That’s it, it’s over. The 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season is a wrap with last Saturday’s race in Las Vegas. There were highs, there were lows, and there were whoops the size of small elephants.
I’ll cover the 450s below but there were certainly tons to talk about when it comes to the 250SX championships, specifically the West Region.
As we all know, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis won the title with an amazing comeback. He won the race and with just four minutes to go, Adam Cianciarulo crashed and severely damaged his bike. The title was ripped from AC’s hands and grabbed by Dylan with one mistake. That’s all it took and it’s heartbreaking for Adam and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team while the Yamaha guys and Dylan will always remember that night in Vegas.
I was a part of something much like this at KTM in 2001 when Grant Langston’s wheel blew apart with ten minutes to go or so while he had the 125 national championship won. It was unbelievable that we had lost and the stunned silence we had around our team was something I won’t forget.
Look, there’s no other way to put this but Adam blew it. He crashed on a section of the track that no one else crashed on all day (that I saw). He was in complete control of everything having worked through the GEICO Honda guys to get into third. With just six laps to go, he got cross-rutted and went down on the landing of a double. It’s simple stuff and I don’t think he was he thinking of the title and melted down and all that stuff I’ve seen out there about him “choking.” He’s an aggressive rider and made a mistake. That’s it but it’s one that will stay with him the rest of his life.
He can use it for motivation for Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross and be determined to win that; or the mistake can crush him mentally and take away all the desire to work his balls off for the outdoors. He can go either way here and I’m fascinated to see what’s next for Adam. I think he’s moving up to 450s next year but maybe this crash will give him desire to stay down next year and get a 250SX title before he jumps up. Maybe he wants to have that on his resume, I’m not sure. I do know that this mistake could alter a lot of peoples careers one way or another including Adam’s, Dylan Ferrandis’, and Joey Savatgy’s.
There are not too many people in the pits that don’t like Adam. He’s funny, he’s charming, honest, and lets people in. He’s a unique person and that’s what makes him stand out among a sea of home-schooled robotic riders that don’t really have much to say. There will be a lot of grace given out to Adam and it’s earned over the years. This kid has been through a lot and although I’m sure he doesn’t want to hear it right now, this will make him a better person.
Can you believe that Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit team didn’t win a 250SX title this year? I mean, really? Austin Forkner exits with an injury and now AC. Wow. That’s amazing. Seriously, we’ll be talking about this for a long time and wonder how it’s possible. Maybe I’ll ask Payton about it when I’M CLEANING HIS SHOP AFTER LOSING MY BET.
[Editor’s note: Martin Davalos finished fourth in the 250SX East and Alex Martin, who Matthes bet Payton on, finished fifth in the 250SX East Region. Now Matthes has to clean the PC shop.]
But onto Ferrandis and I admit I was wrong about Dylan and coming to the U.S. He had missed 20 MX2 GPs in the two years before he came here with injury, he hadn’t impressed me much at the Euro SX races, and I didn’t know why Star Racing Yamaha would sign him if I’m being honest. And he has suffered injuries in three of his four U.S. series before this year that caused him to miss time, but he showed that when he’s on the track, he’s got the speed to win indoors and out.
This year he held it together for a whole series, won his first race in Seattle, his second a week after that in Houston, and then proceeded to do the only thing he had control of in Vegas and that was win. Ferrandis is only 24 years old (two years older than AC) although it seems like he’s been around longer.
Years from now we’ll just see Dylan Ferrandis as the 2019 250SX West Region Champion and not really remember that Cianciarulo had four minutes to go until he was the champion. Same thing on the East as Chase Sexton knows that we’ll see his name there and not think about how Austin Forkner won all those races before tearing up his knee. Sexton brought home the title with calm, steady laps as his two GEICO Honda teammates, Cameron McAdoo and RJ Hampshire, rode with the desire of guys that had nothing to lose. Chase Sexton is you 2019 250SX East Region Champion.
Sexton has a great style on the bike, a calm demeanor off of it, and I’ve heard from many around him that there is zero chance he ever gets sucked into this “kid who makes too much money and thinks he’s a rock star” syndrome we see so many times over the years. He’s a throwback to me of a guy like Jeff Stanton. He’s not got a strong personality, he’s happy to let his riding do the talking, and this title is well deserved for someone who couldn’t shake the injury bug early on in his pro career.
With two East/West Showdowns this year I think it was clear to see the West was best as those riders went 1-2 in Atlanta (Cianciarulo and Ferrandis) and 1-2-3 in Las Vegas (Ferrandis, McAdoo, Hampshire). Forkner even led Atlanta for a bit before having the two West Region riders get by him. Sexton rode a steady race for fourth in Vegas and was probably not absolutely killing himself to get by his teammates but still, in 2019 West was best.
Maybe we should add another two Showdowns for 2020 to really see the difference? I’m all for that!
Since it was Vegas finale and not much happened out there in the 450SX main event, let’s take a look at the top 20 overall 450SX points standings, shall we?
