The thirteenth round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship also held within it the third and final round of the Triple Crown series, and the racing could not have been much more exciting for the 49,183 fans packed into NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. In the 450SX Class, Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb took his sixth win of the season and stretched his points lead to 17 by winning the event by finishing second, first, and then third in the night’s three Main Events. Webb’s victory made history as it is KTM’s first win in Houston in the 51 times the Texas city has hosted a Monster Energy Supercross round. Webb’s teammate, Marvin Musquin, finished second overall, with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Dean Wilson taking the final 450SX Class podium spot. The Western Regional 250SX Class was equally exciting with Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis earning his second ever 250SX Class win with second, first, and second place finishes in his Main Events.
The first 450SX Class Main Event saw Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen grab the holeshot and run off with the race, amassing over a ten-second lead at one point. There was an incredible amount of action behind him, though. Webb, Musquin, and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac were bar to bar around a berm on the first lap battling for third with Dean Wilson just ahead of them. Musquin and Webb started a physical battle; the riders came together a few times, with Webb aggressively pushing Musquin off the track before the sand section, causing his KTM teammate to lose three positions. Webb eventually ran down Wilson for second, while Musquin battled back, nabbing fifth from Tomac right at the finish line jump.
In the second 450SX Class, Main Event Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy got the holeshot at the stripe but Cooper Webb grabbed the lead away from him right away. Behind them, Roczen tangled with the back of Dean Wilson’s bike and hit the ground hard, pulling out of the race with what looked like a right foot or ankle injury. Musquin was back in fifth but charging hard from the opening laps, and Tomac was attempting the same but from back in tenth. It took Musquin three minutes to get into fourth and nearly another three minutes to put his KTM into third. With just over four minutes left on the clock, Musquin got past Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely and started to chip away at Webb’s lead of just over two seconds. Musquin got close but pushed too hard and went down on the final lap in the sand section, eventually winding up third behind Webb and Wilson.
In the final race of the night, Joey Savatgy once again grabbed the holeshot but before the pack had left the second corner Musquin was leading it. Webb was in sixth but moved quickly up to third, passing Tomac on the way. Musquin pulled a little breathing room on Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne, who sat in second with Webb and Tomac closing in quickly. A little before the halfway point both Webb and Tomac got around Osborne almost simultaneously but had over five seconds to pick up if they hoped to catch Musquin. After just over six minutes of racing Tomac and Webb traded positions a couple of times, with Tomac making the pass stick and taking off after Musquin. He got the lead as narrow as three and a half seconds before Musquin pulled it back out to win comfortably. It was enough for second overall on the night for Musquin. Webb’s third-place Main Event #3 finish got him the overall win as well as the Triple Crown championship-within-a-championship title. It’s also a personal milestone for Webb since in neither of his two previous 450SX Class seasons has he made it to the thirteenth round – and in 2019 he leaves it healthy and with a 17-point lead. Dean Wilson finished third overall, with Tomac scoring a fourth overall. Ken Roczen, who had looked done for the night with an injury in the second Main Event, lined up and managed an eighth-place finish in the final race.
Webb said from the podium, “It was a tough night. You always forget in the Triple Crowns how many laps you end up doing… For me it was good to go out and get a win, which is great. I knew the laps were going to be tough. I had a little gap, so I kind of knew where I needed to be, so it was good. It was a great night for us KTM guys going one and two, and like you said, I was able to win again, which is sweet. I’m stoked on that, and it feels good to be up here on the top.”
Musquin saw a lot of action and stood on the overall podium in second place. When asked if Webb’s aggressive riding was fair, he answered, “I don’t know. I mean, Triple Crown is always super aggressive racing. It’s only twelve minutes so you’ve got to go for it. And I was really aggressive, I made a clean pass on Cooper and I was pretty happy. And then obviously he didn’t like that I passed him, and he got very aggressive and he was revving the bike super hard on multiple turns; and he finally got me and pushed me off the track. It was pretty sketchy. I thought he was going to go down as well, but he didn’t so, yeah, I guess that’s the way it is. Yeah, I will have to do that if I have the opportunity or if I need to make a pass. Second moto was better. I caught him but unfortunately, a dumb mistake in the sand got me. Got up, and man, it was a tough day. But [I] finally put it together in the last Main and got the holeshot and rode just like last week. I was just leading and hit my marks and it was awesome. It feels so good to be like that in the lead. I showed some really good speed all day but unfortunately [I made] some mistakes, but finally a good last Main. So thanks to the team. We lost a little bit of points in the championship, but it could have been way worse. Triple Crown is really tough so I’m glad at least I got second overall.”
Dean Wilson was happy with his finish, “It feels great. It’s been a long journey and it’s what I’ve been working towards all season. I’ve been riding well and I’m just stoked to be up here… These guys up here, they’ve been up here so many times, it’s just like, they’re used to it, where I want to be in that position. But it means a lot to be up here. I’ve been through a lot and I just kept plugging away and I knew I could be up here because my qualifying times were always good, my heat races were always pretty good, but to make it happen when it counts is the hardest part. So, I’ve been really working on my mental game because I feel like sometimes I’m my own worst enemy.”
