The 2020 Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship series reconvened after three-months off due to the Covid-19 pandemic inside Salt Lake City, Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium for round number 11. In the 450SX class, Eli Tomac (1st), Cooper Webb (2nd) and Ken Roczen (3rd) took their very familiar spots on the podium, while Shane McElrath (1st), Chase Sexton (2nd) and Garrett Marchbanks (3rd) occupied the top three spots in the 250SX East main event.
For the 450’s, Tomac heads into round 12 on Wednesday night with an 8-point lead over Roczen, with McElrath closing to within just 7-points of the 250SX East defending Champion, Chase Sexton. With six more rounds to go in Salt Lake City, both titles are still very much up in the air.
After the racing was over, we gathered quotes from many of the top riders in Salt Lake City.
Eli Tomac: (1st in 450SX) “It’s so cool to get to go back to racing here in Salt Lake City and get back to riding and racing and doing what we know. Overall, awesome day there. The track got really slick at the end, lots of dust flying and lots of hunting for traction. I was a little slower early on, got to improve on that next time, especially if these guys up their game. So overall, really good day for points and just thanks to everyone.”
Shane McElrath: (1st in 250SX) “There’s been a lot of anticipation to get back going and it’s finally here. I had a near perfect day and I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made over the last few months since Daytona. My bike was awesome today and I felt great with the elevation. The track was honestly the best case scenario with the weather and wind that we dealt with today. I felt really good and I’m ready for another race in a few days.”
Cooper Webb: (2nd in 450SX) “It’s good to be back racing. It’s awesome just to be able to do what we love. I was battling up there in the beginning – we were all sandwiched – and I was able to actually get around Eli [Tomac] but then he went around us and really laid some good laps. During the middle of the race, I kind of lost speed a little bit and at the end I was really trying hard. I missed a rhythm at the end though, and that really cost me in maybe catching him.”
Chase Sexton: (2nd in 250SX) “To think that Daytona SX was 85 days ago. It doesn’t feel like that long ago, but it was a long time ago. It felt like Tampa [2020 250SX East debut] all over again. It was nice to get back to racing again. It was weird with no fans there. It was hard to get yourself fired up and getting into the mindset that this is a championship race for points. It felt like a practice day. Getting my mind wrapped around that was the toughest thing. I felt like I rode decent. I think the lappers were gnarly for both Shane and I. Every time I felt like I’d gained some ground I’d just lose it the next corner. I just feel like that was on me. I feel like I had a win in my sights but didn’t make it happen.”
Ken Roczen: (3rd in 450SX) “It’s honestly not ideal, but I’m not stressing by any means. Even though we are doing all these races in three weeks, there’s still a lot of races to go—six rounds. I think the team and I, we have a good plan going ’cause I left my bike the same as it was on sea level. We have a couple of little ideas to give it a little bit more oomph to make it a little easier in some of the rhythms and stuff, especially once we’re racing at night. Hopefully, the tracks will get a little bit better. I’m okay with it. I’m glad to be on two wheels and be healthy after that little almost get-off. Not ideal, but I’m also not super bummed and getting down on myself. We talked about it; it was really hard to make a big difference. Obviously, Eli was really good for what the conditions were and passing us. I made a mistake, he went by and I couldn’t really latch on. Everyone was pretty much riding their own race at one point. Third place is not horrible and not awesome, but we have six more races to go to redeem ourselves.”
Garrett Marchbanks: (3rd in 250SX) “There was a lot that could have gone against us today with the track being so dry and still adjusting to the altitude and heat. And after so much downtime, it was hard to anticipate what to expect. With all those factors, we’ll take a podium, but that’s not where we want to be. I’m really glad we don’t have to wait very long to line up again. We’ll be ready to improve on Wednesday.”
Adam Cianciarulo: (DNF-Crash in 450SX) “Man, I am so frustrated with how today ended up. I cannot tell you how stoked I was to be back racing my KX450 with my whole Monster Energy Kawasaki crew. I felt good all day, rode solid in my heat race and got a great jump in the main event. I just made a small mistake that cost me big time. I’m pretty sore from getting ran over, but we’re going to let the body rest and take all the necessary steps so we are ready for Wednesday.”
Chad Reed: (19th in 450SX) “It felt good to be back racing. There is no comparison to racing in front of fans and the silence was weird. I felt like I had a decent day overall. Nice to get back on a race track. I really love riding this new bike and checked off the box to race SX on all brands. That wasn’t intentional or planned just happened to be the bikes of choice over the years. My starts feel better and more natural so now I just need to remember how to use them. I made a bad call on fuel choice yesterday. I had taken altitude into consideration but not heat. We boiled fuel pretty early in the main. So I chose the safe route. I pulled off because it wasn’t worth the risk. I was disappointed initially because I felt good on the bike but there is more racing to come. Our team has worked hard to be here. I have 1 mechanic, Ben Schiermeyer, who handled a complete change in bike manufacturer and being ready in May instead of Sept/Oct like originally predicted. He has learned to get it done no matter what I throw at him and mostly on his own. We have a small team but I’m really proud and happy to be finishing this ride with my friends and the sponsors we have. Thanks to the fans supporting from home! And we’ll be better and ready for the next one.”
