Q&A: Jeff Emig ahead of Monster Energy Cup

Photo: FELD/Monster Energy Cup

MotorSportsTalk caught up with veteran motorcycle rider, champion and now FOX Sports analyst, Jeff Emig, ahead of this weekend’s Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas, a $1 million motocross showcase event now in its fifth season.

MST: What additional variable does the return of James Stewart give to the race? 

Jeff Emig: “His time away from Supercross racing, especially under the circumstances, it’s my hope for him that it’s given him some perspective. He’s been wide open since he’s been a little kid. Funny how things work, when you sit out and are forced to take a break. You get some perspective, see it from the outside. I see him coming back rejuvenated, with a lot of motivation. I’d have something to prove to myself and the riders around me. As crazy as it may seem, this enforced suspension that he fulfilled, it may add some longevity to his career.

“When something’s taken away from you, I think it’s logical to think that should give you some more appreciation for what you have. It gives you perspective. He’s been racing his whole life and for 16 months, he wasn’t allowed to. So maybe now he can gauge the competition. Play some golf, have fun. Get rested and rejuvenated. Be ready to attack. Because of his ability throughout his whole career to be one if not the fastest rider, I’d say it makes him a dangerous competitor.”

MST: With Stewart suspended and Ryan Villopoto having retired earlier this year, how has it changed the dynamic in Supercross racing this year among the competitors?

JE: “The one thing I’ve learned in 30-plus years in Motocross and Supercross is that whenever someone is out of the picture, it opens it up for a new star to ignite and shine. That’s just given more riders for more riders to be on the podium, building confidence. Ryan Dungey has made a dramatic change for the good in his program, with how he holds himself, his leadership, speed and fitness in the last 12 months. He’s a different rider. But guys like Stewart, Ken Roczen will be a big challenge.”

MST: For Ryan Dungey, on the heels of his championship, how motivated is he to finally win his first Monster Energy Cup?

JE: “I would think he’s hugely motivated. He’s been second three times and fourth one time. Every event, he’s been all of the four he’s raced, he has been somebody that is a contender for the win. We did a thing on Supercross Live and MonsterEnergyCup.com where we had these exciting moments from first four years and Dungey was two of them! One was when he bent a shifter, air off the triple, and was shifting the bike with his left hand, that year he was fast enough to win the event. Then he missed the joker lane one year.

“It was such great television, to not only see his excitement by missing the joker lane, but then he goes to high five Villopoto and he’s like, ‘Hey dude, you missed the joker lane!’ We know what each rider said, and you see Dungey, and he’s like, ‘Oh, s***, I just missed the joker lane!’ That’s the type of thing that excitement that this format brings. It brings goosebumps just thinking about it. It allows riders to hang out, not worried about points, grip of cash especially of the first race. Three motos, if you lose the first one, the $1 million is out of play. It’s uber important to win the first race. Keep backing up. It starts with getting on-track for qualifying practice. Getting out of the gate strong is important. This sequence to the day is that a rider can earn $1 million if they’re perfect.”

MST: What do you like about the nature of the race format?

JE: “It’s way different in so many ways, which is the purpose of the Cup. It makes it a single event. No Supercross before it, or after it. It’s in the middle of testing, preparing the motorcycles for following year of Monster Energy Supercross. It’s kind of isolated, as an island of a race. You don’t think about anything else except this event.

“Now that the race has had four years under its belt, we’re on year five, I personally see an incredible drive and desire the riders and teams have to win the event. It’s not a one-time event. Now big names are started to get added. Monster Energy and FELD completely committed to making it a long-term event. Right now, there’s $1 million in play (for winning all three). My personal feeling, before the 10-year mark, it will be $1 million to win no matter what. The type of action the race has provided so far, will help build it into a major event on the calendar. Now we know this race isn’t going anywhere. It will be there annually.”

MST: What’s your take on the new track design and initial projections headed into the race?

JE: “I think, the team led by Ricky Carmichael, when it comes to track builders – in world of Supercross – he’s what Arnold Palmer and golf course builders are to golf. I think they’ve done a great job to make something new. One thing that has been … the builders, FELD, Monster Energy want to attract world riders.

“By eliminating the whoops section, it changes to make it from a stereotypical Motocross/Supercross race. That’s such a specific talent needed. This year, the track, to me, your cornering ability and bike setup and possibly even some flat, hard corners is kind of old school. I think there’s some of that built into the track. Good for some riders, and other riders. Obstacles, jumps, over-and-unders. But I think the race will be won and lost on flat turns. That’s my expert analysis.

“If there was a massive whoops section, James Stewart gets the nod. He’s a notch above everyone else. But we don’t have any of those.

“With my analysis at this point, if it had to do with flat turns, turning while leaning over, I’d give the nod to Ryan Dungey. We will wait and see if these factors play into the overall champion, or will someone in the middle technique wise find a way to get it done.

“I have some friends texting me, and I’m like, you want me to tell you on a Wednesday? I’m educated enough to know that I don’t have enough necessary information to give you an answer. A lot of guys can win. But pretty much every top guy is riding. This has the most talented field this year, compared to the four previous years.”

Monster Energy Cup Television Schedule

  • October 17, FS2 & FOX Sports GO – live at 9:30pm ET / 6:30pm PT
  • October 18, FOX Broadcast Channel
    • 2:30pm-4:00pm ET / 11:30am-1:00pm PT (Pre-NFL)
    • 4:30pm-6:00pm ET / 1:30pm-3:00pm PT (Post-NFL)
  • October 20, FS1 – repeat airing at 8:00am ET / 5:00am PST

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb


For the fifth time in 10 rounds of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season, the three riders at the top of the championship standings shared a podium and while those points tell one story, the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit tell a slightly different tale.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Cooper Webb is peaking at the right time. – Feld Motor Sports

Chase Sexton has been all but perfect during the past 45 days with podium finishes in each of his heats and Triple Crown features. His only stumble during this period was a 10th-place finish in the Indianapolis Main. Last week, Sexton was perfect with wins in both his heat and the feature, although he needed a little help from an Aaron Plessinger mistake to take the top spot on the podium at the end of the night.

