Daytona! Round 10 of 17 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross! Where in the heck did the time go? Let’s dive into what happened and what it all means.
First of all, I’ve never liked this round. First, I had bad experiences as a mechanic at Daytona in terms of getting yelled at by security over and over. Then as a media guy I could never seem to get the right pass to actually watch the races in a good spot, never mind the fact that our normal passes don’t work at this round so that’s a bit of a hassle. Staying in Daytona/flying into Daytona for Bike Week is pricey, so the drive to and from the airport/hotel is always a bit of an issue—but not as much as the viewing. That was the real problem. Simply put, I hated going to this race and I skipped it a few years.
But then an angel emerged from the mist. An angel who worked for Daytona International Speedway in the form of Andrew Booth, the Speedway’s media relations guy. I kept complaining about the race, and Weege couldn’t take it anymore and stepped in to tell Andrew about the situation. It has saved the day! For the last two years, Andrew has managed to finagle an area with chairs, desk, a view, and Wi-Fi for me to post up in and watch the races. Most media folks in this sport shoot photos during the races, so they’re fine working in Daytona’s deadline media room, which is on the infield and doesn’t provide a view of the track. For me, I needed to see the race from up above during the races, and now I can. It’s been great. Daytona and I were embroiled in a bad relationship for years but now we’re working on things, the therapy is working, and we’re starting to understand each other a bit. Thanks, Andrew Booth!
I was talking to an OEM guy about Daytona and how much, if at all, they changed their bike settings for this race. He replied that they didn’t change anything. Nada. Wow, that’s where we’re at with Daytona these days. No more “Daytona” valving or motor specs. He mentioned that they might move some clickers but that’s something they would do at a normal supercross anyway. I can remember testing for days for this race. Although, we would end up going back closer to our original set-up anyway during the course of the day. But still… no changes? Wow, Daytona, you’ve really changed.
Last week I missed the race and got my buddy Anton to write this column for me which was pretty awesome. I’m going to continue my slacker ways this week. After Daytona I called someone I trust that’s in and out of just about all the trucks to ask him (or her) what they thought of the riders’ seasons so far. I also promised him anonymity. Yes, I’m mailing this column in again. It’s been 11 years of doing it, sue me.
So here it is, unfiltered opinions from an insider who will remain nameless. It’s kind of like Sports Illustrated’s season-previews of each sport, where they tap an unnamed scout from each team to get unfiltered opinions on each player. Away we go!
1 24 Austin Forkner Richards, MO Kawasaki KX 250F
“Forkner’s talent is finally matching maturity. I don’t think this is a surprise at all. Maybe it is to some people. Not to me. He really, really, really needed to grow up. He’s done a lot of growing up in a short amount of time, so props to him for that.”
2 23 Chase Sexton Clermont, FL Honda CRF 250
“I think 2020 champion. I really do. I think he’s just a tick off. He’s had some untimely injuries. I think that has set him back a little bit. I just think he needs that one little boost of confidence or one little thing to go his way, and then I think he’s going to be 2020 champion. I really do.”
3 32 Justin Cooper Huntington, NY Yamaha YZ250F
“Again, I think Justin Cooper will be a champ in 2020. I think Sexton’s a better supercross rider but when you’re talking about Sexton and Cooper you’re comparing apples to apples—they’re very close. I think Sexton wins the supercross title and I think Cooper wins the outdoor title.”
4 66 Mitchell Oldenburg Godley, TX Yamaha YZ250F
“Mitchell’s a guy I know. He’s lacking some belief in himself. I think that’s a pretty common trait. I feel like I’ve said this a lot, but I think that’s what holds a lot of guys back. I think Mitchell has everything, he just is lacking that 5 percent belief in himself.”
5 26 Alex Martin Clermont, FL Suzuki RM-Z250
“He’s going to disagree with this, but I think this supercross season has been great for him. I think he’s sharpened his supercross skills. Obviously, he’s had some crashes or whatever, but speed-wise he’s there every weekend. I think this is the best he’s ridden supercross in a long time. I think the verdict is out until we get to outdoors, to be honest, but so far I’m impressed with what I see.”
