Anahem 1 Supercross Commentary

2016 Anaheim 1 Supercross Commentary | Upside/Downside Ryan Dungey
KTM’s Ryan Dungey

Anaheim 1 of the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series is in the books, and it was a wild affair. The first round of the year always holds surprises, and 2016 A1 was no exception. Let’s take a look at the Upside and Downside of the Monster Energy Supercross season opener. Hold on, the ride is going to get bumpy

2016 Anaheim 1 Supercross Commentary, Upside

1. Ryan Dungey: Although he didn’t win, KTM/Red Bull’s Ryan Dungey turned a difficult night into an excellent first step in his effort to retain his Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. A bad start in Heat 2, followed by a crash, meant he had to go to the Semi (which he won handily) to make it to the Main.

Once in the Main, he made a poor line decision that put Dungey and his KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition on a collision course with Red Bull/Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart, resulting in Stewart being knocked unconscious and out for the night. On the restart, Dungey was doing okay in 4th place until Team Honda HRC’s Trey Canard ran him off the track, and back into 7th place. As you’d expect from Dungey, he didn’t panic and methodically worked his way up to a podium position, before passing Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely on the last lap to take 2nd place in the Main. It was a circuitous route to the runner-up position, but Dungey made it happen.

2. Jason Anderson: Last year at A1, Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson found himself in 2nd place at the end of the night, to the surprise of many. The rest of 2015 was uneven for Anderson, leaving everyone wondering which Anderson will prevail in 2016. Anderson got off to a slow start on his Husqvarna TC 450, crossing the finish line on the first lap in 7th place.

2016 Anaheim 1 Supercross Commentary | Upside/Downside Jason Anderson
Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson

However, he rode consistently while others were hitting the dirt (Dungey) or struggling (Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac), and Anderson found himself behind leader Seely on Lap 9 after passing Canard. Having scored come-from-behind wins over Seely in their 250SX days, Anderson took the lead from Seely without drama on Lap 14 and cruised to a four-second win over Dungey, giving Husky its first Supercross win since a few Daytona races in the early 1970s. The big question is this: Will we see a consistent Anderson this year?

3. Cole Seely: Things were looking good for the Honda CRF450R-mounted Cole Seely early on. He finished 2nd in his Heat behind teammate Canard, and led from the start until Lap 14. However, he started to slow down considerably on Lap 12, which allowed Anderson to pass him easily for the lead. On the final lap, Seely was over two seconds slower than Dungey, who stole 2nd place. Still, a podium finish is a great result at A1, and all Seely needs to do is find a way to finish strongly.

4. Chad Reed: Just when you think it may be over for the 30-something veteran, Reed pulls a rabbit out of his hat. With TwoTwo Motorsports a memory, it would have been easy for Reed to call it a day. Instead, he’s lining up with a Yamaha Factory Racing YZ450F backed by Monster Energy and he’s qualifying straight out of Heat 1 at A1.

Reed’s 9th place position after the first lap of the Main didn’t look good, but he quickly moved up to a comfortable 6th, where he finished. Of course, he would have liked to take his factory ride to the podium, but 6th is a good placing for a last-minute ride. It will be interesting to see if Reed can put in an entire season without injury.

5. Lawson Bopping: Not many people expected to see #778 lining up for the Main. DPH Motorsports’ Lawson Bopping, a relative unknown from Australia, just missed qualifying out of the Semi on his Yamaha YZ450F when Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Broc Tickle made a late pass on him, and we all know how the LCQ can go. However, Bopping was second behind Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Wil Hahn the entire LCQ, putting him into the Main. While Bopping did finish last in the Main, he still was there and picked up a Championship point.

2016 Anaheim 1 Supercross Commentary, Downside

1. Weston Peick: Shameful. That’s the only way to describe Autotrader/Monster/Yamaha/JGRMX’s Weston Peick’s behavior at A1. Yes, Peick and his YZ450F got pushed off the track by Smartop Motoconcepts Racing’s Vince Friese in Heat 1, but a professional like Peick on a major team has to put that behind him and make the Main out of the Semi, regardless of the history between the two. However, on the second lap of Semi 2, Friese put a hard move on Peick — though nothing that the FIM or AMA thought was actionable — resulting in both riders going down.

Instead of being smart and getting back on the bike and letting his team manager deal with it following the race, Peick rained blows on Friese’s helmet (from behind, mind you). That behavior got Peick sat down for the rest of the night, and the AMA and FIM won’t allow Peick to race in San Diego. Two races in, Peick will have zero points to start the season, all because he could not maintain his professional composure.