Jeremy Martin: (4th in 250SX) “Man it sure did feel good to be back at the races racing even though we still had to wear masks! Great start in the main to put myself in a great position to be in the hunt for the win but my arms blew up after lap three. I went into survival mode to finish fourth.”
Jason Anderson: (4th in 450SX) “My day went pretty decent. I got a bad start in the Main and ended up fourth but all-in-all, I feel like I rode pretty well all day and was able to make some headway as we work our way into the next six rounds here in Salt Lake City.”
Zach Osborne: (5th in 450SX) “It was a positive weekend overall. It was my first race back from injury so it was really good for me to go out there and get comfortable in practice. I feel really comfortable on the dirt here in Salt Lake, which is something that’s not typically my forte but it’s coming around for me. I’m happy with where I’m at fitness-wise and with my bike, so I’m looking forward to the next few races here – onwards and upwards.”
Justin Barcia: (8th in 450SX) “It’s nice to get the first round out of the way. It definitely wasn’t how I wanted it to go. It was quite hot and being up here at altitude was definitely difficult. I had high expectations for myself coming into this round and kind of let myself down a bit. I think it’s all things that can be easily fixed and turned around for Wednesday. The main event didn’t get off to the greatest start, and the first lap was chaos. Guys were falling down, and then it was really windy and dusty. The track got down to concrete, it was a pretty gnarly track. All in all, we got out of the first one healthy and still have six more to go. I’m really looking forward to racing again Wednesday. I don’t have to wait another whole week to redeem myself.”
Justin Brayton: (9th in 450SX) “It was a pretty good day. It felt so good to be back with the guys and the crew at the races and to get behind the gate again. Overall, I’m fairly happy with the day. The heat race was good; I got third there. I had a solid first half in the main and ran second for a long time. To be quite honest, I just pumped up about halfway in and kind of went backwards. Then I had a really big moment where I almost went down and that allowed a guy to get by me and some other guys to close the gap. I’m happy I didn’t hit the ground on that one, that’s for sure, and happy with a solid top-10 result. We’ve just got to keep this ball rolling, especially with the good starts that we got all day.”
Dean Wilson: (10th in 450SX) “I’m not super pumped with how the day went but definitely taking a few positives from it including pole position in the first qualifier. I rode a bit tight in all my races and made some little mistakes that cost me. I didn’t get a great start in the Main so I was in the middle of the chaos but I’m happy to get that one out of the way, bring home 10th and hopefully get better from here on out.”
Aaron Plessinger: (12th in 450SX) “It was no doubt a tough one for me. I was alright at the beginning of the day, but when the dry, slick conditions started coming out, I really started struggling. It was like riding on concrete with some rocks thrown in there. It’s something that I need to get used to by Wednesday for a good result. I’m going to go back and get some redemption at the next one. Thankfully, we don’t have that long to wait for it.”
Jalek Swoll: (7th in 250SX) “This was the best finish for me and that was the goal – to come back better than I was before the break in racing,” Swoll said. “Riding-wise I actually felt good, I just missed a couple things on the track that cost me some time but if I polish those things up I’d be right up there with those guys.”
Colt Nichols: (15th in 250SX) “It was honestly a really fun day and I was just really happy to be at the races again, even with the results. We had some tough luck in the main with a crash and a lengthy mechanics area stop, but in the end I just have to get off the gate better. All in all, I’m really happy to be back racing and can’t wait to try again on Wednesday.”
Kyle Chisholm: (15th in 450SX) “I made it tough on myself with a crash in the heat with another rider while in a decent spot. Got through the LCQ, though, and got a top 15. Nothing to get excited over but I’m happy with it and glad to be back at the races again. Ready for more in a couple of days!”
Jo Shimoda: (21st in 250SX) “Yeah, all day I had good starts and felt loose on the bike, just took a little time on one section,” said Shimoda. “Once I had that down I felt pretty good. I finished fourth in the heat race but DNFed the main event because of a broken front brake.”
Freddie Noren: (21st in 450SX) “It was awesome to be back at the races again, and I’m so thankful for the whole JGR crew. Unfortunately, I tweaked my ankle and it was hurting pretty bad, so I decided to pull off. With some rest and ice, I should be good to go for Wednesday’s race.”
Broc Tickle: (DNQ – Injury in 450SX) “I was really happy to be back at the races. I made it through three-quarters of the first practice and started putting the track together before I crashed. The bike flipped on top of me and it made contact with my right hand. I learned that I have a fracture in my right pinky metacarpal. I am bummed but I’m going to get some therapy and rest to get ready for next Sunday.”