2018 AMA Supercross Preview

Steve Cox | December 23, 2017

2018 AMA Supercross Preview: As the new year is almost upon us, so, too, is the new Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Series. It all kicks off the weekend following New Year’s Day, and it’s setting up to be a doozy. Here’s what you need to know:

CHANGES

The biggest change for 2018 is the Triple Crown. At three 2018 rounds (round 3 in Anaheim, round 9 in Atlanta, and round 14 in Minneapolis) the main events in both classes will be divided into three, shorter main events. After the qualifying races (without Semis at any events this year) filter the field down to 22 riders in each class, the 250cc class will compete in a 6-minute, 10-minute and 12-minute main event, while the 450cc class will compete in an 8-minute, 12-minute and 15-minute main event. The finishes will be combined using an Olympic-style scoring system to determine the overall winner. And that winner will earn 26 points, rather than 25 in years’ past. This is so that earning a podium finish will be emphasized (26 points to first, 23 to second, 21 to third, and then 19, 18, 17 on back to 22nd place getting 1 point). Podiums get you two points more than the next finisher, and points are now awarded back through 22nd. And with the first and second legs of the Triple Crown coming in Anaheim and Minneapolis, that means each 250cc Regional Series (Eastern and Western) will have a Triple Crown event prior to meeting in Minneapolis for the final of the Triple Crowns, where both the East and West will compete in a new East/West Shootout event using the Triple Crown format. Then, as usual, in Las Vegas, the two coasts will meet for a final time before they head to Hangtown for the Nationals to start. The other big change is that every race will feature metal starting grates behind the starting gates, providing consistent traction and conditions for every racer on the line in every race.

Then there’s the actual schedule. Gone is the Canadian round in Toronto, first off, and the series now starts off at Anaheim, then heads to Houston for round two of the Western swing (even though it’s technically east of Arlington, which will host a 250cc East round this year). The series returns to Tampa in 2018, and will head inside the brand-new, $1.6-Billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for the first time this year as well.

2018 AMA Supercross Preview

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
After scoring nine wins in 2017, and then winning the 450cc National Motocross Championship, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac is likely the favorite to take the 2018 450cc Supercross title. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

SCHEDULE

ROUND            DATE                   VENUE                                   CITY                             NETWORK/TIME (Eastern)

Round 1            January 6            Angel Stadium                       Anaheim, CA              FS1 10p

Round 2           January 13           NRG Stadium                        Houston, TX               FS1 8p

Round 3           January 20          Angel Stadium                       Anaheim, CA              FS1 10p

Round 4           January 27          U. of Phoenix Stadium         Glendale, AZ               FS1 8p

Round 5           February 3           O.co Coliseum                       Oakland, CA                FS1 7p

Round 6           February 10         Petco Park                              San Diego, CA            FS1 10p

Round 7           February 17          AT&T Stadium                      Arlington, TX             FS1 8p

Round 8           February 24         Raymond James Stadium  Tampa, FL                  FS1 7p

Round 9           March 3                Mercedes-Benz Stadium     Atlanta, GA                FS1 10p

Round 10         March 10              Daytona Int’l Speedway      Daytona, FL               FS1 7p

Round 11          March 17              Dome at America’s Center  St. Louis, MO            FS1 8p

Round 12         March 24              Lucas Oil Stadium                Indianapolis, IN       FS1 8:30p

Round 13         April 7                   CenturyLink Field                Seattle, WA                FS1 10p

Round 14         April 14                 U.S. Bank Stadium               Minneapolis, MN     FS1 10p

Round 15         April 21                 Gillette Stadium                    Foxborough, MA      Fox 3p

Round 16         April 28                Rice-Eccles Stadium             Salt Lake City, UT    Fox 8:30p

Round 17         May 5                    Sam Boyd Stadium                Las Vegas, NV           FS1 10p

2018 AMA Supercross Preview

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
With the retirement of Ryan Dungey after successfully defending his title in 2017, the number 1 will not be worn in the 450cc class. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

2018 RIDER NUMBERS

(* denotes a permanent number)