Peick issued a prepared statement on Tuesday: “While I have had some time to absorb my actions of this past Saturday night I felt it was important to apologize for the way I handled myself in the heat of battle. I must admit, I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received, but we know the racetrack is meant for just that, a place to race our motorcycles. I can’t ever remember a year where the depth of the racing field has been so strong. I’m looking forward to getting back to round three and racing the way I know how and representing my Sponsors and Fans to the very best of my ability. See you in Anaheim.”

2016 Anaheim 1 Supercross Commentary | Upside/Downside James Stewart
Suzuki’s James Stewart

2. James Stewart: With a potentially gimpy ankle, Stewart was something of a question mark for A1, and that’s without considering he is coming off a long layoff due to an FIM suspension for failing a drug test. Yet, James Stewart took 3rd in his Heat and went straight to the Main. Stewart got a good start in the Main and was battling with Canard.

However, when Dungey took an ill-advised line, the two collided and Stewart was knocked unconscious on the track. The race was red flagged (a good decision that was not without controversy), and Stewart was out for the night. As of yet, it is undetermined if Stewart will be able to ride San Diego. If he can’t, his 2016 Championship run is effectively over.

3. Justin Barcia: Transferring right out of Heat 2 into the Main was a good start for Autotrader/Monster/Yamaha/JGRMX’s Justin Barcia in 2016. In the Main, however, Barcia started fading on Lap 7 when he was in 2nd place, and never again found his early speed. Barcia dropped like a stone through the ranks before going down on Lap 17 when running in 10th. His last three laps were six seconds off the pace of the front-runners and Barcia ended the night in 15th place. Barcia will need to step it up in San Diego or risk being out of the title run for 2016.

4. Vince Friese: It figures that a guy who is on the Smartop Motoconcepts Racing team — home of the Alessi brothers — is going to get involved in controversy. Long considered a rough and dirty rider by many competitors, Friese is always going to be harshly judged when he comes together with another rider. In this case, he had run-ins twice with Peick at A1, and the second resulted in a moment of infamy that will stick with Supercross for a long time. Although he escaped without penalty from the sanctioning officials, Friese’s riding on his Honda CRF250R also resulted in him not making the Main. Friese needs to think about his riding style after understanding where it gets him. While people get paid good money to portray The Villain in WWE, that’s not what SX is, and sitting in the pits during the Main is not a good career move.

5. Ricky Carmichael: For a guy who loves to say, “Rubbing is racing,” he doesn’t seem to be consistent. When Peick repeatedly punched Friese on the track–a venue not designed for fistfights–Carmichael reluctantly condemned it when pressed by fellow Fox Sports 1 announcers, who often approvingly refer to Barcia as “Bam Bam.” Oddly, when Canard took out Dungey in the Main in a very similar move, there was barely a peep from any of the announcers.

The bottom line is that Friese’s moves, no matter what you think of them, were judged to be within the rules of racing by the FIM and the AMA. Yet, Friese was raked over the coals by Carmichael, while Peick’s clearly illegal actions were minimized and excused. Add in the fact that Carmichael is the co-owner of one of the racing teams, it is probably best that he focus on his team, rather than being a highly biased announcer, and one whose bias is not clearly spelled out during every broadcast. Can you imagine Fox Sports having Jerry Jones as an NFL sideline announcer at a Cowboys game?

2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Results – Round 1 – Anaheim

  1. Jason Anderson – Husqvarna FC 450
  2. Ryan Dungey – KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  3. Cole Seely – Honda CRF450R
  4. Eli Tomac – Kawasaki KX450F
  5. Ken Roczen – Suzuki RM-Z450
  6. Chad Reed – Yamaha YZ450F
  7. Trey Canard – Honda CRF450R
  8. Davi Millsaps – Kawasaki KX450F
  9. Dean Wilson – KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  10. Justin Brayton – KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  11. Broc Tickle – Suzuki RM-Z450
  12. Jake Weimer – Kawasaki KX450F
  13. Justin Bogle – Honda CRF450R
  14. Marvin Musquin – KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  15. Justin Barcia – Yamaha YZ450F
  16. Mike Alessi – Honda CRF450R
  17. Wil Hahn – Kawasaki KX450F
  18. Christophe Pourcel – Husqvarna FC 450
  19. Kyle Chisholm – Honda CRF450R
  20. Tommy Hahn – Yamaha YZ450F
  21. Lawson Bopping – Yamaha YZ450F
  22. James Stewart – Suzuki RM-Z450