6 45 Brandon Hartranft Brick, NJ Yamaha YZ250F
“Again, I don’t think many people will notice this because on paper it looks close, but he’s night and day better than he was a year ago. Everyone’s healthy this year, so obviously the field is much deeper. But the kid’s matured a lot. I think he is one step away from a major breakthrough. Again, it looks to me that he needs that mental edge. He doesn’t really need fitness or to work on bike skill too much. He needs that mental edge and then you’ll see him really break through.”
7 55 Kyle Peters Greensboro, NC Suzuki RM-Z250
“I love Kyle. I think KP is a little bit lost right now. I think he is a little bit starving for motivation, if you will.”
8 70 Josh Osby Valparaiso, IN Yamaha YZ250F
“Osby has also earned my respect. I used to think he was a hazard. Seriously, I thought he was a hazard and out of control. I’m not afraid to say that. Osby has completely turned it around and he became a steady guy and on any given night could be top 10. So props to Osby.”
9 37 Kyle Cunningham Willow Park, TX Honda CRF 250
“Riding much better than people see. His first laps, I don’t know what he’s doing. I’m pretty sure he could start backward and get a better start than he gets now. He was dealt some bad cards this off-season—he literally had six days on the bike before Minneapolis and built the team himself. He’s been around for a while, he obviously knows what it takes. Speed-wise he’s the best he’s been in years. I don’t know what he’s doing on the starts, but he’s got to turn that around.”
10 73 Martin Davalos Tallahassee, FL Kawasaki KX 250F
“He’s done. Don’t even get me started. He’s out of shape and he’s over it. He’s done. Nothing else to say on that.” [Matthes note: I SWEAR the insider is not me!]
11 52 Jordan Bailey Orlando, FL Husqvarna FC250
“Jordan Bailey is impressive in supercross, seriously. I really thought he was a disappointment outdoors and I really didn’t know what the team was thinking signing him, but he’s got a lot of skill. If you watch him on a supercross track, he’s got a lot of skill. Now, the bad part, he needs a couple seasons of maturity. I don’t think that team is going to wait that long. I think this is his shot. Hopefully he gets another shot because the kid actually has a lot of skill. Last summer I don’t know what the hell they were doing. But I’ve seen in the last couple months why they signed him. The kid’s good.”
12 63 John Short Pilot Point, TX Honda CRF 250
“I don’t know anything about him, but I’ve watched him in practice. That kid actually rides really well. He has a lot of skill. I don’t think he trains or something because the main events he just rides around.”
13 56 Lorenzo Locurcio Groveland, FL Kawasaki KX 250
“I really think we are getting what we are getting at this point. I think Locurcio could be on a GEICO Honda or the bike he’s on now and be the same guy.”
14 264 Ryan Sipes Ekron, KY KTM 250 SX-F
“The man. Just the man. I love Sipes. I think it’s great for the sport and for the fans what he’s doing now. It’s great.”
15 112 Thomas Covington Murrieta, CA Husqvarna FC250
“He’s scared. He really is. Obviously a great, great kid. Great work ethic. I love Covington. Badass outdoor rider. I just think he’s honestly scared in supercross.”
1 3 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Kawasaki KX 450
“I don’t know, man. I don’t know how you can be so good one weekend, so much better than everyone else, and then the next weekend be a sixth-place guy. I cannot figure that guy out. I don’t know what to even say. I think if you’re going off speed he should be your champion. He should have been champion three years in a row now. But I don’t know. I think Daytona was… I would like to say now he’s going to go on a win streak, but no, I don’t think he’s going to. I think everyone has that same thought process and the next weekend he’s literally nowhere to be found. Even Daytona he was off all day. What did he qualify? Eighth or ninth? And then just kills it. I don’t know. He’s a mystery. He acts like a mystery. I don’t know. I have no idea about that guy.”
2 2 Cooper Webb Newport, NC KTM 450 SX-F
“He’s your 2019 supercross champion. One hundred percent. When he passed Roczen in the last corner at Arlington, that was Vegas (for him) right there. He clinched it. He mentally beat those guys. I know how he races and how he operates. When you give him an inch, he takes a mile. You cannot give him any confidence whatsoever. Those guys have given him way too much. They’ve made way too many mistakes. This thing is his, man. He’s not losing it. I said it right then and there in Arlington. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. I’ve been saying it since then. As the weeks go by, fewer people are saying I’m crazy now, but I think it’s easy to say at the end of the year, when he does win the championship. Mark my words. He will. When he wins, it will be easy to say, “Oh, yeah, Arlington he won it.” Then I’ll sound like a genius. But I honestly believe that. I really do.”
