Observations: Minneapolis

Observations Minneapolis

February 22, 2017 11:30am

Minneapolis Supercross was back on the schedule this weekend for only the third time in the last 12 years. I knew the folks in the D-23 would be amped up and ready for this race in the new, extravagant U.S. Bank Stadium. Plus, with hometown dudes and potential main event winners like Ryan Dungey, Alex Martin, Christian Craig (sort of, he’s a transplant) to cheer for, the crowd would be stoked.

What a beautiful stadium also; lots of windows with light coming in everywhere and it reminded me of the Dallas Cowboys’ place in Arlington. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it the same architects designed both of them; they have a similar feel [Editor’s note: We checked and indeed, same architects]. And what is it about the Midwest that the fans wear rider jerseys tucked into jeans? I see it all the time in St. Louis, Indianapolis, and now Minneapolis. Weird deal, everyone. Just run it untucked, mmmk?

There have been some great tracks in the series this year (Glendale and even Oakland had it been dry) but in Minneapolis … well, we’ll give the Dirt Wurx guys a mulligan. It’s a football stadium but for some reason they decided to chop it up and make it tight with 90-degree turns, a sand section that made no sense after they added rollers to the outside, easy obstacles the guys figured out quickly, whoops that were basically not there, and not a lot of passing opportunities.

The Minneapolis track was tightest and slowest track we have seen yet.
The Minneapolis track was tightest and slowest track we have seen yet. Jeff Kardas

I’ve heard more than a few guys say they’re not happy with the inconsistent track designs the last few weeks. I’ll let privateer Jimmy Alberston provide the quotes this week:

“It’s a shame because the Dirt Wurx guys want to say all day long, ‘If you come up and tell us that the track’s screwed up or something’s wrong then we’ll fix it.’ But that’s complete BS because at Dallas I told them that landing of that triple was going to be a problem, and the guy told me, ‘We’ll look at it. We’ll work on it.’ They didn’t do anything, and a bunch of guys KO’d themselves on that landing. So this weekend I made Instagram posts about the track. I took a picture of one of the downsides that wasn’t finished. Then one of the main track builders comes and calls me a little bitch on Instagram. It’s like, screw you, man. I told you guys last week. I’m not going to waste my breath. I’m just going to man up and ride the track. But I am going to tell you you’re doing a piss poor job.

“Honestly, we walk the track and the track is unfinished in spots. There’s no need for that. Make it look professional and not like some hack job with the sides of the jumps unfinished. The freaking inside of the whoops have steep walls down them. It’s a bit frustrating when it comes to that, but it is what it is. I’m not going to waste my breath anymore, but then again they need to learn to take some criticism.”

Honda HRC’s Cole Seely echoed those thoughts about the Minneapolis track.

“Yeah. I don’t know who’s in charge of designing the tracks or whatever, but last weekend [Minneapolis] was pretty bad. The layout was too tight. I know we all have to race the same track, but there’s so much potential with such a huge stadium like that; I want to see better layouts and better tracks built. But for the most part they’ve been good, though. Dirt Wurx is doing a heck of a job. When it pours rain the day before, we still have a really good track to race. So hats off to those guys for sure.”

Well, that’s three out of the last four for Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac who won in impressive fashion. With his early season “slump” and then mechanic pit stop in Arlington, he’s got no choice but to hang it out and do what he can to beat Ryan Dungey. Maybe he goes down or whatever, but he’s on that thin line of having no room for error. We’ve got nine rounds to go and he’s down almost a race in the points with an emerging Marvin Musquin to jump in the standings. In short, it’s go time for Tomac.

In Minneapolis, with a soft track and some sand, Tomac was getting busy, outdoor motocross style, out there. He was standing up, jumping into the sand section and burying the bike into the ruts. It was impressive yet again. Tomac manages to look ultra-aggressive all the time; he uses a lot of energy but yet makes it look pretty smooth. There was a double dragon’s back (like a double rainbow, but more impressive) and Tomac was one of the first to double over the first one, then triple over the second one and then double out. It was pretty impressive. Whenever a rider can pick up on something quick, they can then work on the rest of the track a little sooner than the other dudes.

