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Round eight out of seventeen of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, comes in hot from Atlanta, which for the first time in history, will host back-to-back weekends of the series. Traditionally the Atlanta round packs them in. There have long been cries for two Atlanta rounds, and why not? If there can be thirty-two rounds within five hours of Anaheim Stadium, why not give the East Coast fans some more (voice of god here) SUUUUPPPEEERRRRCRRRRRROOSSSSSS?
Did it work? Well, I’m not sure. I’ll let you know after this weekend’s race. I will say I was shocked at the amount of people who showed up as empty seats. It paled in comparison to the last decade of Atlanta Supercrosses. But there was terrible weather in the week leading up the race, and I think many people who usually travel to this race didn’t go. Usually the pits are so packed you can’t even move, but this week it wasn’t like that. So, I’m not sure if it was due to the the back-to-back races or the weather, but there’s no doubt some fingers are crossed that more people show up this weekend. And don’t look at the official attendance and think that it was great; those numbers are always inflated.
The track was a carbon copy of last week’s in Dallas, which was an odd decision. The layout was basically the same in terms of corners, and even the triple was in the same spot. That was weird. The good thing about the track was the dragon-back-to-reverse-dragon-back (this was on the track, not something out of your Kama Sutra book) section that gave the riders fits all night long. They should put more of these things on the tracks. Let’s all vote on dragon-backs-to-reverse-dragon-backs being in every track, yes?
Now it’s time to talk about the split lane. It’s a difficult conversation to have, I know—sort of like finally getting that drunk uncle into therapy. But it has to be done. Speaking of drunk, I’m not sure what they were thinking by putting a split lane in the whoops, where many passes are done. And I’m not sure why the whoops were bigger on the left. On top of that, the split came in a section with two inside right turns. Of course no one wanted to go outside (i.e. go the long way) in a section where the whoops were bigger. It was a comical race to the inside of the split lane all night long. Dudes were almost washing out from grabbing too much brake to make sure they made it to the all-important inside lane. The timing of the two was close in practice, but the process of riding to the outside of a turn and going through bigger whoops just to be on the outside of the next turn was not a smart move.
Riders said there was a little berm outside on press day that made it pretty equal, but that wasn’t there for the race. And once the riders started figuring out that the right side was better, the whoops started to wear down, which made it even better. At some point the powers that be knocked down the double before the whoops on the left side to desperately get some riders to go there but the damage was done; no one cared to even look over there. There could have been a pot of gold buried on the left side and it would’ve gone undiscovered by anyone. There’s no other way to say it: The Atlanta 1 split lane was a failure.
Can you believe this Chad Reed guy? You can’t count him out. Ever. He’s the vampire of supercross, rising from the dead to claim a win when you least expect it. And he did it again in Atlanta. Reed’s season has been poopy (outside of his Oakland podium), as he’s gone 10-10-BLACK FLAG-3-6-4-11 before coming to Atlanta.
Early on in Atlanta it didn’t look like Reed was going to give us a special night because, although he was really good (for him) in the first practice, that one was untimed and didn’t count. After the next two practices where he wasn’t on pace, the TwoTwo Motorsports guys basically tore his bike apart. This is NOP (normal operating procedure) over there so it shouldn’t be alarming, but it also meant that Reed wasn’t comfortable—what else was new?
He pulled the holeshot in the heat race, was passed by Trey Canard, and barely held off Kenny Roczen to take second. That’s good but not great. He again got the holeshot in the main (on the PulpMX Show he explained that he went “full Alessi” and set his bike up for the start), and rode brilliantly for all twenty laps to win. Early on he had Weston Peick and Phil Nicoletti in second and third, and was quadding a set of jumps after the whoops, which allowed him to get a nice little lead before (insert Jaws music here) Ryan Dungey got into second.
The Dunge made a bit of ground up on #22, but I still think Chad was in control of this race. The old man did it again. What a night for Chad and his fans. And full props to the guy—you cannot ever count him out. He’s Chad Reed and you’re not, dammit.
