10 Things to Watch: Santa Clara

10 Things To Watch Santa Clara

April 17, 2015 2:30pm

By Aaron Hansel and Chase Stallo

Pressure’s Off

With both the 450SX and 250SX West Championships decided, there isn’t much riding on tomorrow night’s results—a misstep from Cooper Webb or Ryan Dungey literally won’t matter. How that will affect the way they ride remains to be seen. When Dungey clinched the title in Seattle in 2010 Kevin Windham lapped him a week later in a cold and snowy Salt Lake City mud race. We’ll see if our champions dial it back or turn up the heat in Santa Clara. –Aaron Hansel

Perfection

Cole Seely literally had a perfect night in Houston. He won his heat race, holeshot the main, led every single lap, and set the fastest lap of the race on his way to winning his first career 450SX race. The bar is set so high now that the only way for Seely to top himself is to go back-to-back. Let’s see how he follows up his first win this weekend in Santa Clara. –Hansel 

Eli Tomac

If you watched Tomac’s on-air interview after the main you could tell he wasn’t happy with how things played out in Houston. Tomac’s intensity and competitiveness are off the charts, and coming up short on the same night the championship was clinched had to be a tough pill for him to swallow. We’ll see if that disappointment leads to the same kind of domination he had in Phoenix and Detroit. -Hansel

Justin Hill came into the season as a possible title threat, but the results just haven't come.
Justin Hill came into the season as a possible title threat, but the results just haven't come. Photo: Cudby

The Unknown

This weekend Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, will head to a brand new venue—Levi’s Stadium in northern California. What will the dirt be like? Will it be soft and break down quickly? Will it be hard, dry, and loose? Rocky? Sandy? Nobody really knows what to expect, and the teams that adapt the quickest will have the advantage when the gate drops. -Hansel 

Bangerson

Jason Anderson is an aggressive rider, and it’s led to multiple dustups with other riders this season. Houston was no exception. In addition to the normal banging and bumping, Anderson was involved in incidents that left both Weston Peick and Chad Reed (as well as himself) on the ground. The move on Peick didn’t appear especially bad, but Peick probably didn’t appreciate Anderson taking him out for the second time this season. We’ll see if Anderson’s aggression meter stays pegged in Santa Clara. -Hansel 

Last Chance

If you polled the industry before the season, most would have said Justin Hill would have a win, or two, or three by now. It hasn’t worked out that way, as Hill battled through illness and injury, and has only been on the box once this year. Hill allude on Instagram earlier this week that maybe this tough season has helped him. “Sometimes you gotta go all the way down to build back up and with that I'm feeling confident again to keep climbing back up to the top step,” he wrote. “I have more discipline now than I ever have and even better support so I feel it's only a matter of time before I breakthrough again.” Let’s see if he can claim his first win at the last West round. – Chase Stallo 

Rookie Blues

Following a ninth in Houston, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Chris Alldredge had a pretty telling quote in the team post-race PR. “I get paid to be battling at the front,” he said. “Although we made progress tonight, I am still not where I want to be, nor where the team and this amazing bike should be. I need to step it up even further next week in Santa Clara.” Most team-released quotes don’t provide this much insight into what may, or may not, being going on with their rider. So this was refreshing. You can’t teach speed, which the first year pro has shown. Let’s see if he can harness it this weekend. – Stallo

Alex Martin has had the best season of his career. 
Alex Martin has had the best season of his career.  Photo: Cudby

Battle for Second

It’s crazy to think that through all Zach Osborne has battled this year he’s still the odds on favorite for second in points in 250SX West Region. It’s a battle of attrition sometimes. Osborne, who fought through a broken thumb sustained at the opener, has an 8-point lead over the streaking Shane McElrath entering the final round this weekend. If McElrath were to win, Osborne would have to finish fourth or better to claim second. Keep your eyes peeled on this battle Saturday. - Stallo 

Steady Improvement

When Alex Martin hasn’t been channeling his inner Mad Skills MX style this season, he’s been battling for top fives. Since turning pro in 2009, Martin had zero top-fives entering this year. ZERO. In 2015, Martin has two top-fives and a podium. Having a solid base with CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha has sparked the turnaround, something he didn’t have under previous teams. Also, Martin has also just been riding much, much better. Can he continue his strong season at the West finale? – Stallo 

Holeshot King

Before the main event in Houston, Steve Matthes actually tweeted, “Andrew Short with the holeshot.” That’s how much of a common occurrence it’s been this year. According to stats released by Feld (who pays the holeshot winner) Short has five this season. No one else in 450SX has more than one. Short has been en fuego on the starts this year. Will it continue this weekend? - Stallo