2022 Monster Energy Supercross: Anaheim 1 Recap

2022 Monster Energy Supercross: Anaheim 1 Recap

by January 9, 2022 0 comments

After nearly two years, Supercross returns to its premier venue, Angel Stadium, for the traditional season opener. After one of the more noteworthy offseasons of the last decade, there is finally racing to talk about. Luckily there was plenty of that in Anaheim. Both Main Events left a bunch to talk about. In addition to a couple of major injuries suffered in the pair of 250 West Heat Races. On another note, we got the opportunity to run in the Industry Idiots PulpMX Fantasy League. With that being said, every week our team will be here for anyone that is interested. Thanks to Dan Truman and that entire crew who gets that going. After that, we get to the recap of an eventful Anaheim 1 Supercross.

Week 1 PulpMX Fantasy Supercross Lineup

250 West: Christian Craig (All-Star +1), Robbie Wageman (+8), Vince Friese (No handicap), Logan Karnow (+10) 

450 Class Lineup: Malcolm Stewart (All-Star +6), Cade Clason (+13), Mitchell Oldenburg (+11), Chase Sexton (-3)

Be sure to catch up on all of our Supercross coverage.

Heat Racing Recap

250 West Class

Friese wasted no time getting to the front, taking a season-opening holeshot. He began to pull on 250 East Champion Colt Nichols and Seth Hammaker. Nichols after a few tries finally cut inside of Friese for the lead, and the MotoConcepts rider dropped to third before getting second back. Michael Mosiman with a battle in front. Then came the big story of the night, Nichols took a big spill in the whoops while leading. The Star Yamaha rider was down for quite some time, up until after Heat 1 ended. Mosiman, who took the lead after the wreck, went on to win the first Heat of 2022.

After a somber note opened up the year, Nichols teammate Craig drag raced Carson Mumford to the holeshot line and took the lead going onto the tabletop. Another major rider just seconds later took a nasty spill was Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll. He made contact in mid-air with Nate Thrasher off the triple and landed near the end of the landing ramp. After a very scary wreck, Heat 2 was red-flagged, resulting in a full race restart.

Then after a lengthy red-flag getting Swoll treatment and then off track, Heat 2 was restarted. Hunter Lawrence took the holeshot with Dylan Walsh, Jo Shimoda, and Craig behind. The latter then went two for one on Shimoda and Walsh to blitz into P2. What jumped out for Craig here was his whoop speed. Even on TV, it was abundantly clear no one was on his level there. Speaking of whoops, Craig got to Lawrence on the second pair and tipped him over, forcing the latter back a few spots. Not much of a surprise, but the No. 28 cruised to a multi-second win over Shimoda, and Garrett Marchbanks.

Injury Updates

For Nichols, he was loaded onto a mule after the conclusion of Heat 1 and had a soft cast on his left arm. According to SwapMotoLive, the word is he broke both of his arms, a hip puncture injury, and a burn from his exhaust. Swoll meanwhile took a good amount of time to get stabilized on a backboard before getting carted off. As of the early AM hours on the east coast, there is no word on his condition. This is a beyond horrible break for a couple of race-contending riders. To have months of prep go down in a matter of minutes has to be soul-crushing. Hoping for nothing but the best for both Nichols and Swoll.

450 Class

If you picked Shane McElrath to get the first 450 Heat race holeshot of the year, congratulations. The Rocky Mountain KTM rider managed to hold the lead for a bit, up until Sexton turned on the jets and took his Factory Honda ride to the point. This was not a banner run for the Red Bull KTM riders in this heat. Marvin Musquin got forced off track by Justin Barcia, then went down on the concrete seconds later. Cooper Webb then went over on his own trying to hold of Eli Tomac. Sexton took home the heat in convincing fashion.

Ken Roczen kicked off his year with a monster holeshot in Heat 2. Fastest qualifier Stewart got cramped in the middle, but made his way into the top five, getting into Jason Anderson in the process. Adam Cianciarulo, who came into the season with a shoulder injury, began to lose multiple spots here as the race came to a close. He ended up dropping from third to seventh in the final few laps. In the end, it was a sweep for the HRC rig. Roczen cruised to an easy heat win, with Justin Brayton with a strong second-place run.