1            Ryan Dungey

1W            Justin Hill

1E            Zach Osborne

2*            Cooper Webb

3*            Eli Tomac

4*            Blake Baggett

5*            Ryan Dungey

6*            Jeremy Martin

7*            James Stewart

10*            Justin Brayton

11*            Kyle Chisholm

12*            Jake Weimer

14*            Cole Seely

15*            Dean Wilson

16*            Zach Osborne

17*            Joey Savatgy

18*            David Millsaps

19*            Justin Bogle

20*            Broc Tickle

21*            Jason Anderson

22*            Chad Reed

23*            Aaron Plessinger

24            Dylan Ferrandis

25*            Marvin Musquin

26*            Alex Martin

27*            Malcolm Stewart

28            Shane McElrath

29            Martin Davalos

30            Mitchell Harrison

31            Colt Nichols

32            Christian Craig

33*            Josh Grant

34            Weston Peick

35            Austin Forkner

36            RJ Hampshire

37            Fredrik Noren

38            Luke Renzland

39            Kyle Cunningham

40            Chase Sexton

41*            Trey Canard

42            Dakota Alix

43            Sean Cantrell

44            Lorenzo Locurcio

45            Jordon Smith

46*            Justin Hill

47            Jimmy Decotis

48            Henry Miller

49            Nick Gaines

50            Dan Reardon

51*            Justin Barcia

52            Mitchell Oldenburg

53            Bradley Taft

54            Phil Nicoletti

55            Vince Friese

56            Anthony Rodriguez

57            John Short

58            Matt Bisceglia

59            Cole Martinez

60            Benny Bloss

61            Heath Harrison

62            Justin Cooper

63            Hayden Mellross

64            Michael Mosiman

65            Gannon Audette

66            Cameron McAdoo

67            Justin Hoeft

68            Justin Starling

69            Tyler Bowers

70            Jesse Wentland

71            Josh Mosiman

72            Josh Hansen

73            Brandon Scharer

74            Jon Ames

75            Noah McConahy

76            Kyle Peters

77            Ryan Surratt

78            Ronnie Stewart

79            Nick Schmidt

80            AJ Catanzaro

81            Chase Marquier

82            Cody Williams

83            Cole Thompson

84            Scott Champion

85            Joshua Cartwright

86            Dylan Merriam

87            Dylan Wright

88            Paul Coates

89            Jerry Robin

90            Dakota Tedder

91            Alex Ray

92*            Adam Cianciarulo

93            Mark Worth

94*            Ken Roczen

95            Joey Crown

96            Zack Williams

97            Cade Clason

98            Ryan Sipes

99            Dillan Epstein

800*            Mike Alessi

450cc TEAM ROSTERS

(Alphabetical order by motorcycle brand)

Team Honda
Cole Seely is a proven commodity. He can win races, and should always be battling for podiums. The big question here is Ken Roczen. Roczen had that incredible, almost legendary, crash at Anaheim II this past year that absolutely destroyed his left arm basically from fingertips to shoulder blade, but he’s back on the bike, wearing a wrist brace, and seems to be in great shape. Roczen is returning from what could have been a career-ending injury, and that in and of itself is like a victory. If he can take it a step farther and get actual victories on the race track, it will be a phenomenal achievement, and that’s exactly what he’s setting out to do.
14            Cole Seely
94            Ken Roczen

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Honda’s Ken Roczen looks solid, but we won’t know everything until the racing starts. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Smartop/Motoconcepts Honda
Newly crowned two-time Australian Supercross Champ Justin Brayton returns to the Motoconcepts team with his often-controversial teammate Vince Friese, and joining them is former 250cc West SX champ Jake Weimer. Weimer had a big get-off early in the off-season and busted himself up pretty good, but he’s back on the bike and getting ready to hit the track on his new Hondas. Brayton scored a couple of sixth-place finishes in 2017 on these bikes, and Weimer is hoping to put himself up in the mix around the top five as well.
10            Justin Brayton
12            Jake Weimer
55            Vince Friese

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna
Jason Anderson should be a contender for the title from the get-go. That’s what’s expected of him from his team, and it’s what he expects of himself. He scored four podiums in a row to round out 2017, including winning the finale in Las Vegas, but he definitely expected more than that, and continues with those expectations going into 2018. And Dean Wilson came on to the Husky team after the first handful of rounds in 2017, and he put himself into the top five a couple of times, but his off-season has shown that his speed is getting better all the time, so there’s no reason he won’t be in the top five at every round and battling for podiums and maybe even wins.
15            Dean Wilson
21            Jason Anderson

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson expects to be a contender for the title in 2018. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Chad Reed Husqvarna
The third Husky pilot is Chad Reed. Reed is building his machines now and his main sponsors are a mystery at this point, but the thing about Chad Reed is that he’s still Chad Reed. About halfway through the 2018 season, as long as he stays healthy, Reed should surpass Mike LaRocco’s record for the most 450cc main events by a single racer, and if Reed could manage a win in 2018, he will be the oldest racer ever to win a supercross race. Not only that, but he’d become the only racer ever to win a supercross main event on all four Japanese motorcycle brands plus one non-Japanese brand. It can happen.
22            Chad Reed

