No matter what form of motorsport you’re talking about, the best racing is always the most unpredictable.
That’s why I’m stoked for the AMA Monster Energy Supercross opener tonight in Anaheim (10 p.m. ET/FS1). The fans, media and riders themselves all don’t know what to expect, and the race tonight — as well as the championship — seems the most wide open in years.
Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villopoto had combined to win the last eight titles, but they’re both retired now (Dungey retired in the offseason after three straight championships). The only past champion left in the field is Chad Reed, but he hasn’t won since 2008, has two still-healing broken ankles and is now a privateer instead of racing for a factory team.
So that leaves Eli Tomac — who came oh-so-close to the title last year, Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson and — oh yeah, Ken Roczen.
Roczen, in case you haven’t heard, is an early candidate for Best Comeback Story in all of sports for this year. After winning Anaheim 1 last year, he shattered his left arm in the second Anaheim race.
He’s had 11 surgeries since then. Eleven! It would have been an accomplishment for him to ever hold a pencil again, let alone get back on a bike and race.
But there he was Friday, sitting in the annual preseason press conference with a suit and tie and proclaiming himself ready to not only compete — but contend.
Could Roczen actually go out tonight and win the season opener?
“My arm, if it would be fragile and I could barely do a pushup or put any weight on it, I feel like I wouldn’t really sit up here,” he said. “The people my team and I have hired to go through (physical therapy) for months and months, they did a pretty phenomenal job.
“It’s never going to be the same, but it’s definitely good enough to race dirt bikes and, in my eyes, have good strength to handle the bike and do whatever with it.”
That said, Roczen said he will ride with a wrist brace tonight. So how competitive he’ll be is a giant unknown.
Asked about Roczen, the other riders offered restrained praise on Friday. They seem happy for the guy they call “Kenny” to return, but they also aren’t anxious to see him win.
After all, the door is wide open for Tomac to claim his first title, but Musquin and Anderson should be right there as well.
But if Roczen’s arm is truly fixed enough, all of them might be chasing the German on his comeback tour.