250 West Class Roundup

No. 28 Christian Craig- Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (1st Place)

Out of all 80-plus riders who hit the track over the course of this weekend, you can make the case that Craig was the best. He was lights out from the beginning of press day track time, all the way until the 250 Main Event. It felt clear even in qualifying that it would take a lot for the No. 28 to not end up lighting the candles. Once he got around Friese for the lead, that was game, set, and match. That’s now two straight season-opening wins for Craig, who becomes the first 250 West rider to hold the red plate this year.

No. 47 Seth Hammaker- Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki (2nd Place)

Not a bad night at all for the second-year pro out of Pennsylvania. Hammaker, officially credited with the Main Event holeshot, was a fixture in the top three from start to finish on Saturday. He didn’t have the speed to keep up with Craig, but Hammaker was in a dog fight with guys like Friese and Lawrence for the runner-up spot. Despite a last-ditch effort by the latter to take second, Hammaker was able to stay strong for a great run in the opener.

No. 62 Vince Friese- Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda (5th Place)

Friese felt like he could make things interesting, don’t think many expected he would to this degree, however. Outside of Craig, he was the only rider to lead laps in last night’s Main Event, and he didn’t make things easy on the kids as expected. Ultimately, Mike Genova’s rider fell back into fifth, but Saturday was a great starting point for Friese here in this Championship.

No. 30 Jo Shimoda- Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki (7th Place)

Saturday could have been an absolute disaster for the Kawasaki rider out of Japan. Shimoda bit on a head fake by Craig and nailed the starting gate before it dropped. As the entire field went by, he began to work his way through the tall grass. In a very impressive effort, Shimoda made it from 22nd all the way up to 7th in a little over 15 minutes. Needless to say, this was likely not what he was hoping for, but this was excellent damage control.

No. 69 Robbie Wageman- Team Solitare/Nuclear Blast Yamaha (8th Place)

How about ‘the Wage Man’ picking up a career-best finish at A1? Even more impressive was that he was nearly in the top three off the start, just behind Hammaker and Friese. All around, this is a fantastic effort for this rider and this Solitare/Nuclear Blast Yamaha squad. Hopefully, we can see Wageman in spots like this more often, because he looked the part in Anaheim.

250 West Class Anaheim 1 Top 10

1st No. 28 Christian Craig

2nd No. 47 Seth Hammaker

3rd No. 96 Hunter Lawrence

4th No. 35 Garrett Marchbanks

5th No. 62 Vince Friese

6th No. 29 Michael Mosiman

7th No. 30 Jo Shimoda

8th No. 69 Robbie Wageman

9th No. 98 Nique Thurry

10th No. 43 Carson Mumford

450 Class Roundup

No. 94 Ken Roczen- Honda HRC (1st Place)

Looks like we’re getting the early season Roczen from a year ago once again. The key for him on Saturday was his starts, even his ‘fake’ start in qualifying was excellent, let alone both of his night show starts. Save for some real pressure by his teammate Sexton, Roczen had clear waters from the gate drop to the checkered flag. A great sign for Roczen as well was that there was no major lap time drop-off in the Main Event. Barcia ended up gaining a second on him late, but the lead was above 10 seconds and he made it back up more or less before the finish.

It was also a milestone night for Roczen. This was the Honda HRC rider’s fourth career Anaheim 1 victory. That now puts him at the top for the most ever, breaking a tie with James Stewart and Chad Reed. Additionally, this was Roczen’s 20th career Supercross Main Event win, which ties him with motorsports legend Jeff Ward for 10th all time. All things considered, this was a great way for Roczen to open things up in 2022. Especially considering how 2021 unraveled on him.

No. 1 Cooper Webb- Red Bull KTM (2nd Place)

For a rider who has never done good in the season opener, this second place must feel like a win for Webb. Although he didn’t qualify well, that did not feel like a concern with the defending Champion. There were multiple poor qualifying efforts a year ago and look where he ended up. Heat Race was a different story, however. Webb ended up falling over on his own defending against Tomac and ended up finishing fifth. On paper that’s fine, just something felt a tad off.

When it became Main Event time, things started out par for the course given Webb’s opener history. He was hanging just outside of the top five, but riders making mistakes in front of him gave the defending Champion the break he needed. Sometimes, all you need to do is be in the right place at the right time, and that was the case for Webb on Saturday. Given how snakebitten he has been in openers in years past, this feels like some positive karma.

