TEXT | Michael Antonovich & Austin Rohr
PHOTOS | Octopi Media
Two rounds, two very different outcomes. The 2019 Monster Energy Supercross Series headed east to Arizona for the second round of the season, the 2019 Glendale Supercross, and the night unfolded in ways many did not expect. The Dirt Wurx crew used every available inch of the massive floor at State Farm Stadium, which resulted in a very long and challenging track that tested riders through every lap.
But through the night’s racing, it became clear that anything can and will happen over the next few months. As some racers sort out their place in the running order, others are taking full advantage of the situation and have put in career-best rides.
250 Heat One
Adam Cianciarulo was alone for the full duration of the night's opening race, as the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider aced the start and sped away from the pack. Shane McElrath stayed close to the leader in the opening laps, but eventually, the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM rider lost touch with the leader and safely held second place. The best battle of the race was between Jacob Hayes and RJ Hampshire for third; Hayes held the spot for the majority of the race until a pass by GEICO Honda's Hampshire just before the white flag bumped the CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha rider back to fourth.
250 Heat Two
Colt Nichols came into the weekend determined to prove that his Anaheim One win was no fluke. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider got into the lead group the moment the gate dropped and put two forceful, well-executed passes on Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna's Michael Mosiman and then JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing's Jimmy Decotis in the first two laps. Decotis didn't let the pass break his momentum, though, and after a quick moment started a race-long chase of Nichols that helped the Suzuki rider stay clear of any other competitors on his way to second place.
Dylan Ferrandis was shuffled back at the start of the race, but in time the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha got into a flow and climbed up the running order to third place at the finish.
450 Heat One
All attention was on Malcolm Stewart in the first half of the Heat Race, as the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts/Honda rider latched onto leader Marvin Musquin and trailed the Red Bull KTM rider around the track for two laps. Stewart's whoop speed allowed him to pass Musquin, but a small mistake moments later forced him to double the end zone triple and Musquin went back into the lead, which he never relinquished to the checkered flag. Stewart ultimately finished third after a later, separate mistake allowed Team Honda HRC's Cole Seely to make a move for second.
A second, even more intense battle developed a bit further back between Justin Barcia, Cooper Webb, and Dean Wilson for spots four through six. The trio traded passes for much of the race, with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Barcia coming out ahead with fourth over Red Bull KTM's Webb and Rockstar Energy/AGL/Ignite/Husqvarna's Wilson.
An incident on the second lap struck Joey Savatgy and Monster Energy Kawasaki rider spent much of the race with the Alpinestars Mobile Medical staff. Although Savatgy was alert and up the entire time, his night was ended by a concussion.
450 Heat Two
Justin Brayton jumped out the lead and wasted no time putting distance on the rest of the pack, which would ultimately be key for the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts/Honda rider, as he went the full race unchallenged. While Brayton busted out laps up front, attention turned to Chad Reed's charge through the pack. The JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing was quick and cunning on the track with passes on Blake Baggett and Vince Friese that were clean but momentum breaking. Reed reached second place and posted the fastest individual lap of the race.
Jason Anderson and Justin Hill dueled for spots in the running order and as they traded moves on each other, they simultaneously worked by other riders on the way to sixth and seventh place finishes, respectively.
Monster Energy Kawasaki's Eli Tomac was deep in the pack at the start of the race and repeatedly looked down at the rear brake on the opening lap. Just when it looked like he would pull out of the race due to the issue, he started to charge for a chance at making the nine-rider cut for the Main Event. His charge from near last to tenth was impressive and he was within roughly half a second on Ben Lamay at the finish line, but it was one spot shy of making the cut.
Red Bull KTM Canada's Jess Pettis led over half of the 250 LCQ until a pass Enzo Lopes put the JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing rider into the lead. Lopes and Pettis were well ahead of the rest of the pack, which included third-place finisher Dylan Merriam and fourth-place finisher Devin Harriman.
Eli Tomac did everything he needed to do to get into the Main Event, as he avoided a major pile-up in turn one and tore away from the rest of the field. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider took the win over Kyle Chisholm, Ronnie Stewart, and Cheyenne Harmon, and all four went on to the Main Event.
250 Main Event
Adam Cianciarulo pulled the holeshot and took advantage of the clean track instantly. Behind him would be McElrath, Nichols, and Ferrandis. It wouldn't be long before Ferrandis would make the pass on Nichols for third and started to pressure McElrath for second. Then, Ferrandis would end up high siding on a slick section of the track and dropped back outside the top 15. The chaos would then allow Decotis to close in on Nichols and make a pass, but Nichols would recover and take back third place. Behind them would be Hayes and Hampshire. After battling for a bit, Hampshire would get past Hayes. After that, Hayes would make a mistake and ended up getting tangled with a lapped rider.
As the race entered the later stages, Nichols would close in on McElrath and make the pass for second place. However, by this point, Cianciarulo had opened up a lead of over 10 seconds. Hampshire would also pressure McElrath, but he would pick up his pace and pull away slightly to hold onto third. Meanwhile, Ferrandis had worked his way back through the pack to sixth place, salvaging points. At the front, it would be all Cianciarulo, who led the entire race.
With a win at round one and a second place finish at round two, Nichols retained the championship lead in the 250 West Region.
450 Main Event
The holeshot would go to Ken Roczen, who used the start to his advantage to start pulling away with a gap. A crash on the opening lap would claim Hill, who would fight back to thirteenth after going to the back of the pack. On the opening lap, Musquin would establish himself in second place early, with Baggett, Anderson, Friese, and Tomac right there. As things spread out, Anderson would make the pass on Baggett for third and then make the move on Musquin for second as well. At the same time, Tomac would make a mistake that cost him several spots, putting him in ninth. He would quickly begin charging through the pack, and soon found himself battling with a handful of riders. Among them would be Stewart, who would end up having a huge crash exiting the whoops. Due to his condition, the race would be red flagged to allow the Alpinestars crew to attend to him.
Following the red flag, the race would begin with a staggered start with 13:25 left on the clock. Several racers would take advantage of the start, wasting little time charging forward. Baggett would get by Musquin and Barcia would get by Tomac. Then, Anderson made a move on Roczen to take the lead. Roczen would end up going down in the pass and lost several spots. Meanwhile, Tomac would get around Barcia. Once Anderson took the lead, he would almost immediately have company from Baggett. He would begin chipping away at this gap right away. Behind those two, Roczen had worked back up to third by passing Tomac and Musquin.
With three minutes to go, Baggett had started going nearly a second faster than Anderson and was within striking distance. He would set up a pass on the outside down the start straight and stay on the gas through the corner to take the lead. After that, he would quickly open up a gap to secure the win. Anderson and Roczen would hold onto the other two podium spots.