A full house greeted riders Saturday night at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, for the opening round of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series and it was Shane McElrath earning the honors of taking victory in the opening main event of the season, scoring the win in the 250 West Supercross event.
It was a runaway victory for McElrath. He nailed the holeshot on his Red Bull KTM and then simply raced away from the rest of the 250 field. Monster Energy Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger rode a steady race to finish second, 2.521 seconds behind the winner. Adam Cianciarulo was third on the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 4.6 seconds back from McElrath.
The race kicked off with McElrath earning the holeshot just in front of his teammate Alex Martin.
Christian Craig moved up to second early. Plessinger then also got by Martin to run third.
About a third of the way through Craig was passed in short order by both Plessinger and Cianciarulo and with that the top three for the night were set.
McElrath clicked off flawless laps and once into the lead just kept the gap steady at about five seconds most of the way.
“I had more nerves this year than I did last year,” McElrath admitted after the race. “It just felt good to get out there in put in laps. This track was really technical and just demanding. It was a simple layout, but it’s tight, the whoops were breaking down. We’ve got a stacked class this year. It felt good to get a good start and put in a solid race. Guys are going to put up a fight all year, but we’ve put in our homework and we’re ready to battle ‘til Vegas.”
It marked the fourth-career 250 SX win for McElrath. He was also the winner of last year’s season opener at Anaheim.
Plessinger made a solid effort to gain on the leader, but it wasn’t to be.
“Shane was riding really good and I was trying to push to catch him, but it was just not happening,” Plessinger explained. “It’s great to get second. It puts me in a good spot for the rest of the season.”
Cianciarulo, riding in 250 West for the first time, said he was extra hyped when he came through the tunnel to see the sold-out crowd.
“My goal is simple and that’s to win the championship,” Cianciarulo said. “I’ve been pro for a few years now and have a few good seasons under my belt and that’s certainly my goal. Tonight, we got off to a good start. I can’t be overly stoked with third place, because my goal is to win, but to leave here third in the points, I think we’re in a good spot for the rest of the series.”
The series now heads to Houston for round two next Saturday.