In Monster Energy Supercross, “El Hombre” truly was the man to beat in 2018.
Rio Rancho, New Mexico’s own Jason Anderson clinched his first 450SX title with a top-five finish last weekend in Las Vegas. It was the culmination of a highly consistent season, one where the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider barely put a single wheel wrong. And while it wasn’t quite comprised of the outright dominance that Ryan Dungey used to show, Anderson showed more than a trace of his training partner’s former form to score four wins and 11 podiums.
But even with as much potential as he’s shown from an early age, it was a long trail to the top for the 2007 AMA Youth Motocrosser of the Year.
Anderson went pro in 2011, but struggled with the early stages of the transition. His results that year—15th in SX Lites East and 16th in the outdoor 250 season—nearly cost him his ride. Things improved dramatically the next year, as he switched to the West class and took his first Supercross podium at Salt Lake City. One year later, he’d stand atop the podium for the first time in the same place.
Switching from a Suzuki to KTM in 2014 was the catalyst for a breakout season, with wins at Anaheim I, Phoenix, Oakland, and Houston and six podiums in nine races. In fact, Anderson’s sixth place in Las Vegas was his worst finish of the Supercross season, and a move up to the 450SX class was imminent.
Immediately Anderson stormed into the top class with a runner-up finish at Anaheim I, despite riding for his third manufacturer in three years with a new Husqvarna underneath him. He’d return to the podium at St. Louis in March on the way to seventh in the standings. A year later, he took his first win at the same track, and added two more wins at Detroit in 2016 and in last year’s Las Vegas finale.
With all that on his resume, Anderson was ready to go to war for this year’s title. What nobody knew was just how thoroughly he’d dominate.
After finishing second in the Anaheim opener, Anderson took advantage of both Marvin Musquin and Eli Tomac missing the main event in Houston to take the win and the points lead. From there, he just kept piling on the podiums, going back-to-back on the top step in Oakland and San Diego and not finishing worse than fourth until Daytona. In Indianapolis, he averted potential disaster by climbing through the field from 21st to fourth. As he kept finding a way to finish toward the front of the pack, his points lead over Musquin and Tomac kept growing and growing.
But as with any sport, the risk of building a huge lead is what comes with riding to protect it, and the law of averages came back to bite Anderson on that same Salt Lake City track as contact forced a wheel change and relegated him to 17th. That opened the door slightly for Musquin, eating away 20 points of the incoming 34-point margin and setting up a showdown in the season finale.
Still, Anderson only needed a top 10 in Las Vegas to wrap up the championship. He came home fifth.
With both his and Husqvarna’s first Supercross titles now in the books, Anderson turns his attention to the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season. He hasn’t become quite the same title threat yet on the outdoor tracks, but took four runner-up results last year at Glen Helen, High Point, Tennessee, and RedBud. Could he follow in Dungey’s footsteps as the first dual Supercross and Motocross 450 champion since 2015? We’re about to find out.