Jason Anderson won in the 450 class for the first time since his 2018 championship season and climbed to second in the points standings Saturday in Round 2 of the Monster Energy Supercross season in Oakland, Calif.
After an opening round that featured a 1-2 finish by last year’s top title contenders, Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, Round 2 brought new faces up front as Anderson led Aaron Plessinger and Justin Barcia across the line.
Anderson got a good start, but it was new teammate Adam Cianciarulo who grabbed the holeshot and held the lead for the first four minutes.
Once Anderson passed Cianciarulo, he held the lead to the checkers, ending a 47-race winless streak dating to March 3, 2018 at Atlanta.
“Since I won that championship, it’s been a roller coaster for me mentally,” Anderson told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “Last year was a tough one for me. I wasn’t performing, and I was thankful that (Kawasaki) set me up and gave me a breath of fresh air. They stuck with me and gave me an opportunity.
“As much as I don’t show it, this one feels so damn good, and I’m so excited, and I want to keep the ball rolling.”
As Anderson waited to climb onto the podium, nearly every rider in the field came to express congratulations.
Welcome back to the top step of the podium, @ElHombre_21 😎
450SX Main Event LIVE fueled by United Pacific#SupercrossLIVE pic.twitter.com/FUl0XgziFY
— Supercross LIVE! (@SupercrossLIVE) January 16, 2022
RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 main event in Oakland
Plessinger and Barcia had more challenging openings to their race. Starting outside the top five, they had to pick their way through the field before finding the podium.
It was a rebound for Anderson, who lost a podium in Anaheim because of late contact with Barcia. Anderson tweeted there were no hard feelings, but it would be nice if Barcia bought a couple of items from his merchandise site. During the track walk, Barcia was seen wearing a Team Fried hoodie.
@justinbarcia we all good no love loss but you could at least buy a couple @teamfriedco hoodies with that bonus check!
— Jason Anderson (@elhombre_21) January 9, 2022
Despite the slow start, Plessinger moved forward quickly and moved into second at the five-minute mark. It was the second career podium in 450 for Plessinger, who finished third at Daytona last year.
“I don’t know where I was last week,” said Plessinger, who finished ninth at Anaheim in his Red Bull KTM debut as Webb’s teammate. “I was in a different mind state. I regrouped this week, and it was a good week.”
Barcia climbed to third before midway and closed onto Plessinger’s bumper but was unable the complete the pass for the runner-up position. Last week, Barcia was gunning for his fourth consecutive opening round victory, but when he came up short, he was content with being on the podium. He hoped his strong run signaled a return of consistency and would help him make a legitimate run at the championship.
“I was just riding my race, having fun,” Barcia said. “I got a little tight in the middle, was able to regroup. I saw Eli (Tomac) coming and needed to put the hammer down. I really wanted those two in front of me, but they ran awesome.”
He left Anaheim without the red plate for the first time in three years but will have it firmly affixed to his GasGas bike when the series heads to San Diego next weekend.
After a slow start, Tomac finished fourth, and Malcolm Stewart rounded out the top five.
It was a tough evening for last week’s top-two finishers as Webb finished seventh and dropped into a tie for second with Anderson, three points behind Barcia.
The news was worse for Roczen, who started up front but quickly was shuffled out of the top five. Soon after, Roczen lost control in the whoops and crashed hard. He was able to remount but faded to 13th.
After the holeshot, Cianciarulo remained bothered by a separated shoulder over the course of the main event and dropped to a 12th-place finish. But he raced with the leaders for most of the shorter heat race.
The 250 West class had a much more familiar feel at the front. Christian Craig scored his second consecutive win and padded his points advantage to eight over the field.
“It’s always cool to win and then to do it two weeks in a row is special and something I’m very thankful for,” Craig told NBC Sports’ Daniel Blair from the top step of the podium.
“I got behind Jo (Shimoda) in the main, and he stalled it in the whoops. After that, I just clicked off my laps. The track got really tricky. I had a couple of sketchy moments in the rhythms, but other than that, I managed the race.”
BACK TO BACK 🔥 @_ChristianCraig wins the 250SX Main Event in Oakland 🏆#SupercrossLIVE pic.twitter.com/yfTN94eRrC
— Supercross LIVE! (@SupercrossLIVE) January 16, 2022
The heat races saw a return of both Anaheim winners with Craig standing on the top box in Heat 2 and Michael Mosiman winning Heat 1.
The main event podium was also a replica of last week with one slight adjustment: At Anaheim, Hunter Lawrence crossed over the finish line inches from Seth Hammaker’s back tire. This week, he climbed one spot higher into second with Hammaker rounding out the top three.
Click here for full 250 West main results
Back-to-back podiums were not enough, however: “Not when you’re trying to win a championship,” Lawrence told Blair. “I rode great, but just took myself out of the race with the start.
“It’s all on me. We’ll go back, keep working, and hopefully give ourselves a better chance next weekend.”
Lawrence and Hammaker are tied for second in the championship after two of nine rounds, but eight markers can be hard to make up in this field.
“Solid night here in Oakland: third,” Hammaker told Blair. “I’m going to take it and learn from it. I’m not super pumped about how I rode tonight, but I’m glad to be back on the box.”
Mosiman finished fourth.
But it was Nate Thrasher who mounted the biggest ride through the field. Finishing fifth in his heat, he was ninth at the start of the main before climbing to fifth in the final showdown.
ROUND 1, Anaheim: Ken Roczen renews battle with Cooper Webb by winning the opener