Speaking of Dungey, he rode a nice race to take second. With some misfortunes of others (which we’ll get into), he took a 25-point lead in the series with nine rounds left. If there’s one rider that I don’t want to have to count on to make mistakes, it’s Ryan Dungey. The man DOESN’T MAKE MISTAKES. He’s the Terminator of supercross—he just keeps coming and coming and coming.
Ken Roczen had a very uncharacteristic race and made two huge mistakes. He’s lucky he didn’t really get hurt in practice when he tried that quad that Reed did, but unlike Reed, Cole Seely, and Trey Canard (who also did it), Kenny seat-bounced it. This was a bad idea. He almost endoed and died, but somehow saved it.
Saving it was good. But then he ran into the stadium wall after the save and hurt his ankle. It wasn’t good. And after a terrible start in the main he again cartwheeled in the whoops and was lucky to finish the race at all. Combined with his Oakland crash, you could make a case that he’s used up two or even three of his lives. It wasn’t that long ago that JT, Weege, and I were talking about how we can’t see Kenny making huge mistakes—even though he’s a young guy he’s usually very consistent, ala Dungey—but he’s had two bad races since then. If you’re scoring at home, he hasn’t won in over a month, he’s slipped to third in the points, and he probably feels like a garbage truck ran him over. In short, it’s not going great for #94 right now.
Please, I beg you—do not send me emails or tweets telling me that Roczen’s decision to part with trainer Aldon Baker is already taking effect. Seriously, stop—it’s laughable. He’s just making some rare mistakes right now, and Baker’s presence in his life wouldn’t have stopped these.
It’s nice to get some refreshing answers from a rider in the pits. Not saying that all riders aren’t giving us the honest answers, but sometimes “Our set-up was off” actually means “I don’t know how to set up my bike,” and “I got tight” means “I got tired.” This time, I was talking Jeremy Martin in the pits after his come-from-the-back win (came around in sixthon the first lap) and asked him if the rumors that he was under the weather last week were true, and if that caused his so-so fourth-place ride. It was nice to hear him tell me that the rumors were not true, and that he was feeling great. And then he admitted that because he hadn’t qualified for the opening round of the 250SX East Region the last two years he was indeed feeling some pressure in Dallas and wanted to just get through the race. Nice to see a guy not take the excuse given to him by the media (“Were you sick?”) and admit that he was a bit mentally beat by something.
The morning of the race I thought Marvin Musquin would walk away with this race. Then, two corners into the main event I really thought Martin Davalos was going to win the race. Davalos started to pull a “Davalos,” and I started to think that there was no way Justin Bogle would blow it, right? Well, he kind of did, and Martin was right there. He pounced on a tired (looked that way to me, anyway) Bogle and led the last three laps to take the win. Great ride by Martin, and his answers to me after the race have restored my faith in riders everywhere.
Let’s take a look at the results, shall we?
1. 6 Jeremy Martin; Millville, MN; Yamaha YZ250F – Seeing the #6 out on the track again warms my heart.
2. 25 Marvin Musquin; Corona, CA; KTM 250 SX-F – Musquin didn’t ride well in the night show: He made a ton of mistakes, got out of control, and had a weird night. Yet he still got second!
3. 1 Justin Bogle; Cushing, OK; Honda CRF250R – Bogle didn’t mean to do it (at least I don’t think so), but man did he clean out Zack Williams in practice. Just squared up a turn and took Zack’s front wheel out before he even knew what had happened.
4. 47 Martin Davalos; Cairo, ; Husqvarna FC250 – Davalos was fast all day long, won a heat, and led nine laps of the main with a nice lead at one point. He ended up fourth (Lemoine was going to pass him until he made a mistake) almost ten seconds back of Martin and said he could still take some positives from this race. I’m not sure what he could possibly be talking about, but then again, I’m not sure I will ever figure Martin Davalos out.
5. 37 Joey Savatgy; Thomasville, GA; Kawasaki KX 250F – Joe Dog won the heat and didn’t get the start he needed to latch onto the lead group. After the race he spoke about how he’s not getting paid to get fifth and that he needs to win some races this year.
