Phoenix Supercross Commentary: Round 5 at Glendale, AZ

The track was epic at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., for round 5 of the Monster Energy AMA Championship Series. Wide, fast, and featuring a 150-yard start straight, lap times were unusually long—over a minute, even for the leaders. We had a new winner for the year, even if the racing wasn’t particularly close. So, who is on the Upside and who leaves Arizona SX on the Downside?

UPSIDE

Supercross Commentary - Ken Roczen
Suzuki’s Ken Roczen

1. Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen. In contrast to his fast start in 2015, Roczen has had a slow build toward his first win of the year. After finishing off the podium in the first two races, Roczen has gone 3-2-1 in the last three races and moved himself into 2nd place in the standings. Roczen showed he has the speed and consistency at University of Phoenix Stadium, taking the lead from Davi Millsaps on the first lap of the Main and leading all 20 laps. Even better for Roczen, he was never challenged, even as Monster Energy Supercross series leader Ryan Dungey surged toward the front. Roczen is for-real now, but he trails Dungey by 21 points, so he has a lot of work to do. “It was tough out there. I was a little too cautious in the whoops.” Roczen revealed, “and that’s where I lost the most, but nothing to complain about. We got it done. The biggest thing is that it feels super awesome to finally be at the very top, finally, but we’re not done. We’re going to keep clicking them off and keep putting in work. We’re going to enjoy this and get back to work on Monday. The most important thing is to keep a steady program and not quit.”

2016 Phoenix Supercross Preview | Dungey Seeks Win #4
KTM’s Ryan Dungey

2. Red Bull/KTM’s Ryan Dungey. If Dungey doesn’t get a good start and win, he does the next best thing—works his way up to 2nd at the end. Dungey has done this in 12 consecutive races, and that’s how championships are won. Sitting in 8th place at the start and after the first lap, Dungey was methodical on his march to the front, but Roczen was gone. Certainly, showing he can podium after a bad start is demoralizing to anyone trying to catch him in the standings.

3. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac. After a string of three 3rds, Tomac’s 7th at Oakland was not encouraging. Having suffered from poor starts, Tomac was 3rd at the holeshot line in Glendale, and took that to his first podium of the season. Along the way, he passed Millsaps and was caught late in the race by Dungey, but this is still a big night for Tomac. “It feels great to finally get up on the podium,” Tomac allowed. “This is exactly how we wanted to rebound after last week’s performance. We worked really hard all week and it paid off. Overall, the day was smooth and the team and I are making steps in the right direction. It’s a long season, we just need to keep riding, working hard, and we’ll end up where we want to.”

4. BTO Sports KTM’s Davi Millsaps. A former Supercross winner, it was undoubtedly frustrating for Millsaps to get off a holeshot and fade to 5th, but things haven’t been going well for Millsaps for a while. His 5th place finish at Glendale was his best of the year. Getting passed by Chad Reed and Cole Seely on lap 5 had to hurt, but he got back by Reed and Seely stalled his bike. The four riders ahead of Millsaps will be tough for him to beat, but he’ll likely be quietly happy if he can get top 5 finishes the rest of the year.

Supercross Commentary - Jason Anderson
Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson

5. Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson. Anderson hasn’t been on the podium since the A1 opener, but his streak of top 5 finishes remains in tact. He lost 2nd place in the standing to Roczen, but Anderson’s consistent riding is impressive. All he needs to do is get his starts together. He was 9th at the holeshot line, and that makes it tough to climb on the podium, let alone win. “I’m riding well and am always trying to move forward,” Anderson said. “I just need to work on a couple things that will help me get up front faster and put in consistent laps. The track was pretty tough this weekend, especially the whoops. It was technical and tight, which made it hard to make up time. I ended up having to capitalize on other’s mistakes. I was also searching for traction all night because it was so slick. I just need to figure out how to keep my laps fast with deteriorating track conditions.”

Welcome To The Main. Spider Energy/Honda’s Alex Ray and Barrett Racing/Yamaha’s Bryce Stewart made the Main for the first time in their careers, both qualifying out of the LCQ. Although Ray finished 21st and Stewart behind him, they both earned a point in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship standings.

