Round 14 of Monster Energy Supercross (can you hear that sound of a fifth gear pinned 250F? That’s the outdoors, bro) took place in St. Louis and there are two things you can count on when it comes to this race: One, the dirt is just epic and two the fans pack the pits. Many of them wear jerseys as well. What’s with the Midwest fans and wearing jerseys to the track?
This was the second ever day supercross race (last year East Rutherford was the first) and featured a track walk at 7 a.m. Yes this is early and no I didn’t make it on time. Feld Motor Sports made the change to fit into a live time slot on Fox Network, which reaches a lot more homes than FS1 (the normal SX network) and all day long people in the sport wanted to know what you thought of the race being during the day. My thoughts: It was different, it was weird, but whatever. Some things were cool about it and some things sucked. If it helps the sport reach new people and then they start reading about the sport more on RacerXOnline.com then that’s all cool with me.
The track was pretty good thanks to the dirt. Great traction and a couple of rhythm sections with different options made for some good racing. The whoops broke down like crazy and the sand section…ehhh, whatever. The original track map had the start straight going the length of the stadium but when we got there it was way shorter. Not sure what happened there.
Ryan Dungey won again. Yay! Or Nay! Whatever you may think of the Red Bull KTM rider there’s no doubt he’s back on a roll again. Yeah, Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/RCH Suzuki’s Ken Roczen caught him, briefly made a pass for the lead and then washed the front end out halfway through the main and… there went Dungey for a third straight win and Roczen took his third straight second place. Kenny rode great but the FIM doesn’t give out extra points and the OEM’s don’t pay extra bonus money for “great rides”. They pay on what you actually placed and Roczen “actually placed” second three times despite some real challenges to Dungey. Years from now, no one’s going to remember how close Roczen came to winning.
In the end, Dungey got’er done like he has in the last year and a half and he needs to put two points on Roczen this weekend in Foxborough (another day race) to clinch a third 450SX title. He’s a machine on a great machine.
I really hope you’re not one of these dudes that thinks Dungey’s in the mindset (term trademark/copyright Jeff Emig) of knowing that he’s got this title wrapped up and he doesn’t have to win. Please spare me this (I have heard it a bunch) and watch the last three races where Ryan has been pushing it to try and beat Roczen. The great Ross “Rollerball” Pederson used to tell me that he was ok with his rival beating him once, maybe twice but any more than that and they start to get confidence and he could not let that happen.
We’ve seen how mental this sport is (see Barcia, Justin last summer) so Dungey knows he can’t let the German get some wins and maybe, just maybe, start thinking that he can beat Dungey. Nope, not gonna happen under Aldon Baker’s watch and I asked Dungey about pushing so hard when he’s basically got this title wrapped up. Here’s his response:
“The big picture is obviously in our minds but at the same time each and every race is still valuable, to get the race wins. And we’ve said it before: not just myself and my trainer and my family and my team of people around me, and Team Red Bull KTM, we put in a lot of work. To give anything less than our best, even with the position we’re in, to leave anything on the table we work too hard not to give it our all. When you start trying to protect things or take it easy that’s when you’re not at your best. We should race like we practice and that’s giving it your all.”
So, yeah. Good luck in seeing Ryan Dungey lay up. By the way, Dungey had to go to the semi race this week for the first time since Anaheim 1 and so he had the ninth gate pick. This is not good, folks. But after his semi win I Tweeted:
"Dungey gets into the main via the semi, loses inside gate pick, rails outside berm, still grabs holie & waves bye bye…"
And I was right except Dungey had one thing going even better than that. When you’re Ryan Dungey and you’re living right, you get the gate right next to Roczen who had, get this, THE NUMBER ONE PICK. Yes, how weird is that? My spies down there told me that Roczen picked his gate, Mike Alessi (who had pick #2) went to the outside of the box (his traditional pick) and everyone else filed inside of Roczen. And for some reason no one picked the gate next to #94. And then my Tweet came into effect and it was game over.
The move back in the day when you were a top guy with a bad pick was have your mechanic or manager stand sort of on the gate pick you wanted with a headset and team shirt on and then all the non-factory dudes sort of assumed that spot was taken and went elsewhere. No one wanted to actually call the manager/mechanic out and tell him to move, so the big star got a decent gate pick. I’m not saying Dungey did this (it’s way more regulated now) but just passing on a story.
As far as Roczen’s concerned, he wants to beat Dungey bad and it’s showing after the races. He hasn’t really started the last two series (2016 450SX and 2015 450MX) like he’s needed to and that’s allowed Dungey to break away. And then there are just times where he gets flat out beat. Dungey’s starts are so, so, so, so, so, so, so good it’s hard to top that. Since Roczen’s left Aldon Baker at the beginning of last year he hasn’t been able to dominate and I know from talking to him this really burns his ass. He’s working harder and harder to try and beat Dungey and we’ll see how it goes outdoors but right now, Dungey’s been the better rider.
