After an eventful opening round to the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series, there were all sorts of questions heading into the 2018 Houston Supercross. Before the night show got underway, both Dean Wilson and Eli Tomac announced they would not be racing following hard crashes at the 2018 Anaheim One Supercross. With the season still being so early, the battle for the championship is very much alive. Last weekend, Marvin Musquin continued his win streak over from the offseason, but Jason Anderson put in an impressive second place ride and Ken Roczen was hungry for more after making his return to racing. Anderson set the fast lap in practice, with Roczen and Musquin only a half second off. The stage was set for what would once again be an eventful night of racing.
250 SX Heat One
Joey Savatgy nearly claimed the first holeshot of the evening, but a mistake allowed Mitchell Oldenburg and Shane McElrath to take first and second place. From there, the former teammates would battle over the lead. It looked as though McElrath would make the pass around the halfway point, but a mistake cost him some time. Despite this, he recovered and made the pass with two minutes to go. Oldenburg wasn’t read to give the spot away though, as he attempted a few passes back on McElrath. Savatgy had also caught up to the rear fender of Oldenburg and was in position to make the pass when he washed the front end out. He would get up in third but was too far behind to get back up to the leaders. Out front, the battle wasn’t done though. Oldenburg successfully caught and passed McElrath just before the white flag. His lead would be short-lived, as McElrath responded and took the lead back to take the win.
250 SX Heat Two
Mitchell Harrison was the early leader in the second 250 heat of the night, but Adam Cianciarulo was quick to take it away. Harrison was met with pressure from Justin Hill and Chase Sexton on the same opening lap, with Hill making the move early and Sexton going to battle. Aaron Plessinger had started further back, but was quick to catch up to the lead pack and also make the move on Harrison. Christian Craig followed not long after. At around the halfway mark, Sexton caught Hill and made the move for second. Hill didn’t have much time to catch his breath, as Plessinger, and later Craig, were right there to make passes as well. Meanwhile, at the front, Cianciarulo was on cruise control. After setting the fastest lap in qualifying, he put in consistently fast laps to claim the second heat win.
250 SX LCQ
Taking the LCQ holeshot was Chris Howell. He jumped wide into the rhythm section and caught the tough block, causing a pileup. Jean Ramos inherited the lead, with Justin Hoeft, Blake Lilly, and Ryan Surratt behind him. Julio Zambrano made a move on Surratt, but Surratt responded and took it back. Lilly crashed and allowed Surratt to move up to third. Broc Shoemaker took the changeup as an opportunity to slide into fourth and put himself in the final transfer spot. Zambrano recovered from earlier mistakes and passed Shoemaker back for the spot. Up front, Hoeft put down several good laps to catch and pass Ramos for the lead.
250 SX Main Event
When the gate dropped for the 250 main, it was Savatgy who crossed the line first. McElrath and Cianciarulo were right behind him to apply the pressure early on. The three were bunched up tight for the first few minutes. Further back in the race order, Craig and Sexton rounded out the top ten, while bad starts for Hill and Plessinger put them much further back. Craig and Sexton started to make their way up towards the three leaders, making things even tighter. Cianciarulo was the first to make a move, passing McElrath in the whoops. He then went after Savatgy for the lead.
Despite the bad start, Plessinger crept into the picture around halfway through the race, making it up to fourth. Then Cianciarulo knifed the front end in a corner and dropped to fifth. Plessinger capitalized on the opportunity and went after McElrath. The battle had just begun to brew when McElrath made a mistake and jumped off the track. He saved himself from a crash, but allowed Plessinger by. From there, Plessinger was able to catch up to Savatgy and make a pass for the lead. Not much later, Cianciarulo was able to get past McElrath for third. Sexton would also get by McElrath. Cianciarulo made another mistake with two laps to go and dropped back to sixth. This put Sexton into a podium spot.
After making the pass for the lead, Plessinger opened up a solid lead and rode a clean race to the finish. Savatgy and Sexton would round out the podium.
450 SX Heat One
Josh Grant rocketed out of the gate to claim the holeshot, but Ken Roczen wasted no time taking the lead away. His teammate, Cole Seely, stuck to the back of Roczen and got into second quickly. At times, Seely looked quick enough to catch Roczen, but he never came quite close enough to challenge for the lead. On the final lap, he nearly had the chance, but Seely got stuck behind a lapped rider and lost the ground he made up. Behind them, Grant had to put up a fight for third as Broc Tickle looked to move forward. With under two minutes left, Tickle made the pass for third.
450 SX Heat Two
Following his top qualifying run, Anderson grabbed the holeshot and took off. Justin Barcia looked good once again, putting himself in second place with a little bit of a gap. In third place, Weston Peick had to deal with pressure from Blake Baggett. Baggett managed to get by, and it looked as though Musquin would do the same. However, Musquin made a mistake in the whoops and went down. At the time of the crash, it appeared as though he may have dislocated his shoulder. Musquin eventually remounted and rode back to the pits. It was later announced that he would not return for the night. Out front, Anderson rode to his heat win without challenge.
450 SX LCQ
Theodore Pauli was the early leader, but as with many LCQ races, some early chaos in the first few turns led to Pauli losing a handful of spots. Austin Politelli became the new leader, with Dakota Tedder and A.J. Catanzaro following behind. Henry Miller held the final transfer spot. Things looked pretty locked down, but Tedder went down and gave up several spots. He managed to remount and take back the final transfer spot. Ahead of him, Politelli took the win with Catanzaro and Miller behind him.
450 SX Main Event
Building on his success at Anaheim One, Barcia took the holeshot and looked good once again. Behind him, Roczen was in a great position in second and challenged for the lead right away. He made the pass on Barcia, but didn’t drop him and take off. Rather, Barcia stayed right on Roczen’s rear fender. Peick sat in fourth early on, but Anderson was on the move and stole third quickly. Seely was close by as well and got by Peick only a few moments later.
About five minutes into the main event, Roczen started to pull away slightly from Barcia and Anderson started making up ground with an open track ahead. Then, another five minutes later, Barcia made a mistake and missed the triple, allowing Anderson to jump by. Sitting in fourth, Seely was putting in some very fast laps of his own and was right behind the duo. When Barcia made the mistake, Seely was able to battle for the spot and make the pass for third. During this time, Anderson was able to log several fast laps and close the gap on Roczen. With a big quad jump, Anderson leaped past Roczen for the lead. Then a few minutes later, Barcia got back around Seely for third.
Once in the lead, Anderson rode a clean race on the chewed up track to claim victory and become the points leader. Roczen finished not far behind in second and Barcia took the final podium spot in third.