2017 New Jersey Supercross Preview
The penultimate round of the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series, an FIM World Championship, visits MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, this Saturday evening on April 29th.
Monster Energy Supercross history in East Rutherford dates back 30 years when the championship visited the old Giants stadium from 1987 to 1981. The series made its triumphant return 23 years later at the state-of-the-art MetLife Stadium in 2014.
At $1.6 billion, MetLife Stadium is the most expensive stadium ever built, largely due to its distinction as the only open-air venue in the country to house two competing franchises – the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets.
The weekend prior at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, a crowd of 43,207 fans were on hand to watch an incredible come-from-behind effort by Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, who passed nine riders and overcame Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey late to capture his ninth 450SX Class win of the season and assume sole possession of the championship lead.
In the Western Regional 250SX Class, Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Shane McElrath took his third victory of the season, but it was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill who celebrated clinching the Western Regional Championship.
The 450SX Class Main Event in Utah began with RCH/Yoshimura/Suzuki’s Justin Bogle racing to the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot just ahead of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson and Dungey.
The KTM rider quickly took over control of second, and soon moved into the lead past Bogle just after completion of the opening lap. Behind this battle Tomac was mired deep in the field following his worst start of the season, emerging from the first turn outside the top 10 before fighting his way forward to complete the opening lap in 10th.
With a clear track ahead of him, Dungey was able to open a comfortable lead over the field in the early stages of the Main Event, which he would continue to extend. Anderson proceeded to settle into second, while Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Josh Grant slotted into third.
All eyes were on Tomac and his march through the field. The Kawasaki KX450F rider was able to pass at least one rider per lap until he got just outside the top five. On lap nine, Tomac broke into the top five, passing two riders to move from sixth to fourth. On the next lap he moved past his teammate Grant for fourth and then set his sights on closing the deficit he faced to Anderson for second. It took Tomac three laps to catch and pass Anderson, taking over second on lap 12, to the delight of the crowd.
When he moved into second, Tomac faced a three-second deficit to Dungey, and due to short lap times, the 20-minute-plus-one-lap Main Event the lap count was the highest of the season. That added time on the track gave Tomac plenty of time to close in on Dungey, continuing the post the fastest laps of any rider to get within a few bike lengths of the lead.
The showdown between the championship’s co-leaders brought the crowd to its feet. On lap 17, Tomac used extra momentum to dive inside Dungey in a corner, drawing slight contact between the two. Tomac lost traction coming out of the corner, stalling his momentum, which allowed Dungey to move back out front. On the following lap, Tomac’s quicker line through the whoops positioned him to make another inside pass on Dungey, which stuck. Once in the lead, Tomac never looked back, leaving Dungey in his wake.
The Kawasaki rider led the final nine laps of the Main Event to take the win by 6.3 seconds over Dungey.
“We made it tough on ourselves tonight,” said Tomac. “It was a little chaotic on the opening laps in the back of the pack, but I was able to start making passes early and find my groove. It feels pretty good to fight back from 10th place and win.”
After leading the first 18 laps, Dungey was forced to settle for second.
“At the beginning I was really good (through the whoops), but all day it was tough” said Dungey. “In the beginning, I found a good line, but that line started to go so I switched and started jumping, but I think that was a no-no. Eli was riding really good through the whoops, so that chunk of the track he was gaining on me tremendously. I felt him coming pretty quick.”
Anderson rounded out the podium in third on his Husqvarna FC450.
“I got a great start in the heat race with a third,” said Anderson. “I made some changes to my bike after that and ended up getting a great start in the main. I rode in third the rest of the race and felt pretty good.”
Tomac now sits alone atop the championship standings for the first time in his career. It’s the first time since the third round of the season that Dungey doesn’t have sole possession or a share of the points lead. Tomac’s lead over Dungey sits at three points with two rounds remaining.
In the Western Regional 250SX Class Main Event, it was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner claiming the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot over Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger and McElrath.
Plessinger took advantage of his best start of the season to move into the lead, bringing McElrath along with him into second. Forkner settled in to third and Hill started behind this group in sixth, but made early passes to take over fourth.
Plessinger set a torrid pace to establish a multiple-second lead over the field and appeared to be in full control of the race. However, a mistake on lap 7 in the whoops sent Plessinger to the ground and out of the race. That allowed McElrath to take control of the lead, with Forkner moving into second and Hill into third.
Forkner was poised to challenge McElrath for the lead but he too encountered misfortune in the whoops, altering his line while navigating around a lapped rider and losing control. Forkner crashed out of second, allowing Hill to assume the spot and moving Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Mitchell Oldenburg into third.
