Supercross Preview: Justin Barcia leads riders to Glendale

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On Saturday, Jan. 12 Justin Barcia and the rest of the Monster Energy Supercross riders head to State Farm Stadium in Glendale Ariz. for the second round of the 2019 season.

Barcia and Colt Nichols will bolt on red plates as the points leaders after scoring victories last week in Anaheim, Calif.  For Barcia, this is the first time in his career that he has been decked out in red.

With a retractable roof on State Farm Stadium, there will not be a repeat of last week’s muddy conditions, but Barcia has a good opportunity to replicate his performance and keep the top spot after finishing second in last year’s Glendale round.

Long whoops sections will require riders to triple-jump coming and going with sharp 180 degree turns providing dramatic passing zones.

Ken Roczen is looking for his first win in two years with his last coming in San Diego on Jan. 14, 2017. Roczen has four podiums in his last six events, including last week. He also stood on the podium last year in Glendale with a third-place finish.

Last year’s champion Jason Anderson struggled in the mud at Anaheim and dropped from third at the gate to 14th at the checkers. He finished fourth at Glendale last year, but it was a distant fourth nearly 12 seconds behind Eli Tomac and 15.355 seconds off the lead.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 3:00 pm on NBC Sports Gold
Race: 9:00 on NBCSN, or stream live by clicking here

Last Week:

Justin Barcia beat Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac in the 450 class.
Colt Nichols beat Dylan Ferrandis and Shane McElrath in the 250 class.

Last year:

Eli Tomac beat Justin Barcia and Ken Roczen in the 450 class.
Aaron Plessinger beat Shane McElrath and Adam Cianciarulo in the 250 class.

Points Leaders

450s:
Justin Barcia (26)
Ken Roczen (23)
Eli Tomac (21)
Dean Wilson (19)
Cooper Webb (18)

250s:
Colt Nichols (26)
Dylan Ferrandis (23)
Shane McElrath (21)
RJ Hampshire (19)
Adam Cianciarulo (18)

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Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.