2016 New Jersey Supercross 450SX Commentary |
6 Upsides, 6 Downsides
As the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross Series edges toward the finish, big surprises are few and far between. At MetLife Stadium in E. Rutherford, NJ, Ryan Dungey clinched the title, and Ken Roczen nailed down second for the year. There aren’t any close races in the standings’ top 10 until you get to the battle for 6th between Marvin Musquin and Cole Seely (six-point separation), and 8th (Justin Brayton leads Trey Canard by 3 points). At this point, it’s about building momentum for the almost-meaningless finale in Las Vegas and the start of the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series on May 21st at the Hangtown Motocross Classic.
- Red Bull/KTM’s Ryan Dungey. Sure, Dungey’s streak of podium finishes was broken at MetLife Stadium in E. Rutherford, but he won the most important prize of the year—the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. Dungey did it with staggering consistency, along with plenty of speed. After 16 rounds, he has eight wins, and that’s the best kind of consistency. “Obviously, 4th place isn’t the goal, but the championship is, and it’s nice to have a little cushion and wrap it up a round early,” Dungey said. “The [31-consecutive] podium streak was cool, and I was definitely going after Cole Seely there just to try to get on the podium, but I gave it my best and did what I could, but I wasn’t going to do anything stupid either. It’s been a fight, mentally battling week in and week out, with lots of riders challenging us all season.”
- Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen. Roczen is finally getting rolling this year,
though it’s too little, too late for the title. In the last seven rounds, Roczen has three wins and three 2nds, and has outscored Dungey 156-153 over that stretch. At MetLife Stadium, Roczen extended his lead on every single lap, a nearly perfect performance. His lead of nearly 20 seconds over his closest competitor tells you just how on-point Roczen is. It was also Roczen’s first back-to-back wins in the 450SX class. “We grabbed the holeshot and never looked back.” Roczen said. “I felt great out there. We were as consistent as you could possibly be out there, in my eyes. We didn’t make any mistakes, and had an awesome night…We got a heat race win and then a main event win, so I would say that’s almost a perfect night.”
- Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac. Like Roczen, Tomac’s season is coming together a bit late. He has fluctuated between a win in Daytona and an 11th the week before in Atlanta, so you never really know which Tomac you were going to get. However, he has finished 2nd two weeks in a row, and this week he did it by working his way past, in order, Broc Tickle, Chad Reed, Justin Brayton, Ryan Dungey, and Cole Seely. That’s a darn good ride, even if he ended up 20 seconds behind Roczen. “In the main I had to make a lot of passes in the first 10 laps but was eventually able to make a push for second. I did some exploring here and there for the right lines and ways around other riders, but I felt strong and am really happy with my result.” For all of his inconsistency this year, Tomac has a
lock on 4th place in the Monster Energy Supercross standings, with a longshot chance of making 3rd.
- Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely. In 2016, Seely started off strong, had a mid-season slump, and then he got injured. East Rutherford was his second race back, and he made it onto the podium—not bad. A 2nd place start helped greatly, and only Tomac got by him. Dungey put the pressure on, but Seely didn’t crack. “A few weeks ago I was sitting on the couch, and now I’m back up here [on the podium], so it feels great,” said Seely. “I really hope that we can keep it going as we head to Vegas, and then to the [Lucas Oil Pro] Motocross season.” Going into Las Vegas, Seely is just six points behind 6th place Red Bull/KTM’s Marvin Musquin in the Monster Energy Supercross standings, and Seely scored six more points in MetLife Stadium than Musquin.
- BTO Sports/KTM’s Justin Brayton. A very consistent rider in 2016, though probably not as consistently high as he would have liked to have been, Brayton’s 5th at E. Rutherford matched his season best (another 5th in Atlanta). In the past, Brayton has gotten good starts and faded to the bottom of the top 10. At MetLife, he was bumped from 3rd to 5th by Dungey and Tomac, which isn’t too bad.
- BTO Sports/KTM’s Benny Bloss. After a disastrous first ride last week as a fill-in rider for Team BTO Sports (replacing Davi Millsaps), Bloss took his opportunity to make the Main Event for the first time in the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross season. He qualified for the Main by winning the LCQ, and finished 19th in the Main, putting him in the standings with two points.