2019 450SX POINTS STANDINGS
1st | #2 Cooper Webb | Newport, NC | KTM 450 SX-F
Well, he did it. All he needed to do was make the main event in Vegas and not only did he do that but he got on the box. Amazing season for Webb and I’d rank it fourth all-time in the most surprising 450SX titles ever. Number one has to be Jeff Stanton in 1989, number two would be Jeremy McGrath in ’93, number three Ryan Dungey in 2010 (rookie year), and then Webb. It was awesome to see, seven wins on the year and what a season it was. I guess when he fell in the first turn at A1 and came from dead last to fifth and set the fastest lap time of the night we should’ve been warned this was a different Cooper Webb? Look, Coop did this so it’s all on him BUT if I had to give out a percentage pie for this title I’d say Aldon Baker gets 60 percent of the credit and the Red Bull KTM bike/team gets 40 percent. Amazing and just adds another dude to the mix for 2020!
2nd | #3 Eli Tomac | Cortez, CO | KAWASAKI KX450
Well, the good news is he didn’t win the most races this year and not win the title! Hey, just trying to grasp at something here for Tomac. Eli was not as dominant as the last few years, a pre-season injury held him back for a bit then some comfort level with the bike held him back at other races. As his dad John told me, he’s just not going to push through something if he’s not comfortable with it out there. We saw some uncomfortable moments for the #3 this year, much more so than in the past. Back in the day Honda’s 2009 CRF450 was all-new (like the Kawasaki now) and Honda people told me it took two years of data collection before they felt like they knew the bike. Eli’s hoping it doesn’t take that long. When he’s on, he’s the fastest SX rider in the world, but when he’s not, it’s like a different dude is riding the bike.
3rd | #25 Marvin Musquin | Corona, CA | KTM 450 SX-F
Marvin also started a bit slowly and it cost him but not as bad as Denver when he went from leading laps to third or Seattle where he kept the win but lost seven points for jumping on a red-cross flag. I felt like Musquin wasn’t as consistently good as he was last year but that the whole “Marv can’t blitz whoops” thing is also overrated. He passed dudes in whoops by blitzing. He’s not great at them but in supercross 2019, he doesn’t need to be. I also don’t think the whole “Webb surpassing Marvin as the guy at KTM” thing is an angle that I want to chase. I think he’s a nice enough guy and does his work where something like that doesn’t bug him.
4th | #94 Ken Roczen | Clermont, FL | Honda CRF450R
Despite holding the red plate two different times, this was a disappointing year for Roczen as he wasn’t able to capture a win and then had some health issues hold him back late this season. There were some inspired rides for sure but you wonder how long Roczen can go without winning and being consistently a top guy before he loses a bit of that edge that make guys like him so great? We all know what he’s come back from, which is gnarly, but for him, winning is all that matters and he hasn’t done much of that in two years.
5th | #4 Blake Baggett | Grand Terrace, CA | KTM 450 SX-F
Baggett got his first 450SX win this year so you figure that, no matter what, it’s been a good season for him. He battled consistency throughout the year but five podiums is a solid season. Baggett’s got the speed but he’s got to find that next thing, whatever that is, to keep him as a podium threat every week (like, say Roczen, who was on the box at most of the races when he wasn’t ill) because sometimes, he was nowhere to be found.
6th | #15 Dean Wilson | Clermont, FL | HUSQVARNA FC 450
A comeback season for Dean and unfortunately something he’s used to doing. Starting out in a van for 2019, Wilson earned himself that factory ride back when Jason Anderson got hurt and he rode awesome. His outdoor season should start slow due to this late season SX injury but I cannot and will not understand how Rockstar Energy Husqvarna can’t find a spot for Dean in a three-man team for 2020 (like they are doing for the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross). Like, how and why?
7th | #14 Cole Seely | Sherman Oaks, CA | Honda CRF450R
Not where he wanted to be this year, Seely admitted to me a few times that his conditioning wasn’t where it should be after his injury in SX last year. It was a constant game of catch up for Cole although there were some highlights like him winning three heat races, some speed shown here and there, and he also only missed one race (Detroit). It was a rebuilding year for Cole but I don’t know if he can afford that with his Honda deal up at the end of the season.
8th | #17 Joey Savatgy | Tallahassee, FL | KAWASAKI KX450
Savatgy had a nice rookie year—who had him doing the best out of Aaron Plessinger, Zach Osborne, and Justin Hill at the start of the season?—and he would’ve been even better had he not had a bike issue and then crashes that knocked him out of some races while he was up front. He was very impressive at times, showed some speed but made some mistakes here and there. The racing will slow down for him at some point and he’ll stop doing that soon. Impressive!
