With the sun setting over Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Jason Anderson won the Monster Energy Supercross season finale as the 2022 champion Eli Tomac watched from the sidelines and nursed a knee injury sustained in Atlanta.
A spate of run-ins with Malcom Stewart and Justin Barcia left Anderson on the ground too many times, but with a run of four consecutive victories in the final races of the season, he was able to tie Tomac for the most wins on the season to share those bragging rights.
“It’s surreal to be riding this good,” Anderson told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “It’s surreal to have this many wins after the past couple of years. I’ve been on a dry run; I haven’t had many wins and to be able to have a year like this, switch teams, and have everything come to fruition that I worked for. It’s amazing.”
Anderson’s starts in 2022 have been spectacular and he got up front quickly again, trailing the hole shot winner Justin Bogle and Chase Sexton.
Bogle fell back to 12th, but Sexton was able to cling to second in the race.
But, with Tomac already crowned champion and Anderson taking a solid lead on the track, the focus shifted to the battle for third in the points between Malcolm Stewart, Justin Barcia and Marvin Musquin.
They gave the fans their money’s worth.
Stewart was the fastest rider in the middle stage of the race. He charged through the field and made a clean pass on Barcia for third, still thinking he had time to catch the leader Anderson. Barcia cleaned him out in retaliation, riding straight into the side of Stewart’s bike without even attempting to make the turn. Stewart was pitched from the bike.
Stewart regained his seat and mounted a charge that had the crowd on their feet, screaming for him to catch Barcia. Stewart rapidly closed the distance, but lost the chance to re-pass Barcia for the final podium position when he lost time to a lapped rider.
Barcia finished third, but his aggressive move earlier in the race was not enough to take third in the points away from Stewart, who finished the race a close fourth.
“I was just putting a charge in and Justin just straight-up, t-boned me,” Stewart told NBC Sports’ Daniel Blair. “We’ve been racing clean all year long and that was dirty, I’ll be straight up.
“We’re definitely going to have a talk after this race, but overall I’m here to have fun.”
Barcia finished two points behind Stewart, fourth in the standings, but after the race he was fined and docked 10 points by Supercross. That dropped him to fifth in the standings.
“Obviously the fans are not happy,” Barcia said. “We’re racing for third in points. I was doing everything I could. It was an aggressive pass; I’m going to own that. But what am I going to say? I’m out there racing for the championship. That’s what I wanted: third. I was going for it. I’d like to think he would have done the same thing, but maybe not.
“Sorry guys, but I’m here racing for a living. This is what I do. Bring the boos, but love it or hate it, this is me since Day 1.”
The final rider in the battle for third in the standings, Musquin rounded out the top five.
Cooper Webb closed out his disappointing title defense with a sixth-place finish. This is the first winless Supercross season for Webb since 2018 when his best finish was a third at Daytona. Webb announced before the season finale, that he’s decided to skip the outdoor season following his fourth-place run last year.
In 250s Christian Craig, 30, needed to only finish 14th in the East/West Shootout to wrap up the title. And since he has swept the podium in every race this season, that seemed like a good bet. He won his heat convincingly, but perhaps in an effort to protect his advantage, he rode cautiously in the main. After winning the hole shot, he fell back in the pack.
Craig made the race interesting with an easy fall about a third of the way through the feature. He dropped to sixth, but still had a 15-second lead over the rider 15th on the track and could afford to ride a safe race. Ultimately, he slipped to eighth at the checkers, which was more than enough to wrap up the title.
Fighting back tears from the podium, Craig shared his No. 1 plate with his son.
“This feels like a dream right now,” Craig said. “It’s the people around me; the people I surround myself with, from my trainer to my wife – my kids are here to celebrate with me.
“I wrote on a white board at the start of the season, with my wife, a picture of this plate and I wrote down what it was going to take. It’s real. I got it. I couldn’t be prouder of my team.”
Nate Thrasher won the race, denying Lawrence a final win in his championship bid.
“It hasn’t been the best season for me and the team, but we put it all together tonight and I fell like that is what we’ve been missing,” Thrasher said.
Lawrence finished second in the race and the championship.
“It was a heck of a season,” Lawrence said afterward. “Definitely some ups and downs. We got three wins in a row, four altogether. It was a good season.
“I have to give it up to my team, we all work together so hard. I was second last year, Second again. It’s a bummer to fall short , but there’s progression in it. I can complain too much.”
— Supercross LIVE! (@SupercrossLIVE) May 7, 2022
After wrapping up his championship at Foxborough, Jett Lawrence told NBC Sports that his priority shifted to doing all he could to help his brother Hunter Lawrence win in the 250 West class. He didn’t get a chance after crashing in the first qualification session and suffering a slight sprain to his right ankle.
After falling twice in his heat and being pushed into the Last Chance Qualifier, Pierce Brown started sixth and took the final spot on the podium.
RJ Hampshire in fourth and Jo Shimoda rounded out the top five.
Hampshire’s top five kept him second in the championship by a nine-point margin over Brown.
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 career wins
ROUND 4, ANAHEIM: Four races, four winners as Eli Tomac solidifies points lead
ROUND 5, GLENDALE: Tomac wins back-to-back races in Arizona Triple Crown
ROUND 6, ANAHEIM: Anderson ties Tomac with two 2022 wins
ROUND 7, MINNEAPOLIS: Anderson does it again and closes to within three of Tomac
ROUND 8, ARLINGTON: Tomac wins overall as Anderson takes two features
ROUND 9, DAYTONA: History made as Tomac sets Daytona Supercross record
ROUND 10, DETROIT: Tomac wins incident-filled, third consecutive
ROUND 11, INDIANAPOLIS: Tomac extends lead as competition falters
ROUND 12, INDIANAPOLIS: Tomac wins fifth straight and sets sights on 2022 championship
ROUND 13, ST LOUIS: Marvin Musquin scores first win of 2022 in Triple Crown format
ROUND 14, ATLANTA: Anderson keeps the pressure on with win
ROUND 15, FOXBOROUGH: Anderson’s second straight win pushes battle one more week
ROUND 16, DENVER: Anderson wins the battle; Tomac wins the war