In front of nearly 60,000 fans at MetLife Stadium, in New Jersey, Suzuki’s Ken Roczen dominated en route to a second straight win in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, but it was Red Bull KTM’s Dungey who walked away with his second consecutive 450SX class title.
In the Eastern Regional 250SX class, championship leader and Honda rider Malcolm Stewart grabbed his second victory of the season to extend his points lead heading into the final race of the season.
Roczen kicked off the 450SX class main event with his third holeshot of the season ahead of Honda’s Cole Seely. KTM’s Justin Brayton and Yamaha’s Chad Reed engaged in an early battle for third, with Brayton eventually getting the upper hand, while Dungey positioned behind them in fourth.
With an open track in front of him, Roczen quickly surged to a healthy lead while Seely settled comfortably into second. Brayton, Reed and Dungey remained close, with Dungey moving into fourth on Lap 2. For the next handful of laps Dungey applied heavy pressure on Brayton and after several unsuccessful attempts finally made the pass stick on Lap 7 to move into podium position.
As Roczen continued to extend his lead Dungey closed in on Seely for second. The two would find themselves side by side on several occasions, but Seely maintained the position, which ultimately allowed a hard-charging Eli Tomac to close in on his Kawasaki after starting seventh. Tomac took advantage of Dungey’s inability to pass Seely and got alongside Dungey in the whoops to take over third on Lap 15. He continued to push and was able to get by Seely on the following lap for second.
The battle between Seely and Dungey resumed again in the closing laps, this time for third, but after a few more unsuccessful attempts Dungey was forced to settle for fourth.
Roczen crossed the line nearly 20 seconds ahead of Tomac with a wire-to-wire effort, bringing his season win total to five.
“We did exactly what we wanted to do [tonight]. We got the holeshot and put in 20 solid laps. The track was in great condition,” said Roczen. “We did what we have to do and we’ll look ahead to try and get another one next weekend.”
Tomac secured back-to-back runner-up finishes, while Seely earned his first podium since the sixth race of the season. Dungey’s championship celebration was bittersweet as his record 31-race podium streak came to an end, but his third career 450SX class title puts him in elite company as just the sixth rider in Monster Energy Supercross history with a trio of championships.
“It’s a bummer [to have the podium streak come to an end], but the real goal this year was to back up the title [from last season]. It was a tough challenge and we had to bring it every single weekend,” said Dungey. “[My competitors] were tough and they brought it, but we kept fighting and here we are, back where we wanted to be.
“I couldn’t have done this without the support of my entire team and family. There’s definitely no I in team and this could have never happened without their commitment.”
Dungey will seek a career-best ninth victory this season next weekend at the season finale.
KTM rider Dakota Alix started the 15-lap Eastern Regional 250SX class main event by capturing his second consecutive holeshot of the series, but it was Husqvarna’s Martin Davalos who had the momentum to assume the early lead, with Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers slotting into second.
After starting inside the top five, Stewart was able to make a push to secure third on the opening lap.
As Davalos chased a second straight win, Stewart started his march to the front with an impressive pass on Bowers for second on Lap 1, using the momentum from a surge through the whoops to slip inside on the final corner and take the position.
Stewart duplicated that pass in the same spot one lap later to take over the lead from Davalos, closing in through the whoops and making the pass on the inside of the turn before the finish. He opened a gap the following lap and never looked back, taking his second win of the season and the third of his career.
“It’s a lot of hard work [during the week] coming into these races. It’s starting to pay off now,” said Stewart. “[My] strategy is to not even focus on the points lead. That’s what I did tonight. Win or lose, I put it all out there [on the track]. It’s definitely better to go [to the last race] with a 14-point lead instead of a one-point lead, but anything can happen.”
Davalos settled into second and was never challenged by Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin, who passed Bowers for third on lap six and maintained the position through to the finish.
Stewart extended his points lead to 14 points over Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger, who started 15th but battled his way through the field to pass 10 riders and earn a fifth-place finish. Martin sits third, 19 points out of the lead.
These three riders are the only ones with a mathematical shot at the championship heading into the final race next weekend, when the Eastern Regional Championship and Western Regional Championship converge in a head-to-head battle to crown a champion in each region.
The 2016 season will come to an end next Saturday, May 7, with the Monster Energy Supercross Finals from Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium.
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Photo by Simon Cudby
450SX Class Results
- Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki
- Cole Seely, Sherman Oaks, Calif., Honda
- Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM
- Justin Brayton, Mint Hill, N.C., KTM
- Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.M., Husqvarna
- Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM
- Trey Canard, Edmond, Okla., Honda
- Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha
- Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda
450SX Class Championship Standings
- Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM – 366 Pts
- Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki – 330 Pts
- Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.M., Husqvarna – 293 Pts
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 270 Pts
- Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha – 232 Pts
- Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM – 213 Pts
- Cole Seely, Sherman Oaks, Calif., Honda – 207 Pts
- Justin Brayton, Mint Hill, N.C., KTM – 186 Pts
- Trey Canard, Edmond, Okla., Honda – 183 Pts
- Weston Peick, Menifee, Calif., Yamaha – 125 Pts
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results
- Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Honda
- Martin Davalos, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna
- Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha
- Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha
- Tyler Bowers, Corona, Calif., Kawasaki
- Gannon Audette, Tallahassee, Fla., Kawasaki
- Dakota Alix, Jay, Vt., KTM
- Luke Renzland, Hewitt, N.J., Yamaha
- Cedric Soubeyras, France, Kawasaki
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
- Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Honda – 160 Pts
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 146 Pts
- Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 141 Pts
- Martin Davalos, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna – 130 Pts
- Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM – 109 Pts
- Tyler Bowers, Corona, Calif., Kawasaki – 108 Pts
- Gannon Audette, Tallahassee, Fla., Kawasaki – 105 Pts
- RJ Hampshire, Brooksville, Fla., Honda – 99 Pts
- Anthony Rodriguez, Cairo, Ga., Kawasaki – 78 Pts
- Matt Bisceglia, Weatherford, Texas, Suzuki – 68 Pts