Last Supercross of the year and it was a good one as the two mains lit up the Sam Boyd Stadium – and the champs bought the titles home…
Wednesday 9th May 2018
2018 AMA SUPERCROSS, ROUND 17 REPORT.
LAS VEGAS, NV. MAY 4TH.
Well, the champions-elect got the job done. Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) took a comfortable 5th place finish to close out the 2018 450SX title race with a handy 9-point advantage. Zach Osborne (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) took his second 250SX East title, this time without the need for a last lap lunge, while for Aaron Plessinger (Yamalube Yamaha) it was a nervy end as he snuck home with a slim 2-point advantage. Too close – but maybe he had other things on his mind, as he proposed to his girlfriend on the podium (she said yes).
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM) was chasing a 14-point deficit in the championship race coming into Vegas. It was a tall order, Anderson had to drop out of the top-ten for Musquin to win – but of course that had just happened a week before in Salt Lake City. As it was the win came down to a two-horse race between Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki) and Musquin. Musquin shadowed Tomac for most of the race but then lost touch when lapping backmarkers. Probably knowing there was nothing to be gained, Tomac was let off to take his eighth win of the year, his 21st career victory. Behind Musquin Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV KTM) took his fifth podium of the season, the quiet achiever in the class having scored good points the whole season through. Anderson meanwhile had worked himself into a nice safe zone in fifth with clear air ahead and behind to make his championship safe.
“We’ve put our whole lives into this, to win this championship for me and the team,” said an elated Anderson. “It’s the most surreal moment of my life – man I’m so happy!”
With two championship leaders playing it cool, just needing average points, the 250 race could have been processional. Instead it burned with a white heat as the nearly-guys of the year went hammer and tongs to make strong last impressions. Shane McElrath (TLD Red Bull KTM) went off fast chased by Jeremy Martin (Geico Honda), Joey Savatgy and Adam Cianciarulo (both Monster Energy Kawasaki) in a proper East meets West mash-up. Championship leaders Zach Osborne and Aaron Plessinger meanwhile settled into virtually uncontested 7th and 8th places, well clear of the fractious battle ahead. Cianciarulo had the most to gain – chasing Plessinger for the West title and wanting a first win to round out the season. And win he did after making two neat and quick passes on Martin and McElrath mid race. With Cianciarulo out front, Plessinger had just a two-point advantage for the title, so even the slightest mistake could have lost him the championship. So while he looked to ride understandably tight, he paced himself off Osborne and the pair got the job done and celebrated together.
Eli Tomac was hurting – 17 wins in two years and no championships… “I have to fix those mistakes if I want to hold that trophy,” he said. Musquin’s happy just to be there, he’s growing stronger with every season, he’s got pace and having won his four races this year ‘coming from behind’ (as they say) he’s got battle skills too. Anderson is the worthy winner, having read from the copybook of Dungey – but he still does it his way and when he’s racing (as against defending his championship lead as he had to do) he’s as racy as anyone. These three in 2019 will be hot. Question is, will Ken Roczen be there to challenge them? Well, ‘Alpha Dog’ as he called himself has the outdoor season to see if he’s over his wounds and ready to be a contender again.
Credit to the B-riders – that’s Blake Baggett and Justin Brayton who rode solid all season and grabbed the limelight as and when they could. Baggett grabbed five podiums, Brayton just the two – but one of those was the win in Daytona, the only scrap left on the table by the greedy top-three. And credit again to Brayton – much was made of Chad Reed’s season as a 36 year old, but Brayton chips in at 34 years old, so stealing 5th (and top Honda rider) is some performance for this veteran. Weston Pieck rolled home 6th on the first Suzuki, again an experienced campaigner having put together a strong year – possibly the 450’s most-improved rider.
In the 250s you have to tip your hat to Zach Osborne and Aaron Plessinger for rising above the squabbling pack. It’s not easy to get away at the front of the 250s and after a tooth-and-nail 2017 championship Osborne (29 this year) took the East title by force this year. Experience counts. Plessinger, meanwhile built on a solid 2017 season and with four wins he’d gapped his rivals by the time the season wound down, allowing him to back off for the last few races, none of which is comfort to Adam Cianciarulo who finished second by just two points – for the second year in a row
All of which is simply history, already. This weekend the AMA lads get to chill. The weekend after that they start again, for their 2018 motocross season. The AMA kinda makes MXGP look like semi-retirement…
2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship
450SX final championship standings
1 Jason Anderson Husqvarna 356
2 Marvin Musquin KTM 347
3 Eli Tomac Kawasaki 318
4 Blake Baggett KTM 285
5 Justin Brayton Honda 275
6 Weston Peick Suzuki 251
7 Dean Wilson Kawasaki 208
8 Broc Tickle KTM 184
9 Cooper Webb Yamaha 181
10 Justin Barcia Yamaha 177
250SX West Coast final championship standings
1 Aaron Plessinger Yamaha 211
2 Adam Cianciarulo Kawasaki 209
3 Shane McElrath KTM 193
4 Joey Savatgy Kawasaki 193
5 Chase Sexton Honda 167
6 Justin Hill Suzuki 136
7 Kyle Chisholm Yamaha 134
8 Mitchell Harrison Husqvarna 121
9 Christian Craig KTM 106
10 Hayden Mellross Yamaha 101
250SX East Coast final championship standings
1 Zach Osbourne Husqvarna 196
2 Jordon Smith KTM 188
3 Jeremy Martin Honda 175
4 Austin Forkner Kawasaki 137
5 Luke Renzland Yamaha 118
6 Kyle Peters Suzuki 112
7 Sean Cantrell KTM 108
8 Brandon Hartranft Yamaha 103
9 Anthony Rodriguez KTM 76
10 John Short Yamaha 58