Welcome to Breakdown for 2019. This year we wanted to add a bit of structure to the column and answer specific questions instead of meandering wildly like I have in the past. Hopefully it will help shed insight on a question you may have been asking yourself during the race or even today. Many of these will be based on my opinion but hopefully my experience and access will give readers a different perspective. On to the questions…
Toughest part of the track?
Normally, a double jump would be one of the easiest jumps a rider would face on Saturday. There just isn’t much difficulty involved in most cases. Anaheim was not the usual race, however. The double just past the over/under bridge was truly a make or break type section. Even when it was dry, it presented a big problem for several 250 riders. As the rain came down, that challenge rose up to even the elite 450 group. With slippery conditions and the proximity of the jump to the turn, riders had to exit the turn perfectly if they wanted to downside the first double and jump the next. More importantly, this section cost riders multiple seconds if they didn’t jump it. In the 450 main event, most riders either had good or bad laps based on this section alone.
How bad was the weather and the mud, really?
It wasn’t anything like Anaheim 2005, Seattle 2006, Daytona 2008, etc. It was muddy and tricky, but riders were still doing all of the obstacles (even the big stuff) and turning reasonable laps. I really think the rain caused more problems for goggles than the mud did. The mud just made the track slippery instead of the debacle we have seen in years prior. The main difference was that the rain didn’t really do any damage until late in the day, long after it had hardened. The dirt was hard and didn’t allow any absorption, keeping it from the soft mud that we sometimes see.
Heartbreak of the week
This has to be Dean Wilson, even though he had a great night. He led 14 laps and looked to be a podium lock until he had to pull his goggles. To be a privateer-ish and podium A1 would have been huge for everyone involved. No one really considered him a podium threat (outside of his inner circle) which would have made it that much sweeter. He got fourth, which is still a great result but if you had told him on lap 13 that he wouldn’t make the podium, I think that would sound like a heart breaker.
Guy who looked most relaxed even though it was A1
Even though his main event didn’t go well, I thought Justin Brayton looked fast, comfortable, and ready for Anaheim. He was turning great laps in every practice and looked ready to put in a good result. The mud turned that smile into a frown but I think he will bounce back in Arizona.
Guy who might have been most affected by it being A1
I have to go with Jason Anderson. I have no idea what was wrong or why he was off but there’s no debating that something wasn’t quite right. He never looked like himself at any point. He didn’t have sprint speed, he didn’t get good starts, and he wasn’t able to overcome adversity. It was just a rough day for the defending champ. Luckily, redemption is only a few days away.
Guy who would be most worried leaving A1
I think Marvin Musquin might be stressing a bit. He was slow by Marv standards and simply didn’t have it. His knee surgery surely played a bigger role than he would have liked. Missing considerable time in November is a tough blow to off-season prep. He will get better but he was much further off the pace than I think he was hoping. If he can’t minimize the damage, he might have a big deficit before he is back to 100 percent.
Guy who will be most pumped leaving A1
I think Justin Barcia is the easy answer but that’s boring. I will say both Malcolm Stewart and Aaron Plessinger have reasons to be excited. Mookie was in the mix to win the main event before sliding out. That’s never happened before and is a great momentum builder. Aaron Plessinger was having an awful day before the rain came, but he was able to salvage a sixth place finish. He will need to find some speed before Glendale, but both riders should be smiling today.
Fantasy Pick of the week
Jess Pettis was a gamble but paid off for those willing to take a flyer. The Canadian had only made one other 250SX main event in his career (Seattle 2018) but earned maximum points on Saturday. He has had a tough time in the past and personally, I was too scared of the volatility to pick him. For those that believed, though, he rewarded them with a tenth-place finish, 52 valuable points.