2016 Indy Supercross Commentary – Upside/Downside

When writing this column, it’s always good to see far more Upsides than Downsides, and that was certainly the case at Round 13 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. There were a nice number of best-of-the-year finishes.

2016 Indy Supercross Commentary – Upside

2016 Indy Supercross Upside, Honda's Trey Canard
Honda’s Trey Canard

1. Team Honda HRC’s Trey Canard

There hasn’t been much good for Canard this year. Although he was considered a championship contender at Anaheim 1, he has never challenged for the podium, let alone a 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross win. Plus, injuries hampered him for three rounds.

Well, at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Canard still didn’t make a run at the podium—he finished 11 seconds behind third-place Jason Anderson—but he did hold off a charging Blake Baggett for fourth.

That’s Canard’s best finish of the season, and second top five in a row. Maybe things are looking up for the likeable CRF450R rider, and he certainly is expecting more: “Although tonight was my best finish of the season, it’s still disappointing not being on the podium. You have to take the small victories where you can, though, and just improve from there. We’re getting closer. I was in a better position in the main event than I’ve been in a few races, so that was nice.”

2. Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Blake Baggett

Baggett suffered a preseason injury that kept him off the Monster Energy Supercross starting line until Round 4, where he quickly reinjured himself in a crash. Out until Round 9 in Daytona, Baggett continued to struggle. Last week in Santa Clara was his first top 10 of the year, and Indy provided his first top five of 2016.

Baggett was closing in on Canard for the last four laps, but just ran out of time, finishing less than a second behind the factory Honda rider. Most impressively, Baggett was able to rebound from a poor start that left him in 11th place after the first lap. “It’s good,” Baggett said. “We’re coming along, plugging away, and going in the right direction—definitely improving. We’re just going to build on it from here. I’m excited.”

3. Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Christophe Pourcel

Typically fast in qualifying practice, but not able to put together a full Main Event ride, Pourcel returned at Indy from an injury that had sidelined him for three races. The time off did Pourcel good. Even though he went down hard in his Heat race, Pourcel came back to qualify out of the Semi.

Without the best gate pick, Pourcel charged to third place for the opening laps and held on for seventh, his best finish for 2016. “I had a good start in the Main,” Pourcel said. “If you believe in yourself and think you’re going to do well, you can get a start from anywhere. It feels good to finally start in the front…I’m happy to finish 7th.”

2016 Indy Upside, KTM's Ryan Dungey
KTM’s Ryan Dungey

4. Red Bull/KTM’s Ryan Dungey

This might have been Dungey’s toughest win of the year. Between the tricky rut-filled Indianapolis track, lots of inattentive lappers, and dogged pursuit by Ken Roczen, Dungey truly earned his seventh win of the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross season. Dungey led every lap except Lap 17, after he made an error and Roczen pounced, and didn’t get clear of Roczen until the final lap.

Dungey certainly enjoyed the competition, saying, “That’s what it’s all about right there. That’s why we work hard [during the week], to put on a good show. It’s not going to be easy all the time, but we fought to the end. I was riding on the ragged edge there to keep it [his KTM 450 SX-F] in line. I was able to get a good start, and that’s what put me in position to run up front and take the win.” Dungey’s lead is now 45 points in the series standings, and he could very well clinch the championship at Round 15 in Foxborough.

5. Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen

It has to be eating at Roczen that he hasn’t won since Round 10 in Toronto, and he now has two 2nds in a row when he needs wins to have any chance of catching series leader Dungey. At least this week, Roczen was able to give Dungey all that he could handle, even passing Dungey late in the very difficult race. Dungey navigated the various problems a bit cleaner than Roczen, however, and Roczen ended up over a second behind at the checkers.

“Ultimately, I wish the race kept going for another five laps. The track was really rough out there, but we kept fighting the whole way,” Roczen said. “I was able to make a pass for the lead, but I made a mistake right before the finish and couldn’t make the jump, so that gave [Dungey] back the lead. I made another mistake later, and that pretty much ended it.”

6. Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson

After a couple of hiccups in Atlanta and Toronto, Anderson is back to his consistent self. However, instead of consistently being in just the top five, Anderson now has three consecutive podiums (including his second win of 2016). Anderson starting the night by beating Dungey in their Heat race, giving him a great gate pick. Of course, Anderson fell behind at the start, putting himself back in ninth after lap one.

Husky's Jason Anderson, 2016 Indy SX Upside
Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson

From there, he performed his usual magic of surgically working through the pack until he found a clear spot in third. Anderson is consolidating his 3rd place position in the standings, as Eli Tomac is faltering.

It was a lonely final few laps Main Event for Anderson, as he finished 28 second behind Roczen and 11 seconds ahead of Canard. Anderson leads Tomac by 28 points with three rounds remaining, and is just 18 points behind runner-up Roczen. “I felt like I had a good start going into the first corner of the main,” Anderson said, “but then I just got shuffled back really quick. It was chaos for a little bit, but I managed and came out with a third.”

