Thursday, January 3, 2019

2019 Supercross Season Preview

The first major series to get under way in 2019 will be Supercross with 17 races scheduled over the next 18 weeks. We take a look at the schedule, which includes a few new venues, and the riders, which includes a handful of championship contenders as well as an exciting rookie class.

Anaheim once again plays host to the season opener on Saturday January 5th. One week later will be a return to Arizona and Glendale, the first domed venue of the season. Anaheim hosts its second race of the season on January 19th and it will be the first Triple Crown format event of the season. Oakland closes out January on the 26th.

February begins in San Diego on the 2nd before a trip to Minneapolis on February 9th. For the tenth consecutive season, Supercross heads to Arlington, Texas and this year's race will be on February 16th. Detroit will be the second Triple Crown round of the season on February 23rd.

Atlanta will host the first round of March on the 2nd. Daytona Bike Week takes place on March 9th and the series will head to another motorsports city in Indianapolis the following week on March 16th. Seattle will be March 23rd, the earliest visit to the Emerald City since the final visit to the Kingdome on January 30, 1999.

Houston hosts the final Triple Crown round on March 30th. Supercross will make its debut in Nashville, Tennessee on April 6th before making its first stop in Denver since 1996 on April 13th. The series will take the week after Denver off for Easter before returning to East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 27th with Las Vegas closing out the season on May 4th.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Team
Jason Anderson: #1 Husqvarna FC450
What did he do in 2018: Anderson won the 2018 Supercross championship with victories at Houston, Oakland, San Diego and Atlanta.
What to expect in 2019: Anderson won a title with his consistency last year and there is no reason not to think Anderson will keep up his track record. Will it be enough to win a title for a second consecutive year? He will be up there but if Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin all remain on the bike and do not allow Anderson to make up points in bunches Anderson may find himself dropping a few positions down the championship standings.

Zach Osborne: #16 Husqvarna FC450
What did he do in 2018: Osborne won his second consecutive 250 East championship and Osborne had three victories.
What to expect in 2019: Unfortunately, Osborne injured his collarbone during a practice day and he will need surgery. He has not been ruled out for making a debut midseason. Osborne had won three consecutive championships before his 250 Motocross season ended prematurely in 2018. He kind of pairs well with Anderson. Osborne was consistent in 250s. Since he switched to Husqvarna in 2015, Osborne has won seven races, had 18 podium finishes, 24 top five finishes and 33 top ten finishes in 36 races. If he was healthy and running every race, I think Osborne would be in the top ten of the championship.

Red Bull KTM
Cooper Webb: #2 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
What did he do in 2018: Webb finished ninth in the championship after missing four rounds, including the final three. Webb's best finish was third at Daytona.
What to expect in 2019: Webb falls a lot. He won two 250 West titles but he has yet to string together consistent results. He is making a big move to KTM. It could elevate his career if he stays up right.

Marvin Musquin: #25 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
What did he do in 2018: Musquin was vice-champion, finishing nine points behind Anderson. Musquin won Anaheim 1, Indianapolis, Foxborough and Salt Lake City. He was vice-champion in the Motocross championship with five victories.
What to expect in 2019: The Frenchman will win a few races and he has the ability to compete for the title. He still needs to find that final gear to compete with the likes of Eli Tomac and he needs to be a bit more consistent to match Anderson. He isn't far off those two in those respective categories but that is right now what is separating him a championship.

Monster Energy Kawasaki
Eli Tomac: #3 Kawasaki KX 450F
What did he do in 2018: Tomac finished third in the championship despite winning eight of 17 races. His victories were Anaheim 2, Glendale, Arlington, Tampa, St. Louis, Seattle, Minneapolis and Las Vegas. He also won his second consecutive Motocross championship with 15 victories from 24 races and he won the Monster Energy Cup.
What to expect in 2019: This has to be Tomac's year to win the Supercross championship. He has won everything else and if he can avoid the two or three poor races that have derailed his title hopes in previous seasons the title will unquestionably be his. 

Joey Savatgy: #17 Kawasaki KX 450F
What did he do in 2018: Savatgy finished fourth in the 250 West championship with one victory and four podium finishes.
What to expect in 2019: Savatgy had respectable results in the 250 division with five victories and 19 podium finishes over five seasons. I don't think Tomac will have much to worry about and I think Savatgy will be in the back half of the top ten. 

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC – KTM – WPS
Blake Baggett: #4 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
What did he do in 2018: Baggett was fourth in the championship and he had five podium finishes, all third place results. He was fifth in the Motocross championship but had four podium finishes.
What to expect in 2019: Baggett improved last season but he is still on KTM's second team and, if everyone else stays healthy, Baggett may lose a few places in the championship but still put up a respectable showing.