1. GEICO/Honda’s Justin Bogle. Injured early in the season, the rookie finally started getting it together with a 4th in St. Louis and a 6th in Foxborough. Unfortunately, he backslid to 10th in the Main Event in E. Rutherford, after starting in 8th and qualifying out of his Heat. It has been an up-and-down year for Bogle, and he sits just out of the top 10 in the Monster Energy Supercross standings, 93 points behind fellow rookie Musquin.
2. Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Josh Grant. Coming off the couch to take a 7th in a surprise ride in Daytona, Grant parlayed it into a ride with the Kawasaki factory team. Unfortunately, Grant hasn’t matched that finish in the six rides for Kawasaki, and his 16th in MetLife Stadium was his worst of the year. “My day wasn’t bad,” said Grant. “I struggled a little bit with practice, and then going into the Main I didn’t have the start I wanted. The track was very hard to pass on tonight and I got stuck in a groove, made a couple mistakes, but bounced back the best I could.”
3. Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson. Usually a reliable top 5 finisher, Anderson never really got going in MetLife Stadium. As is often the case for Anderson, a bad start put him out of contention for the win. But, this time, he didn’t make it into the top 5. “My night was ok,” said Anderson. “I got a bad start in the Heat race, but got a holeshot and a win in the Semi. I ended up with ninth gate pick in the Main, so that Heat race didn’t help me out the entire night. I actually rode really well and came up from 12th to finish 6th. I almost had 5th, but I’ll make a comeback next weekend in Vegas. The track was good, but it was really tough to make a pass on. There was only one right-hander.
4. Team Tedder/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Nick Wey. A fan favorite, Wey has been moving backwards for most of his season, which started with a 14th in Daytona. Wey qualified out of the LCQ, started 21st, and only moved up to 20th.
5. Team Honda HRC’s Trey Canard. After a horrific practice crash, Canard was lucky to even be riding on Saturday night in MetLife Stadium. “Trey’s crash was one of those spectacular crashes,” Canard’s mechanic Brent Presnell observed. “Now that he’s okay, it’s fine to talk about, but it was scary and didn’t look like something he was going to walk away from. He hit a soft spot with his rear tire on the face of the triple and just lost it, and ended up flying through the air without his bike. Then he went out and laid down the third-fastest time in qualifying.” Canard qualified strongly out of his Heat and had the fourth gate pick, but found himself in 10th at the start, and it was a struggle from there. Canard’s 8th was his worst finish since an 8th in Detroit in Round 11. “I still don’t have the results that I want in the main, but I got a much better start and then just got shuffled back on the first lap. I wasn’t able to make passes quick enough and then lost some positions at the end to Anderson and Musquin.
6. Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Chad Reed. After a pair of 4ths and 6ths from Detroit to St. Louis, Reed is back down at the bottom of the top 10 with a pair of 9ths the last two rounds. Reed has been a streak rider this year, and right now he’s streaking in the wrong direction. Luckily, he has just one round to go, and has almost clinched 5th place in the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross Series Standings. For a rider as competitive as Reed, with the high expectations he has for himself, two 9ths can’t feel good, especially as Reed’s nemesis Canard got by him on the final lap.
Results: Monster Energy AMA Supercross Round 16, MetLife Stadium, E. Rutherford, NJ
Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX Standings (after 16 of 17 rounds)
|1.||Ryan Dungey, 366 points (8 wins)|
|2.||Ken Roczen, 330 (5 wins)|
|3.||Jason Anderson, 293 (2 wins)|
|4.||Eli Tomac, 270 (1 win)|
|5.||Chad Reed, 232|
|6.||Marvin Musquin, 213|
|7.||Cole Seely, 207|
|8.||Justin Brayton, 186|
|9.||Trey Canard, 183|
|10.||Weston Peick, 125|
|11.||Justin Bogle, 120|
|12.||Mike Alessi, 120|
|13.||Jake Weimer, 119|
|14.||Davi Millsaps, 105|
|15.||Christophe Pourcel, 94|
|16.||Vince Friese, 84|
|17.||Blake Baggett, 71|
|18.||Josh Grant, 69|
|19.||Wil Hahn, 56|
|20.||Broc Tickle, 46|
Photography by Simon Cudby