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Eli Tomac’s Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Josh Grant has his swagger back, so he could sneak his way right into some podiums and wins. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Monster Energy Kawasaki
Once Eli Tomac got his motorcycle settings sorted out, he went on a tear in 2017, winning 9 of the last 14 events and coming up just 5 points short of his first-ever 450cc title. He got that 450cc title outdoors later in 2017, and he’s gunning for the supercross title. His teammate, Josh Grant, plans to do some damage of his own. He came on strong near the end of the supercross championship in 2017 and strung together podiums both indoors and outdoors in May, but he was eventually sidelined with injuries. Coming back healthy, Grant will likely surprise some people, because he’s got that swagger back. And that’s a good thing.
3            Eli Tomac
33            Josh Grant

Red Bull KTM
With Ryan Dungey’s retirement after his successful title defense, the team was left in the capable hands of Marvin Musquin, who won two main events (three, really, if you count New Jersey, and I think he should) in 2017, and he’s absolutely dominated the off-season, winning the Monster Million at the Monster Energy Cup and the Red Bull Straight Rhythm as well. He’s joined by former 250cc SX champ Broc Tickle, who loves his new motorcycle, team, and training situation. Tickle will snatch up some podiums this year, and maybe more.
20            Broc Tickle
25            Marvin Musquin

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM’s Blake Baggett had a heck of an outdoor series in 2017 and could turn a lot of heads in supercross this coming year. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM
Benny Bloss is too big to race 250s, so he’s moving up to 450s full-time in 2018. He’s a talented young man who looks like he’s riding a KTM 85 out there, but he’s fast. But it’s Blake Baggett who is going to turn some heads. For the first time in his 450cc career in 2017, Baggett looked like he was racing his 450, rather than just surviving aboard it. He grabbed a podium and a few top-fives, then went on a tear outdoors and was leading the title when he injured his thumb at RedBud. Carrying this momentum into supercross, Baggett is likely to win some stuff in 2018.
4            Blake Baggett
60            Benny Bloss

Toyota/Monster Energy/Joe Gibbs Racing Suzuki
Now the official factory-Suzuki effort, the JGR team picked up Justin Bogle from the former factory-Suzuki effort – RCH Suzuki – at the end of 2017. Bogle won a couple outdoor motos in 2017, and he’s joined by the Big Man Weston Peick, who missed most of 2017’s supercross series with a badly broken wrist. Peick doesn’t get a lot of credit from pundits, but he’s fast, and he’s a bulldog who will move people out of the way if he has to. Between the finesse of Bogle and the determination of Peick, at least one of them should end up near the front each week.
19            Justin Bogle
34            Weston Peick

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Weston Peick is now on the official factory Suzuki team at JGR with new teammate Justin Bogle. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Monster Energy/Knich/Yamaha Factory Racing
Heading into his sophomore year of 450cc supercross, Cooper Webb will be one to watch. He was just picking up the speed and starting to run near the front in 2017 when he collided in mid-air with Dean Wilson in Minneapolis and went down hard, tearing up his left shoulder. Just a couple weeks before that, Webb got on the podium in Oakland. The two-time 250cc SX champ might have to work his way up to the front again in 2018, but if he stays healthy, he will do just that. His teammate for the first few rounds will be Justin Barcia, who joined the Yamaha effort after Davi Millsaps injured his elbow at the test track just prior to the Monster Energy Cup last October. How long Barcia stays is dependent upon how well he does, and how soon Millsaps can return to action.
2            Cooper Webb
18            Davi Millsaps
51            Justin Barcia

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Yamaha’s Cooper Webb just seemed to be catching fire when he was injured in 2017. When he catches fire again, he’s going to be a problem for the established 450cc racers. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha
Alex Ray joined the Rock River team in 2017 after Tommy Hahn exited, and he had a tough go of it for the most part. The thing is that he always puts 100% effort into his racing, and chances are he’ll be in just about every main event in 2018, as long as he stays healthy.
91            Alex Ray

250cc TEAM ROSTERS

(Alphabetical order by motorcycle brand)

GEICO Honda
Jeremy Martin will actually race the first three rounds of the supercross series on a 450 in preparation for moving up to the class full-time in 2019, but after that, he’ll be getting ready to try and take his first-ever SX title back east. He’ll be joined on the east by RJ Hampshire and Cameron McAdoo, while Christian Craig will return to race the west with rookie teammate Chase Sexton.
6            Jeremy Martin
32            Christian Craig
36            RJ Hampshire
40            Chase Sexton
66            Cameron McAdoo

