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10 Things to Watch at Phoenix

USA Supercross 2014

maddix park mx

www.racerxonline.com By Aaron Hansel and Chase Stallo 

Click here for the animated track

Breaking Out

Ken Roczen’s supercross abilities are not in question (after all, he is the 2013 Western Regional 250SX Champion), but nobody, perhaps not even Roczen himself, expected him to win the opener. But that’s exactly what happened after twenty laps in Anaheim. The Red Bull KTM rider showed veteran-like poise out there, and his fitness was obviously not an issue. Was his win an A1 anomaly, or was it the confidence booster he needs to be battling at the front of the pack every weekend from here on out? - Aaron Hansel

The Anderson and Seely Show
Even before the night show began Jason Anderson and Cole Seely were going at it. In the first timed practice session they were battling for the top spot, and in the second qualifier they even went head-to-head for a couple laps, so it wasn’t surprising to see them find each other in the 250SX main event. Their skills, at least on the A1 track, seemed closely matched, which means we could be in for some great battles every time they get together. Will they find each other again in Phoenix? - Aaron Hansel

Will Seely (left) and Anderson pick up where things left off at Anaheim?
Simon Cudby photo

Stomping Grounds
There was so much action to follow at the front of the pack last Saturday night that few eyes were on Justin Barcia, who was forced to come from way back after a terrible start. But minus the bad start, the Team Honda Muscle Milk rider actually had a great race and was able to come all the way up to fifth. After the race Barcia was upbeat about his ride and said he’s looking forward to coming back to Phoenix, where he holeshot and stomped the field by leading every single lap of last year’s main event. Will Barcia make it two in a row in Phoenix? - Aaron Hansel

Holy Schmidt!
Nick Schmidt. Before last weekend, you probably hadn’t heard of him, but he put himself on the map in Anaheim by hanging right with Kyle Partridge, Matt Goerke and Jake Weimer in the LCQ, then taking fourteenth in the main against the best supercross racers in the world. Schmidt is racing on a small budget with The Privateer Journey, but the #415 obviously has some big skills. Will they be on display again this weekend? - Aaron Hansel

Staying In It
A big crash in practice on the Wednesday leading up to A1 left Dean Wilson extremely sore and unsure if he’d even be able to race on Saturday night. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider ended up making a go of it, and nearly had third nailed down before making a mistake that allowed Zach Osborne to steal the final podium position. While a fourth place isn’t what Wilson expects from himself, he did what he needed to do to stay in the points race. After having a week to recuperate, will he get back to his winning ways in Phoenix? - Aaron Hansel

Will RV find the touch in Phoenix?
Simon Cudby photo

The Boys in Blue
Toyota JGRMX Yamaha’s Justin Brayton and Josh Grant combined for four top seven (or better) finishes in seventeen rounds in 2013. Through one round in 2014, the duo already has half that number. Brayton was fast all day—qualifying sixth fastest—and was the highest finisher without a premier or regional supercross championship to his name. Meanwhile Grant, in his first Monster Energy Supercross race since A3 a year ago, had his best finish since a fifth in Las Vegas in 2012. Can the boys in blue continue their hot start to the season? – Chase Stallo


While fellow rookies were blasting headlines with their respective win (Roczen) and injury (Tomac), Wil Hahn was quietly going about business, falling just shy of the top ten. This week won’t be much easier for Hahn, as talk will circle around, “Can Roczen win again?” and “Will Tomac race?” But sometimes having the spotlight elsewhere can work to your advantage. “"I need to do a better job of carrying all the positive things I do during the week into Phoenix," Hahn said in a statement released by the team. "I was on a roller coaster in Anaheim, and I need to fix that and just be smooth. I actually haven't raced Phoenix in quite a while, but I always enjoyed racing there in the past. I'll be ready." Can Hahn shake up the rookie scale and draw in the spotlight? – Chase Stallo


All or Nothing
Opinions vary on James Stewart’s crash at the opener. “If he were hitting the whoops a couple of inches lower, he wouldn't have crashed,” said David Vuillemin. “I know you’re going to look at the results and see James Stewart crashed out and go, “Yup, same old James Stewart.” But I’m telling you, there was something different about this one,” commented Steve Matthes. Whichever way you lean doesn’t matter, the end result stays the same. Following a 16th at the opener a season ago, Ryan Villopoto bounced back with a second in Phoenix. The rest was history. Will Stewart mount a charge back into contention this weekend? – Chase Stallo

Can Webb battle for a podium this weekend?
Simon Cudby photo

Better Than a Year Ago
Lost in the Stewart saga was the fact that RV was leading, crashed and finished fourth. Will this hold any bearing going forward? Probably not. But RV again finds himself in a hole to start the season—albeit not the fifteen points he lost a year ago. We know RV can get hot at anytime and roll off wins. Will he find the magic touch this weekend and gain control of the championship? –Chase Stallo

Learning Experience
There’s no denying Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb has the most expectations of any rookie on the West Region. Although Anaheim was “a little more nerve wracking” than he expected, the young star rose to the occasion with a top five performance. With the rookie cobwebs shaken, will Webb contend for a podium? – Chase Stallo

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