Ken Roczen angry with Cooper Webb after Daytona: ‘I think he’s scared of me’
An extremely tight Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship battle between Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb became even more caustic and combustible Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
After a fourth-place finish on his No. 94 Honda in Round 9 left him clinging to a two-point lead in the championship standings, Roczen was angry at Webb after the riders nearly made contact in the first turn on the opening lap of the 450 main event.
“I got a really good start, and Webb just pushed me really wide into the Tuff Blox, which caused me to lose a bunch of spots,” Roczen told Daniel Blair on NBCSN. “I think he’s scared of me. That’s why he plays these kind of games, but little does he know I like to play as well.
“So from here on out, I’m going to put in that little bit of extra focus on a daily basis - even at home - to speed up much better on the weekend. He’s just fueling the fire and I’m ready for it.”
Webb, who nipped Aaron Plessinger in the last few hundred yards for second place, blew off Roczen’s claim in a postrace news conference.
“I had a great start,” Webb said. “Me, (Roczen) and Eli were all right there. Eli was on my inside. Kenny was on my outside, so I kind of just went through the middle there and wanted to make sure I could get ahead of Ken. Just made the move right there and fell in behind Eli.”
"(Roczen) was running his mouth (after the race). But I didn’t really hear what he said on the podium. He wasn’t too pumped, but I’m not sure why. I saw an opening and went for it. He’s really focusing on himself this year, and clearly, he showed how much he’s focusing on himself.”
While Webb stayed in the top four for the next 20 minutes Roczen seesawed through the top 10. At one point near midrace, he had passed Malcolm Stewart for fourth and was closing the gap on Webb. But he missed a jump and fell behind Stewart.
“I had to make a bunch of passes in the beginning, and I messed up in that rhythm big time and had to roll a bunch and Malcolm went back by me, so I had to get by him and latched onto Webb but just wasn’t enough,” Roczen said. “But other than that I had fun racing out here. It’s all good. We’re out here with my family and having a lot of fun so can’t wait for Dallas.”
Last year, Eli Tomac took the points lead for good with his Daytona victory, leading by three points heading into a two-month break for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
After his second victory this season Saturday at Daytona International Speedway (where he tied Ricky Carmichael’s victory record), Tomac now is 24 points behind with eight races remaining – two tripleheaders in Arlington, Texas, and Hampton, Georgia (at Atlanta Motor Speedway) before a two-night stand in Salt Lake City, Utah, to close the season.
Roczen, who has nine consecutive top fives to start 2021, sounds confident he can maintain the points lead and join Tomac as a new 450 champion for the second consecutive season.
“(Webb) got this one round, and the points have closed up a little bit, and we’ve got plenty of racing to go,” Roczen said. “So yeah. I like to play, so let’s go. I’m going to focus hard and bring it on the weekends.”