Arlington Supercross Race Report 2016

Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb come up big in the Lone Star State at Supercross.

Ken Roczen, Arlington Supercross 2016
Ken Roczen
The start was crucial for Ken Roczen (94). It was the first holeshot of the year for the RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory rider and it paid off.Photo By Shan Moore

For Ken Roczen, 2016 has been a work in progress. Over the course of the last few races the RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory rider was finally finding the speed to run up front, but the final piece of the puzzle would turn out to be his starts, and this weekend in Arlington, Texas, he got one, nailing the holeshot which eventually led to his second win of the season ahead of points leader Ryan Dungey.

Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey, Arlington Supercross, 2016
Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey swapped the lead
Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey swapped the lead during the first two laps of the main event, before Roczen took the lead for good.Photo By Shan Moore

Dungey, on the other hand, had finished in the runner-up slot two other times this year, and both times could be chalked up to a bad start. But Arlington was the first time all year that the Red Bull KTM rider had been beaten straight up. After Roczen grabbed the holeshot, Dungey passed the Suzuki rider for the lead before the end of the first lap. But the battle didn’t stop there. Roczen took Dungey high in a turn on lap two and retook the lead. From there, the former MX2 World Champ was able to hold off Dungey for the remainder of the race and take the win. It was the first time all year that Dungey’s dominance had been challenged and Roczen, no doubt, gained some valuable mental momentum with the victory.

“When we left California we said that we were going to turn things around and we’re starting here tonight, on top of the box,” said Roczen. “It wasn’t easy, though. He was pushing hard, I was pushing hard. We wanted it, and we got it. We got a holeshot and we were up front. That’s what we wanted and that’s what we needed the whole year.”

Jason Anderson, Arlington Supercross 2016
Jason Anderson
Jason Anderson parlayed a decent start into a podium finish, his first in four races.Photo By Shan Moore

Roczen’s win made for his fifth-consecutive podium and second victory of the season.

“I feel good about where we are,” said Roczen. “I think as long as we can be consistent with our starts and race without mistakes, we’re in good shape. Dungey is having a great year and he’s got a fairly decent points lead but everyone knows this is a long season and anything can happen. As long as we stay focused and keep doing what we’ve been doing, the rest will take care of itself.”

Late in the race, Dungey had shot at the win, but just couldn’t get close enough to attempt a pass.

“It was a battle,” said Dungey. “You don’t always see it like that, a battle from the first to the 20th lap, and right on his heels. It’s been a while since we’ve done that. We made the pass early, but he made the pass back, which was very important. He did a good job on that part. From there to about lap 10 we were really pushing the pace. We were just kind of settling in, not really forcing it, just kind of following and trying to wear him down. Then I saw my moment. I got to about lap 15 and was like right there. A couple bobbles with some lappers and stuff but we got through that. I was looking so hard to make that pass happen and I couldn’t find it. It’s hard to get inside of people on this track. But no excuses. Kenny rode an awesome race. It was an exceptional battle between us, I think. We were pushing the pace and you don’t want to overextend those limits. I’d rather finish like we did than be on the ground. But this track was very tough. Just trying to keep the tires on the ground and get the traction and get the bite. I just couldn’t close the deal at the end. It was a battle.”

“We were riding with nothing to lose and we were just trying to go for the win, both of us,” added Dungey. “He rode a good race and sometimes you’ve got to get second. We were all taking the same lines; we were all hitting those same marks. From practice and everything, there’s not really much that changed - same line choices, rhythms. You almost had to hope for a mistake. Kenny’s a good rider, you’re not going to see big ones out of him.”

Cole Seely, Arlington Supercross 2016
Cole Seely
Cole Seely narrowly missed another podium in Texas, finishing the main in fourth.Photo By Shan Moore

Now that the series is moving east, more riders may start to gain traction. Like Roczen, Jason Anderson was another rider benefitting from a good start. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider has struggled to get off the line all year, but got away in the top six in Arlington, allowing him to be more aggressive at the start of the race. After passing Cole Seely, Mike Alessi and Justin Bogle, Anderson settled into third, where he would stay for the rest of the race.

Anderson’s finish marked a return to the podium after three-straight fourth-place finishes.

“I got a decent start and that made the difference,” said Anderson. “I was sixth on the first lap, which is better than 10 places out. I just kind of rode behind Seely for a minute and then ended up moving up in there at about halfway or so. I felt like I was really good in the sweeper right here. That was kind of my spot that I felt like I was making up time. I’m just pumped to get on the box again.”

Seely narrowly missed another podium in Texas, and after 20 hard laps, the HRC Honda rider collected fourth overall - his fourth top-five finish of the season.

Seely made his first trip of the year to the semi races, giving him more track time to familiarize himself with the ever-changing dirt that challenged the riders all night. In the main event, Seely made quick work of his competitors on the opening lap and found himself in third by lap 4. With five laps to go, he was passed for third, but held a sizeable lead over fifth.

“It would have been nice to get on the podium again, but we’ll go for it again next weekend,” said Seely. “It could be easy to get down on this one, but we’re fourth in points and I’m feeling solid right now. I’m ready for next weekend in Atlanta.”

Eli Tomac, Arlington Supercross 2016
Eli Tomac, Arlington Supercross 2016
Eli Tomac still seems to be getting adjusted to his Kawasaki, though he looked much better at times than he has in the last few races.Photo By Shan Moore

Once again, Tomac didn’t get the best of starts, but managed to work his way up to fifth by the checkers.

“Considering how the night started, my fifth tonight wasn’t bad,” said Tomac. “Off the start I wasn’t where I’d like to be but I passed quite a few riders straight away and rounded out around seventh, then spent the rest of the race working up to fifth. I had the speed early on but couldn’t quite maintain it, so I’ll be working on that and I’ll keep working hard heading into the next round.”

