Anaheim was a wild night of action, as it should be for the hyped-up opening round. The racing was great and filled with drama and while the results may not reflect it, some riders had some stellar showings that should lead to a captivating season.
Each week, The Power Rankings will recognize the movers and shakers in Monster Energy Supercross. Thanks to his big win at the “Big A,” Ken Roczen secured pole position for the first installment.
1. Ken Roczen – Red Bull KTM
This wasn’t a fluke win. Roczen has always shown promise on the big bike so it was only a matter of time before he broke through for a win. Sure no one really expected it to be in his first full-time race, but that’s the nature of supercross. Put yourself in good position and its likely going to pay off. While it’s still early, Roczen has put his more experienced rivals on alert as a viable challenger each week.
2. Ryan Villopoto – Monster Energy Kawasaki
He put himself out front early and opened a gap on the field before a small mistake eliminated his hopes of victory. RV looked well on his way to a dominant outing before his tip over and it was surprising to see him pull back and maintain his top-five position instead of pushing. However, after what he went through the year prior in Anaheim, Villopoto knew he just needed to score points and not worry about winning of getting on the podium. He’s looking big picture already and it’s only a matter of time before he’s back up front.
3. James Stewart – Yoshimura Suzuki
His spectacular crash was the most memorable moment of the night, but it was just a premature and unfortunate end of an impressive effort for Stewart. His Monster Cup performance showed the speed and tenacity is still there and its appropriate to suggest he would have eventually gotten by Roczen. However, at the end of the day Stewart’s finish was a 17th-place DNF and in the long run, that’s what matters most. But he proved he’s willing to push the limits to win this season and much like Villopoto did last year, Stewart can rebound from the tough result.
4. Ryan Dungey – Red Bull KTM
It appeared to take a while for Dunge to get going, but in the end he did what we know he can do. He ran solid and he got the job done, relying on his incredible consistency to post a runner-up finish and cap off a memorable night for KTM. I don’t think anyone would have thought Dungey would be in second given how the race started, but he rose to the occasion when he needed to.
5. Chad Reed – Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports
Reed looked like he was back in old form in Anaheim. He looked comfortable on the Kawasaki and he made his anticipated return to the podium. Reed likely didn’t like giving up second place to Dungey in the late stages, but given everything he went through the year prior, this was a huge step in the right direction for he and his team. Confidence has to be running high.
6. Justin Barcia – Team Honda Muscle Milk
He was fastest in practice and looked really good in his heat race, but when the gate dropped on the main he was missing from the battle up front. Barcia’s a sleeper this season because the speed is obvious, but he’s going to definitely need a good start to keep up with his competitors. Phoenix was good to Barcia last season and he’s probably looking forward to coming back.
7. Justin Brayton – Toyota/Yamaha/N-Fab/JGRMX
Brayton showed impressive speed all night. He was quick in practice and always appeared to be in the mix once the night show started. It’s the kind of solid start he and the JGR team need to build some momentum and become consistent contenders in the top five.
8. Josh Grant – Toyota/Yamaha/N-Fab/JGRMX
Great starts put JG right in the mix all night long as well, so he was able to get a gauge on what he’ll need to do in order to run up front. He may have faded a little towards the end, but Grant will get better as the season goes on. It was a good night for JGR all around.
9. Broc Tickle – RCH Racing/Soaring Eagle Suzuki
Tickle led the way for the RCH squad. He started inside the top 10 and held down the spot throughout the whole main event. It was the kind of ride that will surely build some confidence moving forward.
10. Jake Weimer – Monster Energy Kawasaki
This was a tough one as Andrew Short is equally deserving of the final spot, but Weimer’s path to a 10th-place finish on Saturday was adventurous to say the least. Following a crash in his heat race, Weimer was relegated to the semi where he once again was hit with misfortune and was forced into the dreaded LCQ. One would have thought Weimer would easily win that race but he edged his way into the main by finishing third. With a poor gate pick, Weimer was deep in the field early, but he battled his way through the field to secure perhaps the most hard-fought top 10 of his career. His resiliency in what had to me a nightmarish start to the season was simply too much to ignore.