No. 51 Justin Barcia- Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing (3rd Place)

The bad news is Barcia’s streak of Anaheim 1/Opener victories has been snapped. On the flip side, his streak of opening-round podiums has reached five in a row now. It felt clear as the day went on Barcia may not be in a spot to win, but a good result was certainly on the table. Like Webb, Bam Bam slipped through the cracks and found himself in second place. He ended up punting Anderson out of a sure podium after a block pass, which I would guess the latter isn’t thrilled about. Digressing, Barcia ended up giving way to Webb before settling for a third-place finish. To close things out, to anyone on the GasGas team that may see this, keep the red rims on the bike, they looked spectacular.

No. 23 Chase Sexton- Honda HRC (4th Place)

If there’s a morale winner in this field, it was absolutely Sexton. By all accounts, he probably should have won Anaheim 1 on his first attempt, but a couple of crucial mistakes kept him from doing so. First, as he was getting close to the rear wheel of Roczen, he hit an odd rut out of a rhythm section and had to dismount, losing a few spots as a result. A few laps later, Sexton ended up going down in the whoops after the finish jump, which brought him close to outside the top 10. What could have been the lead in the biggest race of the year was now looking like a mulligan for Sexton.

The Honda HRC rider then showed great mental toughness, bulldogging his way back up into the top five. Even going right to the finish, Sexton took Marvin Musquin to the brink, only losing out on fourth by 0.014 seconds. This is the kind of ride where if Sexton can compete for this title, he will look back on fondly. If tonight was any indication, he has the speed and mentality to do just that.

No. 3 Eli Tomac- Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (6th Place)

‘Fine’, is a good way to describe ET3’s debut with the Star Yamaha team. Yes, a sixth-place Main Event finish is fine, but Tomac never felt like he was where he should have been. If you rank the best laps of all the top 10 riders, he ranks eighth of those. Numbers-wise he was over a second and a half back of the best lap of the Main Event, put up by Sexton. However, given that this is his best opening round finish of the last three years, Tomac should take this and get ready for Oakland. A venue which he has won at twice in the last four trips there.

No. 27 Malcolm Stewart- Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing (7th Place)

Mookie Fever stocks were looking tremendous during qualifying, but it was not meant for Stewart to get his first win in Anaheim. A poor start in his Heat didn’t do him any gate selection favors for the Main Event. Stewart ended up having a solid race going until he got completely cleaned out by Musquin around the halfway mark. He then was able to rally up to a seventh by the night’s end, but Mookie was red hot. To say he was not happy with Musquin would be the understatement of the evening. He had to be held back by a track worker after he got into his face. Given the nature of how he got taken down, hard to blame Stewart here.

No. 21 Jason Anderson- Monster Energy Kawasaki (10th Place)

The finish does not tell the whole story for El Hombre in Anaheim, he was better than expected in his Kawasaki debut. Anderson had a second-place close to secure, but some Bam Bam retaliation knocked him far back of second, let alone the top five. There were rumblings that Anderson was running well in preseason testing, but we got to see it with our own eyes at Angel Stadium. Watch out for the No. 21 KX450 as this season moves along, this was as good as El Hombre has looked in quite some time.

No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo- Monster Energy Kawasaki (11th Place)

Hard to make an 11th sound impressive, but given the circumstances, AC deserves some major props. With an AC joint sprain, he was running in a podium spot for a large chunk of the night managing the injury. Despite falling back to outside the top 10, Cianciarulo deserves some major props for gutting it out and running well for a majority of the Main Event. A stark contrast to his Heat race, where he looked off from the get-go.

No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis- Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (16th Place)

A wise man once said ‘control what you can control’. Ferrandis was able to do this, unfortunately, some things are simply not up to you. A bike stall around lap 14 all but ended the reigning Motocross Champions night, forcing him to a finish one lap down. Call this a mulligan for the Frenchman here. Would not expect much, if any, sub-top 10 results for Ferrandis moving forward.

450 Class Anaheim 1 Top 10

1st No. 94 Ken Roczen

2nd No. 1 Cooper Webb

3rd No. 51 Justin Barcia

4th No. 25 Marvin Musquin

5th No. 23 Chase Sexton

6th No. 3 Eli Tomac

7th No. 27 Malcolm Stewart

8th No. 17 Joey Savatgy

9th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger

10th No. 21 Jason Anderson

With the dirt already down with Monster Jam in town, the Supercross season moves to Nor-Cal. More specifically Oakland for the second round of the season next Saturday evening.


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