The Monster Energy Supercross Round 12 is in the books with Cooper Webb setting himself up as a clear favorite for the championship after sweeping three rounds of the Arlington, Texas residency.
Webb won all three races in AT&T Stadium, but the third of three races there was far from an foregone conclusion.
With three consecutive races off the podium, Ken Roczen has been losing the momentum that gave him the early red plate. On Tuesday, he finally reversed that trend with a third-place finish in Arlington 2. On Saturday, he improved even more after grabbing the holeshot, leading for 15 minutes and crossing under the checkers in second.
Five rounds remain in the 2021 Supercross season and Roczen believes he is regaining his competitiveness, but one would be hard pressed to convince Webb of that.
After winning both Orlando races, Webb has finished first or second in the last seven consecutive events.
It was not a smooth evening for Webb, however. He was passed in his heat by Roczen and later put on the ground by Roczen’s teammate Chase Sexton.
“That was a crazy race for sure,” Webb told NBCSN’s Will Christien after the 450 Main was in the books. “I got off to a second-place start behind Kenny and he was laying it down those first few – had some good speed. I was just trying to hang on and Eli (Tomac) was all over me. I knew both of those guys were really on it today.
“I just focused on being consistent. I rode terrible in that heat race and didn’t really like being put on the ground. But that was good. It got me fired up for the main event. I had to ride with Kenny that whole race. To make a late charge was awesome.”
POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Round 12 in Supercross
Roczen refused to be discouraged by his second-place result, however. He led his first laps in several weeks and was encouraged by the holeshot.
In the second Arlington race on Tuesday, he snapped a three-race streak in which he failed to stand on the podium. He finished third in that event behind his principal rivals Webb and Tomac. Saturday night, he was second after leading more than 15 minutes of the main.
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“It was tough out there,” Roczen said. “I was leading and those guys were behind me. I felt like I was hitting my marks pretty good, but it wasn’t enough. Cooper was riding awesome again.
“But I’m slowly coming back and everything is open. We’ve got to keep doing the same thing. I’m happy with my starts again. That worked out great. We were leading some laps, so I’m slowly working my way back up and giving it everything I’ve got out there. That’s really all I can do.”
Time is running out for Tomac to defend his 2020 championship.
After winning his second race of the season at Daytona, Tomac had a terrible opening to the Arlington residency. He finished eighth last Saturday, but rebounded to finish second on Tuesday. He had the leaders in sight and was actually closing ground before drifting wide crossing the finish line three-fourths of the way through the race and clipped a Tuff Blox on landing.
“We were all three together there at the beginning,” Tomac said. “Then one little wide line on the finish line. I thought I had it saved to be honest, but I just kept going. I needed an air break there.”
Tomac lost third to Justin Barcia for a little while and once he regained the position it was too late to catch the leaders.
Tomac is now 41 points behind Webb with five rounds remaining.
Barcia held on to finish fourth and remains fourth in the standings.
Jason Anderson rounded out the top five.
Malcom Stewart in sixth, Dylan Ferrandis in seventh, Joey Savatgy in eighth, Aaron Plessinger in ninth, and Dean Wilson rounded out the top 10.
Four weeks after returning to action Sexton crashed again in the Main and was unable to finish.
The 250 class began with a tight battle in which the top three were separated by only two points. With his first 250 win last week, Hunter Lawrence affixed the red plate to his Honda and hoped he could keep it. He needed to win in order for that to happen, however.
The top three points contenders jumped out to an early lead. Justin Cooper grabbed the holeshot over Cameron Mcadoo and Lawrence. Cooper slowly stretched his advantage as the other two contenders settled into a comfortable pace.
Cooper became the first rider to win multiple events in the 250 West series. Better still, he snapped a three-race streak in which he finished off the podium. And more importantly, his victory gave him the red plate once more after he lost it after the first round in Daytona.
“It’s been a tough road,” Cooper told Daniel Blair on NBCSN after the race. “I’ve been on the ground a lot in the Main event.
“This was the same game plan as every other race so it was really about executing. I got two great starts. Two holeshots and just had to put a little bit of hope back into everyone who was doubting me.
“I really just had to refuel the fire inside of myself. I had to get it done tonight. I couldn’t continue to spiral downhill like that.”
Mcadoo also bounced back. After crashing on Tuesday in the Main and getting penalized three spots for cutting the course, he had his worst race and finished off of the podium for the first time this season. Mcadoo did not have anything for the leader, but his second-place finish was enough to bring him within two points of Cooper with five rounds remaining.
“We’ve got to win,” Mcadoo said after the race. “It’s good to get these good results. Stacking these things together is what’s going to count at the end. But every point counts. We’re only two points apart. I can’t let (Cooper) beat me like that.”
Seth Hammaker survived an early-race incident with Coty Schock when Schock jumped onto the back of Hammaker’s bike.
“It was a hectic first few laps,” said third-place Hammaker. “I got a little squirrely on the step-on, step-off over there. I didn’t know what happened behind me, but I knew my plate got bent in. After that, I just rode my own race – was in fourth and really just trying to flow.”
Hammaker was trailing the top three until Lawrence had an off course excursion.
Coming off a career-best finish of second last week, Jalek Swoll finished fourth and held onto that position in the points. He trails Cooper by 15.
Lawrence grabbed his first win of the season on Tuesday and appeared to have the field in sight when he ran off course in a bowl turn and got tangled in the netting.
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After doing his best Spiderman impression by hanging onto the net long enough to let his bike hit the ground, Lawrence was able to quickly remount his Honda after losing only two positions. That cost eight points overall and Lawrence left the evening with a six-point deficit to Cooper.
Garrett Marchbanks was forced to ride through the Last Chance Qualifier to make the Main. He won that event and finished sixth in the big show.
Chris Blose in seventh, Kyle Peters in eighth, Nate Thrasher in ninth and Jarrett Frye rounded out the top 10.
It was the first top-10 for Frye in Supercross competition.
ROUND 1, HOUSTON: Justin Barcia wins opener for third consecutive time
ROUND 2, HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds, wins after Round 1 disappointment
ROUND 3, HOUSTON: Cooper Webb wins, Ken Roczen denied revenge
ROUND 4, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen makes it four winners in four races
ROUND 5, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen goes back to back for first time since 2017 injury
ROUND 6, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen is perfect in Indy for third straight win
ROUND 7, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb trims Ken Roczen lead
ROUND 8, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb sweeps Orlando to put pressure on Ken Roczen
ROUND 9, DAYTONA: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael at Daytona; Ken Roczen, Copper Webb war
ROUND 10, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb takes the points lead with five straight top-two finishes
ROUND 11, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb wins first two races of Arlington residency