Supercross season preview: Predicting the Top 10 — Nos. 1-2

(From left) Ryan Dungey and Eli Tomac portraits taken prior to the 2014 Monster Energy Cup.

It’s been widely touted as the most talented field of competitors in Monster Energy Supercross history and — with 19 riders who have won a 450SX Class main event, finished on a 450SX Class podium and/or won a 250SX Class main event — its easy to understand why. While at this point it looks as though just two former champions will line up on the gate at Anaheim 1, this collection of premier class riders has more budding talent than any in recent memory.

The departure of reigning four-time champion Ryan Villopoto and subsequent suspension of James Stewart means this battle for the vacant title is truly wide open, thanks largely to the aforementioned young riders turning heads in the early portions of their racing careers. Unlike previous years, there’s simply no way to look at past results as an indicator of how things will play out considering the two winningest riders of the last six seasons won’t be a factor. Because of that, simply earning a top 10 in 2015 can be considered an accomplishment while the ability to contend for finishes inside the top five or on the podium will take an exceptional effort. Heck, just making the main event will be harder than it’s ever been before.

With all that being said, we break down our predictions for the top 10 finishers in the 2015 championship.

Nos. 9 and 10: Jason Anderson and Weston Peick

Nos. 7 and 8: Chad Reed and Dean Wilson

Nos. 5 and 6: Trey Canard and Justin Barcia

Nos. 3 and 4: Ken Roczen and Davi Millsaps

Second Place: Ryan Dungey – Red Bull KTM

Ever since he moved into the 450SX Class, Dungey has made a name for himself by being consistent. The championship experience he enjoyed during his rookie season has paid big dividends in his continued maturity and it’s a big reason why he’s always a factor. Dungey has always had critics because of his methodical nature and non-aggressive approach on the track, but with each passing year he’s learning where his deficiencies are and is able to improve on them for the following season. Given his high standards, the 2014 season as a whole was probably the most frustrating for Dungey as he endured some tough outings in supercross and then came up short to his teammate outdoors. If there was ever a chip on Dungey’s shoulder coming into a season, this is it. Even with no Villopoto or Stewart, Dungey isn’t getting much attention as the rider to beat, which means he has something to prove once we get to Anaheim 1. He’ll come close to that elusive second title, but I think will narrowly miss out.

Supercross: Q&A with FOX Sports pit reporter Jenny Taft

2015 Champion: Eli Tomac – GEICO Honda

Of all the riders set to embark on the 2015 season, I think Tomac embodies the outgoing champion the most. When he’s at his best, Tomac is able to attack a track unlike anyone else, generating momentum throughout every inch of the course with a bulldog mentality. If he wants to win he finds a way to. He did it back when he was in the 250SX Class, he did it at last year’s Motocross of Nations and he’s been doing it in every overseas race he’s entered this offseason. Because of nagging injuries last season, Tomac never got a chance to get accustomed to the premier class, but he still managed to earn a pair of podium finishes. That dissatisfaction with his rookie season has turned to motivation for Tomac and he’s ready to put an all out effort into going for the title in 2015. Adding to his potential is the fact that he’ll pit alongside Canard and Cole Seely under the Team Honda tent. While Tomac has endured some hiccups in previous supercross seasons, he’s more mature and stronger than ever before. With his offseason racing success, Tomac is also hitting his stride right as the 2015 season is approaching while his main rivals are starting fresh. This could pay big dividends in the early rounds and give Tomac some much-needed momentum, putting him in a position to emerge triumphant at Las Vegas in May. It’s been said that Tomac is able to ride the 450 in a similar manner to which he manhandled the 250, and he was extremely tough to beat during that time. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this ends up being the most competitive and closest championship finish in supercross history, but I think Tomac’s similar approach to racing that we became accustomed to with Villopoto will ultimately be what allows him to break through in this incredibly deep, talented field.

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