6. 45 Vince Friese; Cape Girardeau, MO; Honda CRF250R- Friese wasn’t pumped with his ride after the race, but to me him being two turns from winning the heat and battling for a top-five is great, especially with a rib injury that makes it tough to breathe.
7. 43 Matthew Lemoine; Pilot Point, TX; Kawasaki KX 250F – There’s no doubt to me that Lemoine was going to pass a fading Davalos for fourth, but he clipped a Tuff Block three laps from the end and spun around. He lost momentum (along with precious seconds) and had to gather himself back together to get this finish. Still, nice showing for Matt in the first two races—he’s just got to stay away from the crashes.
8. 62 Anthony Rodriguez; Cairo, GA; Yamaha YZ250F – A-Rod had to go to the LCQ, which he won, but not before he fist-pumped and threw a nac-nac to celebrate the win. If I’m on a factory team and have to go to the LCQ, I wouldn’t be that happy to win, but that’s just me. I would be breathing a huge sigh of relief.
9. 80 RJ Hampshire; Hudson, FL; Honda CRF250R – Hampshire was in the hospital earlier this week from his Dallas crash, so it was impressive for him to even break the top ten. And he did this even though his coach/mentor Tim Ferry was not there.
10. 200 Arnaud Tonus; Switzerland; Kawasaki KX 250F – Tonus was dead last after he hit his teammate and crashed on lap one, and fought back to get this position. He’s been fast in the first two races of his SX career, but can’t seem to stay out of trouble.
11. 52 Mitchell Oldenburg; Alvord, TX; Yamaha YZ250F – Oldenburg is proving that Gregg Albertson may not be as crazy as we think he is. (Gregg, Jimmy’s brother and mechanic on the team, said to expect big things from Oldenburg.)
12. 73 Gannon Audette; Tallahassee, FL; Kawasaki KX 250F – Audette was solid all day, and he’s the guy who finished the best this week with the least amount of help—as in, all the dudes ahead of him have rides, get a salary, etc.
13. 55 Kyle Peters; Greensboro, NC; Honda CRF250R
14. 88 Dakota Alix; Jay, VT; KTM 250 SX-F – Alix wore Scott gear when he raced a couple Canadian nationals. John Knowles, my buddy from Scott, was very high on Dakota back then.
15. 89 Brady Kiesel; Fort Worth, TX; Honda CRF250R
16. 49 James Decotis; Peabody, MA; Honda CRF250R- There’s always something you can count on JIMMMYYYY DDDDD doing: Either he grabs a start and runs up front or he jumps something big—whatever it is, Jimmy can provide entertainment. Through two races he hasn’t been his same old JIMMMYYY DDDDD. He did make a sweet move on the rhythm section on the first lap of his heat before blowing over the berm in spectacular fashion. So I guess there’s that.
17. 95 Nick Gaines; Ringgold, GA; Kawasaki KX 250F – Nick Gaines should have been in the main last week, but I have noticed he hits the ground (or almost hits the ground) a lot. He’s got skills, though.
18. 77 Justin Starling; Deland, FL; Yamaha YZ250F – I think Starling should run a “For JSR” butt-patch because the great Canadian motocross legend Jean Sebastian Roy used to stay with the Starling family years ago. At least I think so.
19. 79 Jace Owen; Mattoon, IL; Honda CRF250R – Owen’s got some serious skills. He should be in the main event every week without question.
20. 393 Daniel Herrlein; Bethesda, OH; Honda CRF250R
21. 83 Levi Kilbarger; Logan, OH; Yamaha YZ250F – Going to track walk, Kilbarger was telling Nick Wey and I about stories of local Ohio legend Mike Katin, who used to battle with my riders back in the day.
22. 74 Zack Williams; Elko, MN; Honda CRF250R – I had Zack in my main event in fantasy moto and then took him out. I tweeted about this decision, to which he then replied (before his main!) that I should have had more faith in him. Social media is not always awesome.
1. 22 Chad Reed; Dade City, FL; Kawasaki KX 450F – There are some riders in the pits that aren’t Reed fans, but I’d say the majority of them are. After all, the majority of them have probably drunk with him at a party at some point over the last fourteen years. It was a popular win—let’s just say that.
