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.
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.
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