Tomac was pounding the sand section, but he did have a close call in it on one lap.
Tomac was pounding the sand section, but he did have a close call in it on one lap. Rich Shepherd

What a story developing here with Marvin Musquin. The Frenchman caught and passed his teammate Ryan Dungey and was on the move toward Tomac, after being a bit buried off the start. I’ve got a little theory on Marv, one that his buddy David Vuillemin also subscribes to, and that’s when these tracks are breaking down, getting rutty and crappy, Marv can use his very good technique to get to some new lines, pre-jump here and there, and basically adapt to the changing track quicker than his competition. Whatever it is, Musquin’s been on a roll lately and closed up two points on Dungey.

Cole Seely had to be kicking himself after getting the holeshot and then crashing. Cole has the speed to win a race, but he’s not balls-out fast enough to rip through a pack of dudes to make it happen. He has to start top three and he did just that Saturday. It could’ve been glorious for Seely but instead it all ended in a split-second. Seely told us on the Pulpmx Show that he and chief antagonist Jason Anderson have met and talked out their beef. Which is good for both of them, but bad for us who were hoping for more fireworks.

Privateer Island Points Standings:

18 47 Malcolm Stewart Haines City, FL 35 points
22 75 Nick Schmidt Lake Elsinore, Ca 14 points
23 67 Jimmy Albertson Shawnee, OK 11 points
26 314 Alex Ray Milan, TN 6 points
27 80 Cade Clason Chesterfield, SC 6 points
30 722 Adam Enticknap Lompoc, CA 3 points

Let’s break this down some.

Mookie (yes, he’s a privateer)

Pros:
1.) He’s the best rider on privateer island and if you don’t think so, you’re an idiot.

2.) He’s got a semi, man. That’s a big deal.

3.) He’s got good parts and people helping him and stuff.

Cons:
1.) Uhhh, he crashes a lot.

2.) See number one.

Schmidt

Pros:
1.) He’s got the second best skill level on the island and can fend off challenges to his kingdom on Teddy Parks team with his main event skillz.

Cons:
1.) Nick seems to just be happy to be in the mains and usually finishes near the back.

Albertson

Pros:
1.) Top Jimmy’s a good starter or his bike is fast or perhaps it’s a combination of both. Whatever it is, he pulls starts in LCQs when he needs to.

2.) He’s got the hottest spouse on the island and the others can be easily distracted by her beauty which helps him out.

Cons:
1.) Albertson can be a bit, how do I say this nicely, sketchy out there. Sometimes I would rather close my eyes.

2.) He’s skipping the next two races to work on his skills at home, which will hurt his standings on the island.

Ray

Pros:
1.) Ray, like Albertson, seems to rise to the occasion when he has to and puts it into the main.

2.) He’s aggressive and a good starter, two things that help him get into the mains.

3.) He’s beaten Cade more than Cade has beaten him.

Cons:
1.) Having worked for him, his program could probably use some help. His triple clamps were bent before I bought him some, his clutch had 30 hours on it, etc., etc.

2.) Like Schmidt, once in the actual main, Ray seems to crash or stuff just happens in general and he finishes near the back.

Those new triple clamps are looking straight as an arrow.
Those new triple clamps are looking straight as an arrow. Jeff Kardas

Clason

Pros:
1.) Clason is on a bit of roll here as he gets into the swing of things after an injury.

2.) Clason seems to be in good shape and can do the entire main event at speed.

Cons:
1.) He can’t seem to beat Ray.

2.) He seems to either be on or off, and if he’s off, he’s crashing.

Enticknap

Pros:
1.) He can rap with the best of them!

2.) Adam won’t jump the massive stuff, but he can be consistent every lap and doesn’t make mistakes.

3.) He’s a big dude. Go ahead and try to slam him. Good luck!

Cons:
1.) He’s a big dude and doesn’t always get great starts.

2.) He doesn’t always jump the big stuff.

3.) He’s too distracted by other riders and their Lit Kits.

250SX Notes

The 250SX East Region kicked off and it was cool. I think the East, for the first time in a long time, is deeper than the West. This title is going to be damn exciting and I’m looking forward to the rest of the races. Here’s a rundown of the results.

