What To Watch For At Houston SX in NRG Stadium
With one round in the books, let’s take a look at where the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship Series is going.
The Big 3 all had significantly different opening rounds—Marvin Musquin won; Ken Roczen finished off the podium. Eli Tomac crashed out.
1. Eli Tomac must come back strong in Houston. Scoring just a single point at Anaheim 1 Supercross after an unforced error forced him to retire early, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider needs a podium at the very least. The big question is how fully will his shoulder recover by Saturday night.
Although Tomac had a commanding lead in the Main when he crashed, the competition is stiff enough that he won’t have the luxury of being less than 100 percent in Houston. If Tomac can’t ride in Houston, or has a ride outside of the top 10, his chances for a 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Championship will look dim.
2. Marvin Musquin can consolidate his lead in Houston. Musquin’s two main protagonists—Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac—finished off the podium at A1. If he can grab another win while those two riders continue to find their way, Musquin is going to have some serious momentum in his favor.
He has six major wins in a row, and winning is contagious. Musquin didn’t look amazing at A1. However, if Musquin gets a good start, and Roczen and Tomac don’t, there may not be much to stop the Red Bull KTM racer.
3. Ken Roczen got his first comeback race out of the way—now it’s time to deliver. Before A1, Roczen was focused on getting through safe rather than winning. The Team Honda HRC rider had a few close calls at A1, and once he got into fourth, he thought better of trying to close on third-place Justin Barcia. Roczen now has to go from Comeback Mode to Winning Mode if he intends to compete for the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Championship.
4. Jason Anderson gets to show that he’s for real in Houston. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider looked good in second. However, it helped that Tomac crashed and Roczen was focusing on making it to the checkered flag. Anderson did win his Heat, so there’s no doubt that he is bringing some speed to the track. He hasn’t yet been a consistent podium finisher, and that’s what it will take if he wants to be a title contender. At NGR Stadium, we might learn quite a bit about Anderson’s year.
5. Newer supercross fans may not remember, but there was a time when Barcia was considered a Monster Energy Supercross Championship threat. Those days are long gone, but Barcia’s podium finish—along with leading a handful of laps in the Main—could make someone wonder if all of a sudden things are clicking for Barcia. Perhaps losing his JGRMX-based factory ride has made him hungrier than ever, and he’s healthy. Barcia turns 26 in March, so it’s not like he’s over the hill. We may find out at Houston, and Barcia will be riding to make his fill-in Monster Energy/Knich/Yamaha Factory Racing ride permanent.
6. Justin Brayton was the top non-factory rider at A1, and he looked strong in the Heat and Main. Brayton has never been a top contender, yet he visited the top 10 seven times last year. He started off 2017 with a 15th and 17th, so Brayton is getting a good jump out of the gate in 2018 on his Smartop/MotoConcepts Racing Honda. Houston will reveal if it was a fluke ride, or the hint of good things to come.
7. Weston Peick may be off to another fast start. The Autotrader/JGR/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing rider went 8-7-5 in the first three races last year before injury ended his season. Picking up a fifth place at A1 after a lackluster Heat race was impressive. It is hard to imagine too many top 5 finishes for Peick, but at the same time it’s not hard to imagine he may steal a podium spot once or twice. Expect a strong ride from Peick in Houston.
8. Easy prediction—Cole Seely will come in 5th or 6th. If you’re in a fantasy supercross league, this is the safety pick you can make. The Team Honda HRC rider finishes in one of those spots most of the time, including last week.
9. We’re crossing our fingers for Dean Wilson. Last year Wilson avoided getting hit with an injury, but a hard crash in his Heat put him out for the night. We’ll see if the shoulder injury Wilson suffered at A1 can be shrugged off quickly, or if the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider will be sidelined for longer. If Wilson is out for an extended period, privateer and former Supercross Champion Chad Reed (who is on a privateer Husqvarna) may be back in a factory setting. (Update: Wilson is out for Houston with a bruised shoulder, strained rotator cuff, bone bruising, and a wrist sprain.)
2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Standings (after 1 round of 17)
- Marvin Musquin, KTM, 26 points (1 win)
- Jason Anderson, Husqvarna, 23
- Justin Barcia, Yamaha, 21
- Ken Roczen, Honda, 19
- Weston Peick, Suzuki, 18
- Cole Seely, Honda, 17
- Justin Brayton, Honda, 16
- Broc Tickle, KTM, 15
- Josh Grant, Kawasaki, 14
- Cooper Webb, Yamaha, 13
- Jeremy Martin, Honda, 12
- Blake Baggett, KTM, 11
- Vince Friese, Honda, 10
- Tyler Bowers, Kawasaki, 9
- Chad Reed, Husqvarna, 8
- Kyle Cunningham, Suzuki, 7
- Ben Lamay, Honda, 6
- Alex Ray, Yamaha, 5
- Matt Bisceglia, Suzuki, 4
- Dakota Tedder, KTM, 3
- Adam Enticknap, Honda, 2
- Eli Tomac, Kawasaki, 1