At the start of the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross season, Ken Roczen was the man to beat. He had won the opening two 450SX Main Events of the season at Anaheim 1 and San Diego and was the favorite to take the title. However, at the third round at Anaheim 2, Roczen went down hard, shattering his arm. Since then, he has yet to return to the top step of the podium in Supercross.
Yet, he’s came close. Here are five times when it looked like he would get it done:
5. Nashville 2019
Ken Roczen was not leading the Nashville Supercross in 2019 but he was heading that way. The series had just been in Houston one week before - where Roczen had won the first Triple Crown Main but then crashed hard in the second - and Seattle two weeks before that - a race that also makes this list. Needless to say, Roczen and his fans were starting to feel that he was cursed. Those feelings increased in Nashville when Roczen - who was charging hard and heading for first - was an innocent victim in another rider’s crash. Joey Savatgy went down in front of him and Roczen had nowhere to go. He rode over Savatgy’s bike and fell off of his, adding to the list of wins that got away.
4. Seattle 2019
Without having a rulebook in front of them, many fans - and indeed Roczen himself - believed that he was the rightful winner of the 2019 Seattle Supercross. Marvin Musquin had won the race with Roczen in second, but Roczen had watched Musquin jump through red cross flags and believed Musquin would be penalized. However, the penalty for such a violation during a Main Event, when no positions are gained, is for a deduction of points and purse equal to two positions in the final results plus two additional points. Ultimately, no actual positions are lost, and Musquin kept the win. Further to Musquin’s credit, he still had to race hard to hold Roczen off for the remainder of the event. While Roczen had lost time to Musquin while rolling through the red cross flags, he told NBC during the post-race interviews that he had forgot about it shortly afterward and so was still trying to beat Musquin on the track.
3. Glendale 2019
Ken Roczen had got off to a great start at the 2019 Glendale Supercross and was dominating the event. However, his lead was virtually erased when Malcolm Stewart crashed hard, bringing out the red flag. Roczen still held the lead for the staggered restart, but Jason Anderson was right on his tail. When Anderson went to pass, there was contact and Roczen went down, costing him any shot at the win that had looked like his for the taking before the red flag.
2. Oakland 2018
In just his fifth race back following his injury in 2017, Roczen got within one lap of winning at the 2018 Oakland Supercross. Large ruts were appearing in the track though, and riders were making mistakes left and right. Roczen made one too many and, on the final lap, made an error that allowed Jason Anderson to sneak on by for the lead and the win.
1. Arlington 2019
So just how close has Ken Roczen got close to a win since his 2017 injury? The answer: 0.02 seconds. This happened at the 2019 Arlington Supercross, where Roczen was holding a comfortable lead. However, Cooper Webb was charging hard on his KTM and, in the final turn on the final lap, Webb made his move. The two drag raced to the line, and there was virtually nothing in it as they were bar-to-bar across the finish. Both riders had to check the scoring pylon to check who had actually won the race, and it was another instance of frustration from Roczen as he saw that it was Webb.