Peick, Menifee, Calif., Suzuki (172)
- Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., KTM (165)
- Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha (162)
- Dean Wilson, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna (138)
- Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda (124)
250SX East-West Showdown Results
- Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda
- Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki
- Luke Renzland, Hewitt, N.J., Yamaha
- Jordon Smith, Belmont, N.C., KTM
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha
- Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki
- Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna
- Kyle Peters, Greensboro, N.C., Suzuki
- Phillip Nicoletti, Bethel, N.Y., Suzuki
- Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
- Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (131)
- Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki (124)
- Jordon Smith, Belmont, N.C., KTM (121)
- Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (112)
- Luke Renzland, Hewitt, N.J., Yamaha (92)
- Kyle Peters, Greensboro, N.C., Suzuki (85)
- Sean Cantrell, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, (59)
- RJ Hampshire, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda (57)
- Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., Yamaha (57)
- Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha (54)
Western Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha (151)
- Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki (142)
- Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki (139)
- Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM (127)
- Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda (109)
- Christian Craig, Orange, Calif. Honda (106)
- Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Suzuki (105)
- Kyle Chisholm, Valrico, Fla., Yamaha (95)
- Mitchell Harrison, Tallahassee, Fla., Husqvarna (84)
- Hayden Mellross, Clermont, Fla., Yamaha (68)