Monday, January 30, 2017

The Others...Phoenix

For the first time this season riders knew they'd see a dry track as the Monster Energy Supercross Championships rolled in to Glendale, Arizona. The University of Phoenix Stadium, home of NFL team the Arizona Cardinals played host to Round 4.

Roof open in Phoenix | Photo: Kyle Pesci
Rain has reeked havoc on the first three rounds, all in Southern California. A retractable roof ensured riders and fans alike a good track this week, no matter the weather. Come race day the sun was out and temps were warm enough to have the stadium open. As the night time temps dropped, the racing heated up.

Another first this week week would be the return of free practice sessions. Mother Nature made the Dirt Wurx crew put in overtime leading up to having to actually water the Phoenix track. The track was technical, fast and big...very big. During free practice sessions many riders skipped the whoop section and struggled with the larger than normal triple along the back wall. Practice would claim riders like Jeremy Martin, Tyler Bowers and Weston Peick. All would miss the night show. At the end of timed sessions it'd be Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Justin Hill setting the fastest time in the 250 class and Rocky Mountain KTM backed Blake Baggett topping the 450 times.

Jeremy Martin post practice crash | Photo: Kyle Pesci
When the smoke cleared from opening ceremonies it'd be the 250 heat races hitting the track first. Martin Davalos took the win in heat one on his Husqvarna and Justin Hill would pick up where he left off by dominating heat two. Kawasaki's Eli Tomac set the tone by leading all 6 laps of 450 heat one. Davi Millsaps came out swinging in heat two and would quickly get around Justin Brayton to take the win. In the 450 semi qualifiers it'd be Cooper Webb and Jason Anderson taking the wins and transferring to the main event. With one more shot at the main events, the gates would drop on the last chance qualifiers. Troy Lee Designs KTM rider Shane Mcelrath was in unfamiliar territory but made good by winning the 250 LCQ. Justin Starling, Scott Champion and Chase Marquier would also transfer. In the 450 class it'd be Moto Concepts' Vince Friese with the win. Nick Schmidt, Cody Gillmore and Jimmy Albertson would secure the final transfer spots.

With both Championships wide open the main events were sure to offer good racing. The 250 main was 15 minutes plus one lap of edge of the seat action between Shane Mcelrath and Justin Hill. Hill's Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate, Austin Forkner grabbed the holeshot but would be passed by Mcelrath. As the KTM lead over 10 laps, he'd be stalked by Hill's Kawasaki. Hill would make the pass late to take the win with Mcelrath on his heels. Forkner would hold on to third. In 450 action the race for the win looked over just out of the gate. Plain and simple, Eli Tomac was on another level. He'd holeshot and leave the field. The KTM of Ryan Dungey worked past Honda's Cole Seely but had a charging Chad Reed ready to pounce. Reed looked aggressive and of old form as he took over 2nd and gapped Dungey. Tomac, Reed and Dungey would finish in that order.

Justin Hill was the guy in Phoenix | Photo: Kyle Pesci
Seeing a small team inside the top ten of a stacked 250 class is something worth noting and many may have been checking their programs to see who was piloting the 53 machine. The locals would be pleased to see Rimrock, Arizona listed as the hometown to Cole Martinez. Cole would transfer his IB Corp powered by Rock River Yamaha YZ250F directly to the main after finishing 4th in his heat race. In the main he'd start mid pack and hold his own for 16 laps. As the checkers flew Martinez crossed the line in 10th. A very respectable night for the 53.

Rider: Cole Martinez | Photo: Kyle Pesci

And now...The Others

5. 87 Chris Howell
6. 138 Blake Lilly
7. 448 Broc Shoemaker
8. 797 Robin Kappel
9. 149 Tallon Lafountaine
10. 275 Johnny Jelderda
11. 68 Heath Harrison
12. 321 Bradley Lionnet
13. 388 Brandon Leith
14. 262 Connor Pearson
15. 271 Kyle Frey
16. 712 Kyle Russell
17. 976 Josh Greco
18. 973 Jean Marrone
19. 277 Kordel Cato
20. 203 Zac Commans
21. 383 Casey Brennan
22. 705 Steven Tokarski

5. 314 Alex Ray
6. 792 Bracken Hall
7. 848 Joan Cros
8. 526 Colton Aeck
9. 181 Dustin Pipes
10. 722 Adam Enticknap
11. 151 Dakota Tedder
12. 291 Kyle White
13. 918 Michael Akaydin
14. 723 Tyler Enticknap
15. 606 Ronnie Stewart
16. 509 Alex Nagy
17. 96 Vann Martin
18. 80 Cade Clason
19. 801 Jeff Alessi
20. 614 Geran Stapleton
21. 713 Chas Cook
22. 981 Austin Politelli

The series heads back to California one last time as round 5 takes place in Oakland.

-Kyle Pesci

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