Updated through Round 10, Daytona.
I had no idea how true this tweet would be back on March 1st. I didn’t mean it literally, sheesh!
Carmichael had it wrong. The series is over after Daytona. Click the link now for the stat.
Holeshot and 1st lap position where huge in ATL. Jo Shimoda takes Stat of the Race for 250s.
Thanks for reading. This journey has been a lot of fun.
— Clinton Fowler (@3lapsdown) March 1, 2020
My fingers are crossed life will return to some level of normal sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’ve updated this report with new data and some additional insight.
So far in 2020, there have been 5 key stats of the season. Here’s a breakdown of each of those stats and how they have factored into the current points standings. Additionally, there’s a section at the bottom that provides a complete stats breakdown for the season, rounds, and riders.
I hope you enjoy the mid-season update and as always, drop me a line on Twitter or Instagram @3lapsdown with any questions.
5 KEY STATS OF THE SEASON, SO FAR…
1. FIRST LAP POSITION
I previously highlighted that Eli Tomac was the only rider that has won from outside of podium position on lap one and he did it again in Daytona. In the last two seasons, there’s only one other rider to win a race from outside podium position on the first lap, Cooper Webb in his now legendary Arlington ride. Eli Tomac has done it 5x in the last two years.
If you want to win a 450 main event, you need to be in podium position rounding the first lap. The average first lap position for the winner at each round is 2.8. The exception is if your name is Eli Tomac. Eli Tomac defied odds with his ride at round 3 in Anaheim when he rounded the first lap in 10th position and was already into 1st place on the 8th lap of the race.
The reality is that doesn’t happen often and excluding that round, Eli Tomac’s first lap position when he wins is 2.7 compared to a first lap position of 9.2 when he doesn’t win. Justin Barcia has a similar 9.3 first lap position in the main events he doesn’t win and Cooper Webb follows suit with a 7.8 first lap position when he doesn’t win.
Nine rounds into the series, if you’re outside of the top 3 on the first lap, the likelihood you’re going to win is virtually nil. It’s highly unlikely. Either get a good holeshot or make passes to get in podium position at the end of the first lap or you’re not going to win and without wins, you’re not a championship contender.
2. RACE +/-
Eli Tomac is now the only rider to move forward positions in every single round and Ken Roczen has another round with a negative Race +/-.
This metric is arguably the best for measuring racecraft. A rider is given +1 if their finish position is better than their first lap position. A rider gets -1 if their finish position is worse than their first lap position.
In 2020, 8 of the top ten in the standings have a positive Race +/- while 6 riders between 11-20th in the standings have a negative Race +/- . Adam Cianciarulo and Justin Hill are the exceptions in the top ten. Adam Cianciarulo is following the path of the 2019 rookies which all had negative Race +/- totals at season end. Justin Hill faded in a bunch of mains in the early part of the season which causes his negative Race +/-, but he’s has improved significantly in recent rounds.
But for our title contenders, we see that Eli Tomac and Justin Barcia have a perfect +9 Race +/-. While you can argue that’s because of their poor holeshots and working through the pack, it still shows their overall racecraft (speed, skill, ability to pass) enables them to move through the pack no matter what position they start in.
What’s most interesting is that Ken Roczen only has a +5 Race +/-. In 2 races this year, round 3 in Anaheim and round 5 in Oakland, Roczen has been in the lead and lost positions to his primary competition, twice to Eli Tomac and once to Cooper Webb. The -2 Race +/- in these rounds costs him -8 points in the championship. Those are invaluable points that may play a significant role in the championship battle.
In the history of supercross, only one rider has won the championship and finished outside the top ten more than once. In 1998, Jeremy McGrath finished 20th at Pontiac and 14th in Charlotte but still won the championship. Keep in mind Jeremy McGrath won 7 races and already had a 44 pt lead going into round 13 in Pontiac, MI.
Cooper Webb has already finished outside the top ten on 2 occasions, a 12th in both St. Louis and Arlington. If he makes a comeback to win this championship, it’ll put him in rare company. Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, and Justin Barcia, even in the face of some poor starts and first lap position, have so far managed to stay healthy and out of harms way.
4. THE WHOOPS
Eli Tomac has been fastest in 4 out of 12 whoops segments, the most of any rider. The fastest in the whoops has won 5 out of 10 rounds. While it’s not a guarantee, speed in the whoops is a key factor in winning races.
The fastest in the whoops segment has won 6 out of 9 rounds. The exceptions are Oakland, Arlington, and Atlanta. Let’s all agree that the whoops in both Oakland and Atlanta were not as difficult and so it’s not surprising they didn’t factor as much in determining the winner. Arlington stands as the exception but looking more closely at the full segment, you’ll see it includes the start straight as well as the whoops. It’s likely that the longer segment factored into it being an exception.
Chad Reed is widely known to love having big, difficult whoops to separate the men from the boys and the results prove his theory. Whoops are a separator. Let’s look at our title contenders in the whoops segments…
Eli Tomac has been fastest in the whoops segments 4 out of the 11 total, the most of any rider. His primary competitors have each been fastest in 2 of 11 whoops segments. Looking at average rank, Cooper Webb sits 2nd behind Tomac and ahead of Roczen, highlighting that his work earlier in the year has indeed helped significantly.
If the whoops are big in the back half of the season, Eli Tomac looks to have a slight advantage.
5. GATE PICK
Putting yourself in good position for the night program is critical and it starts during qualifying and into the heat races which all enables getting a good gate pick in the main event. Not surprising to see that Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen, currently tied for the lead in the series, have the best average gate pick. They also have the best average qualifying rank behind Adam Cianciarulo.
Notably, Adam Cianciarulo has been tops in qualifying rank but as is noted earlier in the Race +/- section, he’s got some work to do on racecraft. He’s had a good first lap position of 3.7 (2nd best), but hasn’t been able to maintain that position throughout a race. Wasn’t it our own Steve Matthes that called this sort of rookie season for AC?!
BONUS: MANFACTURER STANDINGS
Curious about how the combined top two riders per manufacturer stack up? Here’s the breakdown. Honda (Roczen and Brayton) are leading the way in points with Kawasaki in tow (Tomac and Cianciarulo).