1. What did we get wrong about Ken Roczen's chances this year?
Steve Matthes: Well, we got wrong that Roczen would be as dominant as he was. There's no way with Ryan Dungey and Eli Tomac there that anyone thought he would win 18 out of 22 motos going into the last round. Yeah, I know Dungey, Jason Anderson, Trey Canard all left with injury, but before they did, Roczen was whupping up on them. An amazing season for Roczen on the RCH Suzuki as he showed no weaknesses. The one thing that sort of hurt him in supercross was starts but in outdoors, he was money almost every time. Starts are what kill speed, but Roczen's average position after lap one was a 1.9. Marvin Musquin was next best (among healthy riders) at 5.9. That's not good for everyone else and their race winning hopes.
Jason Weigandt: I didn't think all the puzzle pieces were about to fit together this well. Look, Roczen has incredible talent, and I'll go so far to say that on pure talent, he's a level ahead of even Ryan Dungey. That doesn't mean he's better, as Dungey can make up for that in other ways, but when you watch Roczen ride right now, it's like "Wow, if he's firing on all cylinders, look out." Apparently, the Kenny we've seen in the past maybe didn't have all the other pieces where he wanted them—from the bike, to training, attitude, whatever it may be. He was fast toward the end of supercross, but it wasn't a knockout season by any means. Somewhere along the way, it all clicked, and he's just been a rocket ever since.
This sport always presents a complicated mix of bike, body, mind and heart. Kenny's talent means he can dominate just like he did (I thought he might be capable of it) but you never know if or when these things are going to happen. Last year, Tomac, for example, stumbled on the same magic, but just hasn’t found it this season. Kenny is sitting pretty right now, and if you're his competition, you have to hope he doesn't immediately find the same level when he switches to Hondas next year.
Jason Thomas: In a word: everything. There's no way I would or could have predicted this level of performance from Kenny. Or could I? Looking back at the last few supercross races, Kenny was serving notice that he had finally found his form. He was markedly faster than Dungey in the last couple of rounds, which carried into the first few outdoor rounds. I thought Kenny would be a factor but never saw this level coming.
2. What did we get wrong about Cooper Webb's chances this year?
Matthes: That his wrist would hold up. I honestly didn't think he would race. His wrist wasn't good, he almost blew the 250SX West Region because of it and he had his factory Yamaha deal in the bank. Why race and potentially eff up your 2017 season? Well, I guess it wasn't that bad because he nursed it through the first few weeks, waited for the week off and then came out swinging. Winning this title with one race to go is pretty remarkable really when you think back to where he was.
Weigandt: Yeah, this was all in the wrist. If anyone in Cooper's camp wants to claim there were doubters out there, it's only because of the wrist injury. If Cooper was healthy coming into Hangtown, he would be as big of a title favorite as anyone, and that includes Jeremy Martin. This healing-the-scaphoid-while-racing story is one that probably 1000 other riders who have broken that bone wish happened to them. Like Matthes says, this was truly remarkable.
Thomas: If Cooper had been healthy, I would have put he and JMart as co-favorites to win this title. With a broken navicular that was so obviously hampering his riding ability at Las Vegas two weeks prior, I didn't think he would have the grip strength necessary to win outdoor races and I figured the pain and chance of further injury would force an early exit. Well, he showed me. That is one tough, determined kid right there.
Who wins in MX2 at the Charlotte GP?
Jeffrey Herlings 924 votes - 28.2%
Cooper Webb 2237 votes - 68.2%
Other 121 votes - 3.7%
3. Webb versus Herlings in MX2 at the Charlotte MXGP. What happens?
Matthes: I don't know and truthfully I don't care. Just because whatever DOES happen is going to fuel these people that have an unstokable (I don't even know if that's a word) fire to argue about who is better: American or European riders. Webb's great, Herlings is great—end of story. Whatever happens on a man-made track where one guy is thinking of a title and one guy has nothing to lose doesn't change that fact. I'll tell you that Zach Osborne thinks Webb will beat Herlings in Charlotte. There, is that good enough? Leave me alone with these type of questions.
Weigandt: Oh God, anything said here can and will be used against me forever. There's no fair way to answer this question since they've never raced each other, so I'll use two excuses to get out of it:
First, we have no idea what this track will be like. It's man-made and flat, so maybe that helps Webb with his supercross experience? Or maybe the GP riders have been through this drill before and have it dialed? Maybe Webb has an advantage because it's his home continent and weather?
Second, Herlings is coming back from injury. I assume he'll be back and killing it in Assen this weekend but you never totally know. So between the injury and a totally unknown track, who knows? I'll just say Webb and bring some roll offs to the race so I can avoid all the crap people are going to talk on me for making a pick. Americans versus Europeans is the Republicans versus Democrats of our sport.
Thomas: Given the track surface, Cooper still the having momentum of the season, his hometown fans pushing him, and his general dislike for foreign victors, I like Cooper to take the fight to Herlings. This is a perfect scenario for Coop to show he is the best 250 racer on Earth. The timing, location, and situation in general all are ideal for a legendary day.