The second round of 2019 Monster Energy Supercross, which is being run in Glendale, is now well underway, but it just feels a little different. Is it the fact that Glendale has never hosted a race this early in the season? No, it cannot be that, as Arizona hosted round two for countless years, just at Chase Field over on the other side of town.
I know what it is! There are so many unanswered questions following the opening round at Angel Stadium, so this just feels like the opener all over again. Who really has the edge over the competition? Can the guys like Dean Wilson, Colt Nichols and Cooper Webb back up their rides from last week in dry conditions? Blake Baggett was phenomenal in practice at Anaheim 1, but was that just a flash in the pan? Can Jason Anderson rebound? Well, funnily enough, an answer to the latter emerged during the very first 450SX session, which has added yet another element to the racing.
Jason Anderson jumped to the top briefly in free practice, then dropped down the order and later returned to third in the charts. Not bad, huh? That is considerably better than how he rode during the night show at Anaheim 1 anyway. The time was backed up when he went quickest in the first qualifying session and, once again, he set multiple fast laps, which proves that it was more than a one hit wonder. Fifth is the spot that he eventually occupied in the combined premier-class times. Does this mean that he is back? Well, as much as most fans would love to jump to that conclusion, he qualified sixth a week ago. Time will tell.
Justin Hill was the fastest qualifier in the premier division, yet he finished fifteenth at A1. The parity in the 450SX division right now is off the scales! The guy who took pole position last week, Blake Baggett, qualified in fifteenth today. Those facts alone should give you an idea of just how unpredictable things are. Did Justin Hill do anything particularly crazy in order to secure that spot at the top of the board? Not necessarily. The layout inside of the State Farm Stadium is long and technical, but a majority of guys are doing similar lines.
Double, triple, triple, triple and then single is the popular line in the section that runs after the first turn. It is unlikely that anyone will be able to do anything much crazier than that, as we would have seen it by now and the track should not break down that much. The other rhythm section, which runs before the whoops, has a line that is universally popular too: Double, triple, triple and then triple is what the elite riders in both classes are opting to do. There was a different line that Adam Cianciarulo experimented with, but it did not end up being any faster.
There are four jumps after the finish and a majority of riders are doubling through there. Adam Cianciarulo begun to triple and then single, on the other hand, and it looked considerably faster. Cianciarulo logged his quickest time by doubling twice and then reverted back to that line for the rest of the day. It seemed as though he had nothing for Dylan Ferrandis though, the fastest qualifier in the 250SX class, if one simply peruses the results. Ferrandis was the fastest in every single session and that obviously looks amazing on paper.
Adam Cianciarulo was just sixteen tenths slower in the final qualifying session though, so it is definitely not a given that Dylan Ferrandis is going to be the favourite to win tonight. Colt Nichols was only two tenths slower too! The 250SX West class is just as wide open as the premier class! Who could be looked at as the greatest question mark in that category? Shane McElrath. McElrath was rather quiet at the opening round, failed to capitalise on a brilliant start in the main and then did not exactly set the world alight today. The time that he recorded was a second and a half slower than his competitors and left him in sixth overall.
Are there any other new questions that have emerged, following the qualifying sessions that were run here in Glendale? Justin Barcia was fourteenth in the combined qualifying sessions, which has baffled many, and Aaron Plessinger had a fairly hard crash in the whoops section in the final main event. Will that hinder him? Is he going to be able to back up the sixth place that he claimed in the dry at A1? A final thought to consider is that the crowd at the State Farm Stadium may erupt tonight. A pair of fan favourites, Chad Reed and Malcolm Stewart, impressed in qualifying. Could they make round two a memorable one?
Well, shoot, time has run out once again! There is so much to talk about in Monster Energy Supercross at the moment. The good news is that answers will emerge in the next couple of hours and, at the same time, there is probably going to be more question marks and surprises. Can we just drop the gate now?
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX