Cooper Webb led Round 9 of the Supercross season flag to flag, but it was anything but an easy ride in Atlanta.
On Lap 5, Webb was under heavy pressure by teammate Marvin Musquin when he got crossed up in the sand. Musquin was right on his back wheel and actually got slowed up more than Webb. He lost a second in the incident.
Musquin closed to within less than half a second and forced Webb into a minor mistake. Webb overcame the pressure and extended his advantage to a full second again. Musquin closed to less than half a second a few laps later before Webb squirted out to another one-second lead.
Ultimately, it was a battle between Blake Baggett and Musquin that gave Webb a little breathing room. Baggett climbed into second on Lap 14 and kept the pressure on, but was never able to get close enough to force another mistake. Webb won his fifth race of the season and extended his points lead.
“It was all about lines,” Webb told NBCSN after the race. “I had to ride a little defensive, but also offensive. I knew there were a couple of places where they were catching me. I was searching, I was skimming, I was trying all kinds of stuff. I got a little tight in the middle, but by the end I found my groove.”
Baggett finished second and felt that the sand was partly to blame.
“The track conditions and the sand,” Baggett said. “It’s tough when they put sand in a Supercross event; I’m definitely not for it. You could get a run up to them, but then you were going through tear-offs so fast you needed to hang back.”
With his second-place finish, Baggett climbed into fifth in the points around Dean Wilson who finished eighth.
Musquin rounded out the podium.
Ken Roczen finished fourth and remains the only 450 rider with a perfect record of top-five finishes. He now sits 13 points behind Webb.
Aaron Plessinger rounded out the top five in fifth.
Eli Tomac had another slow start. He was 13th on Lap 1 and forced to make another charge through the field. He cracked the top 10 on Lap 5 and ultimately landed sixth on the leaderboard.
It was a tale of brother versus brother (or at least teammate versus teammate) and East versus West when Adam Cianciarulo got around Chase Sexton on Lap 3 and set his sights on Austin Forkner. Nine laps later, the West Coast rider Cianciarulo passed Forkner and became the first to do so during the 2019 season.
Cianciarulo held on to win by nearly five seconds over Dylan Ferrandis.
It was his third Showdown win after winning the season finales at Las Vegas for the past two years. Cianciarulo is the first rider to win three Showdowns.
“Those guys are riding so good,” Cianciarulo told NBCSN after his victory. “I can’t say enough good things about Chase (Sexton) and Austin both. Their pace was unreal. For me it was just about trying to learn their pace and learn where they were better than me. That’s what I’m most proud of in that Main. I didn’t feel good all day. Honestly, I was pretty good in practice, but just terrible in my heat. I just stayed patient. I told myself on the line, ‘whatever you do, just do your very best the entire time.’ And my best was good enough for a win.”
Forkner grabbed the holeshot and appeared to have the race in hand until Cianciarulo chased him down. Two laps later, he lost second to another West rider Dylan Ferrandis. Forkner finished third, but it was the first time this year that Forkner lost a race after winning his heat earlier in the day on the heels of a perfect first three rounds of competition.
“I had a pretty rough day in practice,” Forkner said afterward. “I crashed twice pretty hard in the whoops and just wasn’t feeling it tonight. That’s where I was losing my time, obviously. That’s where I got passed both times.
“I just wasn’t willing to go any faster. Simple as that.”
Forkner made the decision to protect his points lead and keep from experiencing a disastrous run that might ultimately cost the championship. He ended the night with an 18-point lead over Justin Cooper and the field.
Sexton finished fourth and gave up minimal points to Forkner.
Cooper rounded out the top five.
450 Heat 1: Blake Baggett scored his first heat race of the season. … Points leader Cooper Webb kept the pressure on with a second-place finish. … Marvin Musquin rounded out the top three to give KTM a sweep. … Zach Osborne was knocked down in the first corner, but recovered to finish sixth.
450 Heat 2: Cole Seely led flag to flag. … Dean Wilson finished 2.155 seconds back in second. … Justin Brayton rounded out the top three. … Chad Reed slipped in the sand clipped wheels with Eli Tomac, who went to the ground. … Reed finished sixth; Tomac recovered to finish eighth.
450 Last Chance Qualifier: Justin Bogle dominated the LCQ with a margin of nearly nine seconds over Cedric Soubeyras. … Alex Ray finished third, another two seconds back. … Mike Alessi made his Main since March 2017 by taking the final transfer spot..
250 East Heat: Austin Forkner remained perfect for the time being. Through this heat, he had not lost a race yet this season through three rounds that included a Triple Crown event. … Forkner got off to his worst start of the season – allowing Chase Sexton the opportunity to get the holeshot and a more than one second lead. … A red flag gave Forkner the opportunity to catch back up and get the lead on the restart. … Sexton held on to finish second. … Martin Davalos rounded out the top three. … Wilson Fleming crashed on Lap 2 to bring out the red flag. … Anthony Rodriguez finished ninth to take the final transfer spot; Lorenzo Locurcio finished 10th and headed to the LCQ,
250 West Heat: Shane McElrath grabbed the holeshot, but he had pressure from Colt Nichols throughout the heat. … He nipped Nichols by one second. … Adam Cianciarulo rounded out the top three. That was a great recovery, however because Cianciarulo got squirrelly on the start and fell back to seventh on the first lap. … Dylan Ferrandis slipped outside the top nine and had to battle his way back to seventh in order to secure a transfer spot. … Garrett Marchbanks took the final guaranteed spot in ninth. … Cameron McAdoo finished 10th and headed to the LCQ.
250 Last Chance Qualifier: East and West rode head to head for the first time in 2018. East rider Joshua Osby grabbed the win. … Jordan Bailey (East) and Cameron McAdoo (West) finished second and third respectively, but were less than a second behind the leader. … Kyle Cunningham (East) took the final transfer spot. … James Decotis (West) went down in the sand while running one position out of the transfer in fifth.
Cooper Webb (199) (5 wins)
Ken Roczen (186)
Marvin Musquin (182)
Eli Tomac (177) (2 wins)
Blake Baggett (142) (1 win)
Adam Cianciarulo (140 points) (4 wins)
Dylan Ferrandis (125)
Shane McElrath (123) (1)
Colt Nichols (120) (1)
RJ Hampshire (86)
Austin Forkner (99 points) (3 wins)
Justin Cooper (81)
Chase Sexton (79)
Jordon Smith (70)
Alex Martin (60)
450 top 5s
Ken Roczen: 9
Marvin Musquin: 7
Cooper Webb: 7
Eli Tomac: 6
Blake Baggett: 5
Dean Wilson: 2
Joey Savatgy: 2
Chad Reed: 2
Jason Anderson: 1
Justin Barcia: 1
Justin Bogle: 1
Justin Brayton: 1
Aaron Plessinger: 1
250 West top 5s
Adam Cianciarulo: 6
Shane McElrath: 5
Colt Nichols: 4
Dylan Ferrandis: 4
RJ Hampshire: 3
James Decotis: 2
Jacob Hayes: 1
Garrett Marchbanks: 1
Jess Pettis: 1
250 East top 5s
Austin Forkner: 4
Justin Cooper: 4
Chase Sexton: 4
Jordon Smith: 3
Martin Davalos: 2
Alex Martin: 1
Next race: March 9, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
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