The 250SX East Region should be the renamed the “Chaos 250SX” series as it seems that no one really wants to win this thing. Most of us thought that Malcolm Stewart had turned a corner and smoothed a bit. Mookie’s always done “Stewart” things, which means he has the ability to amaze you and terrify you. He can jump a quad or cartwheel—often times in the same race! But this year Mookie has looked different, more in control and his come-from-behind ride in Toronto, I thought, was proof of that. He was so far back and maintained composure, picked off dudes and rode great. He’s also won a race, again rode smart in the ruts last week and coming into this week had a ten point lead. Plus, I think he’s consistently been the fastest guy all series.
Well a zebra doesn’t always change his stripes, right? Mookie did “Stew” things in St Louis with three crashes, two of them that were amateurish, and finished a ways back in eighth. Jeremy Martin won when he finally got a good start and rode away with the win, his second of the series, making him the first rider to win twice this series. But he’s 16 points back. But guess who is only one point back? Aaron Plessinger, that’s who!
Let’s take a look at the results shall we?
1 6 Jeremy Martin Millville, MN Yamaha YZ250F- I asked J-Mart about being right back in this title hunt with the win and his reply was “Let’s be honest, it’s still a long shot. We’ve got three races left. You know I’ll go out and give it everything I have. I always do. I think people expect that out of me. We’ll see what happens in Vegas.” I don’t know, bro, its only 16 points. I think he’s much more than just a “long shot” but maybe Jeremy’s team all told him he’s done so that the pressure is off and he can go out there and just ride (and hopefully win). Seemed to work in St. Louis!
2 23 Aaron Plessinger Hamilton, OH Yamaha YZ250F- With his mud/rut skills on full display last weekend and with races in Foxborough and East Rutherford the next two weeks, I might say the #23 could be the favorite to bring this thing home. If it’s muddy at one or both of these next two, look out. Spicoli is feeling the flow.
3 30 Shane Mcelrath Canton, NC KTM 250SX-F- A quiet ride by Shane who was way back of second and way ahead of fourth. I’d like to publicly express my frustration with Shane’s team manager Tyler Keefe for never getting back to me when I have questions about his team.
4 31 Rj Hampshire Brooksville, FL Honda CRF 250- Nice ride by RJ. Perhaps the best one of the year for the GEICO kid. It would be awesome for him and his team to make the podium here before the end of the year. For whatever reason he just hasn’t started up front and put himself in a spot to succeed all series.
5 61 Gannon Audette Tallahassee, FL Kawasaki KX 250F- A podium last week and now a top five. Yeah, he let Hampshire get him late in the race but still, this fill-in has been filling in quite nice over there under the Pro Circuit tent. He’s six points back of fourth in the series and this is an awesome development for a pretty nice guy.
6 48 Anthony Rodriguez Cairo, GA Kawasaki KX 250F- Two nice races in a row for A-Rod and the Traders Kawasaki team. Look at the equipment in front and behind A-Rod and then look at the Traders bike. Good job, right?
7 128 Alexander Frye Huntingtown, MD KTM 250SX-F- He’s been pretty good for a rookie, right? This result was more impressive when you consider he had to go through the LCQ to get it.
8 50 Malcolm Stewart Haines City, FL Honda CRF 250- Not that Mookie would do this but there’s a good chance that he would make way more money if he DOESN’T win the title and can stay down another year (he’s forced out if he’s champ). And that right there is why our system is broken and needs fixing.
9 53 Tyler Bowers Corona, CA Kawasaki KX 250F- The Bear told me after the race that he’s “going to talk to someone about my head or something” because he can’t figure out why this SX season has gone so horribly wrong. You’re married to a Monster Girl, bro, how bad could your life be?
10 175 Paul Coates Zephyrhills, FL Honda CRF 250
11 167 Benny Bloss Oak Grove, MO Yamaha YZ250F- Benny is filling in for Millsaps in 450SX this weekend in Foxborough and maybe beyond if the #18 can’t get back in time. Also depending on whether or not Andrew Short is ready to race the outdoors, Millsaps is either racing the US Nationals or he’s heading to Canada to race up there. Stay tuned.
12 32 Matthew Bisceglia Weatherford, TX Suzuki RM-Z250- The Biscuit was caught up in the first turn melee so his whole race was pretty much effed from that moment on.
13 62 Justin Starling Deland, FL Kawasaki KX 250F
14 64 Dakota Alix Jay, VT KTM 250 SX-F
15 49 Martin Davalos CLERMONT, FL Husqvarna FC250- Marty was down in the first turn and dead last. He rode well to get all the way to ninth before his anvil fell on him and he cartwheeled with three laps to go. That Atlanta win was a long time ago.