9th | #19 Justin Bogle | Cushing, OK | KTM 450 SX-F
What a nice season for Bogle who started off with no ride and wasn’t going to be at Anaheim 1. You just never know in life when things will turn, right? He started slow, got a bit better, had a mid-season lull then finished it off strong. Two heat race wins also were cool. He was feeling it at the end, he was jumping stuff early and showing that flair he has when he’s right. He also would wear some very puzzling outfits at the races. I hope there’s a way he can stay on the team once Benny Bloss comes back from injury, which is expected to be at High Point.
10th | #10 Justin Brayton | Mint Hill, NC | Honda CRF450R
A so-so season for Brayton who was probably better last year (even taking his incredible Daytona win out of the equation) but still better than he was in 2017. He missed four races with injury as well but rebounded to get tenth in the points by racing the last two rounds. Brayton’s Brayton (apologies to Jake Weimer for taking his catchphrase) and he’s so solid on and off the track. The SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts team really have him to thank for changing their reputation in the sport. Because people like Justin, they walked over to the MCR team to visit and found out more about the team.
11th | #46 Justin Hill | Yoncalla, OR | SUZUKI RM-Z450
No other way to put this than the JGR guys were looking for way better results when they signed Hill. Yes, he had some flashes of brilliance but there were very few and far between for him and the team. He didn’t look like he was in good enough shape either. Hill won’t be back with the team next year so maybe that’s a bit of a wake-up call for him in 2020.
12th | #43 Tyler Bowers | Lake Elsinore, CA | KAWASAKI KX450
Yes, Bowers gets factory suspension and probably some cool motor parts from Kawasaki but he’s basically a privateer and finished in this spot. Beat some big names (although they got injured) and was clearly the best privateer almost every week. The Bear was solid and I know he turned down a couple of privateer teams before the season so he could do his own thing. Looks like it paid off, Tyler should be proud of his year, he did well and this placing includes his BS DQ from Dallas and missing round two when he was in Germany.
13th | #51 Justin Barcia | New Jersey | YAMAHA YZ450F
Well, he won the opener and that was awesome for Justin and the team. He never really backed that up though (no other podiums) and then missed a bunch of races with injury. The win makes the season somewhat successful for sure but other than that, we were waiting to see if he turned the corner to be more of a podium guy.
14th | #16 Zach Osborne | Abingdon, VA | HUSQVARNA FC 450
Until late in the year, Osborne’s supercross season was looking at lot like Aaron Plessinger’s in that it was good but not great. It was just sort of meh. But then Osborne figured it out with the help of a new motor setting and started becoming “Euro off-season Zach” with some heat race wins, fastest qualifier settings, and then that podium in New Jersey. So, yeah we’re all okay here on Team Zach, the switch was flipped and he figured things out. Sleeper 450 Pro Motocross champion right here?
15th | #22 Chad Reed | Dade City, FL | SUZUKI RM-Z450
Reed scored one podium this season and at 37 years old, that makes 2019 a success. He missed the last six races due to injury but he was inside the top ten when he got hurt. For what he was paid in salary, he more than delivered for the team. Plus you add in that he’s now the sports most popular rider (or 1B with Ken Roczen) and yeah, things went well for the 22—except for that injury.
16th | #7 Aaron Plessinger | Hamilton, OH | YAMAHA YZ450F
AP7’s rookie year didn’t go that well but it was turning around before he got hurt. He had dialed back his motor setting to more stock than before, he had gone east to Barcia’s and gotten his first top five before he crashed and got hurt. So maybe he was going to come around but we weren’t able to find out. Hit the reset button and go to 2020 for AP.
17th | #11 Kyle Chisholm | Valrico, FL | SUZUKI RM-Z450
Chiz is gonna Chiz and he Chiz’d a lot this year out there. I never liked the decision to drop to 250SX the last few years—he rode well but this is a better fit for Kyle in my opinion. He missed one main event when he crashed in the first turn in the LCQ but other than that, no matter what, Kyle got it done most times.
18th | #41 Ben LaMay | Anchorage, AK | Honda CRF450R
LaMay was very solid all year long, got the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts ride later in the year and immediately got quicker and better results. Now, some of the guys were out with injury but he showed with factory suspension and a good team around him, it can make a difference. LaMay’s solid and better than you think.
19th | #62 Alex Ray | Milan, TN | SUZUKI RM-Z450
A-Ray crashes too much, he’s too inconsistent but there are high moments out there when you can see he’s got something. He often lets his heart make decisions that his talent can’t keep up with and things go BOOM. I thought he was better last year on the Yamaha but he doesn’t agree with me. A-Ray is also fun to watch every weekend!
20th | #42 Vince Friese | Cape Girardeau, MO | Honda CRF450R
Friese got this spot with just six finishes before exiting with a knee injury. He wasn’t as good as last year but I think that was mostly because his starts went missing in 2019. Still, he’ll be back in 2020 and return to riding like the solid veteran that he is.
Thanks for reading, good stuff this year as the series proved to be an exciting one. We are onto the outdoors in a couple of weeks and that opens a whole can of worms for us to talk about. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat about this or anything else.