The UNusual Suspects: Anaheim 1
The Monster Energy Supercross season opener from Anaheim is always a ball of nervous energy. It is the first race of the new season and many racers are on new machines, racing for new sponsors and everything has that sheen of the unknown. What is the most unknown is how fast everyone will be for the first race of the season! Months of preparation and training precedes the season opener and for the most part every racer on the starting gate comes into round one with the thought that they can win. Fighting against them is that nervous energy we just spoke about, plus the fact that most of the racers haven’t competed in a Supercross race since May. Of course there were the favorites: Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin, Ken Roczen and defending champion Jason Anderson. That said, what manifested from A1 was a slew of surprises and some performances by three of the less popular names that left the huge crowd standing on their feet!
Dean Wilson: The oft injured, but extremely talented Mr. Wilson came into the season opener as a privateer with a little support from his former factory team, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. He had recovered from double ACL surgery and very little was known about his speed, endurance or Supercross prowess in general. What did he do? He went out and qualified 2nd in the final 450SX session, finished 2nd in his heat race, then blasted out and led 15min of the 20min main event! He would finish 4th, but raised a lot of eye brows.
Malcolm Stewart: The 2015 250SX Eastern Regional Champion has struggled since moving to the 450SX class, but shown flashes of brilliance in a heat race here and there. It was very late into the “silly season” when Malcolm nailed down a ride with Smart Tops/Moto Concepts/Honda and like Wilson, he was pretty quiet leading into the season. Malcolm was super fast in 450SX qualifying, posting the 3rd quickest time then charged to 2nd in his heat race. In the main event Malcolm was stalking Wilson past the halfway mark and as he was making an attempt at the lead, he lost traction and fell down. He would finish 7th, but he will be one to watch as round 2 in Glendale approaches.
Colt Nichols: The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha veteran of the 250SX class has been through a very rough string of injuries. Colt had proven he could land on the podium a couple times, but could never put together a good start or show the speed it took to win. Nichols qualified 5th and placed 2nd in his heat race to heavy favorite Adam Cianciarulo. When the gate dropped for the 250SX main event, Colt stole the lead and went on to lead every single lap taking the checkered flag by a wide margin! It was a huge win, and Nichols immediately inserted himself as a title favorite.
As stated above, you never really know what to expect from the Monster Energy Supercross season opener. What do these performances prove? Yes, it was raining and muddy, but the effort put in by these three was strong enough to warrant them extra attention at round 2 in Glendale. Like always, Anaheim 1 leaves more questions than answers so the coolest thing is nobody knows what is going to happen next!