Although two-time Supercross Champion Chad Reed has more Daytona Beach Supercross wins than any other active rider, topping the box three times, he hasn’t won at Daytona International Speedway in 10 years. Look to last year’s podium—Justin Brayton, Eli Tomac, and Cooper Webb—as real threats to win on the Ricky Carmichael Signature Design track.
Cooper Webb has won five of the last seven Monster Energy AMA Supercross rounds. Webb (Red Bull KTM) has ridden like a champion and shown that he can win in a variety of situations. It will be hard to bet against him in Daytona, though less than half of the Daytona winners go on to win the Supercross title. Regardless, Webb is going into Daytona with a 13-point lead and plenty of momentum.
Daytona is definitely different—the track has just six 180-degree bowl turns and no 90-degree corners after the left-hander at the start. There are moguls, dragon backs, sand, rhythm sections, and two whoops runs. Since Supercross went to the 20-minute plus one lap format, endurance has been less of a factor on the long course—the leaders ran just 18 laps last year. The Daytona Supercross is the longest continuously running venue on the circuit, dating back 45 years.
If Eli Tomac gets a good start and doesn’t fall, there is no doubt he could be a big winner at Daytona. Yet, Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki) is unspeakably unpredictable. Sometimes something goes wrong at the start, and he never gets going. Last year at Daytona was different—in dead last after the first lap, Tomac finished in P2, just four seconds behind Brayton. The year before, Tomac won. He’s a Fantasy Supercross player’s nightmare.
Marvin Musquin is a rider who desperately needs a win. Now 17 points behind Webb and without a victory in 2019, Musquin (Red Bull KTM) can see his shot at the championship fading. Musquin finished in P5 at Daytona last year, 12 seconds behind Webb and 18 seconds shy of Tomac. On the upside, Musquin did lead a lap at last year’s Daytona Supercross, but crashes doomed him for the night. It’s not likely, but he could do it. Keep in mind that Musquin had the fastest lap of the 2018 Daytona Supercross, so he’ll be bringing speed.
Ken Roczen is an unknown, again, going into Daytona—again. Roczen (Team Honda HRC) hasn’t ridden Daytona since 2016. That year, Roczen finished in P5 on a Suzuki, nearly 40 seconds behind the winner, Eli Tomac. As always, we are all waiting for Roczen’s first post-injury victory. However, don’t expect it to be in Daytona, though Roczen needs something to happen to keep Webb in sight.
Blake Baggett returned to the podium last week and leads the battle for P5 in the standings, but Daytona isn’t his track. Like Tomac, Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM) is unpredictable this year. With a P9 finish at Daytona last year, there is no reason to expect he will be running up front. On the upside for Baggett, three of the riders that beat him last year—Christian Craig, Weston Peick, and defending Monster Energy Supercross Champion Jason Anderson—won’t be lining up in 2019.
If Justin Brayton repeats, it will be something of a miracle. Brayton (Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/Honda) has struggled this year. He has just one top-five finish—a P5 at Minnesota—and is P10 in the Monster Energy Supercross Championship standings. Brayton was the top qualifier in 2018 at Daytona. If he pulls that off again, you never know.
Past Daytona Supercross races have been epic mudders, but it will be dry on Saturday. Temperatures are predicted to be in the high 70s for qualifying, and about 70 degrees when the Mains start with plenty of humidity.
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!