10 Things to Watch: A2Friday, January 18, 2013 | 11:05 AM
By Aaron Hansel and Chase Stallo
Now or Never
We’re only two races into the 2013 season, but if Ken Roczen is going to show that he can win against Eli Tomac, now’s the time. Roczen only trails Tomac by six points, but the 250SX series is short, and if he doesn't start beating Tomac now, he’ll have to start relying on luck before he knows it. Not that Roczen’s pair of runner-up finishes is bad, but he’s gunning for the championship this year, and after A1, Roczen himself admitted that consistent podium finishes may not be enough to take the title. Can he get a good start and make it happen this weekend or will he suffer yet another demoralizing defeat? - Aaron Hansel
Well That was Fast
Team Honda Muscle Milk has got to be overjoyed with Justin Barcia. The rookie put the 2013 CRF450R on top in just his first race with the team at the Monster Energy Cup and has asserted himself as a race winner and legitimate championship contender just two races into the season. Does Barcia have the speed to go all 1993 Jeremy McGrath on us and put together a big streak of wins that sees him win the title in his rookie year? - Aaron Hansel
Zach Osborne will be ready for A2 after injuring his shoulder in Phoenix.
Simon Cudby photo
Same Place, Different Dirt
Although Monster Energy Supercross was at Angel Stadium just two weeks ago, using the same exact dirt we’ll see this weekend, the riders can still expect to notice some key differences in the racing surface. For one, Feld Motor Sports used the stadium last weekend to host Monster Jam, and those big monster trucks do a pretty good job of compacting the dirt. Second of all, the track itself should be a have a slightly higher level of difficulty. According to the track map, there’s a long set of whoops and several rhythm lanes that could present some interesting options. Fans who arrive early for practice get the added bonus of seeing the guys experiment with different options before figuring out the fastest line around the track. - Aaron Hansel
Chad Reed’s year hasn't started out bad, but it hasn’t started out the way he’d like, either. With two rounds down, he has yet to make the podium. He has a pair of fourth place finishes to his credit, which really should be fifths; he inherited fourth at both A1 and Phoenix due to crashes from Barcia and Trey Canard. Last year Reed took his first win of the season at the third round. Will he do it again this weekend? - Aaron Hansel
Monster Energy Supercross isn’t the only motorcycle racing series right now that’s experiencing some serious parity. In just four nights of racing, Amsoil Arenacross has already produced three different main event winners, and with the current set of rules and small arenas that all but guarantee racing that’s full of banging and scraping, anything can happen this weekend when the series touches down in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Also racing will be Ryan Villopoto's younger brother, Tyler, who made his AX debut last week in Baltimore. - Aaron Hansel
Can Kyle Cunningham make a run at the podium in Anaheim?
Simon Cudby photo
Clock Strikes Midnight?
Through two rounds, the clock has struck midnight on the Cinderella team from a year ago—MotoConcepts Racing. Following a career-best supercross season in 2012, Mike Alessi’s 2013 season has been a disaster thus far. Following a bizarre finish line crash at A1 (when he collided with a Tuff Block), Phoenix served up another rough night for Alessi. A mid-pack start, and a crash later in the race, produced a second consecutive 20th place finish for Alessi. Meanwhile, Jake Canada has experienced his own share of problems in 250SX. A mechanical DNF at the opener was followed by a strange scenario on the startling line in Phoenix, where Canada failed to have his helmet removal system in place. “It was 100 percent my fault,” Canada told Racer X earlier this week. Canada was black flagged (which Steve Matthes has reported was just to tell Canada to strap his helmet on, but he wasn't aware of that) racking a second consecutive DNF to begin the season. Will the troublesome start continue for MotoConcepts, or will they right the ship in Anaheim? - Chase Stallo
Starts, Starts, Starts
Ask almost any rider what they need to improve on to better their results, and 99.9999% of the time you get the standard, “I just need to get better starts.” With a field as deep as the 250SX West Region this year, the prevailing answer rings truer than ever. In the case of Star Racing Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham starts have been his Achilles heel this year. He's shown the speed—tenth fastest lap at the opener and fifth fastest lap in Phoenix—has remained injury free (something that has plagued him at times in the past) and has shown the ability to come through the pack. Yet, bad starts (twelfth at A1 and fifteenth at Phoenix, after lap 1) have relegated him to eleventh and eighth place finishes, respectively. Just six points back of Rockstar Energy Racing’s Ryan Sipes for fourth in points, Cunningham will need to find a way to conquer the start if he plans on climbing in the standings. - Chase Stallo
“A lot of people would say, you shouldn’t be bummed, those guys are all race winners that beat you, blah, blah, blah. But I’m at the point now where that’s not good enough … I don’t want to get sixth,” Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer told Racer X after a sixth in Phoenix. Therein lies the question with Weimer. Although he had five podiums last year, he’s yet to win in 450SX. Clearly he’s unhappy with a sixth, but with numerous race winners in front of him, wherein lies his ceiling? He’s a proven podium threat, but is he a race winner? Not many would have had Weimer penciled in front of Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart through two rounds, but clearly Weimer is looking at more than just two rounds—he’s looking to solidify himself as an elite rider. Will Anaheim 2 prove to be a coming out party? - Chase Stallo
Will Anaheim prove to be a coming out party for Weimer?
Simon Cudby photo
Doctor Feel Good
After nearly four years contesting the FIM World Motocross Championship, Zach Osborne was a forgotten piece of the puzzle entering the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross 250SX West Region. Two podiums (in four rounds) later and Osborne was at the center of talks with GEICO Honda. Signed just months later, the Virginia native was no longer hiding in the shadows, he centered directly in the spotlight. Following a hard practice crash in Phoenix many feared the worst. But Osborne gutted out a sixth in the main, and is hoping to regain momentum this weekend. “My shoulder is bruised and sore but I’m fine,” Osborne told Racer X. Although he won’t be 100 percent this weekend, he did tell us the shoulder will not cause any problems.
Walking on Air
Bike setup issues are often, well, an issue at the opening rounds, and this year's talk centers around the Showa SFF air forks many of the top riders and teams are using. Obviously, they're working for some (Barcia and Canard), but Chad Reed is still putting in a lot of work to get comfortable with his. Ryan Villopoto and Monster Energy Kawasaki, who used KYB suspenders last year, are also working through the glitches (Ricky Carmichael noted how RV has washed the front end a few times on last week's TV broadcast). On the other end, literally, Red Bull KTM tried a rear air shock for Ryan Dungey at A1, then went back to the regular coil-over spring design at Phoenix while they waited on changes to the air unit. Reed, RV and Dungey all logged more suspension testing this week. We'll see if it changes anything.- Jason Weigandt
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