3 25 Marvin Musquin Corona, CA KTM 450 SX-F
“Mindf**k. Marvin is the exact opposite of Cooper. As hard as Cooper is to break mentally, I think Marvin is one of the easiest guys to break. Obviously he came in injured. I think we all know that. But he’s had a lot of missed opportunities and now it’s in his head. I think we saw it at Daytona the other night. He was the fastest guy and he got third and he couldn’t pass Cooper. He literally followed him around for the second half of the race. It’s just in his head at this point. He doesn’t believe he can beat those guys. Maybe he’ll win a race, but I just think he’s a head case.”
4 4 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA KTM 450 SX-F
“He’s somewhat of a mystery still. I almost think you have to look at this season as a success because again, look how far he’s came. His 250 career was great, but he didn’t get off on the right foot in the 450 class. Kind of similar to Webb, really, but he struggled for longer. To me, he’s still a mystery. Why can’t he consistently be a podium guy? That’s a double-edged sword because in his mind I’m sure he’s bummed because he’s made so many mistakes so he’s way back in points, but I almost think you have to look at it as a success as a whole because he’s the fastest he’s ever been. On any given lap he’s the fastest guy on the track. I believe he can win on any given night, which means he’s come a long way. He’s still a mystery to me as to why he’s not consistently up there, or to be honest why he hasn’t won more than one race. I thought after Glendale that was going to be the step he needed. Again though, just a bit strange. Very quiet guy. It’s really hard to get a read on him. I don’t really know much about him.”
5 17 Joey Savatgy Tallahassee, FL Kawasaki KX 450
“I think it’s been a great rookie year for him. I think he’s been really, really good. I think he’s exceeded everyone’s expectations as far as speed. I think he’s done enough to keep his ride too, or at least get something else. Again, he’s another mystery. He’s very, very quiet off the track so I don’t know much about him.”
6 16 Zach Osborne Abingdon, VA Husqvarna FC450
“It’s the injury. This class is so stacked it’s so hard to find your footing. That injury set him back. I think we would see a different Zach without pre-A1 injury. I think he and Joey would be about identical, and I think Zach would have the upper hand because Zach is such a tough son of a bitch. I think Joey can be easily broken as well, and Zach can’t. He’ll be fine. He needs to find his place, if you will.”
7 46 Justin Hill Yoncalla, OR Suzuki RM-Z450
“We were laughing about him having his best race at a track like Daytona. Why wouldn’t he? You know what, though? From what I know, I do think things went a little south when he spent time in California right before A1, but I don’t really believe that was a make or break thing for his year. If it would have been normal A1—as far as I know, this is how he operates, he can get really good in a hurry, and he can get really bad in a hurry—and he had a good night, I think he would have taken off immediately. When A1 didn’t go to plan and everyone was talking about the opening round mud race, whatever, I really, really think that hurt his motivation. I really believe that. He’s like a light switch. Now, finding what turns that light switch on and off, that’s what JGR is trying to figure out. For example, Daytona, I think was a very good round for him. Because the track, you could use less energy and go fast. Everyone talks about Daytona being gnarly, but it’s a very technical track and he’s a very technical rider. So if you watched him ride, he was effortless. He wasn’t hammering the whole time. He wasn’t hitting the bumps. He was jumping the bumps. He was floating through the sand section. He was very light on the bike. I really think that was the beginning of a turnaround. I think things are going to get good for him in a hurry. I really, really believe the beginning of the season just hurt his motivation. I really do.
It doesn’t make sense to me that he would need motivation. He’s just, like, a vibe kind of guy, if that makes sense. He’s not the guy that’s going to on any given Saturday just dig deep and give it 100 percent. If the vibe is right, then you’ve got to watch out. But it’s trying to get that right, it’s like playing with a voodoo doll or something. It really, really is. I feel like when you’re a top-level professional athlete you can’t have the inconsistencies. You can’t have highs or lows or inconsistencies in your program. So, that just reflects in his results. Everything in his personal life kind of reflects directly in his professional life.”
