Marvin Musquin Claims the Monster Million


10/18/2017

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The seventh annual Monster Energy Cup is in the books, and for only the second time in the race’s history, a rider won the Monster Million - the sport's largest payday. 


The $1 million prize was first awarded to Ryan Villopoto in the race's inaugural year, in 2011. But the big check hasn't been handed out since. 


That all changed this year when Marvin Musquin dominated the field and won all three main events with ease. 


A hard crash by primary competitor and defending champion Eli Tomac in the opening main event certainly didn't hurt the Frenchman's chances at winning--but that's racing.


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Musquin had just come off a highly successful outdoor motocross season where he finished with five straight podiums and four overall wins in the 450cc class. He was on a roll heading into Vegas. 

But a nagging knee injury he sustained early in the season seemed to slow his momentum. Therapy a few weeks prior to the race took care of the issue and he was prepared for the challenge heading into Vegas.

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The Monster Energy Cup is unique in many ways. Situated in Sam Boyd Stadium--home of the final round of the AMA Supercross series for many years--the track layout is different than most races. 

As a hybrid motocross and supercross course, the track leans more towards supercross with its multiple large rhythm sections. But it's long straights and lack of a whoops section also mimics a motocross track. 

Designed by Ricky Carmichael, this year's track was not as high-speed as past years and had unusual and tricky jump sections. 

Also this year, the Joker Lane--a special part of the course that each rider is required to take for only one lap--was the opposite of past Monster Energy Cups, in that it was actually quicker to take this lane of the track. In previous years, taking the Joker Lane added time to a lap. 

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The start is another aspect of the event that has always been different from standard races. 

This year the track crew put together a combination of previous Monster Energy Cup starting gate ideas, where it was not only split into two sections, but was also elevated. 

This proved to be interesting, as the field riders didn't come together until the third turn. 

The transition between the elevated start platform and the dirt on the floor of the stadium proved to be a challenge for some riders, as it was fairly abrupt and if the bike's suspension wasn't stiff enough, the impact was tough to manage.

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The hyped match-up between Musquin and defending AMA Supercross Champion Eli Tomac lasted only a few laps in the first of three main events. 

The two started up front and swapped the lead a few times before Tomac had a major crash. While he was able to walk away from it, the crash changed Tomac's mindset and prevented him from lining up for the remaining two main events.

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Familiar riders on unfamiliar teams is another unique aspect of Monster Energy Cup. Teams often debut their 2018 AMA Supercross teams at this event for the first time. 

One example was Musquin's new teammate, Broc Tickle, who will be joining Musquin in the 450SX class for 2018. 

Tickle, a former 250SX regional AMA Supercross Champion, previously rode with the RCH Yoshimura Suzuki team that closed it's doors at the end of the 2017 AMA Supercross season. Tickle will begin officially racing with Red Bull KTM at Anaheim 1.

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MXGP riders making the trip across the pond to try their hand on an AMA Supercross track is not unusual at this event and has often brought mixed results. 

2016 MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser made the trip from Slovenia to compete this year and to stay active in his off-season, but things didn't go as planned. 

A couple of hard crashes throughout the weekend led to his not being able to complete the first main event and not line up for the remaining two. While not significantly injured, Gajser and Team Honda HRC chose to cut their losses and Tim watched the event from the stands.

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The Amateur All-Stars race is a showcase for up-and-coming talent in the amateur ranks. 

They all compete on 250cc four-strokes and only the top riders from the AMA Loretta Lynn's Amateur National Championships are chosen to compete. The result is always two amazing races for the sold-out stadium. 

This year was no different. All of the truly exciting racing happened behind the young man above--Seth Hammaker--as he made short work of the field. 

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The Supermini class is another great addition to Monster Energy Cup, and this year's event was one of the best knock-down, drag-out fights yet. 

Team Green's Jett Reynolds was one of many potential favorites heading into the race, as well as new Yamaha recruit Matthew LeBlanc. But Reynolds' second race was epic. 

He ripped through the pack to end up on leader Jace Kessler's wheel by the final turn. Kessler managed to hold Reynolds off by a just tire knobby at the finish line, but these kids had the fans on their feet for the duration of their two races.

The Monster Energy Cup is always a fun way to get a preview for what's in-store for the upcoming AMA Supercross season, and this year's event did not disappoint. 

Long story short: fans should keep their eyes on the number 25 Red Bull KTM. Musquin is looking solid.


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