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5 Things to Watch for in Philadelphia: Cooper Webb’s mission

Points battles were the order of business last week at Nashville, and that trend will continue for the final three rounds of the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross season as they head to a new market that hasn’t held a dirt bike race in more than 40 years.

A hard crash in Nashville last year ended Cooper Webb’s championship run. One year later, he could walk out of Nissan Stadium with sole possession of the red plate.

1. Let the Sun Shine In

A race in a new market deserves something special.

Stadium racing returns to Philadelphia for the first time in 44 years and only the second time in the history of the Supercross series. A doubleheader was run at JFK Stadium in 1980; before that, a Motocross track was created there in 1973. There is some built-up desire in the region. Philly marks the second new market in 2024, following Birmingham, Alabama, and to mark the occasion, the series will host a rare daytime race.

NBC Sports showed their support by moving the live coverage to the Mothership with featured coverage beginning at 3 p.m. on network television. Peacock will provide simultaneous coverage for viewers who may not be next to the television sets. As always, Peacock will have Race Day Live coverage of qualification beginning at 9 a.m.

This is just another curveball in a season that has been hard to predict.

As Eli Tomac and Chase Sexton raced one another in Daytona, Jett Lawrence raced Jett Lawrence and made a statement about his future.

2. Jett Lawrence is a Better Fastball Hitter

How will a day race impact the standings? It’s another unknown in a season that has already witnessed three Triple Crowns and multiple mud races.

Jett Lawrence has not shown many weaknesses this season, but those that have been revealed are his struggles in non-standard formats and muddy events. Lawrence finished outside the top five in only three races this year, but they all had asterisks. He was ninth in the sloppy San Francisco race that Chase Sexton won. His subsequent two poor showings came in Triple Crown formats in Anaheim’s second race and at St. Louis.

Of course, his fans who are inclined to see the glass as half full — actually, make that overflowing — will point to his perfect Pro Motocross season in 2023, all of which were run when the sun was high in the sky.

One way or the other, this is not an event that anyone wants to miss.

Cooper Webb now has four wins versus Jett Lawrence’s five with four races remaining.

3. Cooper’s Concentration

What makes Cooper Webb so strong is his unwillingness to allow pressure to overwhelm him.

In last week’s news conference, Webb confessed to being tempted to ride over his head when he saw the field pulling away. He reeled himself in partly because of his injuries at Nashville in 2023 and mostly because he recognized more points could be lost by crashing than losing distance on the track. He decided to maximize his points and enter Philadelphia healthy.

Webb gave up the points lead and trails Lawrence by five with three rounds remaining. If he can win a race and finish ahead of his rival in the next three rounds, Webb controls his fate, but that surge needs to begin in Philly this week. Finishing second to Lawrence would expand the gap to eight points with two races remaining. If that happens, he must sweep victory lane or count on the young Australian to make a mistake.

With back-to-back third place finishes and four straight top-fives, Jo Shimoda is climbing up the points standings and living up to Honda HRC expectations.

4. Go Jo

Pundits expected Jo Shimoda to come out of the gates strong with the Honda HRC team that won one of the 250 divisional titles last year. A fourth-place finish in Anaheim was disappointing, but it got worse the following week when he struggled in San Francisco and finished last in the Feature. The points’ damage from that round was extensive, but he could have softened the blow with consistent podiums. Instead, he finished fourth in back-to-back races at San Diego and again in Anaheim.

Shimoda started feeling increased comfort on the bike and with the team in Glendale, Arizona. He scored his first podium and has not failed to be on the box since. More importantly, he is getting stronger each week, and his last two attempts have ended in runner-up finishes. The most recent was last week in Nashville’s East / West Showdown.

A win could be right around the corner and Philly is a much more likely place for it to occur than in the season finally in Salt Lake City. That track will host the second and final East / West race of 2024.

Cameron McAdoo: “I’m the same person whether I have success on Saturday night or not” and that has been a hard lesson to learn.

5. Points Breakdown

Nashville is developing a brutal reputation. In the 450 division last year, multiple riders saw their season end with accidents in that round. This year was no exception with Chase Sexton being practically eliminated from championship contention after a crash caused by a rock that was hung up in his throttle assembly.

Ken Roczen fared worse when a shock blew on his Suzuki and threw him violently to the ground. Roczen broke a tibial plateau and bones in his feet in that accident. He fell from fifth to sixth last week, but if he can return for the start of the outdoor season, he won’t fall much further because his nearest competitor, Aaron Plessinger, is also out through the end of Supercross.

The championship impact was more significant in the 250 division, with the East and West leaders crashing on the opening lap and earning minimal points.

In the East, Tom Vialle has a 13-point advantage over Haiden Deegan and 16 over Cameron McAdoo. As witnessed last week, however, no points lead in safe in 2024 until a rider is mathematically in the clear.

Aaron Plessinger announced his contract extension during the Nashville weekend while recuperating from a fractured elbow.

More Supercross News

Ken Roczen is out for the remainder of the 2024 SX
Philadelphia by the numbers
Nashville 450 results, points | 250s
Jett Lawrence wins in Nashville, Cooper Webb’s third
Aaron Plessinger renews with Red Bull KTM through 2025
Evan Ferry, Triumph Motorcycles part ways
Chase Sexton will not be forgotten
Phil Nicoletti announces retirement
11 bikes stolen from Phoenix Racing
Coty Schock signs a three-year contract with ClubMX