Cole Seely wasn’t on many people’s radar coming into last weekend’s opening round of the AMA supercross series. Many forgot that he won two rounds last year and had scored a second place finish in 2010. His progression has been steady so it shouldn’t have come as a shock when Seely blew past most of the class favorites in the opening laps of Saturday night’s main event and opened up a comfortable lead en route to the checkers. Those who doubted he was a player in this title chase are now frantically reworking their math as the lanky kid from LA heads to Phoenix with the points lead.
The Troy Lee Designs / Lucas Oil / Honda team didn’t set the world on fire in the heat races. Seely, Baker and Craig qualified 4th, 5th and 8th, respectively. But all of them were sorting through the nerves and tension that are very much a part of the season opener. By the time the main event lined up they were all ready to go. Seely started around fifth, Baker around mid-pack and Craig got pinched and started near the back of the pack. As Seely blazed a trail to the front Baker was fighting for position with a group a riders for nearly all fifteen laps. Travis Baker would end the night in 10th, not what he was hoping for and certainly not indicative of what he’s capable of.
Christian Craig, who has only been back on the bike for a couple weeks after a broken wrist, jammed the healing joint and would score 20th position. Craig is scheduled to see his doctor on Monday morning for an exam and diagnosis.
Amidst the wild celebration under the TLD tent after the race, Seely seemed to keep his excitement in check. He just tallied the third race win of his career but it was obvious he is focused on something much bigger.
“I’m just happy to get A1 out of the way with all the nerves of the first race,” said Seely of the Anaheim jitters. “Obviously it feels amazing to start the season with a win but I know we have a lot of races left to run. I want to just keep putting myself in good positions with starts and stay out of trouble. I’ve got a great program this year working with Justin Brayton and I’m really happy with things here at Troy Lee Designs. We’re going to keep working hard and try to keep the momentum going in Arizona.”
To break the reign of the 250-class juggernauts, Team Pro-Circuit and Geico/Honda, is no small feat. But in case you didn’t get the memo there is a new championship contending squad in town and it is called the Troy Lee Designs / Lucas Oil / Honda Racing Team. See you in Phoenix!