By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
It wasn’t his fourth straight season opener victory but Justin Barcia put on a solid showing Saturday Night in Anaheim. Finishing fourth in heat 1, Barcia placed himself in the good momentum category early in the night. As the gate dropped for the main, Barcia came out fourth behind the Honda duo of Chase Sexton and Ken Roczen.
Sexton, Roczen, Adam Cianciarulo, and Barcia stayed consistent in the top-four as the clock ticked down to 15-minutes remaining. Barcia had to hold off Jason Anderson and defending champion Cooper Webb throughout the initial part of the race.
Anderson and Barcia battled for the fourth position with roughly 11-minutes remaining when the Sexton went down in front of the two. Cianciarulo made it past him taking second away while Anderson and Barcia continued to battle for fourth. As Sexton fell off again, Barcia took advantage of Cianciarulo having to slow up to take the second position with Anderson in tow.
The battle between Anderson and Barcia boiled over when the two made contact with four minutes remaining in the race causing Anderson to fall off the bike, knocking Anderson to seventh but now giving Barcia a new in-race rival, defending champion Webb.
With three minutes and 15-seconds remaining, Webb took second from Barcia and never looked back. Barcia was able to hold off Sexton’s retribution run back after his mistakes to finish third.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Barcia. “Some great battles out there. The whole day was steady, smooth, smart I felt like a veteran today. I can’t thank my Troy Lee Designs Red Bull Gas Gas Factory team enough. It’s been so rad, everybody go check out BamTV as well because it’s sick!”
Barcia heads to Oakland third in points, five points out. He has six career starts at Oakland with the best finish of fifth in 2018 and finished sixth in the most recent Oakland SX in 2020.
Photo: Rachel Schuoler