7. Smartop/MotoConcepts Racing’s Vince Friese

After gaining notoriety at Anaheim 1 when he tangled twice with Weston Peick, Friese has qualified for every Monster Energy Supercross Main since. Friese’s 11th place in Indianapolis is his best finish of the year. Friese didn’t even have a top 15 until Round 8 in Atlanta, but hasn’t been outside of the top 15 since. Thought of as a villain by some fans due to his aggressive riding, Friese is quietly improving, as well as staying out of trouble.

8. Team Traders Racing/Kawasaki’s Tony Archer

Archer hasn’t been at every Monster Energy Supercross, but Indianapolis was a special one—it was his first Main Event of 2016. He DNFed due to a late-race crash in the Main, but congratulations to Archer for preserving and succeeding.

2016 Indy Supercross Commentary, Downside

2016 Indy SX Downside, KTM's Marvin Musquin
KTM’s Marvin Musquin

1. Red Bull/KTM’s Marvin Musquin

With the exception of a disastrous Santa Clara race, Musquin has been on a roll. Previous to that, he had four podiums in a row, and has been a threat to win. Unfortunately, he injured his wrist in the Santa Clara SX practice (he finished 17th that night) and was a DNS at Indy.

“It’s a bummer. I was really excited to go back to Indy; I love it there.” Musquin said. “But, after my crash last weekend in Santa Clara, my wrist is too painful right now to be able to race. It needs to heal and I don’t want to make it worse, I’m hoping it won’t take too long.” All that momentum is gone, though Musquin has still had an excellent rookie season.

2. Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha’s Weston Peick

Peick looked like he was out of his early and mid-season funk when he reeled off three top 10 finishes in a row in Toronto, Detroit, and Santa Clara. Granted, at the beginning of 2016 you would have expected him to be in the podium hunt with some regularity, but Peick generally finished outside of the top 10 in the first half of this year. In Indy, Peick didn’t transfer out of his Heat, crashed in the Semi and had to rely on the LCQ. In the Main, Peick was 15th at the start, worked his way up to 10th, has problems on Lap 10, and dropped back to 18th. From there, all Peick could manage was a 16th place finish, two laps down on the leaders.

3. GEICO/Honda’s Justin Bogle

With injuries and only two top 10 finishes, it has been a tough rookie year for Bogle. The previous week in Santa Clara, Bogle turned in his best result of the year—a 6th. That momentum died with a 13th at Indianapolis. Bogle was 8th at the start, consistently moved backwards early in the race, and never recovered. No doubt, he can’t wait for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship to start.

Suzuki's James Stewart, 2016 Supercross Downside
Suzuki’s James Stewart

4. Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing’s James Stewart

At some point, you just have to wonder how many things can go wrong for the two-time Supercross champion (2007 and ‘09). Last year was a non-starter due to an FIM suspension, and a serious concussion took him out before he completed the first Main Event of 2016. Since then, it has been a continuous streak of injuries, DNSs, and DNFs for Stewart.

A 14th in Arlington is his best finish of the season, and he has been in last in the other three Mains he has ridden. In Indy, Stewart hurt his ankle in practice and was done before the sun set. It seems the sun is also setting on Stewart’s illustrious career (50 450SX class wins), but he still has speed and surely the ability to surprise the naysayers. Will it happen?

2016 Indianapolis Supercross Results

  1. Ryan Dungey – KTM 450 SX-F
  2. Ken Roczen – Suzuki RM-Z450
  3. Jason Anderson – Husqvarna FC 450
  4. Trey Canard – Honda CRF450R
  5. Blake Baggett – Suzuki RM-Z450
  6. Chad Reed – Yamaha YZ450F
  7. Christophe Pourcel – Husqvarna FC 450
  8. Justin Brayton – KTM 450 SX-F
  9. Eli Tomac – Kawasaki KX450F
  10. Mike Alessi – Honda CRF450R
  11. Vince Friese – Honda CRF450R
  12. Josh Grant – Kawasaki KX450F
  13. Justin Bogle – Honda CRF450R
  14. Broc Tickle – Suzuki RM-Z450
  15. Justin Barcia – Yamaha YZ450F
  16. Weston Peick – Yamaha YZ450F
  17. Nick Wey – Kawasaki KX450F
  18. Cade Clason – Honda CRF450R
  19. Nick Schmidt – Suzuki RM-Z450
  20. Jake Weimer – Suzuki RM-Z450
  21. Tony Archer – Kawasaki KX450F
  22. Jeff Alessi – Suzuki RM-Z450

Monster Energy AMA Supercross Standings (after 13 of 17 rounds)

  1. Ryan Dungey, 303 points (7 wins)
  2. Ken Roczen, 258 (3 wins)
  3. Jason Anderson, 240 (2 wins)
  4. Eli Tomac, 212 (1 win)
  5. Chad Reed, 193
  6. Marvin Musquin, 182
  7. Cole Seely, 173
  8. Justin Brayton, 149
  9. Trey Canard, 138
  10. Jake Weimer, 106
  11. Davi Millsaps, 105
  12. Weston Peick, 97
  13. Mike Alessi, 94
  14. Christophe Pourcel, 91
  15. Justin Bogle, 76
  16. Vince Friese, 72
  17. Wil Hahn, 56
  18. Blake Baggett, 43
  19. Josh Grant, 41
  20. Nick Schmidt, 28