2014 AMA SuperCross, an FIM World Championship
Torrance, CA: This past Saturday, the Supercross series made its final stop at Southern California’s Angel stadium for round five, and 42,139 racing fans were on hand to witness Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia claim his best finish of the season.
With the second-quickest qualifying time in practice, Barcia looked solid aboard his Honda CRF450R. For the first time this season, he was forced to the semi-qualifying race after a first-turn crash left him in ninth during his heat race. He bounced back to win the semi and transfer into the main event. He launched off the line to a seventh-place start in the main, quickly made his way into sixth by the second lap, and took advantage of mistakes by other riders to finish fourth.
“Practice was good. I was either the fastest or just a little off the quickest rider so that makes me feel good and gives me confidence,” explained Barcia. “The only thing that has been hurting me is my starts and the team and I are really working on that. We have been getting better and better, but that is the only thing that is really holding me back. When we look at the times after the races, I am right there in speed. I just need to get off that gate a little better. The heat race tonight didn’t go as planned. I got pinched on the start and ended up going down and wasn’t able to fight my way back into position. I didn’t get the best start again in the semi but was able to win that, so that was good. I got a decent start in the main event, and was able to work my way into fourth. Once I get those starts figured out I know I’ll be on the podium.”
“Tonight was an improvement from the last few weekends. Justin’s starts improved despite some tough luck in the heat and semi race, but I think he rode well and was consistent throughout the whole main event. It is a good base to build off,” says team manager Dan Betley.
After a solid finish last weekend in Oakland, Muscle Milk-sponsored GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn was hoping to make even more progress this Saturday in Anaheim. Hahn transferred into the main event after finishing fourth in the semi-qualifying race. He got a sluggish start in the main event, but was able to work his way from 17th to 12th within the 20-lap race.
“I crashed in the whoops earlier in the day and hurt my hand. I was doing as much therapy between sessions as possible but it really started hurting towards the end of the main,” explained Hahn. “I was really hoping for my best race of the year today since I made good progress last weekend in Oakland and have always enjoyed Anaheim. I was ready to tear it up but that crash changed things. Thankfully my hand’s not broken.”
Teammate Eli Tomac returned to the gate for the first time since getting injured at the season opener and looked very strong on his CRF450R. He qualified directly into the main event via his fourth-place finish in the first heat race, and got a mid-pack start in the main event. He was running ninth when he got a rear flat tire and was forced to pull out of the race.“Today I just wanted to get back into the groove as much as I could,” stated Tomac. “I was still hoping for a top-five finish in the main but ended up getting a flat tire. Overall it was a good day and I was able to do some things on the track that the other guys weren’t, which was cool. I did feel my shoulder getting a bit weak in the main event, so I know I still need to build strength back so I can attack the whole time.”
It was a tough day for Muscle Milk-backed GEICO Honda rider Zach Osborne who went down in the final practice session, suffering an injury that ultimately sidelined him for the remainder of the night. Osborne has led the team’s 250 effort with two podium finishes this season, and currently sits fifth overall in the points standings.
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda’s Cole Seely nailed down the holeshot in the main event, and led the field until lap 12 when he went down. He quickly remounted his CRF250R to finish in second. Teammate Malcolm Stewart won his heat race and finished sixth in the main event, followed by Shane McElrath and Jessy Nelson in eighth and ninth. Seely is currently tied in points for the championship lead.
On Friday, Honda Red Riders made their way to Malcolm Smith Motorsports in Riverside, CA to meet fans and sign autographs at the dealership’s annual Supercross party. It was an impressive turnout, with the line of people wrapped around the parking lot. In attendance were Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, Zach Osborne and Wil Hahn, and all the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda riders.“The Malcolm Smith dealer signings are always first class,” said Barcia. “The dealership is huge and there is always an awesome turnout at this one. For me I prefer when we have Honda-only dealer signings because then you get to see the true Honda fans, but at the same time it’s cool to see how many fans we have come through the line when all the teams are there. This dealership does an awesome job for sure.”
|4||Justin Barcia (Honda)|
|2||Cole Seely (Honda)|
|6||Malcolm Stewart (Honda)|
|7||Jake Canada (Honda)|
|8||Shane Mcelrath (Honda)|
|9||Jessy Nelson (Honda)|