View From the Floor: The Hunt For Answers At A1

Well, the Monster Energy Supercross moved from the backburner to the afterburner on Saturday night, which gave us our first shot at digging into the huge pile of questions awaiting answers when it comes to the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross season.

Who else had Eli Tomac lined up as the race winner in their fantasy picks for Saturday night? I'll admit, I did, after watching him lay down some really fast practice laps. Anaheim has bit a huge number of leaders over the years, whether it's the nerves that come with a new season, or the slick track when the moisture comes up later in the evening. But it's now certain Eli Tomac will at minimum have another season-long battle to claw his way into contention in the 450 point standings. I just hope he's healthy. For him to pull off like that spooks me that it might be more serious than that.

Ken Roczen.

Just making it to A1 was a win for Ken Roczen...though he's clearly said that he expects to be a contender for wins, and the title. I'm still not sure what was more horrifying; last year's crash at Anaheim 2 that left him with a badly broken arm, or some of the open wound and surgery photos that he posted to social media in the aftermath. After a year to rehab and rebuild, yeah, there was some rust to knock off. But taking the fastest qualifying spot? That had to be a huge confidence-booster. Leaving with a fourth-place finish after a couple scary moments during the night's action is a good starting point. Sometimes A1 is about adrenaline management.

The dazzle is real. Let's just hope the pack stays healthy for a considerable portion of the season.

It's interesting to look at the the pack as they head into turn two...and how some of the riders moved (or down) the standings.

Marvin Musquin scored his first 450 win last season, and is longer in Dungey's shadow on the Red Bull KTM squad. Of course, that didn't stop him from occasionally playing spoiler last season, but it also boosts the expectations this time around. Marvin also has a new generation of KTM chassis and engine that he's already dialed in with, having used it to win the Monster Energy Cup (and the million dollar first prize) in Las Vegas, plus off-season races in Paris and Geneva.

Marvin Musquin.

Biggest surprise of the night? That'd likely go to Justin Barcia after a heat race win, and a podium finish. He also led for a trio of laps after Eli Tomac's crash. Yep, he's clearly more comfortable on the new Yamaha than he was the last time around. You can listen in to him talk about how it's different, and what he had as options below.

Justin Barcia.

Jason Anderson and Justin Barcia.

Jason Anderson was 20 points behind Marvin Musquin in last season's final tally, scored six podium finishes, and had some momentum on his side towards the end of the season. Yep, he even won that crazy final regular-season race in Vegas. He'll also benefit from a new generation of bike, and is hungry to take the next step up the ladder and battle with the lead riders week in and week out. He was second this week.

Another cool surprise? Weston Peick landing in fifth spot at the end of the night. You'd think a smile like that would be from after the race. Nope. That was on the line before the start of the main when most guys are mean-mugging. Weston has some takes on his night in the audio below.

After the guys mentioned above? There's a teeming mass of riders who could make a jump up every week. Usually after the first half-dozen rounds, riders sort of find their level, and know who they'll be racing around from week-to-week. But there will be a fairly massive wrestling match going on to determine the pecking order. With Ryan Dungey's retirement, there's no defending champ on the track, and we're guaranteed a new champ by the end of the season...unless Chad Reed does something pretty amazing this year. So who will it be after the checkered flag flies in Las Vegas?

With a batch of veteran campaigners duking it out in the 250 West, the action in the 250 main was almost more predictable than the 450 main. Alex Martin got the quick jump, but his teammate, Shane McElrath, snuck around the inside of the first turn to move himself into the led by turn two.

The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM duo of Shane McElrath and Alex Martin led early in the main.

Aaron Plessinger and Christian Craig.

Christian Craig had won a heat race and moved into second early in the main, but he slipped back as the main progressed, losing spots to Aaron Plessinger (who was moved to the West after Colt Nichols broke his arm), and Adam Cianciarulo.

Adam Cianciarulo charging. It's always good when he makes it to the podium...the press conferences are way more entertaining.

Joey Savatgy missed out on the podium...this week.

Justin Hill.

Defending 250 West champ, Justin Hill, was impressive in qualifying, laying down a sneaky lap to take the top qualifying spot. Fifth in his heat race, and seventh in the main, he wasn't particularly happy with some serious arm pump, which you can hear about below.

Next week, we make sort of an odd scheduling change, going to Houston for round two. It will be interesting to return there after being off the schedule in the past year, but it's a weird travel glitch for the teams. I can't wait to see what else we can answer after next week.

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