8 94 Ken Roczen Clermont, FL Honda CRF 450
“Man, I hate to say this about Ken because I respect the guy so much for what he’s came back from, but I think he’s a bit in the same situation as Marv. I really do, especially from what I heard recently about his dad and his suspension guy from when he was on 85s. They’re over here helping him. I think that’s just a sign that he’s searching. He’s searching and clawing and looking for anything that he thinks is the magic potion, when really he’s had it all along. He’s had a couple things not go his way and I think he’s letting the demons creep into his head. Again, that’s a double-edged sword because look what he’s came back from. I think that’s a massive success story. But at the same time, he is good enough to win. He could be champion. I also think his brother-in-law getting hurt has affected him. I mean, how could it not?”
9 10 Justin Brayton Mint Hill, NC Honda CRF 450
“Brayton’s Brayton, man. I think that guy is just phenomenal for his age and what he’s doing. I haven’t really went back and looked on paper, so really I have no supporting facts of this, but I feel that the class is a bit deeper this year and not as many people have gotten hurt. I really don’t think he’s riding any worse. I think he’s still just as good as he was last year. I think everyone else has just gotten better and he’s going to do what he’s going to do.”
10 22 Chad Reed Dade City, FL Suzuki RM-Z450
“It’s kind of funny. I was just talking about this with somebody the other day. I honestly think Reed is riding right now as good as he ever has. I really think everyone else has gotten faster. I really do. I think this is 2009 Chad Reed. I honestly do. I just feel like you have to fill all the other names into 2009, I think that’s what we get. I think the sport’s elevated that much. I truly believe that.”
11 15 Dean Wilson Clermont, FL Husqvarna FC450
“He’s just got to stay healthy. Dean is such a great rider. I think we see what he’s capable of with some of his practice laps, and then damn near winning A1. I really thought he was going to win that. I think we see the same flashes of brilliance that we’ve always seen from Dean. I think he knows deep down he has got to stay healthy. I think it’s just making him a little bit timid to take the risk. I think what he’s doing is fine. I think he’s doing good. I just don’t think that’s what he’s capable of. I think if he stays healthy for one or two full seasons then I think we’ll see the real Dean Wilson.”
12 12 Shane McElrath Canton, NC KTM 250 SX-F
“This is such a hard one for me to say. Thank god I’m staying anonymous on this. I really like Shane. I think he has every tool. Again, he should have won two West Coast titles by now. I don’t think he’ll ever win a championship. I don’t know if he believes in himself enough. He has everything it takes, he just doesn’t make it happen when it counts. I think that just comes down to believing in yourself enough. I still think he views his competition as maybe they’re just on another level, when really that’s not the case. I think he views this year with AC, last year with AP, the year before with whoever—I think he kind of reads jerseys too much. That’s a hard one for me to say. I really like Shane.”
13 14 Cole Seely Sherman Oaks, CA Honda CRF 450
“I think his injury last year has really affected him. He has won some heat races. I think Seely is so damn talented; I think he could win a main event blindfolded. Again, I don’t think mental strength is Seely’s strongpoint. Props to him for working hard and coming back. I know that was a gnarly injury. I had heard rumors that he didn’t want to come back, so props to him for being out there.”
14 19 Justin Bogle Cushing, OK KTM 450 SX-F
“Kind of the same situation as Dean, but maybe worse. He’s definitely trying to rebuild his career. What I mean, I hear what Dean’s doing during the week. He’s still trying his ass off. He’s in shape. Bogle I think is just trying not to get hurt, but he also from what I see he’s not where he needs to be physically, either. So, that’s kind of like a double negative. You’re just trying to not get hurt, but then you’re still getting tired. That’s even worse. He needs two or three rebuilding years.”
15 11 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL Suzuki RM-Z450
"Chisholm is Chisholm, man. I have such respect for that guy. It doesn’t matter who is on the line, what country he’s in, what brand he’s on. It does not matter. That guy is going to find a way into the main event ten out of ten times. He’s going to make a paycheck and support his family. That right there is what a journeyman looks like. He has my respect.”
