There are only two rounds remaining in the 2019 Supercross season. The season started out with the 450 class having the most interesting and close championship battle, while the 250 classes seemed a little more decided early on. In the 250 West class, Colt Nichols held the lead for a few rounds, but it seemed like once the red plate got into the hands of Adam Cianciarulo, it was going to stay there. In the 250 East class, Austin Forkner was undefeated against his competitors and it was clear he would win the championship, barring some disaster. That disaster struck in Nashville when Forkner went down hard in qualifying and tore his ACL. Forced to sit out the racing that night, Chase Sexton and Justin Cooper were able to pull to within seven points of Forkner (Sexton is three points out, while Cooper is seven) with only two races to go. Forkner has decided to finish out the season on his injured knee, but will he have enough in the tank to hold off the two riders trying to chase him down? In the West class, Cianciarulo had off nights in Seattle and Houston, allowing Dylan Ferrandis to close in on the championship, just five points back. After taking a win in Denver, Cianciarulo now has an eight-point lead, which isn’t safe by any means, considering that the final race in Las Vegas is an East-West Showdown.
Meanwhile, we saw the red plate in the 450 class change hands numerous times and there were several weekends where a handful of riders were within single digits of each other. It looked like we might be in for one of the most exciting championships to date. However, Cooper Webb showed that he could ride smart and make the right decision when he needed to, while his competitors were struggling a bit – Ken Roczen seemed to fall off the pace of the leaders by about the mid-point of the season, Eli Tomac had a few races where he just wasn’t himself, and Marvin Musquin had some inopportune crashes that cost him precious points. Going into East Rutherford, Cooper Webb holds an 18-point lead over Tomac and a 23-point lead over Musquin. Barring another disaster this season, the championship is Webb’s – he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and finish in the top five. It’s even possible that Webb could wrap up the title this weekend if Tomac has another “not-himself” sort of night and Webb can beat Musquin by just one position.
The 250 class racing this weekend will be very interesting to watch because we don’t know how Forkner’s knee with hold up. Injuries happen and it’s a part of the sport, but it would be extremely disappointing for the Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider to have had the dominant season he’s had and not be able to finish it out with the title due to injury. Even if Forkner can race “pretty well” by his standards, finishing in second behind Sexton just two times, would mean the difference between winning the championship and letting it slip through your fingers. He has almost no wiggle room this weekend.
While Tomac letting the 450 class Supercross title elude him once again would be rough, I think the rider who would feel this loss the most would be Musquin. While Ryan Dungey was with the team, Musquin was the clear-cut number two guy, and he would just have to wait his turn to take the lead spot on the team. Dungey retired and Musquin stepped into the role and battled for the championship in both Supercross and Motocross, getting beaten out each time. Then 2019 rolls around and Red Bull KTM signs Cooper Webb, who has struggled so far in his 450 career. Webb found what he needed on KTM and has shown that he can be the number one guy now. Musquin seems to have something to prove on the team, and being older than the rest of his top competitors, he needs to prove that point sooner rather than later. Musquin is great at always looking at the bright side and being happy with the performance he put together, but in the back of his mind, he must know that he needs to earn a title for the team. Throughout the season, we have seen Musquin put together some amazing races and it seems like he has faster laps times than Webb in almost every race. The difference is that while Musquin has been getting really good starts in the main events, Webb has been getting fantastic starts when it matters most. Tomac has shown that he has what it takes to win championships, so losing this one wouldn’t be the most terrible thing that could happen to him. As for Roczen, he knows he can win championships in his future, but he just didn’t have what it took this season to battle up front for 17 rounds as he had to battle through injuries and pain through the second half of the season.
It’s not over until it’s over, but with only two races left, the title may be just out of reach for Tomac and Musquin.