Supercross "This Week" Predictions -- Anaheim 1 2017
Who's got the talent and primed to win in Supercross's opening week at Anaheim? While the 2017 Supercross Prediction looks at the whole season, the "This Week" rankings look at the riders' perceived ability (aka "true talent") as well as injuries and the riders' history at the upcoming track.
**For those not familiar, a brief explanation of the components that factor into the "This Week" rankings:
The standard MotoXGraphs prediction of rider performance, based on the current and prior seasons, weighing recent results more heavily. It differs from the "Full Season" prediction in that it is not worrying about the rider's current point standings (which obviously are a crucial part of the full season prediction), only about their current ability.
Attempts to account for riders competing at less than 100% due to injury. Full research behind the Injury Adjustment can be found in The MX Book (or eBook). While this adjustment is only an estimate (what predictions aren't?), the purpose of the Injury Adjustment is less about trying to make an exact prediction and is more about indicating that a rider is recovering from injury so the viewer can take that into account at whatever scale he or she chooses.
Provides an increase or decrease in expected points for the riders based on their historical performance (over the past 4 years, where applicable) in the upcoming city/stadium. Also validated by research in The MX Book ( or eBook). The track/location effect has a slightly muted effect in Supercross compared to outdoors since the tracks are not exactly the same in Supercross sites from year to year (or even within the same year for sites like Angel Stadium or Petco where there are multiple races in one season).
Here are the predictions for the 450 class this weekend. The True Talent prediction doesn't offer many surprises and injuries are not affecting any riders that we know of -- but the Track Adjustment has some major impacts:
Ken Roczen starts out as the predicted favorite, and his advantage grows when the location is considered. In 450SX, he's got 3 wins in 8 races at Angel Stadium with only 6 wins in 36 other races at other locations. Ryan Dungey, on the other hand, has been slightly worse in Anaheim than other places, which makes the predicted gap between him and #1 Roczen larger after the Track adjustment.
Nearly any mention of Jason Anderson leading up to the opening week of 2017 references his A1 win last year, so it's no surprise that he gets a favorable Track Adjustment -- he went 1 / 5 in 2 races at Anaheim in 2016 and averaged a 4th place finish elsewhere. Anderson's adjustment is big enough that it moves him into 3rd, passing Eli Tomac who hasn't done well at Anaheim. Tomac's best 450SX finish in 6 tries at Angel Stadium is 3rd, with his finishes being 4 / 4 / 3 / 3 / 20 / 21 (in reverse chronological order).
Also moving ahead of Tomac is Cooper Webb -- I don't have an adjustment for "first 450SX race ever", so adjust for yourself his prediction in 4th down as much as you think is appropriate for a brand new rider. It's not like he's never been on a 450 bike before, and he's even ridden one in Supercross races, just never against a lineup of riders quite like this, where having won a Lites title is not exactly unique. Regardless, the blue rims on the Yamaha look pretty boss.
Trey Canard, Marvin Musquin, and Cole Seely are bunched together in 6th through 8th but all potential contenders. Seely comes out ahead after the Track Adjustment, as he's logged a 2nd and 3rd in 5 races at Angel Stadium. Canard has been about average in 8 tries, while Musquin put up worse than average numbers (keep in mind those were some of his first races on a 450, so the track adjustment is a bit cloudy for him).
Chad Reed has one of the more controversial predictions for the season -- the age curve expects him to drop several spots, but he finished 5th overall last year. I'll believe the predicted drop when I see it, though: I'm just reporting what the numbers say! At Angel Stadium, Reed has outperformed his average result (was 6th at A1 and 2nd at A2 last year), and he moves up a spot above Christophe Pourcel, who has not been as good in Anaheim.
Josh Grant also has a ranking that may seem low to many. With a consistent ride in 2017, he might outperform his recent history. But Anaheim doesn't seem to be a great location for him -- in 9 races, his best finish in the stadium is 7th with an average of 15th, while he's averaged 11th elsewhere.
Obligatory note about Malcolm Stewart, if he makes a surprise appearance at A1 (not expected to be there, but not 100% certain, according to RacerX), he would slot in at #9, dropping to #12 after the Track Adjustment.
Things to watch:
1. If Roczen has his setup where he wants it, we shouldn't expect the track to slow him down. However, if Dungey keeps pace with Roczen or wins the race, that might speak volumes to where these two are in comparison to each other for the ensuing weeks.
2. The numbers portend good things for Webb, but will he run near the front right from the get go?
3. The old guys -- Reed and Justin Brayton -- have flummoxed the predictions so far by defying Father Time. Will they continue to ride like guys half their age?
4. Tomac should be fully recovered from his 2015 shoulder injury and be as dialed in on his Kawasaki as he's going to get (after a year). Having him challenge for a top spot to provide some variety from Roczen and Dungey would be a welcome sight, and if he can do it at Angel Stadium where he's underperformed in the past, then look out.
5. Dean Wilson is going it in privateer mode for A1 -- what kind of effect will it have on his performance? It would be quite an underdog story if he can challenge for a top spot. The numbers aren't in love with his past results, but because of the injuries he doesn't have a long track record, and those injuries may have held his performance back. If he can come back totally healthy, riding at 100% and with a huge chip on his shoulder, he's shown that he has the speed to challenge any of the contenders.