Oldenburg put on a charge and caught Hill for second, successfully making the pass on lap 13. Hill continued to lose ground and was soon at risk of falling off the podium as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Martin Davalos closed in from fourth. With McElrath in the lead, Hill needed a podium result to clinch the title.
McElrath went on to take his third win of the season by 3.9 seconds over his teammate to give the Troy Lee Designs team a 1-2 finish.
“Tonight seemed to be about staying up,” said McElrath. “It was one of those tracks that you couldn’t ride the line because it was so technical and precise. We work so hard and it’s just cool to see this (the 1-2 finish) happen. When I looked over at one point and saw Freckles (Oldenburg) in second, I was so pumped.”
Oldenburg’s second place finish is a career-best for the KTM rider.
“I can honestly say I wouldn’t be up here if it weren’t for Shane so being up on the podium together is unbelievable,” said Oldenburg. “I am so ecstatic to go 1-2. To back up my best finish from the last race is such a great feeling. I can’t wait until Vegas where we can try and do it again.”
On the final lap, Davalos and Hill battled for third, with Davalos making a pass for the position. However, Hill refused to give up and made an impressive pass in the final corner to take away Davalos’ line and grab the final podium spot by mere inches, securing the title as a result.
“We’ve worked so hard for this and I know I’ve encountered bumps along the way, which makes this championship so much sweeter,” said Hill. “To get to this place, it takes so many people that are behind the scenes, from the team to family to friends that are all pushing me to be at my best. This wouldn’t be possible without each and every one of them.”
The championship is Hill’s first career professional title, clinching one round early. It’s also the 20thtitle for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, the most successful team in the history of the sport.
Live broadcast coverage from MetLife Stadium can be seen on FOX on Saturday, April 29, beginning at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ST
2017 Salt Lake City 450SX Class Results
- Eli Tomac – Cortez – CO – Kawasaki
- Ryan Dungey – Belle Plaine, MN – KTM
- Jason Anderson – Rio Rancho, NM – Husqvarna
- Marvin Musquin – Corona, CA – KTM
- Josh Grant – Riverside, CA – Kawasaki
- Chad Reed – Dade City, FL – Yamaha
- Davi Millsaps – Cairo, GA – KTM
- Blake Baggett – Grand Terrace, CA – KTM
- Cooper Webb – Newport, NC – Yamaha
- Dean Wilson – Clermont, FL – Husqvarna
450SX Class Championship Standings (after 10 of 12 rounds)
- Eli Tomac – Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 319
- Ryan Dungey – Belle Plaine, MN – KTM – 316
- Marvin Musquin – Corona, CA – KTM – 270
- Jason Anderson – Rio Rancho, NM – Husqvarna – 228
- Cole Seely – Sherman Oaks, CA – Honda – 211
- Blake Baggett – Grand Terrace, CA – KTM – 190
- Davi Millsaps – Cairo, GA – KTM – 190
- Broc Tickle – Holly, MI – Suzuki – 167
- Chad Reed – Dade City, FL – Yamaha – 158
- Dean Wilson – Clermont, FL – Husqvarna – 158
2017 Salt Lake City Western Regional 250SX Class Results
- Shane McElrath – Canton, NC – KTM
- Mitchell Oldenburg – Alvord, TX – KTM
- Justin Hill, Yoncalla, OR – Kawasaki
- Martin Davalos – Clermont, FL – Husqvarna
- Jimmy Decotis – Peabody, MA – Honda
- Austin Forkner – Richards, MO – Kawasaki
- Dan Reardon – Menifee, CA – Yamaha
- Hayden Mellross – Australia – Yamaha
- Kyle Chisholm – Valrico, Fla. – Honda
- Tyler Bowers – Corona, CA – Yamaha
Western Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
- Justin Hill – Yoncalla, OR – Kawasaki – 180
- Shane McElrath – Canton, NC – KTM – 154
- Aaron Plessinger – Hamilton, OH – Yamaha – 143
- Martin Davalos – Clermont, FL – Husqvarna – 142
- Jimmy Decotis – Peabody, MA – Honda – 122
- Austin Forkner – Richards, MO – Kawasaki – 105
- Dan Reardon – Menifee, CA – Yamaha – 96
- Kyle Chisholm – Valrico, FL – Honda – 85
- Cole Martinez – Rimrock, AZ – Yamaha – 73
- Mitchell Oldenburg – Alvord, Texas – KTM – 60