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Christian Craig will be hitting the 250cc West for GEICO Honda, with teammate Chase Sexton making his rookie SX debut at Anaheim 1. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna
Zach Osborne was one of the greatest stories of 2017, and he’s trying to carry his momentum to a successful indoor title defense before moving up to 450cc machines full-time for the outdoor series. He’s joined by a couple young speedsters in Michael Mosiman, who moved up in 2017, and Mitchell Harrison, who raced with the Star Racing Yamaha team the last couple years and really started to put in some great performances near the end of his time there. Harrison has great style, but historically he simply crashes too much. If he’s sorted that out, he can be a contender.
1E            Zach Osborne
30            Mitchell Harrison
64            Michael Mosiman

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Zach Osborne will be defending his 250cc East title and then moving up to the 450cc class outdoors. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Joey Savatgy is due for a title, but they only give one of those out in each championship, so to get one, he’ll have to beat the best in the east or the west, and that’s no small feat. He’s joined by Adam Cianciarulo, who made big strides in 2017 not only in terms of results, but in terms of staying healthy, and Austin Forkner, who could just show up and win everything without it being too big of a surprise. And then there’s Martin Davalos. Davalos is rejoining the team after a brief stint with Pro Circuit a few years ago. Davalos raced a 450 all summer and even got on the podium a few times outdoors, but there were no rides available, and this is where he landed. Last year, Justin Hill returned to the PC team after time away and won the 250cc West title. Davalos is hoping to do likewise.
17            Joey Savatgy
29            Martin Davalos
35            Austin Forkner
92            Adam Cianciarulo

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy is due for a title. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

TLD/Red Bull KTM
Every racer on this team is a contender for race wins, and potentially for championships. McElrath proved that last year in the west, and Smith proved it last year in the east. Martin has proved it for years, and Cantrell is simply a young ripper who has to win something at some point.
26            Alex Martin
28            Shane McElrath
43            Sean Cantrell
45            Jordon Smith

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
The entire TLD/Red Bull KTM team is capable of winning races, and even titles, including youngster Sean Cantrell (pictured). PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM
Dakota Alix is a long-time KTM-backed racer who is joining a team for the first time at this level, and he’s got skills. And Anthony Rodriguez, from Venezuela, spent a couple years on the Star Yamaha team before being relegated to nearly privateer status on the Trader’s team last year. Rodriguez has a natural riding style for supercross and this could be his opportunity to reignite his career here in the States.
42            Dakota Alix
56            Anthony Rodriguez

AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing
Just like Davalos with the Pro Circuit squad, Justin Hill was hoping for a 450cc ride in 2018 after winning the 250cc West for Pro Circuit, but there were no openings, and he ended up at the JGR team where he will defend his title on a new machine in hopes of graduating within the team to the 450cc class in 2019. He’s joined by longtime team stalwart Phil Nicoletti, who withstood quite a lot of physical abuse in 2017, along with another proven 250cc contender in Jimmy Decotis. Then comes Kyle Peters, who is hoping to reignite his career in the States after spending a while in Australia.
1W            Justin Hill
47            Jimmy Decotis
54            Phil Nicoletti
76            Kyle Peters

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Phil Nicoletti is returning to campaign Suzuki RM-Z250s in 2018. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha
This team sees very few changes for 2018. All they did was exchange Mitchells, as Mitchell Harrison left for Husqvarna while Star Racing acquired Mitchell Oldenburg from the TLD/Red Bull KTM team. New for 2018 is a Monster Energy sponsorship, though, and the first four names on this list are all expected to win some things in 2018. At least races, but possibly titles. Rookie Justin Cooper will be getting his feet wet in supercross, so it’s hard to know where he’ll end up, but he’s exciting to watch wherever he is.
23            Aaron Plessinger
24            Dylan Ferrandis
31            Colt Nichols
52            Mitchell Oldenburg
62            Justin Cooper

2018 AMA Supercross Preview
Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger will definitely be a championship contender in 2018. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha
Bradley Taft spent a big chunk of 2017 injured, but his team believes in him, and he should be somewhere at least in the top 10 of every main event of his chosen series.
53            Bradley Taft

51Fifty Energy Yamaha
Kyle Chisholm is returning to the 250cc class, and he might surprise you. He moved up to the 450cc class very early on in his career, and injuries have hampered him for the past few seasons, but he’s a very capable racer, and he’s now on the most powerful machine in the class. He’ll be joined by a couple of other proven 250cc pilots in Hayden Mellross and Noah McConahy in the western series.
11            Kyle Chisholm
63            Hayden Mellross
75            Noah McConahy

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Steve Cox

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