Supercross season preview: Predicting the Top 10 – Nos. 7/8

(From left) Dean Wilson and Chad Reed, seen competing during the 2014 Monster Energy Cup.

Editor’s note: From December 29th to January 2nd, FOX Sports’ Brandon Short will list his predictions for the Top 10 finishers of the 2015 Supercross season.

It’s been widely touted as the most talented field of competitors in Monster Energy Supercross history and – with 19 riders that 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.

Numbers 9 and 10: Jason Anderson and Weston Peick

Eighth Place: Dean Wilson – Red Bull KTM

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the rivalry between Wilson and Anderson that established itself last year carries over into the premier class. The two rookies both believe they can battle up front and – given the ties between the KTM and Husqvarna programs – there’s a natural reason to be motivated by one another. Wilson’s surroundings should give him an edge because of KTM’s past success and he’s familiar with the increased pace of the 450SX Class, whereas Anderson is not. This should also allow Wilson to have his chances to shine up front. It will be fun to watch the pair develop as the year goes on, but I think in the end Wilson will edge out his fellow rookie in the standings.

Seventh Place: Chad Reed – Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports

At 32 years, Chad Reed enters the 2015 Monster Energy Supercross season as – essentially – the oldest rider in the field.

Reed has always thrived on being the underdog and, now that he’s essentially the oldest rider in the field, the 2015 season will be no different. More often than not Reed has risen to the occasion when the doubters make their presence felt and based on the momentum he generated early last season before getting hurt, he will be as determined as ever to prove he’s still got it. I think some wins are there for the taking again for the veteran, but his biggest hurdle the last few years has simply been staying healthy. I think it’s easy to underestimate how difficult it truly is to be at your best for 17 rounds over the span of 18 weeks, and when you have more laps and more wear and tear to your body like Reed does, the reality is that it becomes that much more difficult. Reed will no doubt make his presence felt this season and could very well be a factor in the championship for a while, but his biggest challenge will be rekindling the consistency that made him the superstar he is today and making that last the whole season.

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