The 2019 AMA Supercross season has seen Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen get increasingly close to scoring his first win since suffering major injuries the past two years, and round seven in Arlington, Texas, was the closest yet; in fact, it was literally the closest ever. After nailing a strong start and aggressively moving into the lead on lap five, the German ran at the front for most of the race, only to be passed in the final turn of the final lap, finishing a scant .023 seconds behind winner Cooper Webb in what was history’s narrowest margin between first and second place. Despite the disappointment of narrowly missing out on the victory, Roczen gained confidence from riding well and still sits just two points out of the series lead.
Teammate Cole Seely also had a positive evening in Texas. After he and Roczen shared the heat-race wins, his main-event start wasn’t ideal, but he quickly improved his situation, moving into sixth place by lap seven. The Californian briefly threatened for fifth before opting to safely match his best finish of the year.
- The night before the race, Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely joined GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton and BWR Honda riders Tyler Enticknap, Carlen Gardner and Cade Autenrieth at DFW Honda for a dealer appearance. A crowd of fans showed up to get autographs and photos with their favorite riders, enjoy grilled hot dogs, win raffle prizes and check out the cool collection of vintage Hondas that the dealership has on display.
- The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex was struck by cold weather on race day, with temperatures hovering just a few degrees above freezing for much of the morning, and a foggy mist rolling in for the evening. Unlike some of this season’s California races, the covered stadium prevented the actual racing from being affected by the weather, but the teams took measures to manage working conditions in the pits, attaching walls to the big rigs’ canopies and setting up propane heaters.
- Team members also kept their blood flowing by getting in their steps at Arlington, where the pits are located across AT&T Way from the stadium, which made for lengthy hikes before and after the track walk, three practice sessions, the heat races and the main event.
- Former Team Honda HRC factory rider Trey Canard has been serving as the squad’s test rider this year, and he has also attended most of the races to offer Roczen and Seely advice such as tips on lines. Arlington is Canard’s “home” race, and he made the three-hour trip from Oklahoma by automobile.
- Also on hand was Rich Simmons, who worked for years as Seely’s mechanic before relocating to North Carolina this year. While Seely’s current mechanic, Jordan Troxell, handled his normal duties, Simmons lent a hand with non-technical matters.
- Seely was the top Red Rider during the daytime practice sessions, posting a 50.373″ lap in the last of three sessions, which proved to be good for fifth-best. Roczen was eighth-fastest at 50.608″, two positions better than MotoConcepts Honda rider Justin Brayton. Times were extremely close, with no fewer than 14 riders within the lead second.
- Team Honda HRC had its best heat-race showing of the year in Arlington, with Roczen taking the heat-one holeshot and leading every lap to score the win, just before Seely posted a similar victory in heat two.
- In what has been a trend this year, Honda tied for the most bikes in the 450SX main event, with five. There were also six CRF250R machines in the 250SX East main, good for second-most.
- With Hunter Lawrence out due to an injured shoulder and Christian Craig taking the weekend off to let his hurt thumb recuperate, GEICO Honda was left with just Chase Sexton representing them in Arlington’s 250SX East program. The Illinois native improved upon last week’s round-one performance with a commendable podium finish in Arlington, though he was disappointed not to do even better than third after threatening for the win at one point. Unfortunately, a stall and a crash thwarted that effort, but Sexton sits fourth in the points chase, just three behind third and five behind second.
- Team Honda HRC will be racing again at Detroit’s Ford Field this coming Saturday, one night after making a dealer appearance at Southgate, Michigan’s Genthe Honda.
“From the first few races this year to now, I’ve made some good steps forward. I’ve changed up some things in my program and put in some solid effort during the week, and I feel like it’s showing on the weekends. Of course it’s disappointing to put in that effort the entire moto and then give it away in the last turn. The turn before the whoops and in the whoops themselves is where I lost the most time during the main event. If I could’ve done that better or worked better with the bike, I feel like I could’ve kept my flow a bit better and had more of a gap between first and second. Honestly though, I’m just having a lot of fun; I haven’t been in a championship chase in a long time, and it’s really good racing. There’s always room to improve, and I don’t have a win yet, but we’ve been super-consistent. I’ll just use this as fuel, think about the feelings I had on the track, and then make a plan for the next race. I think we’re in a good spot.”
