Cooksey, Straight To The Point: Changing Of The Guard 15

Like always, Chris has some thoughts about the action from last weekend's race.

Cooksey, Straight To The Point: Changing Of The Guard

At the Monster Energy Supercross in Dallas, I watched what looked like a changing of the guard, as Cooper Webb won in impressive fashion. He passed his way through the pack, much like in 93’ when Jeremy McGrath got his first win by doing the same thing in Charlotte. By passing his competition, including the reigning champion Jeff Stanton, McGrath deflated his competition’s edge. Up until that point, McGrath’s competitors assumed he could only win with a holeshot, and without it, they weren’t worried. At the 2001 Phoenix Supercross, McGrath had the same thing done to him when Ricky Carmichael caught and passed the seven-time champ. It was a changing of the guard then, much like Saturday night in Dallas with Webb.

Cooper Webb.

Webb’s victory in Dallas proved he is now “the guy,” beating his competitors at their best.  No longer can we say he won because of a good start or his competition had issues. With a poor start and all of his rivals in front of him, most would have considered the night a success if he reached the podium. Webb did what the great ones do, methodically working his way to the front. He even jumped a quad at the end of the rhythm section that no one else did. It was a ride for the ages. His self-belief and confidence couldn’t be higher, unlike Ken Roczen, Marvin Musquin, and Eli Tomac. All three of these guys have to be asking themselves, do they have what it takes to compete with Webb… ever again?

Ken Roczen.

Ken Roczen looked to finally be in a position to win and complete his journey back from injury, but Webb was his worst nightmare. Even though they played nice on and off the track last Saturday, neither Webb or Roczen will be exchanging Christmas cards any time soon. In the final turn at Dallas, there was contact, and I actually expected more of it. Webb went for the win but didn’t do anything out of line in his pass. I watched both Roczen and Webb’s body language throughout the post-race press conference and at least three times Roczen appeared distracted. Was he replaying the situation in his head? Was he questioning his future? Only time will tell. Roczen is an incredibly mentally strong racer, but I wonder how this loss will affect him. Will he come back fighting in Detroit? Or will he end up like the competition in 1993 and 2001?

Marvin Musquin.

Marvin Musquin should question why he trains with the guys he does. First, it was Dungey, then Anderson, and this year I’m sure he expected to be top dog. Nope, Webb took the torch from Anderson and shoved Marvin aside, again. Webb runs the number two on his bike, but Marvin has to feel like the real number two. Marvin has to wonder if training with these guys is benefiting them more than him. If Marvin can find some speed and challenge Webb, things at the Baker Factory could get interesting.

Eli Tomac.

Eli Tomac may have missed his window to win a Supercross Championship. I think Webb has him covered straight up. While Tomac has been consistent this year (until Dallas), the competition has found more speed, and Tomac’s strange mistakes cannot be overcome with his raw speed. With Marvin and Webb training together, they are raising their level. While Tomac doesn’t have a training partner to help raise his level, maybe he should reach out to Dean Wilson, Ken Roczen, Blake Baggett or Justin Barcia. Clearly, all the guys riding at the Baker Factory have forced each other to increase their speed. This is where the sport has evolved, you now need top-level training partners to be successful, much like UFC fighters these guys need to bring in top-level training (sparring) partners.

The other issue I want to weigh in on is the Tyler Bowers and Justin Barcia incident. In the second heat Bowers straight blasted Barcia in a 180-degree turn. Being honest, it looked deliberate and I instantly thought it was retaliation. At the final round of 2018 SX in Las Vegas. Barcia rammed Bowers with enough force to cause a broken leg. Typically, the 250 LCQ has two or three incidents similar to what Bowers did last Saturday. As a stand-alone incident, I don’t see a problem with the move. This one is different, as these two have a history of smashing each other and this was no doubt payback. I have had extensive conversations with AMA/FIM official John Gallagher who oversees these types of incidents. He will disqualify someone if he feels it is retaliation or a pre-meditated action. John judges these on whether the intent was to cause damage or if it was a racing move gone wrong. Knowing their tumultuous history, he got it right. Initially, I thought disqualifying Bowers was a garbage decision and wondered if Bowers was being targeted for his involvement in uniting the riders, but after watching again I quickly decided that was ridiculous.

The 450 class and the Monster Energy Supercross Championship still has ten rounds to go and let’s not forget Tomac has a history of hitting warp speed once he is out of championship contention. At the moment I don’t see anyone but Webb being crowned champion in 2019, but it also reminds me of Dungey’s famous quote, “There was no crown!” It’s a long season, but right now the kid from North Carolina is holding all aces.


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