Tomac wasn’t happy with his fourth overall. When asked about his three races he said, “The first two [I] just wasn’t myself at all. [I] was struggling just with pace and even struggling just feeling comfortable that whole moto, and with a few lines, too. At least that third one was a little bit more like me. Those first two, though, just really got me. I got a better start there in the third one… followed a little bit with Cooper and I made my way into second, tried to push it, but that was all I had tonight. Gotta be better, that’s all there is to it.”
In the first Western Regional 250SX Class Main Event, GEICO Honda’s Cameron McAdoo grabbed the holeshot but immediately jumped off the track, handing the lead to Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo. Dylan Ferrandis came out of the first corner in sixteenth but made his way to eighth by the end of the first lap. Cianciarulo was challenged early by JGRMX Yoshimura Suzuki’s Jimmy Decotis but pulled out to a nearly eight-second lead by the end. Ferrandis was busy and picked his way up to second to salvage a great finish after a terrible start in the ten minutes plus one lap race.
The second 250SX Class Main Event was a reversal of fortune for the two points leaders. Cianciarulo pushed too hard to get the holeshot and it took him right off the track. Gas Monkey Energy/AJE Motorsports’ Chris Blose came out with the lead with GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire on his rear wheel. Within a few turns, Ferrandis was into second while Cianciarulo had re-entered the track and sat in ninth. After less than two minutes had ticked off of the race clock Ferrandis took over the lead with an aggressive move that put Blose on the ground and tangled with a Tuff Blox. Seconds later Cianciarulo went down in a blind spot. Other riders bumped him and his bike and the delay had him remounting in eighteenth. It was smooth sailing for Ferrandis to the checkers while Cianciarulo worked his way up to tenth at the end.
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Colt Nichols holeshot the final 250SX Main Event. Cianciarulo avoided getting caught up with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Garrett Marchbanks’ first turn crash only to run into a downed rider one section later in the whoops. Up front, Ferrandis put on an early pass and took the lead, but his teammate Nichols grabbed it immediately back and held it until the checkered flag. Behind them Cianciarulo moved steadily from thirteenth to third, but with his troubles in the second Main Event that was only good enough for fourth overall. Ferrandis won the night, his second ever 250SX Class win, coming just one week after his very first win; it also pulled him to only five points down on Cianciarulo for the title with two rounds of racing left to go for the Western Regional 250SX Class title.
Ferrandis was happy with his second win but more focused on the title and the next Western Regional 250SX Class race, which is off for one weekend while the Eastern Regional 250SX Class races, “It’s crazy. I knew I didn’t have to win this Main Event to win overall. My teammate was pushing really hard at the beginning and I guess [I decided to], not give up, but it’s no risk to take for nothing [to gain]. So I was just doing my race and I made it two wins in a row. I’m so happy. It’s a different feeling than last weekend because last weekend was the first win, but now I’m really looking for the championship and only the championship can give me the full satisfaction. So I’m really happy but it’s back to work Monday and see what we can do in two weeks in Denver.”
When Colt Nichols was asked to comment about his third Main Event win compared to his results in the first two races of the night he said, “It was literally all about the start. First Main, horrible start, second Main, horrible start. I was really happy with the riding in the second main, I felt like I charged up really well, [but on the] last lap hit neutral while I was behind RJ and went over the bars and ended up salvaging a fourth, which was great. Then finally got off to a good start, I holeshotted that last one and I was able to win, so it was great; it just felt good to lead a race again. It’s been a while, I was in the lead last weekend and had a big get off. I’m just real happy I’m here racing. It was a blessing. I’m glad last weekend wasn’t worse. [I’m] just taking it race by race, it feels great to be back on the podium… Hats off to Dylan with another win, that’s great, it tightens up the championship a little more, which makes it interesting. I wish it was me, but that’s all right. I’m taking it race by race and can’t wait for the next one.”
RJ Hampshire was happy to be back on the podium, something he hadn’t done since his rookie year, “It’s been a long road. Like I said my rookie year my first podium and four years later just got another one. I’m just stoked on my team. We’ve been working hard, trying to find the right setting, and changed clutches this week, tested a lot on my starts, and you could tell my starts were better all night; I think that helped quite a bit. I was pretty strong in the whoops until that last moto, it was ugly… I’m just so stoked to be up here and really looking forward to Denver now. I’m kind of an outdoor guy but I really want to prove myself in Supercross, so I’ve got two more chances at it, and [I’m] just stoked to be up here tonight.”
Adam Cianciarulo said about his two tough races, “As much as I’d love to sit down and tell you, [just] sit here and just say, man, this guy crashed in front of me, this guy cross jumped me, really it comes down to my fault because I didn’t get the start in the second Main, I put myself in a bad position. I locked bars with somebody in the first corner of the second Main, it forced me to go off the track, from there you’re just trying to do your best to get to the front and it’s tough. Those guys are racing you and I unfortunately just came together with Sean [Cantrell] after the finish line there. And that’s the way it goes sometimes, but guess what? I mean, there’s nothing more I love than a good battle, especially a battle for the championship. I think it’s five points now and I felt so good today. My bike’s so good, I rode really well, so I’m super happy with where I’m at. Unfortunately, it didn’t go my way tonight, but we have two races to make it happen and I couldn’t be more confident in myself. So [we’ll] pick ourselves up, come out swinging; yeah let’s do this thing.”
With four more Monster Energy Supercross rounds left the battles on the track and in the points are far from over. The series goes next weekend to Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.