1 17 Joey Savatgy Thomasville, GA Kawasaki KX 250F- Savatgy’s the favorite going in and after all, he’s the most accomplished rider in the group in terms of 250SX wins. Savatgy was eighth in the first untimed practice session, then fourth in the second one, second in the third one, he won the heat, and then won the main. In short, he got faster as the day went on. Joey wasn’t even that pumped with the way he rode which was a bit strange so either that’s true OR the mental games have begun.  

Savatgy steadily improved throughout the day.
Savatgy steadily improved throughout the day. Jeff Kardas

2 44 Jordon Smith Belmont, NC KTM 250SX-F- Wow, Smith got the last spot into the main event in the heat then from the 18th gate pick he pulled the holeshot! Smith rode well to get a second and he, along with his buddy and ex-teammate, RJ Hampshire, need to have big years this year to show that they’re still unrealized potential.

3 16 Zach Osborne Abingdon, VA Husqvarna FC250- Yeah, he got third. And yeah, Wacko Zacho has collected 18 podiums in SX and MX in his career (not including one win, last year at Budds Creek in 250MX). And yeah, this makes 19. But … this one feels different, you know? Osborne was the fastest qualifier, came from a ways back to get second in his heat and then came from seventh or so in the main to get into second before tipping over and giving Smith second back. Of course we know Wacko’s with Aldon Baker now and he told me he’s lost 17 pounds (and he was already in shape), and man, he looks good. Osborne seemed to be able to make time up (on an easy track) rather easily, he looked 100 percent in control and after the race he was strangely very confident. I think he knows he was quick, he knows he’s in shape and although I’m not a believer of dudes winning their first SX or MX race and THEN winning a title in the same season, we could have something here.

4 31 RJ Hampshire Brooksville, FL Honda CRF 250- Hampshire told me after the race that he got hurt in the pre-season and wasn’t able to test like he wanted. Then before the main he had a bike problem that almost held him up from racing. In the end, he was fast in the whoops, snuck past a big crash in the third turn and kind of rode by himself the whole race. A nice start to the series for RJ.

5 36 Adam Cianciarulo New Smyrna Beach, FL Kawasaki KX 250F- Hey, look who’s back! Coming in Adam had three wins in five career SX races, which is impressive. At some point in practice AC had a big crash and he got a bit lucky to have not gotten hurt. He’s got to stop that. I watched his main event closely and he turned a bad start into something that he can work with.

6 108 Dylan Ferrandis Lake Elsinore, CA Yamaha YZ250F- A quiet night for Ferrandis in his first ever U.S. SX (although he did ride the MEC a few years ago). Dylan has always been the fastest Euro-based Euro (is that a phrase?) at the off-season supercross races that I go to, but he does tend to crash a bit. But in those races, he was on a 450 so it should be interesting to see how he does.  

7 49 Anthony Rodriguez Cairo, GA Yamaha YZ250F- A-Rod, like, held it together out there. Nice ride for him and I’m sure a lot of people were checking to see exactly who that multi-colored dude on the Yamaha was. Anthony always had lots of skill; maybe this year he puts it together?

8 50 Luke Renzland Hewitt, NJ Yamaha YZ250F- Quietly a very good performance for Luke on the Traders Racing Yamaha team. Renzland is one of those dudes, like Jesse Wentland, that’s been at this for a few years now and hasn’t had that one breakout ride. He’s been close, but I’d like to see him grab a podium or something here or there. I think he can do it.  

9 56 Kyle Peters Greensboro, NC Suzuki RM-Z250- Peters is filling in on the AutoTrader.com/Monster Energy/JGR Suzuki team for Matt Bisceglia and then he’s going to Australia to race. Whatever is going on with the JGR guys, I hope Peters can avoid that injury bug and stay safe for Aussie.

10 39 Colt Nichols Muskogee, OK Yamaha YZ250F- I didn’t know how Nichols was going to break his femur in November and then come back for the East Region, but that’s exactly what he did. Impressive! Then he crashed hard in the third turn and came from dead last to 10th. Great ride.  

