PHOTOS by Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
One million dollars on the line and the sports best professional and amateur racers. The Monster Energy Cup has become an offseason staple over the last seven years, and during that time span, the one-million-dollar prize has only been awarded once. As always, the race presents unique challenges that make winning all three motos a difficult task. This year, the biggest change was the Joker Lane. Similar to previous years, it could only be taken once after the first lap. However, the 2017 Joker Lane was roughly a six-second advantage. Paired with a raised starting gate and split unique split start, it was hard to predict where anyone would end up. When the dust settled in Las Vegas, one man would be walking away one million dollars richer.
2017 Monster Energy Cup | Cup Class Main Event One
All eyes were on the split starting gate and first few lanes, and it was Jason Anderson who made the right moves to take the holeshot. Tomac was quick to make moves though, and he took the Joker Lane early on to get an even bigger lead. Musquin followed him, and the two were starting to get into a battle. Unfortunately, Justin Bogle had a big crash and was down in a bad spot on the track. This led to a red flag and full restart, and the riders headed back up to starting gates.
This time around it was Tomac who claimed the holeshot with Musquin right behind him. The two battled back and forth in the first lap. Tomac used the Joker Lane to take over the lead along with a handful of riders and Musquin gave up four positions. Musquin took it the next lap and was back on Tomac’s rear fender challenging for the lead. Behind those two, Anderson and Gajser led the pack early on.
It wasn’t long before Musquin made the move on Tomac, and as it looked like a battle might heat up, Tomac went down hard while making the high-speed entry back into the stadium. Behind Musquin, Anderson had a comfortable hold on second with his teammate Dean Wilson behind him. After a short battle, Broc Tickle made his way around Tim Gajser to put himself into fourth. Gajser looked to have fifth held down, but a big crash would take him out of the race.
At the end of the race, Musquin would hang on to take the win and become the only rider with a shot at winning the one million dollar prize. Anderson, Wilson, Tickle, and Jordon Smith rounded out the top five and put themselves in contention for an overall win.
2017 Monster Energy Cup | Cup Class Main Event Two
After crashes in the first Main Event, Bogle, Gajser, and Tomac were sidelined for the night. The focus then shifted to Marvin Musquin and the handful of riders who could challenge him for the overall win. Musquin put himself into a great position early on though as he edged out Tickle for the holeshot. Anderson was quick to take over second from Tickle and was not far off the back of Musquin.
Feeling the pressure, Musquin took the Joker Lane on lap two, but Anderson and Tickle followed him through it. Behind the top three, Smith, Barcia, and Wilson were not far off the leaders. Those three riders were only separated by a few bike lengths, and the battle was inevitable. Just after the halfway mark, Wilson applied the pressure to Barcia and the two would trade positions on the backside of the track. Barcia held Wilson off for a bit, but Wilson didn’t let off. One the last lap, Wilson made the pass and held off a block pass by Barcia to grab fifth.
Up front, Musquin put in another consistent ride to claim the second Main Event victory, allowing him to keep his chances alive to take home one million dollars. Anderson and Tickle each rode with similar composure to finish second and third. Smith put in another top-five ride, with Wilson behind him.
2017 Monster Energy Cup | Cup Class Main Event Three
With the momentum of two Main Event wins behind him, Musquin rocketed out front with a huge holeshot and went to work on the lead. Behind him, Anderson, Wilson, Tickle, and Barcia followed him around. Almost the entire field took the Joker Lane on the second lap and from there the race was on.
Lap after lap, Musquin led the top five around without lineup changes or battles. Smith, who had good finishes in the first two Main Events, was sitting comfortably behind in sixth. With two laps left, the results were clearly locked in this order.
Throwing a massive heel-clicker, Musquin took the final Main Event win and would become only the second rider to win one million dollars home at the Monster Energy Cup. Anderson, Wilson, Tickle, and Barcia would finish up in that order behind him.
2017 Monster Energy Cup | Amateur All-Star Class Race One
Leading the first Amateur All-Star race was Seth Hammaker. A big holeshot early on helped him to get a comfortable lead on lap one, but Lance Kobusch and Jo Shimoda charged hard to start cutting that gap down. Kobusch would slide down on the second lap and give the position up to Shimoda.
With a clear track, Shimoda would put in clean lap after clean lap to try to chase down Hammaker. Behind him, Pierce Brown was handling plenty of pressure from Kobusch, who looked to reclaim a podium spot. Ramyller Alves, and Dylan Greer were not far behind and battling for fifth.
There was no challenge for Hammaker though, who used his good start to take the first moto win. Shimoda rode smooth and fast to secure his second-place spot, while Brown rode hard to finish not far behind in third. Kobusch and Alves would lock in the final two spots in the top five.
2017 Monster Energy Cup | Amateur All-Star Class Race Two
Once again it was all Hammaker at the start of the second race, as he pulled the holeshot and sprinted away with the lead. Brown started much better this time around and was not far behind. His teammate Mitchell Falk had a close third. Meanwhile, a poor start for Shimoda would place him back in sixth.
The Amateur All-Stars clicked off lap after lap and the race looked as though it was locked in. With three laps to go, Falk crashed and allowed several riders by. Shimoda had made his way into fourth, and looked to inherit third, but Tanner Stack got by him and made himself tough to catch.
Just like the first moto, Hammaker led the whole race and went 1-1 on the night. Behind him, Brown would finish up a solid second place for second overall. Stack would ultimately hold off Shimoda for third, and Garrett Marchbanks took the fifth spot.
2017 Monster Energy Cup | Supermini Class Race One
With the first Main Event of the night in the books, it was time for the Supermini Class to take the track. Preston Kilroy sprinted into the lead and took the holeshot, but Jett Reynolds was right behind him and applied pressure early. After a brief first lap battle, Jett doubled his way through the rhythm section cleanly to take over the lead.
It looked as though he might run away with the race from there, but he would make a mistake and go off the track in the same section that he made the pass on earlier. This moved Kilroy back into the lead. However, Matt LeBlanc made his way into second and was in position to take the lead away. Reynolds followed LeBlanc around Kilroy and dug deep to take the lead back. LeBlanc wasn’t done though, and he put the pressure on Reynolds from then on.
Reynolds would make a few mistakes, but he pushed past them and edged out LeBlanc at the checkered flag. Kilroy picked up on some of the faster lines and rhythm section timing to put himself into third place. Fourth and fifth place went to Kaedine Amerine and Jordan Rogers.
2017 Monster Energy Cup | Supermini Class Race Two
Taking advantage of multiple mistakes, Jack Rogers pulled the holeshot in the second race of the night. He would crash soon after though and give the lead up to Kilroy. Reynolds, who won the first race, along with LeBlanc, both got bad starts and had to go to work to get towards the front.
Kilroy was looking good out front, but an unfortunate crash put him out for the night. Reynolds was able to make some moves in the pileup and get up near the front. He too would have a small crash and slid back to fifth. Up front, Jace Kessler and Jeremy Ryan were in a heated battle for the lead. Reynolds and Alexander Vestal were able to close in on the front two and heat things up further.
On the last lap, Reynolds did everything he could to take the win away from Kessler, passing Ryan in the process. The two drag-raced to the finish, crossing the line nearly side-by-side, but Kessler was able to win by only an inch or two. Still, a second place finish was enough for Reynolds to win the overall in the Supermini Class.