16 43 Tyler Bowers Lake Elsinore, CA Kawasaki KX 450
“How is Bowers not doing better? I don’t get it. I don’t understand. I don’t know what he does during the week, if he doesn’t train or what. But Bowers is so damn talented and I see some of his laps in practice and I’m like, holy shit. The kid’s got serious skill. I also think he might be just winding his career down, trying to just make a living. I really do because for Bowers if you look at the equipment he’s on and the rig he’s in, I think he’s doing fantastic. But that’s not Tyler Bowers’ ceiling. There’s no way. Bowers is a really, really good rider. To be honest, with Bowers I expect a little more. “
17 111 Chris Blose Phoenix, AZ Husqvarna FC450
“Blose is the man. Same way with Chisholm, I just think almost a little bit better. I think Blose is technically a better rider than Chisholm. I can’t say enough good things about the guy. Last weekend watching the race I’m like, Chris Blose will be in the main event. I will bet my house on it. He’s doing what he has to do to scratch out of a living in this sport which is not easy. Much respect to Blose.”
18 41 Ben LaMay Anchorage, AK Honda CRF 450
“LaMay’s a poor man’s Chisholm. One hundred percent. I really don’t know LaMay or have any background info on him, but again, much respect to that guy. He’s just making it happen. If you look back at 2014, 2015 Ben LaMay, compared to then, he’s really stepped it up. It sounds weird saying that because no one will notice. No one will ever notice that. But go look at his results from right when he turned pro and his first few seasons. The guy’s gotten a lot better. The problem is the class is so deep no one notices that. “
19 60 Justin Starling Deland, FL Husqvarna FC450
20 800 Mike Alessi Hilliard, FL Honda CRF 450
“Well, before Atlanta I was going to say why. What the hell is he doing? I’m serious. Why come back? You know what? Alessi’s proved me wrong. He’s kind of done what I guess Alessi would do: make the main through the LCQ, get amazing holeshots from the outside gate, and then just go out there and just get a paycheck, I guess. I don’t really know what he’s doing or what he’s trying to accomplish. His supercross career has been done. But at the same time, if he’s trying to make some money I guess yeah, he’s doing a good job.”
21 184 Scott Champion Orange, CA Yamaha YZ450F
“I don’t know how Dakota Alix blew that lead on the last lap in Daytona. You know what? I used to kind of laugh at Champion a little bit just because he just kind of acts like some rockstar when he’s barely making main events. But he’s earned my respect as well. He really has. He finds a way to make it happen, man. He really does. I know the shit’s not easy, so anyone finding a way in there, they have my respect.”
22 7 Aaron Plessinger Hamilton, OH Yamaha YZ450F
“I don’t know why guys keep… I know he’s quiet. He got hurt this off-season worse than people think and barely had any time on the bike. So I kind of expected him to be where he’s at coming in. Maybe even a little worse actually just for what he was up against. So, when I say it’s kind of a sore subject, I’ve heard a lot of people kind of hating on him. If they knew what he was doing in October, November, December, he’s honestly done great. If you look at him he’s gotten better. He got to ride during the week and actually start training and he got better and better and better. Next thing you know, at Atlanta he would have got fourth had he not crashed in the sand. He’ll be just fine. He just needs to be injury-free and he needs time. He’ll be just fine. I heard two months for this injury.”
Ok, back to me [Matthes] now. Thanks to our insider for that info. Good stuff.
Me? I’m just back to where I was after Detroit and waiting on Tomac to get going. But even if he gets going this Webb dude has been limiting the damage and every week that goes by looks more and more like the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Champion. You could make a case that, once again, throughout the day there were three or four riders faster than him but when it comes to the results, Webb only lost three points to one guy in the title hunt. He finished ahead of Marvin and Kenny. It’s all coming together for him.
Could Tomac get on this run and win the title? Yes, I think he can but for reals this time, he has to win this weekend. Him and the Monster Kawasaki team have to lock in and get rolling. Tomac can’t have another Atlanta this weekend in Indianapolis. Guess we’ll see.
On the 250 side, yeah Forkner’s got this, everyone. But he sure keeps it interesting in practice!
Thanks for reading, appreciate the time your gave me—errrr, us—this week and email me at email@example.com if you want to chat about this weekends race or anything else.