Mile High Supercross Racing...


4/3/2020

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Last year at this time, we were in Denver for Round 15 of the 2019 AMA Supercross season. it was the first Supercross event in the Mile High City since 1996. Let's look back to last year's event--snow during qualifying and all.

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While the race was held in a different stadium in 1996, the feeling is still there. You just can't replicate the high elevation and the constant threat of harsh weather anywhere else (except maybe Salt Lake City). Opened in 2001, the 'new' venue--which replaced the revered Mile High Stadium--is known as Empower Field at Mile High and is an impressive venue for AMA Supercross.

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As we all know, 2019 was a year of re-emergence for Cooper Webb. Coming into Denver, Webb was sitting pretty with a 21-point lead over Colorado native Eli Tomac, who'd won the previous round in Nashville. Webb knew he didn't need to win in Denver, yet he put up a brutal resistance to the Tomac freight train. But it was to no avail. He settled for a solid second, giving just 3 points of his championship lead with two rounds remaining. 

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What stands out about the above photo is not only Marvin Musquin (who's thus far missed the entire 2020 season), but the fact that it was snowing during qualifying last year. There wasn't much accumulation, but it sure was fun while it lasted. While the track got a tad tackier than usual, it was an epic opportunity for photography. We've loaded a bunch such shots into the AMA Supercross Facebook gallery if you'd like to see more. Oh, and by the way, Musquin ended up third in Denver last year, losing 5 points to Tomac in the points race after coming in ties with him for second.

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But there simply was no stopping this Coloradan on that day in Colorado. Tomac was coming off a commanding and hard fought victory in Nashville the previous weekend and was doing everything he could to whittle down Cooper Webb's lead. When Webb was consistent, Tomac was winning or crashing or moving up from a bad start. That was earlier in the season, and as usual Tomac was building momentum as the season wore on. In Denver, at the higher elevation, many would expect that his living and training at such an elevation year round (the Tomacs live in Cortez, Colo., which is a few thousand feet higher in elevation than Denver) would give him a a fitness advantage. In reality, Tomac stated that everyone is fit enough but his biggest advantage is that he's used to his KX450F's reduced power output at elevation. For others, the bike felt sluggish. In other words, Tomac felt right at home at Mile High and his commanding win proved it. 

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As the night/afternoon show rolled on, the conditions changed dramatically and the sun broke through the clouds resulting in perfect racing conditions. The track rutted up a bit and the temperature was a bit chilly, but the racing was outstanding in both classes, as usual.

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With packed stands, the fans in Colorado soaked up the sun and AMA Supercross racing for the first time in more than two decades. That year, it was The King himself--future AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Jeremy McGrath--who claimed the premier 250cc Class win, followed by future AMA Hall of Famer Jeff Emig and Ezra Lusk. By that point, McGrath had a whopping (and in recent history, an utterly unbelievable) 132 point lead over Emig. As such, he'd already sewn up the 1996 title, his fourth in a row. 

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When the racing was complete last year in Denver, it was a Kawasaki sweep of victories, with Tomac and Adam Cianciarulo both winning in impressive fashion. Cianciarulo was in a bit of a 'must win' situation against rival Dylan Ferrandis that night, as he needed to show the fast Frenchman that he still had what it took to take the title home. Cianciarulo left Colorado with an 8-point advantage over Ferrandis, but as we all now know, the lead was squandered with a mistake at the Vegas final and the title went to the No. 34 in dramatic fashion.

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Indeed, last year at this time things were very different for AMA Supercross. This year we have no Marvin Musquin, but we do have a rejuvenated Ken Roczen, who's just a few points down from the points lead behind Tomac. And how about Tomac himself? Never has he been so close to a 450SX championship, and with 7 rounds remaining (which are being rescheduled for later this year), a lot can still happen. Let's keep hope alive in these trying times for all of the amazing racing we're still potentially in store for in 2020.

Go take a look at our Facebook gallery and keep an eye on the Instagram feed this weekend for many more photos of last season's AMA Supercross in Denver.


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