Site of the second round of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series, NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas managed to flip the 450cc Supercross Championship upside-down after a tumultuous day of racing in the Lone Star State. Underlining the whole affair was the irony that just seven days after Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac hit the dirt during the main event at the Anaheim series opener, A1 race winner Marvin Musquin of the KTM team crashed heavily during his heat race at Houston. End result: a dislocated shoulder and the Frenchman on the sidelines and out for the night. And so too, as fate would have it, was Tomac who actually attempted to ride practice before deciding his damaged shoulder was not up for the task at hand and called time on the event.
Things being what they were, Monster Energy Yamaha pilot Justin Barcia grabbed the holeshot in the 450cc main event and took off before falling under attack from Honda’s Ken Roczen. Ultimately, Roczen would make the pass on Barcia, but the 25 year-old hung tough with the German for a host of laps before coming under fire from fast closing Husqvarna rider Jason Anderson. In due time, Anderson zapped Barcia, and then, a couple of circuits later, did the same to Roczen take control of the lead. Anderson would then hold steady to win his first main event of ’18. Just behind at the finish came Roczen, followed by Barcia, who fought off the spirited advances of Team Honda’s Cole Seely in the twilight stages of the main event to snag his second hard-earned podium spot in a fortnight’s time.
Downshifting a bit, in the formidable draft of Seely came AutoTrader/JGR Suzuki’s burly and brilliant Weston Peick, with his second top-five in a row. From there it was Smartop/Motoconcepts Honda’s Justin Brayton in sixth, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM’s Blake Baggett in seventh, and then KTM’s Broc Tickle, Monster Energy Kawasaki’sJosh Grant, and GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin rounding out the top 10. And down the live timing and scoring boards came Peick’s enthused interim teammate Malcolm Stewart in 11th, and Barcia’s auspiciously slow teammate Cooper Webb in 12th. And with all that, Jason Anderson now leads the points standings by a mere seven marks over the impressive Roczen who, in turn, is tied with Barcia for second in points. Musquin now sits 10th in points, while Tomac sits 26th.
Also on the bill at Houston was the always-fierce AMA 250SX West Region clash. A treacherous track that would like nothing more than to reach up and slap a rider (or many riders) into its clutches, Ohio-born and off-road raised Aaron Plessinger of the powerful Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha outfit just straight-up excelled in Texas. Starting his main event in a somewhat out of sorts 10th place track position, Plessinger straight-up charged like a man possessed to chase down Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy, who grabbed the holeshot and was forced to fight off the advances of teammate Adam Cianciarulo and round-one winner Shane McElrath before he finally gave up the lead to Plessinger with six laps left in the 18-lap main event.
Savatgy hung on for second, just over a second in front of GEICO Honda rookie Chase Sexton, who came on strong in the final laps to go by his teammate Christian Craig, McElrath, and Ciancairulo, who hit the dirt twice in the main event and crossed the finish line an excruciatingly off seventh.
Alas, things being what they were, Shane McElrath hung on for fourth in front of the aforementioned Craig, Plessinger’s Minnesota-born teammate Mitchell Oldenburg, Cianciarulo, CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha’s Bradley Taft. From there, it was 51-Fifty Yamaha’s Kyle Chisholm, and defending 250SX West champion Justin Hill on his AutoTrader/JGR Suzuki filling out the 10th.And thus with all things withstanding, with his win, Plessinger now leads the championship points standings as the series heads back West to Anaheim’s Angel Stadium for not only round three, but the first of the three presubscribed and highly hyped Monster Energy Supercross Series Triple Crown events set for this forthcoming Saturday night in Orange County, California.