Unless Cooper Webb or Marvin Musquin stumbles massively in the final four weeks of the Supercross season, Houston will likely be a microcosm of the season.
We just don’t know if it will be Webb’s early season perfection of Musquin’s come-from-behind charge that will carry the day.
Webb pushed his teammate off course in the first Main of the Triple Crown format, putting Musquin in a hole from which he could not climb for the remainder of the night. As Musquin found himself mired in traffic, Webb went on to finish second in that Main. Webb then won Main 2 – giving him a points lead to lean upon.
In Houston, Musquin steadily improved throughout the night. Finishing fifth in Main 1, he stood on the podium in Main 2 and won the final feature.
And that is how the season has played out for both riders.
Webb was winless on a 450 entering this year and when he left Anaheim II with that first victory, few thought he had a legitimate shot at the championship. What followed was a run of near-perfection with three more victories and a second-place finish in the next five races – interrupted only by the muddy conditions of San Diego.
Athletes are defined by the obstacles they overcome. The bigger the challenge, the greater the achievement.
And if Musquin wins the 2019 Supercross championship, he will need to have his own tale of near-perfection to tell.
Through Houston, Musquin has 10 podium finishes in 13 rounds, but only two of these have been victories.
Even with a 17-point advantage for Webb, it is too soon to count Musquin out. Houston’s final result aside, he has been outriding his teammate in recent weeks. While Webb slipped from the top of the podium in Atlanta to second at Daytona, third at Indianapolis and fourth at Seattle, Musquin steadily improved.
Musquin won back to back races at Indy and Seattle before finishing second last week. If Musquin had been able to make the pass that Webb’s contact denied him, Musquin would have won last week as well. That change in position was worth six points Musquin could ill afford to lose at this stage of the season.
For Musquin to win the championship, he has to win a couple of the final four races while Webb finishes at least two positions back. Musquin needs to shave off 4.25 points per race and his saving grace is that he has ridden well enough to do that in the last three weeks.
The only problem is Webb has finished worse than second only three times in the last 11 races.
Make that two problems: Musquin has gained four or more points only three times this year (he gained five points at Glendale, eight in San Diego and five in Indy). Musquin would have shaved another seven off in Seattle if not for his penalty.
As for Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen, they need to make up 6.5 and 9 points respectively while leap frogging Musquin. And that will turn out to be too steep of a hill to climb even if either rider winds up with a perfect end to their season.
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