Monster Energy Supercross’ extended early West Coast swing wraps up on Saturday night with a visit to Petco Park in San Diego. By the fifth of 17 rounds in the 2019 season, we’ve seen the top riders in both the 450 and 250 West classes establish themselves, and there are some surprises toward the top of the standings in each.
As we get ready for the trip back to southern California, there’s plenty to talk about at both levels of Supercross action. Here are some of the significant storylines coming into the event:
Cooper Webb proved that he was no fluke for Red Bull KTM when he went back-to-back at Anaheim 2 and Oakland, becoming the first repeat winner of the 2019 season and even taking the points lead for the very first time. It’s a far cry from last season with Yamaha, where his mid-pack results and Aaron Plessinger’s success on the 250 deemed him expendable from the team. Teammate Marvin Musquin has finished second in both of Webb’s wins, giving the orange squad the sport’s most formidable 1-2 punch right now, and Glendale winner Blake Baggett made it a KTM sweep of the podium in Oakland.
Surprisingly, of this year’s overall 450 winners, only Anaheim 1 victor Justin Barcia has won a heat race. While the top four riders in class are separated by only four points, Barcia is still within striking distance at 11 points back of the lead in fifth despite riding with a bruised tailbone in Oakland.
Amazingly, despite taking eight wins in each of the past two seasons, Eli Tomac remains winless in an overall event so far in 2019. Consistent finishes have the Colorado rider third in the championship, just three points behind Webb in first and one behind Ken Roczen in second, but his only victories so far have come in heat races and the third Triple Crown main event in Anaheim. His Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Joey Savatgy appeared set for a podium in Oakland before mechanical failure robbed him of second place.
Defending San Diego winner Jason Anderson won’t be on the line on Saturday thanks to his recent injuries, but the three riders who finished behind him will be. Musquin and Baggett were each podium finishers here last year, while Cole Seely scored one of his best finishes of an abbreviated 2018 season in San Diego with a fourth place run.
250 West Class
The 250 West riders are certainly holding their own against the 450s in terms of quality racing. Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo became the first repeat winner of the 2019 season in Oakland after beating Star Racing Yamaha teammates Dylan Ferrandis and Colt Nichols to the line. Anaheim 2 Triple Crown winner Shane McElrath was right behind them in fourth.
All four riders are clustered within five points of one another in the championship. Nichols is on top because he hasn’t missed a podium yet, leading 2018 runner-up Cianciarulo 91-88. McElrath is third with 87 points and Ferrandis sits fourth with 86. Even the slightest mistake in San Diego could make the difference between taking the championship lead or falling back within striking distance of fifth place RJ Hampshire, who may be the best of the rest, but is still 19 points back of Ferrandis.
Only two of last year’s top eight finishers in San Diego will be back in the 250 race this weekend: Cianciarulo (second in 2018) and McElrath (fifth). 2018 winner Justin Hill, Joey Savatgy, Kyle Chisholm, and Aaron Plessinger have all moved up to the 450 class, while Chase Sexton and Christian Craig both won’t compete due to injuries suffered in December. Craig looks set to make his season debut in the 250 East class as it finally starts its season in Minneapolis next weekend.