For the past eight years the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship was owned by a Ryan – either Dungey or Villopoto. This time last year we wondered who would become the first rider to win the Supercross title in the post-Ryan era and now we know – it’s Jason Anderson. Anderson showed blazing speed in past seasons, but lacked consistency. He was the exact opposite in the stadiums this winter. He won a total of four rounds, a fairly low number traditionally for the series champ, but Anderson was a model of consistency in 2018, with 11 podiums in 17 rounds. And four of those times off the podium Anderson still racked up good points hauls with top-five results. So, after building up a big point lead by mid-season, Anderson did what he needed to do to clinch his first AMA Supercross Championship.
Anderson held the series lead from round two all the way through to the end at round 17 last weekend in Las Vegas. A crash and broken wheel at Salt Lake City that resulted in a 17th-place finish, suddenly sparked new life in what was otherwise a forgone conclusion. Still, there must have been a little tension in the pit of Anderson’s stomach as he lined up at the gate for the last round in Vegas, even though he needed to only finish 11th or better. He raced conservatively and stayed well clear of any battles and got the finish he needed (fifth).
In the end Anderson beat Musquin by nine points (356-347).
The championship is historic, not only for the fact that it was Anderson’s first, but it was a first for Husqvarna, sort of. Technically speaking, Husqvarna won the 500cc Supercross class in 1974 with Gary Semics, but historically that class is now looked upon as a support class to the premier 250cc SX Series, which is now simply called the Supercross class. So, this was indeed the first premier Supercross class championship for Husky.
Anderson is the 21st rider in history to win the AMA Supercross Championship.
How did Anderson go from a sometimes fast and sometimes mediocre racer, to Supercross Champion? I look back at Motocross des Nations last year where Anderson beat the world’s best as the point where his confidence was likely bolstered to the point of knowing that he had what it took to be a champion.
Eli Tomac led the way in terms of wins this season with eight, followed by Anderson’s five, Marvin Musquin’s four and Justin Brayton with one.
Tomac’s eight wins moved him to 21-career Supercross wins. That put Tomac in the top-10 in the All-Time Supercross Wins category. He moved all that up from 16th to ninth on the all time list this year, moving past such SX luminaries as Jean-Michel Bayle, Mark Barnett, Jeff Stanton, Kevin Windham, Damon Bradshaw and Jeff Ward. How strong has Tomac been since coming into the premier Supercross Series full-time in 2014? Another eight-win season next year would move Tomac past legends Bob Hannah and Rick Johnson! Tomac is certainly is becoming a leading candidate in the “Best Rider to Never Win the Supercross Championship” category.
Anderson’s five victories moved him into a tie for 25th on the all-time list with Jeff Emig, David Vuillemin and Johnny O’Mara with seven-career Supercross wins. Musquin, with eight-career wins, is now one ahead of Anderson at 24th on the all-time SX wins list, this year moving past a host of great riders.
Tomac led the most laps on the season with 102 to Musquin’s 99. Surprisingly, Anderson was third, but only led 27 laps all series long. It’s especially a head-scratcher when you consider Ken Roczen led 25 laps and only participated in six races!
Continuing with stats, this year’s total of only four riders winning an overall was historically pretty low. In the last 10 years it’s only happened twice before, in 2009 and 2016. Most seasons there are typically five and sometimes even six winners during a season.
The new Triple Crown format that featured three shorter main events at select rounds met with mixed reviews. We also had a new points system implemented in 2018.
Chad Reed made history this year at Tampa when he eclipsed the record number of AMA Supercross starts of 227 held by Mike LaRocco. It’s amazing to think about, but Reed, who turned 36 in March, spans several generations of racers now dating all the way back to the Jeremy McGrath era.
We witnessed a remarkable comeback for Ken Roczen early in the season, from what might have been a career-ending arm injury. Roczen earned a solid three podium finishes in the first five rounds, but then came a crash in San Diego and the resulting hand injury that ended his Supercross season.
Perhaps the one race we’ll remember for years to come was the emotional 2018 Daytona Supercross. So much history was made there. Justin Brayton’s first-career victory earned him the distinction of becoming the oldest winner of AMA Supercross in the premiere class. He also became the first non-factory rider to win the race since Rick Ryan’s win in the mud in 1987.
So another season of stadium racing is in the books. Anderson is the first post-Dungey/Villopoto era rider to win. Can he start his own era next season, or will Tomac or Musquin finally break through? Maybe Roczen will complete a triumphant comeback with a championship?
Check back here in 12 months.
You can read the digital edition of this story here: http://magazine.cyclenews.com/i/981926-cycle-news-issue-19-may-15/114