Marvin Musquin wins Supercross Round 16, Cooper Webb closes in on championship
Marvin Musquin took the lead after Ken Roczen fell near the midway point of the Monster Energy Supercross Round 16 and won his first 450 race in two years The Red Bull KTM rider finished ahead of teammate Cooper Webb, who closed in on his first title, and Malcolm Stewart in a career-best performance.
Musquin missed the entire 2020 Supercross season with a knee injury but was able to return for nine dates of the Motocross calendar last year. His best finish in the outdoor season was a runner-up finish at the WW Ranch in Jacksonville, Fla, but Musquin seemed to quickly knock the rust off in the opening Supercross round this season with a podium finish in Houston 1. Two more podiums followed, including a second-place finish in Orlando 2, but the win eluded Musquin.
“Life is good to me, Musquin told NBC Sports’ Will Christien after the race. “Back in 2018 I won the Heat, won the Main. I was fighting for the championship. This year it’s a different story. I got a big injury on my knee and I missed the whole season last year. So my goal was to come back.
“I had a couple of good races, but unfortunately I had a bad concussion a couple of weeks ago, and that took out of me a lot. The results haven’t been great. I can’t believe it right now. I’m standing on the top of the podium. My goal was to get better and better.”
With the victory, Musquin became a factor in the playoff picture, denying points leader Webb an eighth victory that would have clinched the title on a night when rival championship contender Ken Roczen fell while leading the second consecutive race.
Webb got off to a slow start as Roczen rocketed out to an early lead. At the midway point, Webb began to slowly pick off riders. With a 16-point advantage entering Salt Lake City, he was riding to minimize the points loss until Roczen’s accident galvanized his effort.
With seven minutes remaining on the clock and with heavy pressure from Musquin, Roczen over-rotated on a corner and laid his bike down. Last week in Atlanta 3, Roczen had a huge advantage of more than 12 seconds when he put his bike on the ground and eventually finished second, handing the win to Webb.
Roczen’s mistake allowed both Musquin and Webb to get past. With the new leader in sight, Webb closed the gap and was on Musquin’s back wheel at the finish line.
“Second place is never fun, but congrats to Marv; it’s been a long road back for him,” Webb said. “I was pumped for him to go one and two. I didn’t get a great start tonight, which hindered me a little bit. Made some good moves. Was struggling a little bit. ... Finally found a good line and felt pretty good. made a good charge there at the end and Marv picked it up at the end.”
POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Round 16 in Supercross
Roczen remounted but lost his momentum and struggled to a sixth-place finish -- leaving a 22-point gap between himself and Webb. To win the championship next week, Webb will need to finish only 18th or better regardless of Roczen’s result.
“Everything was going after our plan,” Roczen said. “We executed on the start. Made the right decision to go on the very inside there. I was feeling pretty good early on and then we got into some lappers, and I had to double through this entire rhythm lane, and that cost me a lot of time. The whoops were really tricky. I needed a little more safety. If I could have gotten my bike to settle a little better there it would have gotten me a better over all flow around the track.
“I changed my line up toward the end of the race and I was a little bit better. I came out of that turn and it just happened so quick. I just pushed the front over the bumps and that was the end of that. Lost opportunity the last couple of rounds.
“But what do you want me to do? I try to do my best out there.”
Stewart earned his first career 450 podium finish, pressuring Webb midway through the race in traffic.
“That was such a crazy race,” Stewart said. “Utah fans, you had me all hyped up. This is so awesome to be up here in front and get the weight off my shoulders. It’s a dream come true and I will never forget this moment.”
Dylan Ferrandis finished fourth, which is his best finish since Round 2 in Houston when he scored a runner-up finish. This was also his third top-five in his rookie 450 SX season.
Chase Sexton finished fifth to score his fifth top-five since returning to the lineup at Daytona International Speedway on March 6.
Jason Anderson in sixth, Aaron Plessinger in eighth and Dean Wilson in ninth also scored top-10s.
After crashing early in the race, Eli Tomac was relegated to 10th. He left the stadium 50 points behind Webb and has been mathematically eliminated from contention.
The championship battle was also the top story in the 250 East division as Colt Nichols walked away from the race with a 23-point advantage over second-place.
The second-place rider at the end of the event was not the one expected to be in that position, however.
Christian Craig crashed hard in practice and injured his ankle. He limped heavily off course after the incident and attempted to compete in his heat, but the ankle would not respond. Nichols’ teammate Craig retired from the race and was unable to score any points, which places him 29 markers behind the leader and eliminates him from contention.
Jo Shimoda rose to take his place as Nichols’ principal rival. He led all 19 laps of the race and was only challenged in the closing laps by Jett Lawrence, becoming the first Japanese winner in Supercross.
“Just imagine coming from Japan with only part of your family and one day racing Supercross,” Shimoda reflected from the podium. “And now to compete for winning. That is incredible for me. I just rode my best all day and this is where we ended up.”
Shimoda is the sixth 250 rider to score an inaugural career win this season.
Lawrence closed the gap at the end of the race but came up 1.15 seconds short of winning his third race of the season. Lawrence was victorious at Houston 1 and Orlando 1.
“I’m super-pumped for Jo, he’s a good buddy of mine - so congrats to him,” Lawrence told Christien after the race. “Also, ‘damn you Jo, because I needed those points on you.’ But no, good job to him.
“But as I said I needed those points to at least try and get to third (in the standings), but he rode really good tonight. I just made a few silly mistakes I shouldn’t have made, so I’m a bit bummed about that.”
With the injury to his teammate Craig, Nichols had an opportunity to capitalize and lock up the title.
“The last few laps were a little frustrating honestly,” Nichols said. “The one guy I didn’t need to win (won), but hat’s off to Jo. He rode really well today. And the same to Jett. It was unfortunate what happened to Christian earlier today. I hate to see guys go out like that. I’ve had my fair share of injuries and it’s no fun.
“I needed to get off to a better start and I didn’t. Had to work my way through the pack and there’s a lot on the line here.”
Michael Mosiman finished fourth with Thomas Do rounding out the top five.
ROUND 1, HOUSTON: Justin Barcia wins opener for third consecutive time
ROUND 2, HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds, wins after Round 1 disappointment
ROUND 3, HOUSTON: Cooper Webb wins, Ken Roczen denied revenge
ROUND 4, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen makes it four winners in four races
ROUND 5, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen goes back to back for first time since 2017 injury
ROUND 6, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen is perfect in Indy for third straight win
ROUND 7, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb trims Ken Roczen lead
ROUND 8, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb sweeps Orlando to put pressure on Ken Roczen
ROUND 9, DAYTONA: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael at Daytona; Ken Roczen, Copper Webb war
ROUND 10, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb takes the points lead with five straight top-two finishes
ROUND 11, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb wins first two races of Arlington residency
ROUND 12, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb becomes championship favorite with Arlington sweep
ROUND 13, ATLANTA: The infield course at Atlanta gives Eli Tomac a late-season chance
ROUND 14, ATLANTA: A clutch win for Ken Roczen and a gutsy performance for Cameron McAdoo
ROUND 15, ATLANTA: Cooper Webb responds to pressure with Atlanta win