After making his 2016 debut last week in San Diego, Andrew Short rode to a 13th-place finish in Dallas, which would be his last race in Texas on the Monster Energy Supercross tour, since the Texas resident announced his retirement at the start of the season.

Marvin Musquin, Arlington Supercross 2016
Marvin Musquin
The Arlington track seemed tailor made for Marvin Musquin and the Red Bull KTM rider quietly put in the most impressive rides of the night. The track was hard to pass on, and after crashing in the first corner, Musquin worked his way all the way up to sixth place by the checkers.Photo By Shan Moore

Dungey extended his 450SX Class podium streak to 23 races, dating back to last season, and now leads Roczen by 23 points in the championship. New Mexico's Anderson sits in third place, 35 points out of the lead. It was Anderson's first podium finish since he captured his first career win at the opening race of the season.

Cooper Webb, Arlington Supercross 2016
Cooper Webb
Cooper Webb got back to his winning ways with a victory in Arlington.Photo By Shan Moore

250 Class

FELD mixed things up for the Arlington race making it a round of the West Regional series instead of the first East Regional round, which it has been for the last 10 years. The West series now goes into its traditional five-week break before its next round.

After jumping out to a big lead in the West Regional 250SX championship standings, Cooper Webb allowed Joey Savatgy and Christian Craig to claw back into title contention when he suffered a DNF and a couple of tip-overs during the last three races. In fact, Savatgy held the points lead heading into the Texas race, and the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider jumped into the lead in the main event after grabbing the holeshot. However, he, too, suffered a crash when Craig moved over into him in the whoops on the second lap of the main event, leaving Savatgy at the back of the pack. For anyone wondering about the move, Craig didn't take Savatgy out on purpose. All night guys were moving over to the left in the whoops to protect the inside in the next corner. Craig felt Savatgy creeping up on him on the wall jump that split the whoops sections. Savatgy should have backed off when he was getting pinched off. He didn't resulting in a nice size endo.

“I was just trying to guard my line,” explained Craig. “I knew he wanted to take me high in the next corner.”

Christian Craig, Arlington Supercross 2016
Christian Craig
Christian Craig remained in the 250SX title hunt with a runner-up finish.Photo By Shan Moore

Craig inherited the lead at that point and held it for the next 10 laps, before Webb, who was riding with a lot of patience, took over when Craig bobbled. Craig's technically smooth style was tailored-made for the Dallas dirt. But he made two minor front-end bobbles (both flat corners) and that let Webb catch him from about 2.5 seconds back.

“I rode around leading for eleven laps and two mistakes in one lap cost me big,” said Craig. “Cooper rode right up on me and made the pass pretty easy. I’m frustrated. I felt like I had that one. I felt like he wasn’t catching me this time. The only reason he caught me was those two mistakes. Stuff happens and we’ll go back and work on it.”

Webb was clearly happy to be back in the points lead.

“I scrubbed over the triple pretty hard and that’s where I got Christian,” said Webb. “He tried squaring up and I just kind of had the line. It was good racing with him once again. I was able to get a good start. I knew it was going to be a really good race. Joey went down and then Christian was riding good. He got a little lead on me. Then late in the race I was able to pull up on him and was able to make the pass, so that was good.”

Once Savatgy went down, Zach Osborne spent the rest of the 250SX main event in third place, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider grabbing his third podium of the season. Fourth went to Oklahoma sensation, and best of the rest, Cole Nichols, while Mitchell Oldenburg rounded out the top five.

Notes & Quotes

Heading into the Arlington round, Dungey was enjoying the best-ever start to his career. In addition to his wins, the Red Bull KTM rider hadn’t finished worse than second, which contributed to the 26-point lead in the standings that he brought into the Texas race. This was the fastest start for a rider since Chad Reed won five of the first six rounds in 2008. Dungey’s finish in Arlington marked the 18th-straight race finishing within the top two, which is an amazing feat of consistency, not to mention the speed it takes to accomplish such a task.

Only 40 riders signed up for Arlington in the 250 class and 51 showed up for the premier 450 class. Injuries have taken an early toll on the riders in the 2016 season.

The Yoshimura Suzuki team announced two days before the race that they would not be in attendance, with Blake Baggett still not completely healed and James Stewart opting to sit out another round to allow the cobwebs to clear from his head, saying that he feels he hasn’t had enough seat time on the bike yet to make a return this weekend. “James wants to get some laps on the bike this week and next before he tries to come back,” Team manager Mike Webb explained in a team statement. “Right now it’s just a matter of getting laps in to get his fitness level back up to where he can feel comfortable for an entire race. He’s shooting for an Atlanta return, but that’s not set in stone. Obviously it’s been a difficult Supercross season for us, but injuries are part of the sport and we want our riders to be healthy and confident that they are ready to go before trying to race.”

RESULTS

450 Class

  1. Ken Roczen (Suz)

  2. Ryan Dungey (KTM)

  3. Jason Anderson (Hus)

  4. Cole Seely (Hon)

  5. Eli Tomac (Kaw)

  6. Marvin Musquin (KTM)

  7. Davi Millsaps (KTM)

  8. Christophe Pourcel (Hus)

  9. Trey Canard (Hon)

  10. Jake Weimer (Suz)

Western Regional 250SX Class

  1. Cooper Webb (Yam)

  2. Christian Craig (Hon)

  3. Zach Osborne (Hus)

  4. Colt Nichols (Yam)

  5. Mitchell Oldenburg (KTM)

  6. Alex Martin (Yam)

  7. Jimmy DeCotis (Hon)

  8. Chris Alldredge (Kaw)

  9. Kyle Peters (Hon)

  10. Joey Savatgy (Kaw)