Supercross Preview 2017
Part 2: The Pack
In Part 1 of my Monster Energy Supercross preview I broke down the guys who are contenders for the championship title. In Part 2: The Pack, I’m going to break down the guys who can win races and podium, but won’t put it together for the entire season. I’m talking about; Cole Seely, Jason Anderson, Chad Reed, Cooper Webb, and Trey Canard.
Starting with Cole Seely, now I did take some grief from my buddy Mike Sidner (former Honda Race Team employee) for not considering Cole as a title contender. If Seely steps up and happens to be in contention for the title I wouldn't be shocked, but he has never won a major championship. While he shows speed, wins races and at times is poetry on a dirt bike, for whatever his reasons he can’t stay consistent. I have no reason to believe 2017 will be any different and expect Seely to contend for race wins here and there, hovering between 3rd and 6th all year.
Next I am going back to the Bakery with Jason Anderson. He has proven he can run with absolutely anyone in the world but showed a lack of maturity during his 450 career. While he wins races, he also has a tendency to get involved in stupid race or practice antics (https://m.youtube.co...h?v=9bsJKGjfnQo, https://m.youtube.co...v=aRHvHG3vTP8). Even though all the blame doesn’t fall on Anderson, he will need to learn how to rise above the drama if he wants to win a 450 title. He is also coming off a serious head injury sustained at the MX of Nations. This year he might win a race or two but with his track enemies and the drama he finds himself in, I expect him to finish between 5th and 10th in the points standings.
Now to a guy who wins races, including multiple titles; Chad Reed! The worst thing his competitors can do is let him hang around till the end of races. In the history of Supercross no rider has been better at closing the deal than Chad. He has an incredible belief in himself and never misses a chance to win with a few laps remaining, but Father Time is undefeated and is catching up to Mr. Reed. This year though, I look for Reed to be the top Yamaha rider and a consistent podium finisher.
Cooper Webb is the most hyped rider coming into this season with Yamaha so high on this kid that they stole him from their former satellite team JGR (which was the straw that broke the back and forced JGR to switch to Suzuki). Many people are calling Webb “Beast from the East 2.” Unlike Damon Bradshaw, Webb won't win during his rookie 450 season. Webb will have the speed to win races but I don't think he will. The Yamaha 450 is a tough bike to ride and is not forgiving, just ask the guys at JGR. While he will lead laps, he won't be able to bully the competition like he did in the 250 class. I look for a few podiums, but mostly 5th – 10th place finishes unless a few title contenders have issues. This year is very important for Webb’s career he needs to gain experience while surviving an entire 16 race series. Dungey may retire in the next few years, but if Webb wants to be “the guy” he will have to close the gap between himself and the other title contenders. He needs this season to find out exactly where he is and what it takes to be the best Supercross rider in the world.
Trey Canard, I have a hard time being objective when analyzing him. Full disclosure, he is our flagship rider at Fly Racing (owned by WPS, my employer). With Andrew Short retiring we are looking for Trey to pick up the slack. Trey left Honda, where he has spent his entire professional career. I was surprised to see him sign with KTM because early off season rumors had him signing with Kawasaki. I was told KTM’s (Roger DeCoster) decision to choose Trey as their third rider was based on Aldon Baker’s analysis. They looked at film from his years at Factory Connection Honda and analyzed his riding style changes resulting from multiple major injuries sustained during his 450 career. Aldon told Roger he could fix him and on his advice they took a chance. Meanwhile nobody informed Dungey of the plan. Dungey was less than thrilled with this idea as he already has Marvin Musquin and Jason Anderson on his heels. Rumor has it that Dungey vetoed the idea of training alongside Trey. Dungey told Aldon if a rider was needed to fulfill his partnership with KTM and Husqvarna then he should get a 250 rider. As a fan I want to put Trey as a title contender but looking at him objectively I see him as a 3rd to 8th place guy, as long as he can keep it on two wheels and stay healthy. I would be thrilled to be wrong with my analysis but I haven't seen or heard anything to make me think any different… And I looked hard!
With so many riders in “the pack” more will be discussed in the next preview. What riders do you think will make it?
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