“I’d say the day went pretty well—overall, I’m pretty happy with everything from qualifying all the way down to the main event. Times were really close in qualifying, which is cool because it shows there’s a lot of talent in the class but it also means if you’re a tenth off, you’re way back. I was happy to qualify in the top five, and in the heat race it obviously felt good to lead some laps and win the thing; it was also cool that Kenny won his heat, so we sort of shared that I guess. The main went pretty smoothly. I got off to a pretty bad start, but I was able to make some passes right away—like five guys in the first lap. I managed to eventually get into sixth and ride there for most of the race. I didn’t really get too tired at the end, but after three rough weekends and seeing things finally coming together, I didn’t want to push the issue too hard. For most of the race, the top six were running a similar pace, and it felt good to actually have sight of the leaders.”
Erik Kehoe: Team Manager
“We’ve been working on starts, and both of our guys have been getting good starts as a result. In the heat races, both of our guys were right there on the starts and then got the wins, which is important. In the main event Kenny led all the way up to the last lap, even with the gap kind of going back and forth. I think he was a little frustrated losing the race like that, but he rode really strong—he was consistent and he was being smart for the championship. Cole won his heat and then rode well in the main—probably the most aggressive I’ve seen him ride. He came back to a sixth place, and he was solid the whole night. I think these rides will be big confidence builders leading into next week, and we’ll work to keep that momentum going. For the team, they did a great job even in the tough conditions—everything with the team has been really good.”
Oscar Wirdeman: Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“That was a cruel one! It was a great day for 99.9% of it though. Kenny won his heat race, and then the main was good—he got by Tomac and opened a good little gap, which was pretty solid. Toward the end, Cooper Webb just slowed down less, so to speak; he was able to keep his momentum. They were really close for a few laps, and then Cooper got him in the last turn, so that stinks. But it’s good, because this was the best Kenny has ridden this year. It’s very bittersweet when you lose the race so close to the finish, but for sure it’s good for Ken’s confidence. For us, we’ve still got to look at the big picture, because we’re seven races in and only two points out. It’s still close, and it’s much better than we’ve done the last two years.”
Jordan Troxell: Mechanic (Cole Seely)
“This would be considered Cole’s best weekend so far. We came off three kind of bad ones, where we were in the mud or had some falls and things like that. Cole was really focused today, plus he’s had some success in Dallas before, so that helps with confidence. He was calm and loose all day, and he rode well during practice. In the last timed session he was fifth overall, which gave him a good gate pick for the heat race. He got the holeshot in that and was right there with Chad [Reed], who he got around quickly. Then he held on in the end after some pressure from Eli [Tomac] and got his first heat-race win of the season, so we’re really pumped on that. The momentum carried over to the main; his start wasn’t as good as we’d hoped for, but he was really aggressive on the first lap and cut through a bunch of guys right away and then picked off one or two more guys to get into sixth. He was able to see the battle in front of him and keep in touch with them, so I think it did a lot for his confidence. It’s our best one so far and something to build on.”
1. Cooper Webb
2. Ken Roczen
3. Marvin Musquin
4. Blake Baggett
5. Joey Savatgy
6. Cole Seely
7. Justin Barcia
8. Dean Wilson
9. Aaron Plessinger
10. Justin Brayton
450SX Championship Points (after 7 of 17 rounds)
1. Cooper Webb 150
2. Ken Roczen 148
3. Marvin Musquin 144
4. Eli Tomac 134
5. Dean Wilson 110
6. Justin Barcia 104
7.Blake Baggett 101
8. Cole Seely 94
9. Chad Reed 93
10. Aaron Plessinger 93