2. 5 Ryan Dungey; Tallahassee, FL; KTM 450 SX-F – Nice ride by Ryan. I have to admit I thought he was going to get Chad about halfway through. He did reel him in a bit, but not quite enough. As it was, he rode a Ryan Dungey race. No crazy-balls moves from him.
3. 41 Trey Canard; Edmond, OK; Honda CRF450R – Canard’s been the only guy to rip through the pack to win. And at one point in Atlanta, I though he might win. Seriously, he was flying. He had the fastest lap of the night in the main. Afterwards he showed me his pocket watch. Seriously, who carries a pocket watch in 2015? Trey Canard does—that’s who.
4. 14 Cole Seely; Laguna Beach, CA; Honda CRF450R – Nice job by Seely. In some ways he was overlooked because of Reed. After the race was over he stood there sweating in full gear, taking questions from the media. It’s the little things, people.
5. 23 Weston Peick; Menifee, CA; Yamaha YZ450F – Peick was gnarly in Atlanta. He admitted afterwards that his fitness isn’t there quite yet, but he ran second for a while before settling into this top-five spot. His pass on Nicoletti in the whoops was ballsy and amazing.
6. 20 Broc Tickle; Holly, MI; Suzuki RM-Z450 – Another solid night for Tickle, who came fromeleventh to sixth. Tickle’s been a little lost in media coverage this year. This dude’s career was at stake after his Toronto SX crash last season. He’s missed two mains this year with injury and has gotten a fifth and sixth in two of the other six mains he raced. He’s a perfect guy for RCH right now.
7. 21 Jason Anderson; Edgewood, NM; Husqvarna FC450 – Anderson’s opening lap wasn’t very good; he dropped from about fourth to seventh or so. But he recovered from there and logged another nice finish. Did you know that the rookie Anderson has finished in the top ten at every race this year? Aren’t rookies supposed to have some bad races in an incredibly deep field?
8. 4 Blake Baggett; Grand Terrace, CA; Suzuki RM-Z450 – Blake wasn’t flashy in the A-T-L. but he did get his sixth straight top-ten.
9. 29 Andrew Short; Smithville, TX; KTM 450 SX-F – Not sure what happened, but Andrew’s opening few laps weren’t as solid as usual; he dropped back to twelfth from a pretty high spot rounding the first turn. From there, though, he did his usual thing to work back up.
10. 33 Joshua Grant; Wildomar, CA; Kawasaki KX 450F – Grant’s had three solid finishes in a row and appears to be over his early-season crashing. As I said last week, he’s good enough to be a fifth- through twelfth-place guy every week with some top-fives here and there.
11. 46 Phillip Nicoletti; Bethel, NY; Yamaha YZ450F – Filthy was second early on. Yes, Phil Nicoletti was second in a 450SX race. You’d think he was out of his lane up front, but you know what—we used to say the same thing about Weston Peick. Now in this bizarre SX world that we live in, all bets are off.
12. 18 David Millsaps; Murrieta, CA; Kawasaki KX 450F – Davi was fast but went down hard in practice and missed the last session. Then he went down in the first turn in the heat race. He’s crashed more in 2015 than I think he’s done in the last four years combined.
13. 800 Mike Alessi; Hilliard, FL; Suzuki RM-Z450 – For most of Mike’s career he’s always loved to jump out front in practice and lead the pack around. This year he has some serious competition from Josh Hill and Jason Anderson, who also like to get out front. It’s a race within the practice sessions for these guys to be number one in practice. Somewhere out there Allan Iverson is disgusted.
14. 75 Joshua Hill; Yoncalla, OR; Yamaha YZ450F – Hill’s been able to make the switch to CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha from his own program because he basically has the same motor and suspension package as he was using. Makes for an easy transition, right?
15. 12 Jacob Weimer; Wildomar, CA; Kawasaki KX 450F – Weimer’s starts—I don’t just mean the actual falling of the gate; I mean the start of the races—haven’t been that good this year. On the occasion when they actually end up being decent, he falls over. Not much he can do right now. He just has to do his best to ride from the back.
