Folks, Anaheim I has come and gone just like that and wow what a race it turned out to be. You cannot usually base much off of the first race as so much can change in just a matter of one race. However, with that said it still seems like we have four championship contenders (with one of them way back after just one round) and possibly 5??? Here are my rankings heading into Houston SX:
- Marvin Musquin
Marvin rode exceptional in the main event on Saturday to come away with the win. He did exactly what he needed to do to keep whatever momentum he had coming in from his dominate off-season. Yes he had some luck with the Tomac crash, but Marvin one hundred percent deserves credit for that win. He was almost flawless. Surprisingly he did not look all that impressive during the day, but he pulled through when it mattered. Given the possible shoulder injury to Tomac, Marvin should be the clear favourite heading into Houston SX and more importantly the championship.
- Jason Anderson
El hombre was feisty last weekend in the opener. To be honest I do not remember the last time Anderson looked that impressive. Yes it is way to early on to talk about the championship, but Anderson has been giving off the vibe that this is his year just as much as any of the other riders. I kind of thought that this would be his best year yet, but honestly this could be a really, really good year for Anderson. Do not be surprised if Anderson comes out and wins this weekend at Houston and if not there it will come soon enough. The one thing that I am going to be looking for in Anderson is how aggressive will he get on his training partner Musquin if the win is in sight. The rumours are that Anderson and Musquin are not exactly best buddies at the moment. Stay tuned folks this could get dicey.
- Eli Tomac
Oh Tomac… That was really rough. In order to win the championship Tomac needed to start limiting those little mistakes throughout the season. Well 7 laps into the first main event he makes a crucial mistake that cost him 25 points and possible a shoulder injury that may ruin his hopes of a championship sooner rather than later. Now let’s discuss the injury… There has been no word yet other than a shoulder contusion. How bad this injury is will determine if he has a shot at another comeback. There are some people who are saying he is fine; others are saying it’s more serious. Here is my take on what happened. If the infamous pants problem hadn’t happened I believe he would have remained on the track and gritted through the pain and try and salvage maybe a top 15 or so. However he had to stop and fix his pants and it took him a long time! Therefore I believe that by the time he got going again, he realized how much is shoulder really hurt and how far back he was. He probably figured it wasn’t worth the chance to aggravate the injury more to ride around still get close to last. I think he is going to be fine in the long run, but it might take him a few weeks to get back up to speed.
- Ken Roczen
I feel like lost in all the Tomac craziness and Barcia’s amazing ride was Roczen’s comeback! He rode absolutely fantastic given the whole day and the pressure and attention surrounding him. I mean he showed quickly that he had the speed with the fastest qualifying time during the day. Then in the main he showed that he had the fitness and composure to race at that level for a full 20 minutes. He also did not make it easy on himself as he struggled with starts all day and started 12th after the first lap. He impressively rode up to a solid 4th place finish. I know he is a professional and has done this so many times throughout his life, but this gate drop had to feel different. Without a doubt in my mind he will get better every weekend. Roczen is back and is a real title threat folks.
- Justin Barcia
Bam Bam made an appearance at the opener! Honestly most of us thought that his winning days were over, but wow did he shut down that conversation quickly. Not only did he get third place in the race, but also he did it in an impressive way. Yes Musquin and Anderson both got him, but he regrouped and stuck with Anderson for the remainder of the race. I certainly was not expecting that at all. These next few weeks will certainly be very telling if Bam Bam is here to stay or if he just came out for a quick visit. However, if he rides like he did at Anaheim, one thing that I did not expect to ever be writing this year is Barcia could be a real title threat.
- Cole Seely
Seely is seemingly becoming one of those quiet riders that are a sure bet to ride good and secure a top 10 and be close to that top 5 every week. This weekend Seely started in 7th place and ended up in only 6th place. Yes that’s not that impressive from a guy who won a SX race in his rookie year, but it was solid enough. Remember he is the second rider on the Honda squad behind Ken Roczen. Seely isn’t going to finish 6th place every night as well, he will have some podiums here or there and do his job accordingly. Expect Seely to be hovering around that 5th position next weekend in Houston.
- Weston Peick
Weston Peick was solid as a rock last Saturday in Anaheim, California. Let us once again reflect on the fact that the last SX race that Peick raced in, before hurting himself, he rode to an impressive 5th place finish. Here comes the first race of 2018 and Weston once again finishes in 5th place. We have to stop underestimating Weston Peick! I’m telling you, do not be surprised if he gets multiple top 5s this year.
- Cooper Webb
A new year, a new bike and Cooper Webb is back better than ever. Well, not exactly… This very well could have been something that I could have predicted myself writing for this column, but Cooper Webb had a very dismal A1. Remember how unimpressed we were with Cooper’s start to last year? He scored a 10th place last year at the opener. Yep, this year he got 10th again. Last year he improved from his awful 10-14 start, but it still wasn’t a great year for a guy that many thought could be the next best thing. I’m not ready to start panicking yet, but if he doesn’t start racing with the top guys soon, we may never see Cooper Webb reach his full true potential in the 450 class. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he was nervous and did not ride like he knows he can. Therefore this weekend could be very good or very bad. Unfortunately, I might be leaning towards the latter.
- Blake Baggett
Tomac had a brutal start to the season, but showed he was fast. Webb also did not perform up to standard, but it’s only his second season. Perhaps the most disappointing rider of A1 was Blake Baggett. After coming off a fantastic outdoor series, I was looking at Blake to improve in Supercross as well. Maybe not a real championship contender, but certainly be up there every week with the top dogs. Last weekend he really struggled in the main and could only muster a 12th place finish. The word is that he pumped up and was just struggling to find a flow. Of all these riders expecting to get podiums every week, some of them are bound to be disappointed at the end of the year. Baggett could very well be one of those guys.
- Broc Tickle
Tickle once again pulled a Tickle. He got a brutal start (17th after lap 1) and battled his way up into 8th position. Considering he fared way better than guys like Webb and Baggett, he should be pleased with his riding. However he HAS to figure out these starts. It was holding him back last year and so far it isn’t any better this year. Forget the fitness this guy clearly has it if he can race up to 8th position from practically last every week, he just needs a start. If Tickle gets that start at any point of this season, he could grab himself another podium.