Roczen entered Round 4 with the red plate, but after being penalized four points in the second race in Houston and then getting held up by a lapped rider in Houston 3, his advantage was a slim one point.
Roczen was determined Saturday night in the first race of the Indy residency. He moved into second on Lap 3 after Eli Tomac laid his bike down. He grabbed the lead from Adam Cianciarulo 10 laps later – but his race was not complete. Roczen cross rutted with three minutes on the clock, momentarily handed the lead back over to Tomac, and then put his head down and rode his hear out.
“I was so glad we made it happen,” Roczen said from the top of the podium. “I made a mistake on the second double. I jumped off the track and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I let Eli by because I didn’t want to gain an advantage. I felt like that was the right thing to do. I put the pass on again right away and had a clear track.”
Tomac earned the hole shot, but laid his bike down on Lap 3. He dropped to third for a time, then passed his teammate Adam Cianciarulo midway through the race and held on to second.
“The start there was cool,” Tomac said. “Hell of a race there for both of us. We both made a mistake, but then he schooled me in that sweeper over there. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Cooper Webb grabbed the final podium position in third.
Cianciarulo led for 10 laps when he inherited the top spot from Tomac. He gave up two spots on the track and then laid his bike over while running third. That allowed Webb to catch and eventually pass him. Cianciarulo finished fourth.
Zach Osborne rounded out the top five.
Rookie Dylan Ferrandis finished sixth, while Jason Anderson had the comeback of the race. He had to make his way through the Last Chance Qualifier before riding up to seventh at the finish line.
Joey Savatgy in eighth, Aaron Plessinger in ninth and Marvin Musquin in 10th rounded out the top 10.
Roczen now has a six-point lead over Webb.
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Colt Nichols became the first rider in either class to win two races. He converted his hole shot into a dominant run and was unfazed by the drama playing out behind him.
“That’s ideal,” Nichols said from the top of the podium. ” Whenever you get a good start and put yourself in a position. I’ve been struggling to do that this year, so it felt really good to get the holeshot and come around the first turn, get a fresh tear off and ride your own race.”
In the end, Nichols beat Michael Mosiman to the line, but the race almost set up an extremely close battle between the top three riders.
On the final lap, Nichols’ teammate Christian Craig ran second, but a much faster Jett Lawrence caught him and was about to pass him when the co-points leader and the rider third in the standings got hooked together and drove off course.
“I haven’t been able to see the start guys a lot this year, so it was really nice to catch a wheel and be able to ride with them,” said Mosiman after finishing second.
Joe Shimoda inherited third when Craig and Lawrence wrecked.
“Honestly, that was not really my podium,” Shimoda said. “Jett went around me. He was running really good tonight. Also, Christian was ahead of me too. Just focused on myself, ride strong, not make many mistakes and it ended up being on the podium. I’m happy, but next time when I do get the podium, I want to get it by myself.”
Lawrence got a horrible start. He missed a shift and then stalled on a wall jump, which dropped him to 12th for a time. He rode back with a vengeance and was making a pass for second when he was ridden off course and settled for fourth.
Craig rounded out the top five.
Mitchell Oldenburg in sixth, Thomas Do in seventh, John Short in eighth, Joshua Osby in ninth and Grant Harlan competed the top 10.
Nichols now has sole possession of the red plate over Craig by eight markers. Lawrence is five further back in third.
The Supercross series heads to Indianapolis for Round 5 on Tuesday night, Feb. 2.
POINTS, RESULTS AFTER ROUND 1 AT HOUSTON: Justin Barcia, Christian Craig take early lead
POINTS, RESULTS AFTER ROUND 2 AT HOUSTON: Eli Tomac close gap, Jett Lawrence wins his first
POINTS, RESULTS AFTER ROUND 3 AT HOUSTON: Ken Roczen earns one-point margin; Colt Nichols, Christian Craig share 250 lead