16 159 Darryn Durham Menifee, CA Yamaha YZ250F- I tried to find Durham after the race to see how his assault on the East Coast is going but could only find the blacked out Yamaha sitting alone on its stand.
17 297 Henry Miller Rochester, MN Honda CRF 250
18 519 Joshua Cartwright Tallahassee, FL Yamaha YZ250F
19 84 Jimmy Albertson Shawnee, OK Suzuki RM-Z250- I can’t really believe it but last week in Indy Top Jimmy didn’t make the night show. Super weird, right? This week was much better for JA and he’s got to be struggling a bit with being banged up and trying to practice.
20 83 Daniel Herrlein Bethesda, OH Honda CRF 250- You watch Herrlein out there and you can see he’s got some serious skills. I don’t know the dude or what he’s got for a program but there are some guys that have advantages that I imagine Daniel does not and they can’t make main events like he does. You wonder how a dude like Herrlein can do, or a guy like Audette who we’re seeing right now.
21 201 Cedric Soubeyras Venasque, France Kawasaki KX 250F
22 931 Gradie Featherstone Chesterfield, United Kingdom Kawasaki KX 250F- I wonder if there is a rivalry between Gradie and Paul Coates who are both from England? I’d like to see them have a duel at dawn for British supremacy! Oh, and by the way, Featherstone tried to kill Hampshire when RJ was lapping him so not sure what was going on there.
1 1 Ryan Dungey Clermont, FL KTM 450 SX-F- I was sitting in my podcast studio the other day and looked over at the Ryan Dungey Wheaties box and thought “Yup, he’s still in jeans.” The answer to this question might never be answered.
2 94 Ken Roczen Clermont, FL Suzuki RM-Z450- Roczen went through a bit of a mid-series slump and then started riding at the great Tim Ferry’s house and probably getting a tip or two. And then he won Toronto and has been ripping off podiums ever since. That’s what happens when someone like Ferry works with you or is just around you.
3 21 Jason Anderson Rio Rancho, NM Husqvarna FC450- Well, Anderson made his fourth straight podium which was good but his pass on Brayton left the fellow KTM rider (Husky is a KTM, people) on the ground and everyone mad at each other. From what I hear Jason may be in for a talk by the FIM this weekend and perhaps put on probation for numerous aggressive passes. I’ve defended Anderson a few times for moves that left others on the ground that I thought were fine but this move was pretty greasy.
4 19 Justin Bogle Cushing, OK Honda CRF 450- An impressive ride for Bogle and a career best at that. His manager Mike LaRocco told me afterwards that he thinks Justin’s starting to think he belongs out there and isn’t getting intimidated by the other guys. Which is a natural reaction for a lot of rookies.
5 41 Trey Canard Edmond, OK Honda CRF 450- Great ride for Trey as he was pretty far back to start the race and rode hard through the pack to get this spot. He was on Bogle at the end.
6 22 Chad Reed Dade City, FL Yamaha YZ450F- Reed is battling some clutch issues lately. The tackier the dirt, the more problems they have. Reed was good early on and then had to nurse it home from there. It was 200th main event for Reed and I can remember him moonlighting on the West Coast on a Yamaha of Troy bike and pissing people off with his aggressiveness out there. We all just thought, “Guy, you’re from the small-bike class, calm down and know your place.”
7 3 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Kawasaki KX 450F- I really thought that St. Louis was going to be good for Tomac. He did press day, he attacked the track in all his practices, the dirt is great for his style of grip-it-and-rip-it and it was all looking great. Then he went down in the first turn and that was all she wrote. Again.
8 33 Joshua Grant Wildomar, CA Kawasaki KX 450F- Grant looked pretty good, maybe the best yet and that includes Daytona. He was a solid fourth for most of the main before looking a bit tired and dropping back to sixth. Then after the race he got hit with a two-position penalty for jumping on the red-cross which easily turns what could’ve easily been a fourth into an eighth.
9 10 Justin Brayton Mint Hill, NC KTM 450 SX-F- Brayton is as nice as they come but he was steaming mad after the Anderson collision telling me, “The typical is getting really old. It’s just stupid. He doesn’t know how to race and that’s what makes me so mad. He’s done it to me a few times now. He’s done it to other people. I’ve had enough. I don’t know if I speak for everybody else. It’s right before a triple. If you come inside… he clearly just rammed me completely off the track. And what if I go for the jump? It’s so frustrating. And I’m not the type of guy that’s going to sit there and just hold somebody up, if I know clearly he’s faster” and then later “he’s messed with the wrong guy.”
