Cooper Webb will be one of three returning champions in 2022. Webb certainly has the advantage, winning two of the last three championships and a career best eight races last season. Webb changed his training program this offseason and has been working with former pro Michael Byrne so it will be interesting to see the results of this shift.
Eli Tomac switching teams was certainly the biggest off-season storyline as it was announced in October that he was leaving Monster Energy Kawasaki and joining the Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha team. Just seeing Tomac line up at the Anaheim Opener aboard something other than green will be a sight to behold. Tomac begins a new chapter in his storied career and brings the most experience to the line with 37 career wins, the most of any active rider.
Justin Brayton is the oldest active rider still competing in Supercross. Brayton now cherishes the role of elder stateman and currently holds the record for the oldest rider to win a premier class race (Daytona ’18). Brayton will turn 38 in March and would like to become the first athlete in history to win at the age of 37 or 38. Lining up in Anaheim will be Brayton’s 177th start, the most of any active racer and second only to Chad Reed on the All-Time list.
Justin Barcia likes to come out swinging and has won three consecutive opening rounds – Anaheim ’19, Anaheim ’20 and Houston ’21. Last year’s opening round win was a first for the GASGAS brand and Barcia is looking to add additional milestones to his career and the brand that just extended his contract through the 2023 season.
Tenure: On December 4, 1976, Marty Smith raced to the first ever 450SX Class victory in Angel Stadium (formerly known as Anaheim Stadium) on his Honda. Since then, Supercross has made Anaheim home to its most visits in one city or stadium with 76 gate drops. After missing a year on the schedule for the first time this millennia, Anaheim is roaring back with three stops on the schedule in ‘22 pulling its total to 79 450SX Class races before season’s end.
Openers: Angel Stadium has hosted 30 450SX Class season openers, the most of any city by 24 stops over Orlando who hosted six openers in the 1990’s. 2022’s opener will be number 31 for the venue.
Slow Start: The eventual series champion has not fared well in 450SX Class season openers. Only 17/48 (35%) times has the opener victor also won the title. The number drops in Anaheim Openers to 6/30 (30%). Ryan Villopoto is the last rider to win the opener and the title (2012 Anaheim, Kawasaki).
Record Streak: In 2021 Justin Barcia tied Jeremy McGrath’s record by winning three-in-a-row season openers. Even though the King has five total opener wins, Barcia could move into second all-time by himself and become the first rider ever to win four straight season openers.
The first 250SX Class race held in Anaheim was on February 2, 1985, and Mike Healey won the race on a Suzuki. This will be the 69th time the gate will drop for a 250SX Class race in Anaheim.
Anaheim has hosted 26 of the 37 250SX Class season openers, but only eight times has the winner won the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship (31%).
Ernesto Fonseca, Ivan Tedesco, Josh Hansen, Cooper Webb, & Ryan Villopoto are the only riders to sweep Anaheim in the 250SX Class. Villopoto is the only rider to sweep Anaheim in both classes.
The last six 450SX Class Champions won at least one race in Anaheim in the 250SX Class. The last five won an Anaheim Opener in the 250SX Class.