Vanessa O'Brien. KawasakiUSA

Adam Cianciarulo enters 2020 Supercross with weight off his shoulders

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Adam Cianciarulo cast a long shadow over the 250 field last year, but he feels much lighter entering the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross season. He lost a few pounds when he grabbed the 2019 Motocross championship, but the weight really fell off when he won the Monster Cup at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas in October.

Making his senior class debut on a 450, against competition he’d idolized for years, on a track with three different configurations, the pressure should have built exponentially from race to race. He finished second in Moto 1 behind the rider everyone expected to win the overall, but when Eli Tomac slipped to third in Moto 2, it set up a dramatic finish.

Cianciarulo finished second in Moto 2 behind Malcolm Stewart, who was adding his own drama to the event by winning his first race back after shattering his femur at Glendale early in the 2019 Supercross season. Stewart finished third in Moto 1, which put him in a three-way tie for first with Cianciarulo and Tomac. They all had a combined result of four.

It would come down to a winner-take-all Moto 3.

Cianciarulo had the least experience. He also felt he had the least pressure.

“My goal was to get a podium, so worst-case scenario I go out there and get third overall,” Cianciarulo said at this year’s Supercross Media Sessions. “That took the pressure off of my shoulders.

“I really feel that I perform my best when my back is against the wall. I’m just a little more focused; a little bit more locked in. I was excited with the way it came down and it made it exciting for the fans as well.”

For complete coverage of the 2020 Supercross season practices, heats and features, check out the Supercross Gold Pass.

It’s important for a rider to think he can win every race. Vegas was more important still after Cianciarulo fell during last year’s Supercross season finale, finished 20th overall, and handed the 250SX title over to Dylan Ferrandis.

He could have been devastated. Cianciarulo knew even then that his mistake was a career defining moment. He put it behind him and concentrated on the outdoor season.

Cianciarulo went to Hangtown two weeks later and won the first of four consecutive outdoor races.

“After getting through Vegas and realizing I was fine – I mean obviously it’s a tough life moment when you’re that close to achieving a lifelong goal – but to bounce back and win the outdoor championship, I have felt completely different as a person since then,” Cianciarulo said. “I feel like there has been so much weight that has been lifted off my shoulders. It almost feels like anything I do from here on out is a bonus. Which is weird to say because I just got to the premiere class, but that is how I feel.”

So he entered the Monster Cup happy to take anything the race offered. A podium would be fine. Anything else would be gravy.

And he won. Not only won, but did so in one of the biggest events of the year by holding off last season’s 450 MX champion Tomac. On a track that broke his heart in 2019.

“I was optimistic (entering the Monster Cup),” Cianciarulo said. “I went in there thinking I was going to be a contender – not knowing if I was going to win; my goal was more to get on the podium – but obviously it turned out great with Eli [Tomac] and I both putting on a good performance for the team. … Even though it’s not the start of the official season, it’s nice to start off a new chapter with a win.”

With the start of the Supercross season less than two weeks away, Cianciarulo won’t have to wait long to see if his optimism will continue to be rewarded. The 2020 season kicks off January 4 at Anaheim Stadium where he finished fifth in both races last year in the 250 West class.

As with the Monster Cup – anything on the podium will be a bonus.

More: Jason Anderson rolls into 2020 with an agenda
More: Adam Enticknap paves the way for the ‘Other 19’
More: Michael Mosiman expects magic in this third year

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Lucas Oil Late Models, All Star Sprints postpone April events

Lucas Oil Dirt
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In separate press releases, the Lucas Oil Late Model series and the All Star Circuit of Champions announced the postponement of their April schedules.

Both releases cite extended federal social distancing guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the postponements and cancelations.

For the Lucas Oil Late Model series, the extension affects races at Hagerstown Speedway (originally scheduled for April 18), Port Royal Speedway (April 19), Tri-City Speedway (April 24), and Macon Speedway (April 25). The series hopes to resume the original schedule on May 1st at Ponderosa Speedway and May 2nd at Florence Speedway.

Port Royal Speedway’s Rumble by the River, originally scheduled for April 19th, has been postponed until Thursday, August 27th.

The Nininger Tribute at Hagerstown Speedway, scheduled for April 18th, has now been canceled. Also canceled are the Budweiser 50 at Tri-City Speedway scheduled for April 24th and the April 25th event at Macon Speedway.

At this time, races are set to resume on May 1 at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Kentucky. Backup dates have been announced for Ponderosa (September 4) and Florence Speedway (August 12) should they be needed.

The events affected for the All Star Circuit of Champions include Attica Raceway Park’s Spring Nationals (April 10-11), Thursday Night Thunder at Virginia Motor Speedway (April 16), the Tommy Hinnershitz Classic at Williams Grove Speedway (April 17), the Keith Kauffman Classic at Port Royal Speedway (April 18), the Johnny Grum Classic at Bedford Speedway (April 19) and the season’s first visit to Wayne County Speedway (April 25).

Series and track officials are working together to find suitable make-up dates.

“We are all in the same boat with every other sanctioning body and sports league in America right now and we want to be part of the solution and abide by state orders and federal guidelines,” said Tony Stewart, owner of the All Stars in a press release. “Originally, we were going to take a week-to-week approach, but with the stay at home orders in certain states and social distancing guidelines, it made sense to postpone the month of April. We aren’t going to put anyone on the road and at risk until we are given the green light by state and federal officials. Thank you to the tracks for the open lines of communication over the past few weeks. We hope to reschedule as many dates as possible once we are able to return to racing.”

Conditions permitting, the All Star Circuit of Champions will begin their 2020 championship point season on Friday and Saturday, May 1-2, with visits to Lernerville Speedway and Sharon Speedway, respectively.

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