Monster Energy AMA Supercross makes history
By Mathew Vasconcellos
February 24, 2021
For the first time in 25 years, the season opener for the Monster Energy AMA Supercross was not held in California – it was in NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas for the first three races.
After COVID-19 halted the 2020 Supercross season with seven events remaining, changes were made to the 2021 schedule with multiple races in the same venue. The series is still 17 races long, and races are documented on Saturday nights and Tuesday nights. The series is nearing the halfway point.
Both classes of Supercross, 450cc and 250cc were divided into 40 riders for a timed qualification before two heats, which is standard pre-covid practice. Twenty riders compete in each heat before 22 riders move onto the last chance qualifier, then lastly the main event consists of the best 22 riders from the heats and last chance qualifiers.
The 450cc class began the same way it had for the past two years with Monroe, New York’s Justin Barcia on his number 51 winning the opening round. Barcia, now aboard his new Troy Lee Designs/GasGas KTM team after being on Factory Yamaha in 2018, ’19, and ’20, led every lap in the 20-minute-plus-one-lap main.
He abstained from all challenges from Germany’s Ken Roczen on his number 94 Team HRC Honda. Frenchman Marvin Musquin on his number 25 Red Bull KTM finished a distant third. Defending champ Eli Tomac, 27, of Cortez, Colorado, on his Team Monster Energy Kawasaki number one, finished a lowly thirteenth place due to a crash with Honda privateer Vince Friese on his number 40 Honda 450F. 2019 champ Cooper Webb of Newport, North Carolina on his number two Red Bull KTM struggled all day and finished a quiet ninth place.
Musquin called his third place finish “huge” after missing all of 2020 Supercross with a knee injury, according to RacerX’s Saturday Night Live article.
“To come back and get third in my first race back, that was great,” Musquin said.
In Houston 2, history was made as this was the first time that Supercross would race on a Tuesday night -- . Roczen’s HRC Honda teammate Chase Sexton of Illinois on his number 23 CRF450R grabbed the early lead only to suffer a hard crash just a few laps into the race. The result was an injury to his shoulder; Sexton has been on the sidelines since. Tomac rebounded to win the Houston 2 race after his thirteenth at Houston 1. Round 1 winner Barcia finished ninth.
According to RacerX’s Saturday Night Live on Houston 2, some riders were penalized points.
At the end of the night, Roczen had initially grabbed the points lead with a fifth place finish. However, Roczen was one of several riders penalized for jumping on a red-crossed flag. Barcia, who had initially lost the points lead, was given the points lead back amidst the penalty from Roczen, who was penalized four points. Finishing second was Star Racing Factory Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis of Avignon, France on his number 14; in third was Iowa’s Justin Brayton on his number 10 Muc-Off Honda CRF450.
Houston 3 was all about the final lap of the main event. Roczen led almost the whole way until the final lap. On the final lap, he got hung up behind Canadian Dean Wilson on his number 15 Rockstar Husqvarna.
Forced to ride the outside line, Webb took advantage of Roczen’s miscue and stole the lead from Roczen.
Webb later became the season’s third different winner in three races. Although Roczen had gone 2-5-2 in the Houston triple-header, he was officially the points leader; unfortunately, he was unhappy with Wilson after the race. It led to Wilson issuing an apology on social media. According to RacerX’s Saturday Night Live on Houston 3, Wilson wrote the following: “I never knew it was the leaders behind me. Kenny I’m sorry and I sincerely apologize. I ruined your race and wish I could take it back.”
Ken Roczen took home the win for the next three events at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
The teams and riders packed up and headed to Orlando, Florida next for the first of a double-header, which is a term for consecutive days of racing. It was the first time Supercross had visited Orlando since 2007 when current Supercross TV analyst, Ricky Carmichael, closed the book on his Supercross career. The winner of both events was KTM’s Webb.
In the 250cc class, the East region kicked off first in Houston. The winner of the Houston opener was number 29, Star Racing Yamaha’s Christian Craig, 29, of Temecula, California. Craig, who is the son of former Supercross racer Michael Craig, had won his first Supercross race since Glendale 2016. Australian born Jett Lawrence on his number 18 Team HRC Honda would win Houston 2, and Craig’s Star Racing Yamaha teammate, number 64 Colt Nichols would win Houston 3.