A look back at 2021 ahead of the Supercross season opener in Anaheim


The 2022 Monster Energy Supercross championship starts in one day and it’s time to look back at 2021 ahead of the season opener in Anaheim.

Fans hope for a little return to normalcy following two years of schedule adjustments needed to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the earliest racing series to take the track each year, Supercross has been tasked with facing many of these obstacles first. In 2020, they were forced, along with all sports events in the United States, to go on hiatus as America waited out stay-at-home orders that eliminated most live events.

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In 2021, Supercross modified the schedule to minimize travel, with most events happening in two- and three-race residencies.

Finally, the 2022 schedule returns to a semblance of normalcy with 17 races in crisscrossing the continent and fans attending all events.

All 17 races will be broadcast live across NBC Sports platforms.

Another return is that the season opener is back in Anaheim for the first of three races. The race will be televised live on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on CNBC; click here for more details on how to watch.

Despite the challenges faced last year, Supercross had a compelling two-rider title battle in 450 between Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen (with defending series champion Eli Tomac winning three rounds). There were also some interesting storylines and now is the chance to catch up.

 look back 2021 Supercross
Justin Barcia battled Cooper Webb in the first of three Houston races. Barcia went on to win his third consecutive season opener. (Feld Entertainment)

First: Justin Barcia proved to be the king of the opening round. It didn’t matter that the series moved to Houston for the first time after 29 years of kicking off in California, Barcia scored his third consecutive Round 1 win in style as the eventual points’ contenders mostly struggled.

Round 2 revealed a different winner as Eli Tomac made up for a disappointing Round 1 and corrected his course with a win in the first Tuesday night race of the season, which was the middle event of the three-race stand in Houston.

Round 3 set the stage for Cooper Webb. Winning his first of eight races in route the championship, he became the third different winner. Like Tomac, Webb needed the win after getting off to a slow start. He finished ninth in the first round at Houston and was fourth on Tuesday. Saturday night’s win allowed him to close to within one point of Roczen and the championship hunt took shape.

 look back 2021 Supercross
Ken Roczen swept the Indy residency and kept the points’ battle with Cooper Webb tight. (Feld Entertainment)

New winners continued into Round 4 with Roczen proving he would not simply allow Webb to walk off with the lead. The following week, Roczen became the first repeat winner of 2021 – and scored his first back-to-back victories for the first time since he sustained a serious injury in 2017. And then, he achieved another milestone by becoming the first rider to sweep one of the season residencies, denying all comers at Indianapolis in three races.

In Round 9, Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael with a fifth Daytona Supercross win. He’ll get his first opportunity to break that tie in March with his new Yamaha ride.

With Roczen throwing down the gauntlet in Indy, Webb stepped up and swept the residency at Arlington, winning Rounds 10, 11 and 12.

 look back 2021 Supercross
An emotional Eli Tomac celebrates his fifth Daytona Supercross win that tied him for the most with Ricky Carmichael. (Feld Entertainment)

It would not be as simple as one rider running away from the field, however, and the top three riders each won one of the next three races. Tomac won Round 13, Roczen took Round 14 and Webb set the stage for the final title run with his Round 15 win.

Marvin Musquin added his name to the Supercross win list in Round 16 . It was his first win in two years. In his defense, Musquin missed the entire 2020 Supercross season with a knee injury.

Finally, Webb capped off his second Supercross title in style with a convincing win in the season-ender at Salt Lake City.

FINAL 2021 STANDINGS: 450 points standings | 250 East points standings250 West points standings


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

ROUND 12, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb becomes championship favorite with Arlington sweep

ROUND 13, ATLANTA: The infield course at Atlanta gives Eli Tomac a late-season chance

ROUND 14, ATLANTA: A clutch win for Ken Roczen and a gutsy performance for Cameron McAdoo

ROUND 15, ATLANTA: Cooper Webb responds to pressure with Atlanta win

ROUND 16, SALT LAKE CITY: Marvin Musquin scores first Supercross win in two years

ROUND 17, SALT LAKE CITY: Cooper Webb caps 2021 championship with eighth Supercross win

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”