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Cooper Webb, Jason Anderson face turning point in Anaheim

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Round 3 of the Supercross season kicks off with qualification on NBCSports Gold at 4:00 PM eastern at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. and it could be a turning point for the two most recent champions Cooper Webb and Jason Anderson. Time is running out: The past four championships have gone to riders who won during the first three rounds.

The past two seasons have also gone to surprise winners. While Anderson had strong points finishes in two of his previous three seasons in 450 competition, he wasn’t on many radar screens entering 2018. Anderson finished third in the standings in 2016 and fourth in 2017, but most eyes were trained on Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac at the time.

That is until Anderson swept the podium in the first three races with a win in Round 2 at Houston.

Last year, Anderson’s bid to repeat as champion got off to a slow start with a 14th-place finish in Anaheim 1 and it came to an abrupt halt with a practice crash following a disappointing ninth-place finish in Anaheim 2. The highlight of 2019 was a second-place finish at Glendale.

Anderson has performed well in the first two rounds of 2020 with a fifth-place finish at Anaheim 1 and a third-place podium at St. Louis.

Both riders have earned podium finishes in their first two races, but neither has dominated.

MORE: Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen off to a slow start

Webb battled flu-like symptoms in the season opener before putting in one of the gutsiest performances of the year so far. He finished third in Anaheim 1. Round 2 was not nearly as kind. Webb struggled throughout the race and managed only a 12th-place finish at the Dome at America’s Center.

Anaheim 2 proved to be the turning point of his season last year. Webb started 2019 year with a fifth in Anaheim 1 and a 10th at Glendale. With an average finish of 7.5 that is identical to his 2020 performance, Webb came back to Anaheim in Round 3 and scored his first career win.

Ryan Dungey won the three previous championships. In his last two he also won during the first three rounds. Dungey’s first win of the 2017 season came in Round 3 at Anaheim 2. In 2016, Dungey won Rounds 2 & 3 at San Diego 1 and Anaheim 2. He would also win Round 4 at Oakland.

In 2015, Dungey had to wait for his first win until Round 5 when the series returned to Anaheim for a third time that year. He stood on the podium in the three races immediately preceding, however.

If the pattern holds and the 2020 champion wins in the first three rounds, Justin Barcia and Ken Roczen have the inside line.

Barcia won Anaheim 1 in a surprising development, but he proved that was not a fluke with his second-place finish last week. Barcia would not make much noise for the remainder of the season, however, and with only a handful of 450SX wins to his credit, he would certainly keep the surprise champions streak alive as well.

Roczen has emotion and momentum on his side after breaking a three-year winless streak at St. Louis. He finished sixth at Anaheim 1.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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Robert Wickens shares more positive strides toward recovery in new video

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Robert Wickens has made massive steps since sustaining a spinal cord injury in an Aug. 19, 2018 crash at Pocono Raceway.

Since the accident, Wickens publicly has shared his recovery, often uploading videos of his physical rehabilitation on Twitter.

In his most recent update on Wednesday, Wickens shared a video of him walking on a treadmill. Fellow NTT IndyCar Series competitor Tony Kannan, who competes in triathlons during his spare time, also was visible running on the treadmill behind Wickens.

“When I am @TonyKannan [sic] age, I hope to run as fast as him…” Wickens tweeted. “Today was a good day!”

Wickens, who will turn 31 on March 13, first made his return to the IndyCar paddock in last year’s season opener in St. Petersburg. Since then, he’s made a return to the driver’s seat, piloting a specialized Acura NSX prior to the start of last year’s IndyCar race in his hometown of Toronto.

In September, Wickens fulfilled a vow to his wife Karli, by standing with her during their wedding. The new husband and wife also danced together during their reception.

Should Wickens fully recover to resume racing, Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt has stated that the team’s No. 6 entry will be available for him to drive. Wickens continues to remain as a “driver coach and consultant” for the team.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter