2022 Monster Energy Supercross: 450 Preview 2by Jack Gaffney January 4, 2022 0 comments
For the final part of our 2022 450 Class Supercross preview, we still have plenty of big names to get to. Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin have a new friend on Red Bull KTM in Aaron Plessinger. While Monster Energy Kawasaki went out and acquired the services of Jason Anderson to replace Eli Tomac. Additionally, the Honda HRC duo of Ken Roczen and Chase Sexton remains intact with just about every factory squad looking different this year. With that said let’s dive right in.
Be sure to check out Part 1 of our Monster Energy Supercross 450 Class Preview.
No. 23 Chase Sexton
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 3 Podiums, 1 Holeshot, Average Finish of 8.7, 24 Laps Led, 12th in Points
An injury at Houston 2 that kept Sexton sidelined for a month and a half almost certainly cost him a top 10 points finish last year. Once he came back at Daytona, he was red hot until the end of the season, having just one finish outside the top 10. Hard to really pinpoint any part of Sexton’s ability that is best in class, but it feels like he does everything good. Reminds me of Ryan Dungey in that sense.
Speaking of former Champions, Sexton is no longer working with James Stewart after just a year together. On an episode of Gypsy Tales a while back, he explained that it was hard for Stew to teach Sexton how to do certain things, but showed no ill will. Going into full-year No. 2 on the 450, Sexton also has a new mechanic, Brandon Zimmerman, who most recently worked with Jordon Smith at Pro Circuit Kawasaki. If Sexton can stay upright this year, he will be a factor, period.
No. 94 Ken Roczen
2021 Stats: 4 Wins, 10 Podiums, 1 Holeshot, Average Finish of 3.6, 156 Laps Led, 2nd in Points
Next up is Honda’s No. 1 piece, who enters what is the final year of a three-year contract. Hard to envision Roczen going anywhere else after this year if he doesn’t hang up the boots though. The Red Bull relationship basically gives him three factory team options, one of which (KTM) feels set for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if rumors or a one or two-year deal start popping up down the road for Roczen to ensure he retires with Honda.
Last year was pretty much the tale of two seasons for Roczen. From Houston to Orlando, he was absolute cash money. Podiums in six out of eight rounds, along with the sweep of the Indianapolis rounds. Then Daytona happened, where Webb, in the words of Dale Earnhardt Sr, ‘rattled his cage’ in the second corner. Webb then took the points lead in Dallas and that was basically all she wrote. A brutal collapse in a season where a championship was there for the taking.
Oddly enough, the Roczen-Webb dynamic is nonexistent in Motocross. This hopefully means Roczen knows that he can beat him indoors, which he definitely can. For him to finally win a 450 Supercross title, two things must happen. First is not letting Webb get to him mentally. Roczen was mentally flustered after Daytona and everything went downhill from there. It cannot happen again. Secondly is putting together a full main event late in the season, which has been an issue these last three years. Roczen’s average finish in the opening nine rounds since 2019 is 2.814, compared to a 5.375 in the final eight. Not a hot take to say that will need to improve. Outside of that, Roczen is still a title favorite.
Twisted Tea H.E.P. Suzuki
No. 19 Justin Bogle
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 0 Podiums, 0 Holeshots, Average Finish of 14.3, 0 Laps Led, 20th in Points
Injuries cost Bogle, whos back with Suzuki for the first time since 2018, eight rounds a year ago. A shoulder injury cost him the final six rounds, right as he was starting to find a stride as well. Now the Oklahoma native becomes the top-dog on the 450 class’s lone Suzuki team. His last season not wrecked by injury (2019) went fairly well all things considered. Bogle ended up ninth in points and managed to finish a spot shy of a podium in the lime-ridden mud of San Diego. Health permitting, look for Bogle to play a consistent spoiler role this year. Additionally, he should hopefully be a good PulpMX pick more often than not.
No. 41 Brandon Hartranft
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 0 Podiums, 0 Holeshots, Average Finish of 18.4, 0 Laps Led, 25th in Points
Hartranft had a rough time trying to make it to Main Events in his rookie 450 Supercross Campaign. However, once the Motocross tilt began, his results got notably better. As far as Supercross goes, Hartranft was no slouch on a 250, so there is hope here that his results can improve in the premier class. A good internal goal for the New Jersey native should be to make all 17 Main Events though.
No. 722 Adam Enticknap
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 0 Podiums, 0 Holeshots, Average Finish of 20.5, 0 Laps Led, 34th in Points
The Seven-Duece-Duece once again is back with this H.E.P. outfit for 2022. Last year, Enticknap made just four Main Events a year ago and has not made it to at least seven since 2017. According to Michael Lindsay, this slot could change once the Supercross season ends as well. Enticknap is SX only now and that would leave a spot open if H.E.P. still goes with three riders for Motocross.
SGB Racing Storm Lake Honda
No. 78 Cade Clason
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 0 Podiums, 0 Holeshots, Average Finish of 18.9, 0 Laps Led, 24th in Points
Next up is the ‘Dream Team’ of Clason and Alex Ray. Two fan-favorite privateer riders are now under one roof with the SGB Honda team. Clason did not make every main event a year ago but ran inside the top 20 nearly every time he did so. He makes the jump from PRMX Kawasaki in what is year 10 for the Ohio native.
No. 87 Alex Ray
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 0 Podiums, 0 Holeshots, Average Finish of 19, 0 Laps Led, 26th in Points
“Let’s go with ARay in the fourth slot, what’s the worst that can happen.” Famous last words of most PulpMX Fantasy players since the dawn of time. All jokes aside ARay is entering year No. 12 as a pro. Last season he qualified for Main Events at just under a 50-percent clip and his best result was a 17th at the first round in Dallas. Ray will also be taking serving as a team crew chief for Motocross which should provide tremendous content.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 1 Podium, 0 Holeshots, Average Finish of 8.1, 20 Laps Led, 16th in Points
As he enters his third year in the 450 class, the story with AC is his ability to stay healthy during Supercross. In the last two seasons, he has missed nine rounds both times. On the flip side, when he’s out there, he’s been excellent. Cianciarulo at the absolute worst is the second-best qualifier in the sport behind Roczen. Additionally, his race results are not too shabby either. Excluding Salt Lake City 2 in 2020 and Orlando 2 last year, he has one finish outside the top 10 in his career. When he’s on the bike, few riders are better than the No. 9
Sadly on the health front, Cianciarulo confirmed a recent rumor that he did have a practice crash and suffered an AC joint sprain. Not typically common for preseason injuries to be confirmed like this so good on AC being open about it. The good news is that he just got back on the bike yesterday and is ok enough to be good for this weekend. Hopefully, Cianciarulo can break through and get 450 Supercross Main Event win No. 1 this year.
No. 21 Jason Anderson
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 2 Podiums, 0 Holeshots, Average Finish of 8.1, 0 Laps Led, 8th in Points
Team Fried is now officially Team Green. Seeing El Hombre on anything but a Husqvarna will take some time to get used to, but it sounds like he is ripping it up on the KX450. The results on paper don’t show it, but Anderson felt like a much better rider in the second half of last season. It felt like he took a while to get going, but once everything clicked he was looking much better on the eye test. Worth noting that Anderson is also entering this year coming off of a broken hand in the summer. That kept him out of the final 11 rounds of Motocross, unfortunately, ending his run with Rockstar Husqvarna on a sad note.
Moving teams for Anderson could also be a huge boost for this year. Bobby Hewitt, who was huge for the career of Anderson, left Husky at the end of the 2020 season. Now in a whole new situation a year and a half later, El Hombre hopefully is primed for a nice bounceback year. He hasn’t won a Supercross Main Event On a side note, the Team Fried and Cianciarulo content will be must-watch this year.
No. 11 Kyle Chisholm
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 0 Podiums, 0 Holeshots, Average Finish of 16.7, 0 Laps Led, 19th in Points
Chiz; American icon, a former teammate of Stew, Pulp Fantasy legend. The Yamaha rider out of Florida is getting ever closer to 20 years pro as this season kicks off this weekend. An average finish of about 17th a year ago isn’t headline-worthy. That isn’t until you factor in the fact that he’s running what’s essentially a YZ450 you yourself can go buy at a dealer. They don’t just hand out career numbers to nobody’s folks.
Red Bull KTM
No. 7 Aaron Plessinger
2021 Stats: 0 Wins, 1 Podium, 2 Holeshots, Average Finish of 7.5, 0 Laps Led, 5th in Points
Kicking things off for the Orange Brigade is the newest acquisition. Plessinger moving after a career year with Star Yamaha was newsworthy for certain, but it’s hard to argue if there could have been a landing spot better than Red Bull KTM. He also reunites with Webb, who were teammates in their 250 days at Star. You would have to imagine Webb had some hand in selling the team to AP. The all-new KTM bike probably didn’t hurt matter either. One of Supercross’ best personalities now looks to hit the ground running and improve on a strong 2021.
No. 25 Marvin Musquin
2021 Stats: 1 Win, 5 Podiums, 2 Holeshots, Average Finish of 8.3, 11 Laps Led, 9th in Points
You know Supercross season is approaching when you start hearing of riders flying at the test track. The first rider to receive the honor of doing so this cycle was Mr. Musquin. That was before Paris Supercross, which the Frenchman dominated in convincing fashion. Entering what is likely his swan song, Musquin is on a Supercross-only deal and training full time with David Vuillemin. In short, expect the Frenchman to go down swinging if this is indeed it.
No. 1 Cooper Webb
2021 Stats: 8 Wins, 13 Podiums, 3 Holeshots, Average Finish of 2.5, 108 Laps Led, Defending Two-Time Supercross Champion
At last, we reach the defending Champion. In three years with Red Bull KTM, no rider has won more Main Events or scored more points than Webb. Now combine an impressive track record with a new state-of-the-art bike, 2022 could be Webb’s best year yet. He has been so good that him departing from the Baker Factory feels like a non-issue. In fact, the word on the streets is that Webb is an animal in the whoops in testing.
The last two years, Webb has had some slow starts, but after he gets his feet wet he’s good to go. So if he ends up scoring a fifth and eighth in the opening couple of rounds, do not fret. Webb is also money in the second half of the year. 10 of his wins have come in the second half of the season, which includes a sweep of Dallas last year.
When talking about Webb as well, the mental game has to be mentioned. His ability to get inside guys’ heads is uncanny. He unraveled Roczen’s season all on a block pass off the start at Daytona. Also having the chip on your shoulder of being overlooked for nearly you’re whole career is a motivational plus as well. Not a stretch to say he enters Anaheim 1 as the favorite to win three championships in a span of four years.
Preseason 450 Supercross Top 15 Power Rankings
15. Justin Bogle
14. Dean Wilson
13. Joey Savatgy
12. Justin Brayton
11. Aaron Plessinger
10. Chase Sexton
9. Adam Cianciarulo
7. Jason Anderson
6. Marvin Musquin
3. Ken Roczen
2. Eli Tomac
1. Cooper Webb
2022 Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450 Championship Pick: Dylan Ferrandis
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyPTST