This weekend’s race at Daytona marks the halfway point of the 2021 season and we have a two rider battle for the championship. Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb sit 1st and 2nd separated by a mere 6 points while Eli Tomac is in 3rd place over 30 points behind. Ken Roczen seemed to have the momentum leaving Houston, but after Cooper Webb’s back-to-back wins in Orlando, it looks like it’s shifted… but has it?!
Looking back at the series, the momentum has shifted radically from one ‘mini-series’ to another. We arguably had the tightest series in history through the first 3 Houston rounds with the Top 9 riders separated by a mere 11 points. This is the smallest gap in the history of the sport. We also had 3 different winners in 3 rounds with Justin Barcia winning the opening round and Eli Tomac and Cooper Webb each winning once.
The series then moved to Indianapolis and Ken Roczen won 3 races in a row and he built a 15 point lead over Cooper Webb. Since 2000, the rider who gets 3 wins first is the series champion 81% of the time. Ken Roczen had taken control of the series, was the first rider to get 3 wins, and looked to be a great pick for 2021 SX Champion. It become clear that someone needed to step up and challenge Roczen or he was going to run away with it.
The series then moved to Orlando where Cooper Webb won back-to-back races and cut 10 points out of Ken Roczen’s series lead. He did so in relatively dominating fashion, leading 37 of 50 laps. But that hasn’t phased Ken Roczen who posted on Instagram after Orlando 2, “That was some fun racing last night. I lost some points but I’m not the one in the points deficit. Have some room to play with!”. From the sounds of it, Roczen’s not particularly worried about Webb cutting his points lead by 66%. It’s also tough to imagine that Webb’s not going to use these words as motivation come round 9 in Daytona.
Whether you think Roczen’s in control of the series or Webb has the momentum, we the fans are going to benefit. With that in mind, here’s a few stats to consider as we enter the pivotal round 9 in Daytona…
The first rider to 4 wins takes the title 81% of the time (since 2000).
Cooper Webb has averaged 3rd place in 3 races at Daytona (3rd, 2nd, 3rd).
Ken Roczen has averaged 5th place in 6 races at Daytona (8th, 7th, 2nd, 5th, 8th, 2nd).
Most interesting… since 1998 when Daytona was moved to either the 9th or 10th round in the series, 22 out of 23 series leaders after Daytona have won the championship. The one exception is 2009 when Chad Reed lost an 11 point lead in the second half of the season to eventual champion James Stewart who won the series by 4 points.