Cooper Webb finished fifth at Houston and was beginning to worry ever so slightly about his position in the points. Prior to the race in Tampa, he told NBC Sports that it was time to win and like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence, Webb went out and captured it. Following that race, Webb has swept the podium and earned the red plate two weeks ago in Indianapolis. At Detroit, he added two more points on Eli Tomac as the season begins to wind down.

Tomac struggled with a stiff neck at Indianapolis and after a modest third-place showing in Detroit, he revealed he was still suffering a little. Webb and Sexton have been able to close the gap on Tomac in the past 45 days, but one of the main reasons he is so close in the points was a pair of wins that started the year. Seattle is going to be important for the defending champion because Tomac cannot afford to lose any more momentum with seven rounds remaining.

MORE: Chase Sexton inherits the win in Detroit

It appeared Jason Anderson was turning things around. He earned his fifth heat win at Detroit, which was also his sixth consecutive race (including features) in which he scored a top-five. A fall in the Detroit Main dropped him a lap off the pace and sent him home with a season-worst finish of ninth, causing a ripple effect in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Justin Barcia was a huge part of the show last week in Detroit. He swapped positions with both Webb and Tomac in the middle stage of the race, which allowed Sexton to close the gap. Barcia finished fourth in that race to earn his third consecutive top-five. He’s been outside the top 10 only once in the first 10 rounds.

Adam Cianciarulo had a great start to the Main. He led a couple of laps before losing a lap and slipping back to eighth in the final rundown. That run was strong enough to elevate him three positions in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit.

450 Rankings

Driver Percentage
1. Chase Sexton
[2 Main, 6 Heat wins]
87.00 1 0
2. Cooper Webb
[2 Main, 1 Heat win]
86.71 2 0
3. Eli Tomac
[5 Main, 6 Heat wins]
84.57 3 0
4. Jason Anderson
[5 Heat wins]
80.71 4 0
5. Ken Roczen
[1 Main, 1 Heat win]
80.50 5 0
6. Justin Barcia
[1 Heat win]
79.07 7 1
7. Aaron Plessinger 77.14 6 -1
8. Adam Cianciarulo 69.75 11 3
9. Christian Craig 68.86 10 1
10. Justin Cooper 63.90 9 -1
11. Justin Hill 58.57 15 4
12. Dean Wilson 51.50 12 0
13. Colt Nichols 51.25 13 0
14. Shane McElrath 46.86 17 3
15. Josh Hill 46.79 16 1
16. Benny Bloss 45.31 18 2
17. Jared Lesher 39.00 NA
18. Joey Savatgy 38.63 14 -4
19. Cade Clason 37.50 21 2
20. Grant Harlan 35.54 23 3

Supercross 450 Points

The NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings look at the past 90 days in the 250 class in order to have a balanced comparison between the East and West divisions and Hunter Lawrence has been all but perfect this year. At Detroit, he earned his fifth win of the season and kept alive a streak of podium finishes in six rounds. He tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 250 wins one week before the West riders take to the track for back-to-back races at Seattle, Washington and Glendale, Arizona.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Nate Thrasher is settling into a comfortable role as ‘best in class’. – Feld Motor Sports

The Lawrence brothers are dominating the points in each of their respective divisions, which means the remainder of the field is battling to be best in class.

In the East, that rider is Nate Thrasher, who beat Hunter in a head-to-head matchup in their heat only to finish second in the main when the majority of points were awarded. Thrasher seems to have accepted his position in the championship standings, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep trying for wins.

Haiden Deegan showed a lot of aggression in his heat last week. He threw a couple of block passes at his teammate Jordon Smith and set up a series of events that kept Smith from making the big show while Deegan settled into second in the preliminary. Deegan was unconcerned about how he raced his teammate and would not let a little controversy keep him from celebrating his second career podium in Detroit.

Supercross 250 Points

Jeremy Martin just keeps clicking off solid results. He won his heat last week by making a pass on Deegan and Smith while they were in the heat of their battle. Martin finished fourth in the Main, which means he continues to have only one finish worse than sixth in any of the features or mains.

Smith fell one position in the points standings, but the damage was even worse in SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit. Crash damage in his heat contributed to a last-place finish in that race, for which he earned minimal points. He was not able to advance from the Last Chance Qualifier after stalling his bike in heavy traffic.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Hunter Lawrence – E
[5 Main, 5 Heat wins]
90.43 1 0
2. Jett Lawrence – W
[3 Main, 3 Heat wins]
90.30 2 0
3. Nate Thrasher – E
[1 Main, 3 Heat wins]
84.00 5 2
4. Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat win]
79.80 9 5
5. Haiden Deegan – E
[1 Heat win]
78.21 7 2
6. Jeremy Martin – E
[2 Heat wins]
78.00 8 2
7. Jordon Smith – E
[3 Heat Wins]
76.77 4 -3
8. Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main]
75.30 3 -5
9. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 75.20 11 2
10. RJ Hampshire – W
[4 Heat wins]
74.50 17 7
11. Max Anstie – E 74.43 6 -5
12. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 0
13. Max Vohland – W 71.56 10 -3
14. Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
69.22 14 0
15. Chris Blose – E 67.43 18 3
16. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 15 -1
17. Enzo Lopes – W 66.00 20 3
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 16 -2
19. Pierce Brown – W 65.78 13 -6
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 21 1

* 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 for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage