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Images from the 2018 Supercross Triple Crown Challenge in Anaheim, CA

Team Green Sweeps A2

Jan 202018

The 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series premiered its new Triple Crown format on Saturday night before a sell-out crowd inside Angel Stadium of Anaheim and it made the race one to remember as it conjured up some chaos and also allowed some new faces to grace the victory podium. And after all was said and done and the six motos run (three for both the 450SX and 250SX West classes) it was usual suspects Eli Tomac and Joey Savatgy leaving town as the overall victors.  Eli (Monster Energy Kawasaki) was fast in practice, and consistent in the three main events, going 5-1-2 to grab the overall. This is a potential season-saver for Tomac, who still faces a massive points gap to Jason Anderson but certainly looks more dangerous now that he has his health and is back to his winning ways.

“It was just time that I needed to recover,” said Tomac, pointing back to the big crash he had at the opening round of the series three weeks back. “I don’t want to make up the sob story that “Oh I was so hurt.” I hammered the shoulder and it just wasn’t coming around. The past week we made big, big gains so I knew we’d be able to give it a run tonight.”


The first 450SX main event of three was unique when compared to a typical supercross main—because at eight minutes and one lap, it was far shorter than a regular supercross main. Justin Brayton holeshot but Honda's Cole Seely got around, and then Seely rode strong and pulled away to an easy win. Even though Tomac looked back to his usual speed in practice, he didn’t bulldog his way through the pack in this one, nor did Anderson. The entire top ten seemed evenly matched.


Honda's Cole Seely won the first race but not just because he got a good start in a short race—he was on his game tonight. In race two he started behind Tomac but stalked him the whole way, and even after bobbling late he was able to get back to Tomac’s wheel for a close second. He blew the start in race three, though, starting 14th on his #14 HRC Honda. He made a bunch of quick moves but once he got to eighth, it was tough to make up anymore ground. Still, his 1-2-7 highlighted his best riding so far this year.


Husqvarna's Jason Anderson’s start was terrible in the first race, but he also appeared to play it a little cautious working his way forward. This season has seen a more patient Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider, and even the crazy three-main format didn’t take that out of him. While early-season injuries to Tomac and Marvin Musquin threatened to take the air out of the series, the fact is that only Anderson can say he’s had three good races (and three podiums) to start the year. Everyone has experienced ups and downs already and there’s probably much more to come. Musquin did return despite damaging his shoulder last weekend. Still, his 9-11-21 scores earned him 13th overall and ten points on the night.


Honda's Ken Roczen’s night was a bit rough and he admitted to us that perhaps revisiting Anaheim 2—the race where it all went sour for him last year—might have been a factor.


Justin Barcia, a title contender after back-to-back podiums to start the year, got bad starts in all three races—surprising since starts are usually a Barcia strength. The Monster Energy/Knich Yamaha rider persevered and edged Roczen in the overall with eighth, with 8-5-9 scores. This also puts Barcia a point ahead of Roczen in the standings.


The likes of Weston Peick, Josh Grant and Blake Baggett were in huge battles all night. Suzuki’s Peick is proving ultra-consistent this year, he was fifth overall, giving him 5-5-5 scores in the first three rounds this season. That makes him fifth in the 450SX standings. Grant (Monster Energy Kawasaki) and Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM) looked faster tonight than in the previous two races. They were good. Grant was sixth and Baggett seventh overall. Baggett had a crash in race two but came back to tenth. He might have been in contention for a podium if that hadn’t happened.

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki racer Joey Savatgy came up big in Angel Stadium winning his first AMA 250SX West main event on 2018. Consistent through the first three rounds of the new series, Savatgy was absolutely  thrilled to get the win.


Shane McElrath (Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM) was second overall with 5-1-4 scores. He has to feel this is one that might have gotten away—he was dicing with Christian Craig for second in race one and said he was a bit “impatient” and went down. He was fifth. He got a bad start in the second race. Still, he also said this was maybe the most fun he’s ever had at a race.


“There was a lot of pressure, even in the first six (minutes) plus one,” said McElrath. “I thought it was a really good race track this weekend, and I would rather see an easier section than people crash. It was really intense everyone was fast and I think with the shorter distance I think everyone got a lot of confidence from it. This was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a race.”


Christian Craig put his GEICO Honda on the podium for the first time this year. 


Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki) had a big getoff in practice but suited up for the night show and got better in each race. He nearly ran Savatgy down for the win in the final race of the night. He ended up fourth overall. Mitchell Oldenburg continued to show good speed and ended up fifth.