Supercross: Cooper Webb’s winning Wednesday ways continue in Utah

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Cooper Webb kept his slim hopes alive Wednesday night of defending his Supercross title.

The defending series champion cruised to his third 450 victory in 2020 and second since the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season was restarted May 31 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Webb passed Ken Roczen out of the opening turn and led all 26 laps, winning by more than 4 seconds over Zach Osborne in Round 14.

Webb also won Round 12 (on a Wednesday) and finished second Sunday in Round 13 and third in Round 11, which marked Supercross’ return after an 85-day layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Man, every win is awesome,” the KTM rider told NBCSN. “Great race. Led every lap, first time to do that all year, which is awesome. Kenny was riding really well; we were putting in some heaters. Started hitting my stride. Regained my focus, was able to ride my laps, but I ended up getting a decent lead.

“It was cool to be able to enjoy that a little more. Not so stressful.”

Webb moved up a spot into second place in the standings and trails Eli Tomac, who finished third Wednesday, by 27 points with three events remaining.

Tomac has four podiums — two wins, a second and a third — during Supercross’ Salt Lake City residency. He rebounded Wednesday from a rough start that left him mired in the pack on the opening lap.

“Was just trying to watch front a little bit and claw my way forward there,” the Kawasaki rider said. “That was just way too buried, went to inside on the start trying to play the safe game but was too many guys back into the first turn.

“That’s all I had. Thre’s a lot of fast guys in this class, so third was kind of acceptable. But gotta be farther up next time on that start.”

After briefly taking the lead at the 7-minute mark from Webb, Roczen faded to a fifth-place finish and dropped to third in the standings, 29 points behind Tomac.

In a postrace interview with NBCSN, Roczen, who finished 10th in Round 13, said he had been battling illness.

“I just definitely had another viral flareup,” he said. “Two days is not enough to get back to 100% so unfortunately just have to deal with this now. I feel I’m riding good, the team’s working great, and I’m getting good starts. I’m trying to hang in there.

“All I can do is try. Come back again on Sunday and have a few more days and hopefully make another step forward and battle up front.”

Osborne scored his second podium of the past four races.

“I feel we’re building some momentum here,” Osborne told NBCSN. “I’ve been enjoying this Salt Lake trip a lot. Really refreshing for me. I feel I’m in a good headspace.

“We made some good changes during the break, and that was really key for me. It’s nice to just build some momentum. Nice to be up here and feel like I belong again.”

In the 250 West division, which was competing for the first time in 123 days, Austin Forkner led wire to wire for his third victory of the season.

“This has been the hottest race of the season and also at altitude,” Forkner told NBCSN. ” I think everyone could agree this is probably one of the toughest races of the season. The track was good, though. At the 8- to 12-minute mark, I was being too cautious. At the end, the last lap, I hit them super good.

“I knew that’s what it was going to take and I wasn’t going to make a mistake other than the whoops. I just gripped and held on. It was awesome.”

Forkner moved up a spot to second in the standings, 10 points behind championship leader Dylan Ferrandis, who rebounded to finish second Wednesday after crashing in a heat race and starting poorly. Cameron McAdoo finished third.

“I think it was just frustration with the altitude and heat,” Ferrandis said. “It was harder than all of the previous main events this season. Really hard on the body. I feel it. The night started really bad with crashing in the heat race, and I had a  bad gate for main event. But got a good start, and the bike was so awesome. I tried to make the best of it.

“This main event was really hard. Congrats to Austin. I think he really worked hard in this break to beat me today because I pushed, and I didn’t have enough so congrats to him. Happy to finish second because the day was not really great for me, and it’s good for the championship.”