The night was great. I thought the track was a lot more technical than we’ve seen at the last couple of rounds, and we usually see that happen each year, the tracks get more technical each week. I like it. The elevated start, I’ve never gone off one before, so that was cool to see. For myself, I also got to do some announcing for the live crowd down on the floor, and that was cool.
The jumps were really steep, so that was technical, and there were two sets of whoops, and the second set looked pretty big. That to me was a big separation right there. When you go through whoops, it’s not like you end up breathing super hard when you’re done through them, but I guarantee you if you put a heart rate monitor on a guy and have him do 10 laps and skip the whoops, and then he does 10 laps and hits the whoops, his heart rate would be probably 20 beats higher. It’s one less part on the track where you can rest, and without a doubt you’re holding on tighter.
I thought they did a great job tonight with the dirt. It was a lot better than I expected—I thought Anaheim 2’s dirt was kind of “meh.” I was only watching on TV but it didn’t look that good. For this one, I was there and I thought the dirt was better.
1. Ryan Dungey: I called this from the get go, you could see it all day. I just feel like he has some spunk right now. I’m seeing the old Dunge again. I’ve said it before, but you get some confidence and you become really dangerous. I know he hadn’t won a race yet, but something is going on in his mind. I don’t know if it’s the red plate or what, but something clicked. In the heat, Roczen was able to challenge him for a little bit and Dungey pulled it right back out to retaliate. It was his night.
The dangerous part about Dungey is, you know his worst night will be fifth. That’s it—fifth. If he has a bad start and a bad night, he’s going to finish no worse than that. That’s what make him dangerous—you give a guy like that confidence and he starts picking off wins, he’s going to be hard to stop.
You know, the amount of respect top athletes should get—I’m talking like a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, or Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villopoto in our sport. The amount of work and mental energy that it takes, year after year, it’s kind of unexplainable. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that, someone who can stay at the top of their sport year after year, it’s pretty cool.
2. Cole Seely: Awesome. I’m so happy for him. I’ve known Cole for a long time, and he’s just a good kid. That result is huge and he really needs that. He had some of the heaviest hitters in the 450 game right behind him and he just clicked off the laps, I have a tremendous amount of respect for that. Cole has always been able to do that, even at the test track he’d have a cool head at the most difficult times.
Tomac and Roczen did close up at the end, but I think that was just them stepping up their game. Tomac was pushing so hard on Roczen, so of course they’re going to close in on Cole, too. Maybe Cole got a little bit tight—and you would tighten up when those guys are right behind you in the main, but I do feel like most of them closing in was just because Eli was pushing Kenny so hard.
I was a 450 rookie last year. We can all do 20 laps at the test track, but everything is a little bit different. Back in 2012 and 2013, I was thinking it wouldn’t be that hard—it’s just five more laps, that could be what, 3-5 minutes? That’s not that much. But moving over to it and doing it, and the bigger bike, and now there are four or five really fast guys pressuring you? That’s a big difference. There’s no rest, there’s no settling in. No matter what you do you’re getting pressure.
3. Eli Tomac: I would say Eli and Kenny were on top of each other pretty much the whole way. That was fun to watch. One of them would make a mistake and get away, then the other would make a mistake. They were kind of in sync the whole main event. I think Eli was riding better than he did the last two weeks—I didn’t see a lot of big mistakes this time. The last two races, I don’t know if that was the track, or if he was being impatient, or he was just off his game, I don’t know. He looked better here. You can’t say a guy got third and had a crappy ride. He passed Ken Roczen to get this, too. I think in the big picture he’s looking at points, and while Dungey won and that’s not great for him, he made up points on everybody else who is ahead of him.
I saw a lot of guys kind of settle into the race line, but Eli looked like one of the few willing to venture out. The race line, you have to watch the grip. Like looking at the start straight away, the line I would have taken, it looked like it was pretty slick by about the 10th lap. So that’s when you’ve got to start searching and going “Okay, I need to find some of the loose dirt instead of the stuff that’s glazed over.” Also with the 450 main event, the 250 main event has just finished, so the first 10 laps the race line might be faster, but then it might start to go away. It’s so hard to get away from it, though, your mind gets so focused in. We’re kind of robots once we get going.
You could see some passing in that first turn and sand section. It was a tight, gnarly first turn. First lap, if you’re coming in there mid pack, it’s going to be crazy. We also saw that with Jessy Nelson and Cooper Webb playing cat and mouse in the 250 main event. That was a great spot to watch for passing.
4. Ken Roczen: I would think last week made a difference, maybe just a little bit. And maybe just mentally, if not physically. That was a big blow. To hit that hard in general, it’s going to weigh on you for a few weeks, and you’d have to be crazy to think he’s not sore.
5. Trey Canard: I honestly thought at one point that Trey could make a charge for the win tonight. He just had that kind of spunk to him, and motivation. That’s what happened, he must have just pushed it too hard in the sand section.
I thought the red flag was pretty asinine, to be honest. Zach clearly got caught in the gate, but to take five laps to make the decision? To me that’s just absurd.
For Cooper Webb, you knew he was going to get another good start. You see it all the time where a guy gets fired up and gets a holeshot. Cooper seems to ride really well in anger. A lot of kids don’t feed off of anger, but we’ve seen with him the last couple of weeks, if he gets pushed around, he fires right back. So he was mad, but that’s okay. From a team standpoint, a lot of guys are pushing the limit, they don’t even run a full tank of gas. They don’t want to run any extra weight. So now everyone is scrambling to find gas, new goggles….you also have to try to settle back down. To me, that would be hard, you already got that initial burst out, because you always give it everything you have in those first five laps. Normally you settle in a little bit, but to me it’s just crazy to have to do it again. I know these guys aren’t doing 15 laps at the test track, they’re doing 20, they want to be prepared. But at the end of the day, it’s different when you’re racing.
1. Cooper Webb: You could see the way he finished up outdoors, he was building confidence, and that’s a big deal. Yeah, supercross is different, but confidence is something that carries over into anything—it’s part of your life. Cooper and I live about three tenths of a mile from each other, so I see the work he puts in, and his dedication. From his training, to what he eats, his overall approach, at his age that’s really difficult. I’m happy for him, it’s good to see hard work like that pay off.
2. Jessy Nelson: He was fast all day. He rode well. I think Cooper put that pressure on Nelson. I saw a lot of patience out of Cooper, he wasn’t just so much faster that he was blowing by, but he just kind of wore him down. Nelson rode good.
3. Aaron Plessinger: I don’t know him that well, but I’m friends with Cooper so I met him a few times through him. I admire him, though, this is so huge to get a podium in his rookie year. You have to be happy with that, this kid is doing great.