The unique Monster Energy Cup took place last night in Las Vegas and saw the current and future faces of Supercross do battle on a unique track inside (and outside) Sam Boyd Stadium.
The premier “Cup” class, featuring the sport’s biggest names including reigning Supercross champion Ryan Dungey and fresh Lucas Oil Pro Motocross champion Ken Roczen, hit the track three times throughout the night. The format is much simpler than the one utilized during a traditional evening of Supercross: three races/main events. Win all three, you leave $1 million richer.
Ryan Villopoto is the only rider to have ever won the $1 million, having done so in the first year the event was held. Trey Canard nearly did it last year but suffered a crash.
Through the first 10-lap race last night, it seemed Roczen had the night — and the box of cash — secured. He shot out of the gate like no one else and rode in simply dominant form. His style over the bigger jumps demonstrated that his confidence on his new Honda was overflowing, despite only having about three days on the bike before the big night.
Right after the checkers of the first race, I couldn’t see Roczen not winning the Supercross title this year. It was that good of a performance just as the night was getting started.
Roczen took immediately to stretching a lead at the front as the second race began and further convinced those watching that the field will have a hard time beating him when the indoors season officially begins in January.
Unfortunately, a heavy crash for Roczen saw the $1 million slip away — but more importantly, nearly caused him serious injury in his first appearance on a Honda.
— SPEED (@SPEED) October 16, 2016
Eli Tomac won that second race with ease and would go on to take the overall despite Roczen coming back and winning the third race after the vicious off in the middle outing.
I hate seeing no-hitters be broken up in baseball and streaks of any sort end, so I do wish Roczen won it all. His performance in the night’s opening race was super, super impressive and when he returned and won the third race, we were unfortunately left wondering what could have been (“we” being me, Ken Roczen and Ken Roczen’s bank account).
If I’m Roczen, though, I’m feeling ridiculously confident entering Anaheim 1. He was in a class of his own against a field that was mostly on the same bikes as last year while he was on a machine almost completely new to him. If that doesn’t denote pure skill, I don’t know what does.
Roczen exits the Monster Energy Cup with the same spotlight of expectations on him that were on Dungey throughout the 2016 Supercross season. I don’t imagine Roczen will do anything but ride at or above those expectations during the 2017 season.
As long as he avoids injuries, Roczen is my pick for the 2017 450SX champ.