By Jimmy Albertson, Steve Matthes, and David Pingree
You could ask one hundred good questions after the opening round of a championship, but we’ve narrowed it down to three. We’ve got Top Jimmy, Matthes, and Ping sharing their opinions. Be sure to leave yours in the comment section below.
1. How do you rate Adam Cianciarulo's return to racing?
Jimmy Albertson: I give him a seven. He definitely had the speed, but having extra time to prepare for outdoors always helps. I could tell his race fitness wasn't quite there yet because he struggled to find his speed again after he fell in both motos. This is no knock to his training; it’s just different racing than practicing. He'll calm down and be a front-runner in no time.
Steve Matthes: Yeah, man, that was solid. I don't care about his moto finishes so much because we had so many other questions like: How are the shoulders and how was the speed? Remember Adam had never raced Hangtown before as a pro, so this was another curve thrown at him. He had six or seven weeks on the bike after some extended time off, so he'll get the fitness figured out. A lot of my questions (besides what in the hell does #blissboy mean?) were answered. Fastest qualifier, laps led, good starts—great job by the kid.
David Pingree: I know some always expect AC to win every time he's on the track, but it had been over a year since he came off the line in a pro race. His speed was there and, most importantly, it seems like he's healthy and not having any lingering shoulder issues. He posted a solid finish and has a great platform to start working from. It won't surprise me to see him on the podium very soon.
2. Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha: First, fifth, and sixth overall with Jeremy Martin, Anthony Rodriguez, and Aaron Plessinger, respectively, and Cooper Webb podiumed the first moto. Can we officially call this the strongest team in the 250 Class?
Jimmy Albertson: I don't mean to sound like a Yamaha rider, but a lot is contributed to the YZ250F. I got a chance to ride one stock, and it’s amazing. Not only were the Star boys beating up on the competition, but older brother Alex Martin was as well on the CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha, finishing with a spectacular fourth place. That being said, I feel like with some better luck we could be saying the same thing about the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki after last weekend’s race. All three of their riders were top five in qualifying (1, 2, and 5).
Steve Matthes: It's a little early for that, but yeah, if Webb hadn't hurt himself the team would've had four guys in the top seven in the class. That's impressive for sure. The Yamaha is a strong bike. It's very fast, but I thought the Pro Circuit machines looked to have a nice motor package, also. All of their riders were up front in both motos. One thing for sure: it looks like GEICO Honda's got some work to do. But hey, it wasn't that long ago that they were on top. I'd say Star and Pro Circuit look to be set up for a nice summer.
David Pingree: It's impressive what that team has done in the last two years. Steve liked to poke fun at Star for some of their decision-making in the past, but now they are one of the main players in the class. Yamaha has stepped up to produce a great bike and help them develop their race machines. Between that and good direction from Steve Lamson the Star team has a bright future.
3. Who impressed you from the 450 chase pack?
Jimmy Albertson: By far Jason Anderson. To get on the podium in his first-ever 450 motocross race was pretty awesome. He started off the SX season hot as well, so let's hope he can keep the ball rolling outdoors.
Steve Matthes: All I've got to say is, “Denna svenska köttbulle är snabb,” which means, "This Swedish meatball is fast" in Swedish.
Fast Freddie Noren, bro! Anderson's going to be a popular pick, so let me dig a little deeper here. Noren raced 450SX this year, and it didn’t go well at all. He made a main, but he also had us covering our eyes a few times. He just doesn't have the experience indoors that a guy needs at this point to do great. But outdoors, well, that's another story. Honda's been using Freddie as a test mule (remember he filled in over there last summer to good results), and they love him. But as anyone who follows Freddie on social media knows, he also had some crashes coming up to the outdoors that seemed to hurt pretty bad. So, to see him get into the top ten overall at the opening round is great for him and the Crossland team as well.
David Pingree: I'd pick Jason Anderson here. It’s always good for a rookie to be on the podium at the beginning of the series. Hopefully he can keep it up. Honestly, it's hard to be pumped on anybody when the leader was 1:30 in front. That gap is ridiculous, and it mocked the hard work of the others. Anxious to see what happens at Glen Helen.