Nichols charged through the pack after crashing on the first lap.
Nichols charged through the pack after crashing on the first lap. Rich Shepherd

11 62 Jesse Wentland Tallahassee, FL Honda CRF 250- Wentland started pretty strong before settling in. He’s riding for the same team as Fast Freddie Noren (TiLube/ Storm Lake Honda) and both of these guys are pretty cool.  

12 48 Christian Craig Corona, CA Honda CRF 250- Well, this didn’t go to plan, did it? Craig was fast all day and he blitzed to a heat race win and again looked good doing it. He got a poor start in the main, which happens, but he wasn’t even riding well while back there. Sometimes when you get in traffic, you just can’t get into a flow. He also crashed onto the pavement at one point. Terrible start to the series for a title contender and he’s got to start digging. Hey, at least he didn’t finish as poor as Alex Martin!

13 40 Fredrik Noren West Farmington, OH Honda CRF 250- Is it just me or is Fast Freddie more in control than ever before? Riding a 250 on the West Coast, Noren was pretty good most races and this was a good finish as well for the Swedish hero. He looks good! Despite what JT thinks, I would put my money on Fast Freddie riding Ken Roczen’s bike for outdoors.

14 183 Lorenzo Locurcio Cairo, GA Yamaha YZ250F- The coolest name in supercross and his very first pro race. Nice work by the CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha rider to just keep it steady and get some reps.

15 128 Cameron Mcadoo Sioux City, IA Honda CRF 250- My buddies Cade Clason and Alex Ray make McAdoo out to be some sort of Terminator of training. They were telling me that Cameron can out-ride anyone at Club MX, he can kill anyone on a bicycle, etc., etc., so I’m expecting big things out of the Smartop/MotoConcepts Honda rider. Cam was top 10 for a long time before a crash knocked him back.

16 54 Gannon Audette Tallahassee, FL Kawasaki KX 250F- Audette just does what Audette does, bro. Remember last year he got a shot on the PC bike? Not that I want anyone to get hurt or anything like that, but Audette’s a cool guy and that was a cool chance. Can we do round two?

17 285 Tony Archer Waldorf, MD Kawasaki KX 250F- Archer quit the sport last fall but now he’s back. Weird, I know, but if you can make mains then keep racing.  

18 45 Mitchell Harrison Tallahassee, FL Yamaha YZ250F- Second year pro on Star Yamaha, Harrison has got to make something happen this year or he’ll be “Wil Hahn’d” right out of there. He’s still fast, he’s got skill, but it’s tough to watch him without gasping at some point.  

19 65 Paul Coates Zephyrhills, FL Yamaha YZ250F- Chip, chip Cheerio, mate! Coates was silently pretty good out there for a guy with limited help.

20 70 Dakota Alix Jay, VT KTM 250 SX-F- Alix is a REALLY good starter. Like, next level, man.

21 34 Benny Bloss Oak Grove, MO KTM 250SX-F- I was talking to an unnamed rider earlier in the day and we were talking about Bloss and his incredible whoop speed. He’s like a ginormous praying mantis on a 250F and isn’t scared to pin it. So this rider tells me that yes, he’s amazing in the whoops but they’re going to bite him at some point because, like keeping a pet lion in the house, that’s what whoops do. They can’t be tamed 100 percent of the time. Well, late in the main, while going mach nine through the whoops, Benji cartwheeled and went down hard. He’ll be out for the rest of supercross with a fracture to the top of his Humorous bone, and a torn Labrum in his shoulder.

22 26 Alex Martin Millville, MN KTM 250SX-F- A-Mart crashed in the heat, had to ride the LCQ then crashed in the main event. I think there was an issue with his bike either before he crashed or after because it’s not like A-Mart to not finish the race. Well, nothing to lose now for Alex! Let it rip!

There's nowhere to go but up for A-Mart.
There's nowhere to go but up for A-Mart. Jeff Kardas

Thanks for reading, the A-T-L is coming right up this weekend and it’s MotoFest, bro! Like Ozzfest, only better! Email me at matthes@racerxonline.com if you want to chat about this race or whatever.