It all comes down to this.
Saturday’s visit to Las Vegas marks the final race of the championship season for Monster Energy Supercross. Yes, the world’s best riders will return to Sin City in October for the Monster Energy Cup, as they always do, with a million dollars on the line—but this is the weekend where we figure out who’s going to end the run of Ryans atop the 450SX class (Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villopoto have won the past eight titles). 250SX West will see a new champion succeed Justin Hill, but defending 250SX East champion Zach Osborne looks to go back-to-back at the head of the pack.
While each points leader’s advantage on second place is fairly strong, the past few weeks of racing have proven that even the most comfortable championship leads are never truly safe in Supercross. And with only one rider able to claim the maximum 26 points, this weekend’s 250SX East-West Showdown will further complicate things for the riders in those two series. With that in mind, today we look at the top contenders for each title, and what it’ll take to win:
We all thought this championship was spoken for, until broken spokes knocked Jason Anderson out of the lead group for the first time all season long. With Eli Tomac’s inconsistency over the course of the year, only Marvin Musquin was able to capitalize on Anderson’s rare bad luck to stay in the title hunt in Las Vegas. He did exactly what he needed to do: win Salt Lake City and build momentum for the final race of the year.
Anderson still leads the championship, 338-324, but Musquin’s victory in Utah forced a tie on wins with four per rider. That just means that Anderson will need to crack the top 10 to guarantee himself the title no matter what Musquin does, but if he has another holeshot like he did last week, it’ll give the French rider an opportunity to defeat El Hombre with a victory.
Aaron Plessinger’s fourth place finish in Salt Lake City turned out not to be the end of the world, as runner-up Adam Cianciarulo could only gain four points on the 250SX West leader. Instead it was Shane McElrath, fourth in the standings, who capitalized to take the victory with some impressive passing, keeping himself mathematically alive in the championship in the process.
Plessinger still holds the points lead with 196, with Cianciarulo 13 points back, Joey Savatgy 22 down, and McElrath 24 behind. This weekend’s combined West-East race will throw a serious wrench in the equation for the trailing riders, but for Plessinger, the math is simple: 13 points, or a top 10, guarantee him the title. His four wins to Cianciarulo’s zero on the season give him the tiebreaker.
Zach Osborne and Jordon Smith, first and second in the championship, placed first and second in the most recent 250SX East race at Gillette Stadium two weekends ago. That gave them both some breathing room on Jeremy Martin, the Foxborough favorite to win until first-lap contact forced him to charge through the field. Give Martin plenty of credit, though: he went from last to fourth in the final, minimizing the championship damage.
Still, Osborne’s 180 points on the strength of three victories are good for a 15-point advantage over Smith, while Martin sits 23 points back in third. Since Smith only has a single victory, Osborne holds the tiebreaker, and can clinch the title with a finish of 12th or better. Again, the combined East-West format may hurt the chances of a comeback championship win, but with this much on the line, anything can happen.