2018 Atlanta Supercross Preview | The Mid-Way Point Is Here

In an exceptionally unpredictable year filled with injuries to top riders, we reach the midway point of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series.

Eight races are complete, and after the 2018 Atlanta Supercross eight races remain. Few would have predicted a 39-point lead for Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson, Honda’s Ken Roczen being out for the season with an injury to his other arm, or Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac seventh place in the overall standings, 65 points behind the leader. But here we are.

For those who like the Triple Crown three-Main system, that will be in effect at Atlanta. It was definitely exciting the first time out at A2.

Here’s what to look for at the 2018 Atlanta Supercross:

2018 Atlanta Supercross Preview KTM's Marvin Musquin
KTM’s Marvin Musquin

1. Cross your fingers for KTM’s Marvin Musquin. At the last three rounds, the rider running second place in the standings has suffered bone brakes—Roczen’s arm, Justin Barcia’s hand, and Cole Seely’s pelvis. Let’s consider Musquin to be the curse-ender, as he has already suffered a shoulder injury at Round 2 in Houston.

Musquin’s strong riding since Round 4 in Glendale has brought him back into contention, though he will still find it tough to catch a healthy and consistent Anderson in the standings. Musquin’s string of three consecutive second place finishes is great, but he will need wins on his Red Bull KTM 450 SX-F to take the championship.

2. Enjoy Jason Anderson’s riding. Despite the pressure of leading the series, Anderson is fast and loose on his Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition, and that’s fun to watch. Anderson still hasn’t finished worse than fourth place this year, and that is the kind of riding that earned Ryan Dungey his Monster Energy Supercross Championship last year. Anderson has also been fast, with three wins and six podiums. He controls this series, but still needs to continue to podium and stay out of trouble.

2018 Atlanta Supercross Preview Husqvarna's Jason Anderson
Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson

3. Eli Tomac’s win-or-crash streak is still going. Reminiscent of James Stewart, Tomac has either won the Main, or crashed in it every time this year. There’s no in-between. The exact opposite of leader Anderson, Tomac’s inconsistency means he has more wins than any other rider, yet sits seventh in the standings, 65 points behind Anderson. Watch to see if anyone can beat Tomac if he and his Kawasaki KX450F don’t hit the dirt.

4. Justin Hill will look to repeat his Tampa performance, but without a fall, and teammate Malcolm Stewart wants to join him. The reigning 250SX West Champion filled in for the injured Justin Bogle at Tampa and looked great on a Suzuki RM-Z450. Hill won his Heat and was running right in the front in the Main before falling. Hill finished sixth, but if he rides like he did in Tampa, he could be on the Atlanta podium. Stewart, also a fill-in rider on the Autotrader/JGR/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team, has been improving and earned his first top 10 finish of the year last week in Tampa.

2018 Atlanta Supercross Preview Yamaha's Justin Barcia
Yamaha’s Justin Barcia

5. Christian Craig is back on a Team Honda HRC. With both Team Honda HRC racers—Roczen and Seely—out for the season, Craig returns as a fill-in rider. It is the fourth time Craig as stepped in to ride the factory Honda CRF450R in the 450SX class. Don’t look for him to run up front, though. The end of the 2017 season was the last time Craig was in the 450SX class in this capacity, and he finished outside of the top 10 both races. Still, Craig can grab the odd holeshot and run up front for a while.

6. Blake Baggett needs some consistency. Outside of his three consecutive third places, Baggett hasn’t done better than seventh place, and had one finish outside of the top 10. Last week he crashed, and that resulted in a ninth place finish. He’s still a long shot for the championship, but he’s not out of it. To get fully into it, he needs to eliminate mistakes and be a podium regular on his Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition.

7. Weston Peick and Justin Brayton are engaged in an epic battle. Often close to each other on the track—in four races they finished next to each other, and they haven’t finished more than three positions apart—the two are tied at 125 points in the standings. That’s good enough for fourth right now, and that is higher than anyone would have expected from them. It is an interesting battle—Peick on Autotrader/JGR/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team and Brayton on the independent Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/Honda team. Both have had sub-par finishes at the last couple of races and will want to get back on track in Atlanta.

2018 Atlanta Supercross Preview Kawasaki's Eli Tomac
Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac

8. After terrible starts to their season, factory riders Cooper Webb and Dean Wilson are on a roll. Since his return from an A1 shoulder injury, Wilson has done better every single week, going 18-15-11-9-8-7 on his Husqvarna. That is not easily done, and he’s a threat for the top 5 this week.

Struggling from the word go, Webb’s low point was in San Diego when his Yamaha got caught up in a first turn pileup and he finished 19th. In the two races since then, he has gone 6-4, his two best finishes of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Championship Series. With a bevy of factory riders out, Webb and Wilson can turn their seasons around.

2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Standings (after 8 of 17 rounds)

  1. Jason Anderson, 181 points (3 wins)
  2. Marvin Musquin, 142 (1 win)
  3. Blake Baggett, 134
  4. Justin Brayton, 125
  5. Weston Peick, 125
  6. Cole Seely, 124
  7. Eli Tomac, 116 (4 wins)
  8. Broc Tickle, 114
  9. Justin Barcia, 113
  10. Cooper Webb, 108
  11. Ken Roczen, 102
  12. Josh Grant, 83
  13. Vince Friese, 79
  14. Dean Wilson, 70
  15. Malcolm Stewart, 68
  16. Chad Reed, 57
  17. Tyler Bowers, 51
  18. Kyle Cunningham, 41
  19. Ben Lamay, 39
  20. Jeremy Martin, 36
  21. Benny Bloss, 27
  22. Alex Ray, 22
  23. Kyle Chisholm, 20
  24. Justin Hill, 17
  25. Cole Martinez, 13
  26. Adam Enticknap, 12
  27. Justin Bogle, 12
  28. Matthew Bisceglia, 10
  29. Dakota Tedder, 10
  30. AJ Catanzaro, 7
  31. Jake Weimer, 5
  32. Justin Starling, 5
  33. Henry Miller, 5
  34. Austin Politelli, 4
  35. Brandon Scharer, 3