16. 11 Kyle Chisholm; Valrico, FL; Kawasaki KX 450F
17. 27 Nicholas Wey; Dewitt, MI; Kawasaki KX 450F – Wey was sick all week, so getting into the main was a good thing. How do I know he was sick? For one, he didn’t once make fun of me all day.
18. 94 Ken Roczen; Clermont, FL; Suzuki RM-Z450 – Riders are funny. Kenny posted on Instagram that if you think he’s going to give up because of his poor Atlanta, then you’re wrong. Uh, Kenny, no sane human would ever think you’re going to give up. You’re a World Champion, 250SX Champion, 450MX Champion, and one of the all-time great riders; you didn’t get to be that by ever giving up.
19. 86 Zackery Freeberg; Riverview, FL; Yamaha YZ450F – Freeberg rides the 250SX West Region for points but came out in the big boys class for this week (and I assume beyond) and put it into the main event despite some big crashes in practice.
20. 3 Eli Tomac; Cortez, CO; Honda CRF450R – Tomac crashed hard in the main while charging towards the front and probably had some Tweety birds floating around his head. It just looked like he grabbed too much front brake and lost the front end. Atlanta 1 was a huge blow to Eli’s title chances. I think Eli realizes that he’s got to get back on the top of the podium, and the only way that’s going to happen is by being extra gnarly. Unfortunately, trying harder isn’t always smarter in our sport—that’s often when the mistakes happen.
21. 69 Ronnie Stewart; Easton, PA; Suzuki RM-Z450 – The Candy Man is a good starter. Like, seriously, he’s on point in a lot of his races.
22. 92 Cade Clason; Arcadia, OH; Honda CRF450R- Good job by Cade to make it in the main event after an ugly crash in practice.
Some other news and notes:
- Oh man, 250SX privateer Ryder Steffy had a rough day in Atlanta. The Barn Pros/Home Depot Yamaha rider seemed to crash almost every practice in the whoops. Seriously, every time I looked up he was pile-driving himself into the ground. He went down pretty hard again in the night show in the—wait for it—whoops. I felt sorry for the guy. I’m sure his therapy bill this week will be expensive.
- By the way, people of Atlanta, the fact that the owner of the Atlanta Falcons has somehow hoodwinked you people into believing that he needs a new stadium for the NFL team is laughable. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Georgia Dome that was built in 1992. It’s got two levels of suites and modern amenities. This isn’t Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego here. The owner has a net worth of around $2.5 billion, but the citizens are somehow putting up $200 million in stadium funding for a guy (he’s putting up $800 million) who, as an owner of an NFL team, basically prints money. I was just looking around the Dome wondering who could possibly think this thing needed replacing. It’s a great building!
- There was a set of jumps after the finish that the guys were going 3-3-2, and we were wondering early on if anyone would do 4-4 and amaze us all. I asked a few riders what they thought, and everyone sort of said no way, but a couple of them said, “Maybe if James were here,” and then laughed. Stewie’s still the quad god.
- I’ve been telling you about the Reed/Tomac little feud going on the last few weeks. With Reed and the black flag decision from a few weeks ago still lingering in the air, the AMA/FIM thought that a little talk with the two riders and managers would help things out. They just didn’t want this going any further. With Tomac’s words in the media about how last week’s pass was retaliation for Reed’s words about Eli’s attempted San Diego pass (stay with me here), and how the word “retaliation” is a real buzz word right now (like #whosnext), someone thought a meeting was in order. And, by the way, Honda was not pumped with Eli being honest with his feelings last week because this is just a cauldron ready to boil over at any minute. So, from what I heard from people who were there or close to the situation, the meeting with Tomac and Honda went great: Things were said and everything is out in the open and fine. The meeting with Reed, however, did not go well. Chad’s still upset about the decision made to black-flag him (weeks later we still know it was a bad, bad call), and I heard he basically told the officials to leave him alone and get out of his pit. So stay tuned here.
Thanks for reading, broseph. I appreciate it. Email me at matthes@racerxonline if you want to chat about this race or really anything involving the movie Jaws.