For the fourth time in the history of Monster Energy Supercross and the second consecutive year, the first four rounds featured four different winners as Eli Tomac took the checkered flag home from Round 4 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.
Ken Roczen won Round 1 at Anaheim, Jason Anderson won Round 2 in Oakland and Chase Sexton won Round 3. Those riders would all play a factor Saturday night as well with Anderson finishing second and Sexton third. A crash for the second week involving Anderson and Roczen stranded the rider of the No. 94 outside the top 10.
Last week Tomac earned the red plate as the championship leader. He assumed the top spot by one point over Chase Sexton with consistency, but something was lacking and that was a win. Taking the lead from Anderson in the second half of the main, Tomac rode flawlessly and scored his first win in seven SX races.
“It’s a testament to what we have going on,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Kristen Beat. “The group of people behind me. This has felt so good.
“We’ve been inching forward each week – getting better and better – closer and closer, just been fine tuning. And we finally went out there and got the top spot.”
It was the first win for Yamaha in two years and snapped a seven-race losing streak for Tomac in the SX series. Tomac extended his lead by five points over Sexton with Anderson climbing two spots in the standings to rest eight behind the leader.
A contrite Anderson took the second spot on the podium.
“It’s never the way you want to ride, so it’s really on me,” Anderson said afterward about his contact with Roczen. “I’ve honestly been reading everything wrong on the track.
“At the end of the day, it’s a bummer because I really enjoy the battle and racing each other. I should have made a better move.”
Sexton kept himself in the battle for the championship with a third-place finish.
The 2️⃣1️⃣ and 9️⃣4️⃣ make contact in the sand! 😱
— Supercross LIVE! (@SupercrossLIVE) January 30, 2022
The main turning point of the feature came with the contact between Anderson and Roczen. As they battled for the lead, Roczen washed out in the sand section and as he straightened his bike, Anderson was trying to complete the pass. Roczen hit the ground and it took valuable seconds to get the sand out of his visor so he could continue.
Roczen remounted in 20th and climbed to 13th at the checkers, but two finishes outside of the top 10 this season has him buried deep in the standings. Roczen is currently 23 points out of first.
The contact also cost Anderson by throwing him off rhythm. Two laps later, he overjumped the end of a rhythm section and almost went over the top of a bowl turn, handing the lead to Tomac.
Dylan Ferrandis in fourth and Malcom Stewart rounded out the top five.
Cooper Webb started deep in the pack and climbed to eighth at the checkers, which was the third straight race in which he failed to stand on the podium.
— Monster Energy (@MonsterEnergy) January 30, 2022
Christian Craig kept his hot streak alive by winning his third main in four rounds. This time around, it was a chess match between Craig and the only rider to beat him in 2022. Michael Mosiman grabbed the early lead with Craig stalking him through the first half of the race.
Vince Friese earned the holeshot, but Mosiman was close behind and completed the pass for the lead at the end of Lap 1. That was Mosiman’s best opportunity to put some distance between himself and Craig, as it took two more circuits around the track to get around Friese into second.
From there, Craig watched for any mistake by Mosiman. It finally came on Lap 8 of the main. A slight bobble in one of the rhythm sections by Mosiman stalled his momentum, allowing Craig to get around. Even then, Mosiman refused to give up ground.
“That was so much fun” Craig told NBC Sports’ Kristen Beat. “The battle with Michael, I’ve never done that before. It’s going to be a fun season.
“Obviously with me and Michael battling it out for what felt like a long time. I heard the crowd every time I got close. I made the pass stick and tried to ride away with it.”
Mosiman and Craig both won their heat race to set up the battle. For Mosiman, it has been a season of steady progression after finishing sixth in the Round 1 feature. Mosiman has been almost flawless in the heats, however, with three wins and a second in four rounds.
“It was such a good race with Christian. He’s riding so good and I learned a thing or two from him. I think he learned a thing or two from me. Clean racing; it was such an absolute blast and I’m going to enjoy it tonight. I’m looking forward to racing him all year.”
That left the final podium spot in question. Friese lost more than seven seconds to the leaders as Hunter Lawrence found his rhythm in the second half of the main. Friese had a decent lead over Lawrence until he bobbled in the whoops and got out of shape. A relatively minor crash put Friese on the ground and as he rose to get back to his bike, Lawrence swerved and easily avoided Friese, inheriting third in the process.
What seemed to be a casual crash almost turned tragic. As Friese stood and tried to retrieve this bike, he got nailed in the helmet by Jo Shimoda’s front wheel. Friese was helped off the track on rubbery legs like a boxer who took one too many punches. After the race, it was reported that he bit his tongue and will require stitches, but is otherwise okay.
Friese was on his way to a second career podium and his first since 2014 in East Rutherford.
Nate Thrasher finished fourth.
In his second race back since sustaining a concussion in the opening round, Jalek Swoll round out the top five.
ROUND 1, Anaheim: Ken Roczen renews battle with Cooper Webb by winning the opener
ROUND 2, Oakland: Jason Anderson wins for first time since championship season
ROUND 3, San Diego: Chase Sexton (450s) and Michael Mosiman (250s) deliver first-time wins