DOWNSIDE

1. Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely. Seely has been moving backwards since scoring podiums in the first two rounds. Since then, he’s had a pair of 6ths, and now a season-worst 8th in Glendale. Seely had a decent 5th place start and made it up to 4th by passing Millsaps, but the bike stalled. That dropped Seely to 9th at the end of lap 6, and he should have been able to improve by more than one spot in the remaining 14 laps. Now 6th place in the standings, Seely trails Dungey by 36 points, though 2nd place Roczen is only 15 points away. SD2 will be where Seely needs to turn his season around. “I’m not happy with how tonight went at all,” Seely acknowledged. “I felt like I was riding well all day, and I was running 3rd in the main event when something happened and the bike stalled. By the time I got going again I was about 9th or 10th and was only able to make up a few spots before the end of the race—definitely not what I wanted but we’ll work on things this week, figure out what happened and try to improve next weekend.”

2. Red Bull/KTM’s Marvin Musquin. It looks like the 3rd in Oakland last week was a fluke for Musquin. At University of Phoenix Stadium, he reprised the 9th place finishes he scored at SD1 and A2.

Supercross Commentary - Jake Weimer
Suzuki’s Jake Weimer

3. Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Jake Weimer. A bit dinged up due to a practice crash, getting off to a horrible 19th place start in the Main didn’t help Weimer’s night, and he only was able to work his way up to a dismal 14th—his worst finish of the year in his second ride on his new team. “It was a tough night,” Weimer explained. “All day was just a little bit of a struggle. I really struggled in the whoops and trying to get some confidence on that part of the track, in particular. We had some big whoops at an earlier round and I kind of struggled there. I need to improve on that. I crashed in practice, so I was sore and had to deal with that. I think the bike is good. It was just me. I’m comfortable. I like the bike, but I still need to work on a couple things. I was just a bit off, but I know what I need to work on and we’ll be ready for San Diego.”

4. Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Chad Reed. After teasing us with possible wins due to a pair of seconds at SD1 and A2, Reed seems to have returned to the sub-podium performance of A1, where he also finished 5th. Reed qualified, started and finished in 6th—though he was as high as 5th before being passed by Anderson—so he’s in something of a holding pattern, but not where he’d like to be.

5. Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha Team’s Weston Peick. Peick simply is not getting on track this year. Everyone wants to forget the first two rounds, and he has finished outside of the top 10 in the last three Mains. He squandered a 7th gate pick by falling to 12th by the holeshot line. Peick’s year was over before it started and he’s mired in 15th place in the Monster Energy Supercross Series standings.

Photography by Simon Cudby

Monster Energy AMA Supercross Round 5 Results, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona.
1. Ken Roczen, Suzuki RM-Z450
2. Ryan Dungey, KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
3. Eli Tomac, Kawasaki KX450F
4. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna FC 450
5. Davi Millsaps, KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
6. Chad Reed, Yamaha YZ450F
7. Justin Brayton, KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
8. Cole Seely, Honda CRF450R
9. Marvin Musquin, KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
10. Wil Hahn, Kawasaki KX450F
11. Weston Peick, Yamaha YZ450F
12. Mike Alessi, Honda CRF450R
13. Christophe Pourcel, Husqvarna FC 450
14. Jake Weimer, Suzuki RM-Z450
15. Tommy Hahn, Yamaha YZ450F
16. Lawson Bopping, Yamaha YZ450F
17. Phil Nicoletti, Yamaha YZ450F
18. Vince Friese, Honda CRF450R
19. Nicholas Schmidt, Suzuki RM-Z450
20. Cade Clason, Honda CRF450R
21. Alex Ray, Honda CRF450R
22. Bryce Stewart, Yamaha YZ450F

2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Standings (after 5 of 16 rounds)
1. Ryan Dungey, 119 points (3 wins)
2. Ken Roczen, 98 (1 win)
3. Jason Anderson, 93 (1 win)
4. Chad Reed, 90
5. Eli Tomac, 88
6. Cole Seely, 83
7. Marvin Musquin, 63
8. Davi Millsaps, 61
9. Justin Brayton, 61
10. Jake Weimer, 53
11. Wil Hahn, 41
12. Christophe Pourcel, 35
13. Mike Alessi, 33
14. Trey Canard, 29
15. Weston Peick, 27
16. Dean Wilson, 18
17. Broc Tickle, 17
18. Vince Friese, 17
19. Justin Barcia, 16
20. Tommy Hahn, 15

Next round: February 13 at Petco Park, San Diego
Television: Fox Sports 1, 10pm ET.