It’s sometimes said that the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series doesn’t really get started until round two. With all the nerves and anticipation of the opening round building up for months, the results are sometimes not indicative of what to expect for the rest of the series. And if you add rain to the equation and it can throw things even farther off. Round two of the 2019 championship took place under the roof above State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, so mud was never going to be a factor. And in the end, Team Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS’ Blake Baggett took down a hard-earned first win in his 450SX Class career, while Monster Energy/Pro CircuiKawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo won his first 250SX Class race of 2019.
In the 450SX Class, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen grabbed the Main Event holeshot from the far outside and assumed the lead in front of Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson, and Baggett. Early on, it was the defending champ, Anderson, who was on the move, slamming his way by Musquin for second in the turn after the whoop section. Roczen had a decent gap, but Smartop/Motoconcepts/Bullfrog Spas Honda’s Malcolm Stewart went down in the whoops a handful of laps into the race and was down for long enough, and in enough of a precarious spot on the racetrack, that the race officials decided to throw the red flag.
Stewart was carted off the track with a broken femur, waving to the 52,807 relieved fans on-hand as he exited the stadium floor. The race was restarted with a staggered start, where the racers start in a single-file line in the order they were last scored across the finish line prior to the red flag. Roczen resumed the lead, but Anderson was all over him and, in the same spot where he aggressively shoved his way by Musquin a few laps earlier, he dove underneath Roczen for the lead and tagged Roczen’s front wheel, causing the popular Honda rider to hit the deck as Anderson sped off with the lead. Roczen got back up in fourth, but by this point, Baggett had worked his way past Musquin and into second place and began narrowing the gap on Anderson. With three laps to go, Baggett made a power move around the outside to take the lead from Anderson, after which Anderson seemed immediately to settle for second place. Baggett went on to score the victory over Anderson and Roczen, who had passed Musquin for the final podium spot around the halfway point. Behind Roczen came Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac in fourth and then Musquin and round-one winner Justin Barcia (Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing).
“I’ve had weekends when I could run with those guys, and with Kenny [Roczen] as well, and then some weekends they just leave me in the dust,” Baggett said. “So, it feels good to finally get my whole program together and be able to run with those guys… I’ve just got to keep these rolling. It hasn’t hit me yet that I finally got a 450 win…”
Anderson expressed regret for how aggressive his pass for the lead was on Roczen.”Honestly, I don’t think that’s how you race,” Anderson said. “I was a little overly aggressive, and I was kind of embarrassed after the whole incident happened, and I just want to apologize. But hopefully the next race I’ll be able to not do something like that, and race straight-up; I just feel really bad… We’re going to come out and we’re going to have clean battles the rest of the year.”
Despite his crash from the Anderson collision, Roczen hung on for his second podium of the season and took over the series points lead. “Before the restart, I got a great start; I pulled the holeshot and I was just really focused and pulling away a little bit,” Roczen said. “Then we got the staggered start, and they put all of us kind of close together again, and Jason [Anderson] drove there to the inside and took me down. I’m not too happy about it, but I bounced back at least and came back to the podium-to third place-so that was super-good.”
In the 250SX Class, Adam Cianciarulo’s whole goal at round two was to eliminate the mistakes he made at round one, and he did. He grabbed the holeshot to start the Main Event and was never seriously challenged on his way to his first victory of the year.
“It wasn’t much of a difference other than I got to the first corner, unlike last week,” Cianciarulo said. “Last week, we had a little mishap, and it just seemed to string into a couple mistakes, and that really bummed me out because in the off-season, I went to work with Nick Wey and the whole team and just really kind of took a step back and changed some things in my program. You know, I’m really tired of being the guy that just has ‘potential’. You hate to just leave so much on the table, so I’ve sacrificed pretty much everything in my life to get to this point… It feels so good to get a win early in the season. We’re right where we want to be. We couldn’t be happier.
“My team has put in so much hard work to help me get to this point. It’s amazing to be able to repay them with a win. I was thankful to get an okay finish last week in the rain because it put me in good position moving forward. Now we are just five points out of the championship lead.”
Round-one winner Colt Nichols, of the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha, seemed to struggle with his rhythm early in the Main Event, but it came around a few laps into the race and he fought his way past Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Michael Mosiman and TLD/Red Bull KTM’s Shane McElrath to take a solid second place on the night and hold onto his points lead. He credits his new mental coach. “It’s huge,” Nichols said. “I’m working with a girl named Kate, and she’s done wonders for me. It’s a big deal to kind of work on that side of things. I mean, everybody has a weakness out here, so to try to improve on your weaknesses is huge, and that’s all I’m trying to do, man. I’m just trying to make myself better in every facet possible…”
McElrath scored his second third-place finish in a row. “I felt good on the bike all day, it’s just the track was really intense; it was really fast, and one little mistake in one of these long rhythms, and I couldn’t really get it back,” McElrath said. “So, I’m a little bummed just in some of the choices I made, but the main thing is, I’m healthy… I’m happy to be up here, but we need to be a little better if we want this number-one plate.”
Adam Cianciarulo’s teammate Garrett Marchbanks enjoyed the first dry race of his career and kept his top-10 streak alive. The rookie got pushed back on the main event start, but used the 15 minutes plus one lap to work his way up from 14th to finish ninth. “That was a much different start compared to the first race which is something I’ll be learning this year,” said Marchbanks. “Starts are very important with how quick the guys out front can get away in the first few laps. We’ll be working on starts and continue to build so we can keep racing inside the top 10.”
Nichols holds onto his points lead in the 250SX Class and Roczen carries the 450SX Class points lead as the series heads back to Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., this coming Saturday night, January 19.
450SX Class Results
1. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM
2. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.M., Husqvarna
3. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda
4. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki
5. Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM
6. Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., Yamaha
7. Justin Brayton, Mint Hill, N.C., Honda
8. Dean Wilson, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna
9. Cole Seely, Sherman Oaks, Calif., Honda
10. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM
450SX Class Championship Standings
1. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda (44)
2. Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., Yamaha (43)
3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (40)
4. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (37)
5. Dean Wilson, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna (34)
6. Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM (33)
7. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.M., Husqvarna (32)
8. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (31)
9. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha (29)
10. Justin Brayton, Mint Hill, N.C., Honda (28)
Western Regional 250SX Class Results
1. Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki
2. Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha
3. Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM
4. RJ Hampshire, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda
5. Jimmy Decotis, Peabody, Mass., Suzuki
6. Dylan Ferrandis, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
7. Chris Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., Husqvarna
8. Sean Cantrell, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
9. Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Kawasaki
10. Michael Mosiman, Menifee, Calif., Husqvarna
Western Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
1. Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha (49)
2. Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki (44)