Riders attempt Supercross holeshot with Anaheim win

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The long wait is over as the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship gets underway at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on January 4 as 44 riders attempt to holeshot the season. Eight months to the day that Supercross hosted their last event of 2019 on May 4, the riders return to their seats in an effort to establish early dominance over the field.

It’s not as easy as putting in a fast, clean ride. In fact ‘clean’ was hard to come by in 2019.

Last year a muddy track in the first Anaheim race shuffled the standings early and gave surprise wins to Justin Barcia in the 450 class and Colt Nichols in 250 West. Barcia would go on to finish 13th in the standings; Nichols finished third, while the eventual champions Cooper Webb finished fifth in 450s and Dylan Ferrandis was second in the 250 class.

That should not be an issue this year as the forecast early in the week called for a 0% chance of rain.

A Supercross season is intense, comprising 16 races in consecutive weeks. There is no time to waste. An injury can wipe out the entire season. The last two championships have gone to riders no one predicted during in the opening round. And yet the season often has the same personality as an individual race. Getting the holeshot does not guarantee success, but it makes it easier to manage the rest of the year.

Webb scored his first 450 class win in Anaheim II. He would go on to win six more overalls, but the real key to his success was his ability to finish in the top five. He did that in all but two races.

Eli Tomac won six overalls last year – often in dramatic fashion – but was outside the top five three times. He lost most of his ground with one truly bad run in Dallas when he finished 12th.

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

Adam Cianciarulo will make a much anticipated debut in the 450 class after winning the Monster Energy Cup last October. He took the victory by winning the final moto in what became a winner-take-all scenario. Teammate Eli Tomac finished second overall in that race and the pair served notice before the season even began that they will be the team to beat in the opening rounds.

Max Anstie was scheduled to make his return to Supercross for the first time since 2013, but will miss the first part of the season with an ankle injury, according to the team.

In 250s, 42 riders were entered at the beginning of the week, headed by Ferrandis with the No. 1 plate on his Yamaha.

Nichols will be on hand to defend his 2019 victory as will Shane McElrath giving all three podium finishers a chance to get off to the same great start. Last year’s fourth-place finisher RJ Hampshire will run the 250 East division this year, but teammate Michael Mosiman will be on hand to compete for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory team.

More: Adam Cianciarulo enters 2020 as a lighter man
More: Jason Anderson rolls into 2020 with an agenda
More: Adam Enticknap paves the way for the ‘Other 19’

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Schedule:

Qualifying: 1 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold
Race: Live, 10 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold and NBCSN

Last Race:

Eli Tomac won at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas May 4, 2019 over Marvin Musquin and the 2019 champion Cooper Webb.
In the 250 Showdown race, Dylan Ferrandis won over RJ Hampshire and Cameron McAdoo

Last Year:

Justin Barcia won on a muddy track over Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac
In 250 West, Colt Nichols won over Dylan Ferrandis and Shane McElrath

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.