Justin Bogle: #19 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
What did he do in 2018: Bogle made only two starts in 2018, both were 17th place finishes at Glendale and Oakland.
What to expect in 2019: I am not sure. None of his results have been that great in his Supercross career and he has missed his fair share of races. I am not sure he finishes in the top ten even if he starts every race.

Bullfrog Spas/Smartop/Motoconcepts/Honda
Justin Brayton: #10 Honda CRF 450
What did he do in 2018: Brayton rounded out the top five of the champoionsip, four points off Baggett and he scored a long-awaited and popular victory at Daytona.
What to expect in 2019: He led the Honda contingent last year when the manufacture needed it most. I think he will be in the top ten of the championship but not be the top Honda rider.

Malcolm Stewart: #27 Honda CRH 450
What did he do in 2018: Stewart was 11th in the championship on 169 points with his best finish being seventh and he had four top ten finishes.
What to expect in 2019: Stewart was a late addition to this team and he is coming off a bad accident at Torino in the offseason. I think he will match his results from 2018.

Vince Friese: #42 Honda CRF 450
What did he do in 2018: Friese was 12th in the championship, missing out on tenth by nine points to Justin Barcia.
What to expect in 2019: Friese was not really competitive in 2018 and I don't think he will finish in the top ten of the championship in 2019.

JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing
Chad Reed: #22 Suzuki RM-Z450
What did he do in 2018: Reed was 13th in the championship on a privateer Husqvarna. His best finish was seventh at Seattle and he had four top ten finishes all season.
What to expect in 2019: After toughing out a year running his own bike, the injury to Weston Peick has landed Reed back at the factory Suzuki effort. It has been nearly four years since his last victory and Suzuki has not won since 2016. Reed should improve from his championship position last season but I don't think he will be pushing for the top five in the championship.

Justin Hill: #46 Suzuki RM-Z450
What did he do in 2018: Hill finished sixth in the 250 West championship with a victory at San Diego and a third at Oakland. He made two 450 starts with a sixth at Tampa and a 22nd at Atlanta.
What to expect in 2019: Hill had some good results and he was the 2017 250 West champion but I think he will be at best finishing in the top five and he should aim to at least beat his teammate.

Team Honda HRC
Cole Seely: #14 Honda CRF 450
What did he do in 2018: Seely finished 17th in the championship on 124 points after getting injured at Tampa and missing the final nine races. He finished second in Anaheim 2 to Tomac.
What to expect in 2019: Seely won in his rookie year at Houston in 2015 and he finished third in the championship. However, his championship finish has dropped ever since. He is a top ten rider but I don't think he can compete with the top four this season. He needs to reverse his championship slide and it will be tough to do with the depth of this grid.

Ken Roczen: #94 Honda CRF450
What did he do in 2018: Roczen finished 18th in the championship on 102 points after getting injured at San Diego and missing the final 11 races. He had finished second twice in the first six races and he had a third as well. He finished third in the Motocross championship and he had two victories.
What to expect in 2019: Everything hangs on whether Roczen can stay healthy. He can push Tomac for the title but Roczen has not been the same since his injury in 2017 and it could be a case where Roczen does not have that last bit of aggression to take a title from Tomac, Musquin and Anderson.

Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing
Aaron Plessinger: #7 Yamaha YZ450F
What did he do in 2018: Plessinger won the 250 West championship with four victories and he won the 250 Motocross championship with 11 victories from 24 races.
What to expect in 2019: It is going to be a tough fight for rookie of the year this season between Plessinger, Savatgy and Hill and it would have been better is Osborne was healthy. I think every race could have a great battle between these three somewhere between fifth and tenth. The one thing against Plessinger is Yamaha has not won a 450 Supercross race since James Stewart at Daytona in 2012.

Justin Barcia: #51 Yamaha YZ450F
What did he do in 2018: Barcia rounded out the top ten in the championship with 177 points after missing six races midseason. His best finish was second to Tomac at Glendale. He was fourth in the Motocross championship and he swept the final round, the Ironman Nationals.
What to expect in 2019: Barcia got a big opportunity last year filling in for the injured Davi Millsaps and now he has a full-time ride with factory Yamaha. He had a great start until his injury. It will be a tough battle between he and Plessinger to see who is top Yamaha rider.

Dean Wilson: #15 Husqvarna FC450
What did he do in 2018: Wilson finished seventh in the championship despite scoring no points in the season opener and missing the next race at Houston. His best finish was second to Musquin at Indianapolis.
What to expect in 2019: Wilson kind of takes over the vacancy Chad Reed left as a privateer Husqvarna rider. Wilson is a bit younger but I can't see him finishing in the top ten of the championship.

The 2019 Supercross season opener will be held at 10:00 p.m. ET on Saturday January 5th from Anaheim.