Daytona Supercross: Weekend Preview

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Supercross

It’s one of the most iconic events of the year on two wheels: the annual Daytona Supercross, one of the signature events of Daytona Bike Week and a key part of the annual Monster Energy Supercross championship. The 10th of 17 rounds on this year’s calendar features a signature track designed by Supercross legend Ricky Carmichael, built in the Daytona International Speedway tri-oval and set to challenge even the sport’s most experienced riders.

The world’s best racers are ready to do battle once again in the 450 class, while the 250 East riders are ready again to take center stage after their West counterparts scored the top two spots in last week’s East/West Showdown at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Here’s a look at what we’ll be watching for in this weekend’s event:

450 Class

Cooper Webb returned to the top step of the podium in Atlanta, scoring his fifth win in nine events this season as he continues his breakout season with Red Bull KTM. He led an orange sweep of the podium, with Rocky Mountain ATV/MC’s Blake Baggett splitting Webb and teammate Marvin Musquin for the second spot.

The victory has Webb a comfortable 13 points ahead of Honda rider Ken Roczen coming into Daytona. While Roczen hasn’t finished out of the top five all season long, he hasn’t won yet either, thanks in part to Webb’s drag race victory in Arlington three rounds ago. Musquin sits only four back of Roczen with 182 points, while Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, an early title favorite after winning a majority of last season’s races, is the last remaining rider who can mathematically take the points lead in Daytona at 22 points behind Webb.

In fifth place, Baggett is the best of the rest heading to Daytona, holding a slight 142-137 advantage over Dean Wilson for the spot. Behind them, JGR Suzuki’s Chad Reed tops a three-way battle for seventh over the Monster Energy Yamaha duo of Aaron Plessinger and Justin Barcia; Reed’s 124 points edge out Plessinger’s 122 and Barcia’s 120 for the spot right now. Plessinger also boasts the top ranking of any 450 rookie so far, as he has for most of the season.

The last rider in the top 10 is also the rider who scored a shock victory here last year. Justin Brayton’s first Supercross victory came at Daytona just days shy of his 34th birthday, as he led all but one lap of the main event. He’ll be looking to improve on a season-best fifth place finish that he scored in Minnesota as he defends his Daytona crown.

250 East Class

Austin Forkner still hasn’t been beaten by any of his 250 East title rivals in a main event, but his impressive win streak to start the 2019 season came to an end last weekend in Atlanta. Forkner’s Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Adam Cianciarulo and Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis led a West invasion of the podium, with Forkner settling for third place at the checkered flag.

Still, Forkner’s nearly untouchable start to the season has him in possession of the largest points lead in the sport (18) through the fewest rounds of any division (four). For perspective, that’s the difference between cracking the top five and missing the main event entirely—meaning the rest of the field has some serious work to do starting in Daytona to play catch-up.

The fight for second place sees Justin Cooper holding a slight edge over Chase Sexton, 81-79. Incoming title favorite and 2018 class runner-up Jordon Smith is in fourth with 70 points, a distant 29 behind Forkner. Alex Martin holds a two-point advantage over Martin Davalos for the final spot in the top five.

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