The battle for the 450 Class title has come down to the final Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship race of the season.
All season long, Red Bull KTM teammates Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey have both kept themselves in contention thanks to their consistent results. Dungey had closed the gap down to a mere seven points until he had his worst moto of the season one week ago at Indiana. The deficit now stands at 20 points, a margin that will be difficult – but not impossible – for Dungey to overcome at today’s Utah National.
“It’s a big monkey off the back seeing the points lead really go up, and it just takes a little bit of pressure off having a 20-point lead now,” Roczen said after the last race. “But I can’t back down. I need to have another good week.”
“It’s looking a little slim,” Dungey admitted, “but you can’t ever give up. By no means do I wish anything bad [on Roczen], I’m just gonna go out there and give it two hard motos, and hopefully that’s a 1-1, and if the rest works itself out, great. If we get a win and it doesn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be.”
With a maximum of 25 points on the line in each of the two remaining motos, Dungey will likely need a DNF from Roczen in one of those motos in order for the title to work out in his favor. It’s a tall order though, considering that Roczen hasn’t finished worse than fourth in a moto this season.
Canard on a hot streak Dungey and Roczen may own the headlines this week, but the rise of Trey Canard has been one of the biggest developments in the 450 Class in recent weeks.
Canard has dealt with several severe injuries over the course of his career that kept him repeatedly sidelined, but he has come back stronger than ever this year. Although Canard has been a part of the lead pack all season long, moto wins kept eluding him until he finally broke through for a victory two weeks ago at Unadilla in the second moto, breaking a winless drought that dated back several years to his time in the 250 Class. With another second moto win last week in Indiana, he has now won two of the last three motos raced.
“It was huge,” Canard said of the wins. “It’s been a couple years, so even to win a moto was really special. You start to lose a lot of confidence and faith that it’ll happen. So I was grateful.”
Canard credits the Honda Muscle Milk team with making huge strides in improving the bike over the course of the season and says that has been the biggest difference that has led to his recent success.
“I feel like I was pretty on point right off the bat [when returning from injury this year],” he said. “I think the bike has gotten a lot better. I’ve really enjoyed riding it, and that will obviously lead to more confidence in riding it.”
Now that he has the first 450 Class moto wins of his career under his belt, Canard will be in search of his first overall win in the class today at Miller Motorsports Park.
Watch live coverage of every moto from the Utah National today. First motos in both classes stream live on ProMotocross.com and NBC Sports Live Extra at 3 p.m. ET, with second motos in both classes getting underway at 5 p.m. ET. Click here to access the Live Extra stream.
NBCSN will also provide same-day television coverage of second motos. The second 450 Class moto can be seen at 6:30 p.m. ET, and the second 250 Class moto will air at 1 a.m. ET.
2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Anaheim 2: Ken Roczen is consistency’s king
This formula rewards riders who compete at the front of the pack at the end of the Mains, in their heats, or in last week’s case, the three motos that make up the Triple Crown. Roczen has improved his overall performance each week with a fifth in Anaheim 1, a fourth in San Diego and his first podium of 2023 in Anaheim 2. Can he keep the trend alive with a first- or second-place finish in Houston?
A fall is all it takes sometimes. Last week, Eli Tomac tumbled hard when he pushed wide on the exit of a turn and jumped on top of a Tuff Blox. He remounted after that incident in Race 3 of the Triple Crown, but could only manage a 13th-place result in the moto. It could have been much worse and resulted in an injury, but coupled with a sixth in the overall standings at Anaheim 2, it pushed him down a spot in the SuperMotocross Ranking.
Along with Roczen (and Chase Sexton), Cooper Webb swept the top five in Supercross’ first three rounds. He is knocking on the door of a win and it won’t take long for him to ascend to the top of the box. Webb has two victories in Houston and each of them came during a championship season.
If there is a more determined rider than Jason Anderson, get out of his way. His path to the front of the pack is not always lined with primroses since he often has to pass multiple riders with whom he has had a run-in during his path, but the SuperMotocross Power Rankings are concerned only with raw results – not intention – and Anaheim 2 was Anderson’s best race of the season. He earned his first top-five and first podium with a second-place finish that was aided by a moto win.
Dylan Ferrandis has also been a model of consistency. Last week his Triple Crown effort of 4-6-5 gave him an overall finish of fifth. That came on the heels of a fourth-place result in the season opener and a sixth in San Diego. With no result worse than sixth this season, the numbers add up quite well.
Sexton’s position just outside the top five this week is entirely attributable to his last-place result in the San Diego heat. The SuperMotocross Rankings looks at the past 45 days, so that will affect him for a while, but if he continues to ride like he did in Anaheim 2, he’s going to climb quickly despite that albatross around his neck.
The 250 West riders get a couple of weeks off before heading to Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 and several of them need the rest. Tough weeks for Cameron McAdoo and RJ Hampshire forced them to lose ground in the SuperMotocross points to Jett Lawrence at a time that could prove to play mental games.
Lawrence also had his share of issues at Anaheim 2, but overcame early falls in the first two motos and finished no worse than sixth. Considering that he dropped to the tail of the field in Race 2, that was a remarkable accomplishment and he entered the final race with a shot at the overall win. He narrowly missed that mark, but still has not finished worse than second in three rounds. His lead in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings is safe.
McAdoo said it best in an Instagram post this week: “Woke up feeling grateful that I’m relatively healthy after my big mistake during qualifying yesterday. We made the decision that it would be safe for me to race so I did everything I possibly could to get through the night ending up [sixth overall]. We will work on getting healed up in these few weeks off to come back strong for Oakland!”
With results of 8-7-5 in the Triple Crown and his combined sixth-place result, McAdoo lost significant ground to Lawrence in both the points’ standings and our Power formula. The Oakland race is going to be critical if he wants to stay in the championship hunt because the series will have a long break before returning in Seattle for Round 11. No one wants to sit with negative feelings for that long.
Mitchell Oldenburg has quietly amassed some impressive numbers. His name has not been called a lot during broadcasts, but he has not finished worse than seventh in any of the first three rounds. Themes develop during a season and weekend – and for the moment, this one revolves around reliability. Oldenburg finished 5-4-6 in Anaheim 2 which means he has consistently amassed SuperMotocross Power Rankings points.
Stilez Robertson won his first race of the season in Moto 2 of the Triple Crown. Coupled with a third-place finish in the final race, he leapfrogged Hampshire and Enzo Lopes, both of whom had disappointing outings. He stands fifth in the points’ standing mostly due to a ninth-place finish in the season opener, but each race has been progressively better and that is a good sign.
Sometimes, all it takes is a taste of success. Prior to Anaheim 2, Levi Kitchen’s best Supercross finish was a seventh earned in this year’s season opener. He scored a ninth at Minneapolis last year, but that was not enough to put him on the radar. This early in the season, one strong run can sway the SuperMotocross Power Ranking significantly, but Robertson has earned his way into the top five. More importantly, he’s going to be the object of interest when the West series returns to Oakland.
Next week the 250 East riders mount up in Houston, Texas before they head to Tampa, Florida. The Power Rankings will combine the two divisions, so the riders below are likely to shift dramatically.
Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat wins]
Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
Mitchell Oldenburg – W
Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main win]
RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat wins]
Max Vohland – W
Derek Kelley – W
Enzo Lopes – W
Pierce Brown – W
Phil Nicoletti – W
Dylan Walsh – W
Cole Thompson – W
Robbie Wageman – W
Anthony Rodriguez – W
Ty Masterpool – W
Kaeden Amerine – W
Dominique Thury – W
Austin Forkner – W
Derek Drake – W
* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.