2017 Oakland Supercross Preview
The 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, an FIM World Championship, returns to the Golden State Saturday for round five of 17, at Oakland Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. This is the first of three events on the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross schedule that will take place during the afternoon; opening ceremonies begin at 3:30 p.m. PT.
Last Saturday, the Monster Energy Supercross serioes made its first trip outside the state of California for the fourth round of the 2017 season. Following an uncharacteristically slow start to the season, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac was dominant in the 450SX Class Main Event before 54,274 fans inside University of Phoenix Stadium, grabbing his first victory of the season with a wire-to-wire effort. In the Western Regional 250SX Class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill made it back-to-back wins following a late-race pass on championship leader Shane McElrath.
With a start straight inside University of Phoenix that spanned 384 feet, the 450SX Class field roared into the first corner to begin the Main Event at higher than normal speed. After rocketing out of the gate on his KX450F, Tomac was able to navigate his way through the first turn with the lead and the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot Award. Behind, Smartop/MotoConcepts Racing Honda’s Justin Brayton slotted into second, while Team Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Ryan Dungey, the reigning series champion, and Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely battled for third, with Seely getting the upper hand.
With no one challenging, Tomac checked out on the field almost immediately, and found himself multiple seconds ahead within the first couple laps. That left an intense battle for the podium to unfold behind him. Seely was able to apply heavy pressure on Brayton and made the pass for second on lap one.
A couple of laps later, Dungey passed Brayton for third and set his sights on Seely for second. Behind them, veteran Chad Reed was mounting a run to the front aboard his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Chaparral/Yamaha Financial Services/Yamaha Factory Racing YZ450F, improving from a sixth-place start to slot in behind Dungey in fourth on lap four.
To the delight of the crowd, Reed made a run on Dungey for third and took the spot just prior to the finish line to complete the seventh lap. However, the champion responded and fought his way back around Reed to start the next lap and pulled away slightly. Dungey soon found himself on Seely’s rear fender for second and the pair began a spirited battle for the spot.
Dungey made the pass on lap 10, but Seely battled back, regaining the position. This battle allowed Reed to close in from fourth, and the Australian rider took full advantage of the fierce fight in front of him to pick off both Dungey and Seely at once and move into second. Dungey then solidified his pass on Seely for third and set chase to Reed.
The field stretched out in the late stages of the Main Event, with Tomac holding a lead upwards of 20 seconds on the field. The Colorado native took the checkered flag for his fifth career win, nearly 12 seconds ahead of Reed after backing off the pace, while Dungey followed in a distant third.
It was the first win for Tomac in 11 races, dating back to the Daytona round at the halfway point last season. He started the 2017 championship with finishes of fifth, sixth, and eighth prior to Saturday’s race. Phoenix was also the site of Tomac’s inaugural 450SX Class win in 2015, which took place inside Chase Field.
“We came into this weekend feeling really positive,” said Tomac. “We changed a lot in the week leading up to the weekend, both on the bike and myself. I wasn’t impressed with the results I was getting, so we needed a change and it worked. After tonight’s performance, I truly feel like I’m back to my normal self and I can’t wait for next weekend.”
Reed’s runner-up finish was his first podium result in 12 races, and adds to his all-time record, which now sits at 131.
“Coming off a solid weekend like I had at Phoenix always makes the next week a little better and increases the excitement,” Chad said. “I’m looking forward to Oakland. It’s always been a challenging track and race weekend, and for that, I’m excited. We’ve made great progress so far this season, and I’m confident that we’re heading in the right direction.”
Dungey’s third-place finish was the 92nd podium result of his career. He’s finished on the podium in all but two races since the start of the 2015 season, 38 races ago.
“After I got up to 3rd I set my sights on trying to make the pass on Seely and then I was able to, which was good. In the sand he came back and took the position back and then we go into the next corner and Seely slid so I was boxed in down that whole rhythm and there came Chad – he was riding good. Once Chad got by I tried to tow in behind him – I knew I was losing a lot of time in that one rhythm lane but overall just trying to tow in with him. I really wanted to make a late charge at the end but I wasn’t able to, those guys were riding good tonight.”
Even with the third-place finish Dungey still added to his advantage in the championship. He now holds a 15-point lead over teammate Marvin Musquin, who finished ninth. Tomac’s victory vaulted him into a tie with Seely for third in the standings, 20 points out of the lead.
In the Western Regional 250SX Class Main Event, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rookie Austin Forkner raced to his second straight SupercrossLive.com Holeshot Award with GEICO Honda’s Jimmy Decotis, Hill, and McElrath in tow. McElrath was able to get his Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM machine around Hill for third and together he and Hill both made their way around Decotis to move into second and third, respectively.
Forkner was able to lead for three laps, but McElrath eventually seized control of the race and quickly opened a gap over his competitors that surpassed three seconds. Hill was patient behind his teammate and waited for his opportunity to attempt a pass. On lap six, the door opened and Hill easily took over second, but he faced a seemingly insurmountable deficit to McElrath.
