Justin Barcia, Colt Nichols win Anaheim Supercross opener

3 Comments

On a heavy, rutted track Justin Barcia scored the 450 win at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. to claim the first of 17 rounds. It was his third career victory in 450s and his first in six years.

No one quite knew what to expect since for the first time since 2008, the season opening Supercross race was run under very muddy conditions. And as the gate dropped on the 450 feature, rain that began with the last chance qualifiers fell as hard as it had all day.

Barcia took the lead with about three minutes remaining on the clock and stretched his advantage to almost five second at the checkers.

Ken Roczen finished second after overcoming an injury last year.

Eli Tomac grabbed third in the final laps.

But the heartwarming story of the race belonged to the rider in fourth. Earlier in the week, Dean Wilson was selling t-shirts and hoodies to raise money simply to make the race. He took the lead on the opening lap and held it for more than 10 minutes until he succumbed to the pressure from Barcia.

Getting the action started, Cooper Webb went down in Turn 1.

Defending champion Jason Anderson was aiming for the hole shot, but pulled up when it got crowded. That handed the lead to the privateer Wilson.

Webb got back on his bike to salvage a fifth-place finish. Anderson faded a lap off the pace to 14th.

In 250 action, Colt Nichols grabbed the hole shot when Adam Cianciarulo slid off track in Turn 1. Nichols was uncontested for the remainder of the race and scored his first Supercross 250 win in his 23rd career start.

With time running off the clock, the battle intensified for second. McElrath held the spot, but Dylan Ferrandis had chased him down from behind. The two riders swapped crossovers with Ferrandis taking the spot before the final lap began.

Cianciarulo’s night should not have been that difficult. He looked like he was going to get the hole shot in the 250 feature. Unfortunately, he overcooked the first lap and drove off course in Turn 1 – falling to 12th in the process. He was back up to sixth (14.204 seconds behind leader Nichols) after five minutes elapsed.

With a little more than seven minutes remaining, Cianciarulo caught RJ Hampshire for fourth and ran him high in a turn. Hampshire repaid the move at the end of the whoops and put Cianciarulo on the ground.

Hampshire finished fourth; Cianciarulo survived in fifth.

450 Heat 1 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Ken Roczen won over Dean Wilson

450 Heat 2 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Justin Barcia won over Malcolm Stewart

450 Last Chance Qualifier (5 minutes + 1 lap): Carlen Gardner won over Chad Reed. Ben Lamay and Kyle Chisholm also advanced through the LCQ. Reed made the season-opening A-Main for the 18th straight time – a Supercross record.

250 Heat 1 (6 minutes + 1 lap): RJ Hampshire won over Shane McElrath

250 Heat 2 (6 minutes + 1 lap): Adam Cianciarulo won over Colt Nichols

250 Last Chance Qualifier (5 minutes +1 lap): Bradley Lionnet won over Matthew Jorgensen. Logan Karnow and Jerry Robin also advanced through the LCQ.

Next race: January 12, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).