10 800 Mike Alessi Hilliard, FL Honda CRF 450- Mike straight up won the heat race beating Chad Reed, James Stewart and Trey Canard. Yes, you read that right. He got the start and no one could catch him. Yes, you read that right, also. His starts have been awesome lately and he’s riding very well. Check his last four finishes, bro—pretty solid.
11 51 Justin Barcia Greenville, FL Yamaha YZ450F- Barcia was better this week but couldn’t break into the top ten which has to come as a bit of a surprise, right?
12 4 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA Suzuki RM-Z450- Baggett (and Barcia) had to go to the LCQ which is a scary place for factory riders to be. I remember myself and Tim Ferry had to go to the LCQ in San Fran one weekend, he barely got the last spot into the main and then he got third in the main event.
13 12 Jacob Weimer Wildomar, CA Suzuki RM-Z450- I keep going and trying to give Weimer riding tips each week and he keeps laughing at me. Well, call me crazy but if he had done that triple I told him to do (no one did it all day, but that’s beside the point) then perhaps he could’ve done better than a 13th. Just saying.
14 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI Suzuki RM-Z450- Tickle’s second race back and he says his wrist is still bothering him a bit which is pretty normal. I’m trying to get a rivalry going between him and Weimer as far as whomever beats who gets to keep the ride with RCH next year but neither guy seems to be taking the bait.
15 25 Marvin Musquin Corona, CA KTM 450 SX-F- Marv came back this week after missing one week and was cruising around in the top ten when his start hook got hooked back up and he had to make a mid-race pit stop. Making a mid-race pit stop is never, ever good people.
16 28 Weston Peick Menifee, CA Yamaha YZ450F- Peick was up there inside the top ten when he dropped back pretty rapidly and I think it was more of a bike problem than a “Weston Peick” problem.
17 55 Vince Friese Cape Girardeau, MO Honda CRF 450- Friese’s starts, although not as good as Alessi’s, have also been pretty good lately. The MCR 450’s have something going on there under the hood.
18 377 Christophe Pourcel San Antonio, FL Husqvarna FC450- I kept waiting for Pourcel to be Pourcel but whether he’s banged up from last week’s crashes or it was too early or what, he wasn’t good as usual in practice and that carried over to the main where he looked to be just riding around.
19 27 Nicholas Wey Murrieta, CA Kawasaki KX 450F- Wey and Schmidt got into it out there over something and it must’ve been pretty bad, because Dungey told me that when he was lapping them he had to be careful because they were engaged in a war. Not sure what was up.
20 79 Nicholas Schmidt Lake Elsinore, CA Suzuki RM-Z450
21 314 Alex Ray Milan, TN Honda CRF 450- Ray rode great to get into the main via the semi this week and he had some pressure from Blake Baggett on the last lap. Alex probably didn’t know what to do with himself with the extra amount of rest when the LCQ was running.
22 801 Jeff Alessi Victorville, CA Honda CRF 450- Jeff does a great job to get into the main events most weeks but he’s got zero intentions of racing for more than six or seven laps and skips entire sections week after week. He can claim he’s doing this because he wants to get out of the way of being lapped but I don’t care. He’s skipping ENTIRE SECTIONS of the track. Just black flag him already.
Some other news and notes:
- When it rains it pours for James Stewart. JS7’s banged up from last week’s practice crash and this week was cleaned out by Weston Peick in a heat race crash where perhaps 55 percent of the Blame Pie was assigned to Weston. James didn’t come out for the semi and this was after not making the night show last week after a crash and then having bike problems the week before in Santa Clara. Stewart’s having an all-time miserable year and honestly, I feel bad for him. Some of his issues are self-inflicted but the bike problems in Santa Clara, this week’s crash, the Dungey crash at A1—these were all basically out of his control. I’ve said it 573 times now but just go home and see you at Hangtown, JS7.
Maybe he’s got something in his deal where he has to show up at the races to get paid or maybe he feels bad for being suspended last year and unable to help out Yoshimura Suzuki, I’m not sure. But what’s been going on this year doesn’t help James, Yoshimura, Mike Webb or anyone. He needs to push reset on 2016 and try again at Hangtown. That’s my thoughts, anyways.
- I’ve been hearing through the grapevine that Stewart’s trying to line something up next year with another brand, perhaps something with Mookie (who has to move to 450’s if he wins the title) and his SEVEN gear as title. I thought he had signed an extension with Yoshimura Suzuki, but who knows? Maybe both sides want a fresh start. In this sport contracts don’t mean much, trust me. I talked to someone close to the situation who told me that if Stew moving to a new team was a nine-inning game then this was in the first inning. Still, there’s something there and we’ll have to wait and see.
Thanks for reading! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat about this column or really anything else. Remember, ELE, bro.