As he encountered lapped riders, McElrath started to lose considerable chunks of time to Hill and soon the lead duo was mere bike lengths apart. With two laps to go, Hill made his move and grabbed the lead. He quickly sprinted to an advantage of nearly a second and carried it through to the finish. It was the fifth win of Hill’s career and the landmark 250th victory in motocross history (supercross and motocross) for the legendary Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team.
“I pushed hard and around the halfway mark,” said Hill. “I knew I was inching up on the leader. I was hitting my marks and riding well. My mechanic was doing really well at getting me my times and keeping me up on where I was at. I dropped the lead down to about four seconds and then the leader tangled with a couple lappers and I reeled up on him and I thought, this is it, I’m going to do it! Even after the race I was talking with my family and still couldn’t believe I did that. I did it, it was so cool!”
After failing to transfer to the Main Event through his Heat Race earlier in the evening, McElrath earned his way in by winning the Last Chance Qualifier. The runner-up finish makes him the only rider in the Western Regional Championship to finish on the podium at all four rounds.
“We overcame a lot of adversity today,” said McElrath. “I had been riding a little cautious and wanted to have that fire again. That race should have been mine, but you do need to be careful when you come up on lappers and aren’t sure what they are going to do. I’m thankful we’re safe after going down in the heat race.”
Forkner earned his first career podium result in third. The rookie has incrementally improved in the opening four rounds of the championship and has gotten great starts in nearly every race thus far.
“The race was good,” said Forkner. “I rode a lot better than I have been, more consistent and didn’t make mistakes. I was really confident in my starts, back to back weekends I’ve earned both holeshots in the heat and main. With starts like that I knew I was going to be up there and thought if someone gets by I just need to relax, figure out what they’re doing better than me and use it to be better. I knew I needed to not make mistakes like I did in the heat where I cased the triple trying to pass someone back. I tried to ride smooth and fast, I’m really happy with how I opened the race and I held the lead for a few laps which is definitely the best I’ve done so far.”
McElrath continues to lead the Western Regional Championship, but his lead over Hill now sits at just four points. Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger, who finished fourth after starting ninth, sits 10 points out of the lead in third.
All of the action from round five can be watched via tape delay on FS2 at 4 p.m. PT/ 7 p.m. ET.
2017 Phoenix Supercross, 450SX Class Results
- Eli Tomac – Cortez, CO – Kawasaki
- Chad Reed – Dade City, FL – Yamaha
- Ryan Dungey – Belle Plaine, MN – KTM
- Cole Seely – Sherman Oaks, CA – Honda
- Davi Millsaps – Cairo, GA – KTM
- Justin Brayton – Mint Hill, NC – Honda
- Blake Baggett – Grand Terrace, CA – KTM
- Cooper Webb – Newport, NC – Yamaha
- Marvin Musquin – Corona, CA – KTM
- Jason Anderson – Rio Rancho, NM – Husqvarna
450SX Class Championship Standings
- Ryan Dungey – Belle Plaine, MN – KTM – 89
- Marvin Musquin – Corona, CA – KTM – 74
- Cole Seely – Sherman Oaks, CA – Honda – 69
- Eli Tomac – Cortez, CO – Kawasaki – 69
- Davi Millsaps – Cairo, GA – KTM – 55
- Ken Roczen – Clermont, FL – Honda – 51
- Chad Reed – Dade City, FL – Yamaha – 49
- Jason Anderson – Rio Rancho, NM – Husqvarna – 47
- Josh Grant – Riverside, CA – Kawasaki – 46
- Cooper Webb – Newport, N.C., Yamaha – 44
Western Regional 250SX Class Results
- Justin Hill – Yoncalla, OR – Kawasaki
- Shane McElrath – Canton, NC – KTM
- Austin Forkner – Richards, MO – Kawasaki
- Aaron Plessinger – Hamilton, OH – Yamaha
- Martin Davalos – Clermont, FL – Husqvarna
- Dan Reardon – Menifee, CA – Yamaha
- Josh Hansen – Elbert, CO – Husqvarna
- Jimmy Decotis – Peabody, MA – Honda
- Phil Nicoletti – Cohocton, N.Y., Suzuki
- Cole Martinez – Rimrock, Ariz., Yamaha
Western Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
- Shane McElrath – Canton, NC – KTM – 92
- Justin Hill – Yoncalla, OR – Kawasaki – 88
- Aaron Plessinger – Hamilton, OH – Yamaha – 82
- Martin Davalos – Clermont, FL – Husqvarna – 70
- Austin Forkner – Richards, MO – Kawasaki – 67
- Jimmy Decotis – Peabody, MA – Honda – 55
- Dan Reardon – Menifee, CA – Yamaha – 47
- Jeremy Martin – Millville, MN – Honda – 40
- Phil Nicoletti – Cohocton, NY – Suzuki – 38
- Josh Hansen – Elbert, CO – Husqvarna – 37