Mimg9212 2
Ken Roczen won Saturday night's Monster Energy AMA Supercross opener. (Mark Munoz photo)

Roczen Thrills Big Anaheim Crowd

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Monster Energy AMA Supercross series kicked off Saturday night with Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen grabbing his fourth season-opening victory in the 450SX class inside a sold-out Angel Stadium.

Defending champion Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb charged hard for a second-place finish amid the screaming of 45,050 race fans.

Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia, who was in line for a record-breaking fourth-straight season opener victory, put in a smart and fast ride to fill out the podium with third.

Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton grabbed the holeshot in the 450SX class event but his teammate Roczen was past him almost instantly. The two Honda riders quickly gapped the field by more than six seconds, with sophomore 450SX racer Sexton keeping clear of potential contact but looking like he had the speed to make a pass for the lead.

Behind them, struggling with a pre-season shoulder injury, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo held third place with Barcia behind but not yet applying pressure. 

The first eight minutes of the 20-minute plus one lap race were outwardly uneventful, but then things started to happen rapidly and dramatically.

The Honda teammates nearly made contact in mid-air; shortly after that Sexton got out of shape at the end of a rhythm lane and crashed entering a bowl turn. He recovered quickly but crashed harder a lap and a half later re-taking second place from Cianciarulo. The second crash dropped Sexton well outside of the top five. 

Barcia took second from Cianciarulo, then a few laps later Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson, the 2018 series champion, passed Barcia to put a green bike back into second place. Barcia quickly retaliated and put Anderson on the ground.

Then Cooper Webb put on one of the late-race charges that’s he’s become known for, putting his KTM into second place with just over three minutes left on the clock.

Amid the position changes up front, Chase Sexton climbed back as high as fourth before giving up the spot up to Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin right at the checkered flag. 

In the Western Regional 250SX class, Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Christian Craig turned a good race start into a great start to his season with his first win inside the stadium in which he grew up watching Monster Energy Supercross from the stands. 

Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Seth Hammaker grabbed the holeshot but Smartop Bullfrog Spas MotoConcepts Honda’s Vince Friese pushed past into the lead early. Christian Craig moved quickly from fourth to second, then made the move into the front spot less than four minutes into the 15-minute plus one lap race.

On the fifth lap Hammaker got past Friese with Muc-Off FXR ClubMX’s Garrett Marchbanks right behind. Marchbanks applied pressure for the spot, but it was Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence who put in the final attack for the spot with contact in the final corner. It was not enough to take the position.

error: Content is protected !!