And that’s a wrap! The 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship came to a close with an Eli Tomac 450 moto two victory at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Hooray for the fact that there was no rain at this race for what I think was only the second time in five years. The track was normal and stuff!
I’ve always liked this track, so I thought it had the potential to be pretty good if it just didn’t have to deal with the rain. So I thought this year was great! A few racers I talked to weren’t fans of it, they thought it was too much of a slot car track (from rain earlier in the week and the track prep), but others, like Alex Martin, loved it. It wasn’t universal love though and that surprised me. Early in practice it looked like a track I would love to ride, except for those dumb big jumps. I guess it was rutty but isn’t just about every national track outside of Budds Creek?
Funny that it took until the 23rd moto of the year for a full battle between the top three fastest riders (with apologies to Zach Osborne) in the 450 Class, right? Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, and Marvin Musquin had a terrific race in moto one and we haven’t really seen all three guys race like that at warp speed. It was awesome to watch and also very surprising that it was Musquin, who trailed in third early on, who passed both guys and took the win. The track was rutty and I would bet the lines changed a lot during the moto so Musquin was able to watch the lines of both Tomac and Roczen and experiment with his own. Tomac admitted to me after the race that Musquin had a couple of sneaky quick lines out there and used one of them, right before he could switch it up, to get by him. I think it was one of those tracks (or the way it shaped up anyways) where you could only go so fast, which kept the gap between the guys pretty close. Great race! As Tomac told me afterward it was “fun,” and I couldn’t agree more. Really fun to watch this one.
Well he did it. The kid won a title! Adam Cianciarulo clinched his first professional title in moto one when he rode to second place behind Dylan Ferrandis. The kid I once joked to that he should get “bust” on the back of his pants, came through with one hell of an outdoor season. I never, ever thought he would win a motocross title before a supercross title but he did. And it was never really in doubt. Right from the start of the series, coming off his heartbreak in Vegas in the 250SX West Region, he was on it and a factor in every single moto. Funny how that works, right? Congrats to Adam and his team. No word if they’re still at the track trying to blow his Kawi 250F up. If you want more thoughts on all this revving, please listen to the PulpMX show or the Racer X Podcast show as I devote probably an hour to this topic. #Gorillas
Let’s recap the top twenty in points in each class and then figure out whether the rider met expectations or not. Sounds fun, right?
250 Class Top Twenty
1 92 Adam Cianciarulo 519- As I said, he was the total package this outdoor year. Fast, in shape, got great starts and quietly, the PC guys found some HP this year in the bike as well. I don’t think there’s anyone not happy for Adam, except maybe Dylan Ferrandis and maybe Cooper Webb. That’s about it. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Ummm, yeah. He’s the champ. On to 450s!
2 34 Dylan Ferrandis 499- Easy to see Dylan being a 250SX and MX champion next year and then off to 450s, right? He started outdoors a tad slow and admitted that he couldn’t get into it after winning his first 250SX title. He had everything AC had except consistent starts. When he needed a push at Budds Creek, it just didn’t happen. After Indiana Dylan seemed a tad irritated with his teammate Justin Cooper for passing him in moto one and then at other riders for, in his opinion, fighting harder with him than with Adam. I’m not sure about any of the above but I respect his opinion and I also like that he’s not afraid to speak his mind. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yes, he did.
3 32 Justin Cooper 461- Third last year in the points, third this year but with over 100 more points and a win, it was a better year for Cooper. Unbelievable qualifying speed and start skills help him out a ton, and it just sets him up for a good finish. He did seem to fade a bit in the second half of the year but he’ll be better next year now that he knows what to expect from a full season. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yes, he did because he improved on last year. He’s gone 3-2-3 in the first three series he’s finished as a pro. Pretty impressive, yeah?
4 31 RJ Hampshire 337- Well, RJ wouldn’t be pumped with this but I guarantee you he gets the award for most riders passed this summer. Seems like he was always coming from the back, and I know he was frustrated with his bike this summer (all the GEICO guys seemed to be at one point or another). To be fair, he made his fair share of mistakes also. He’s a veteran of the class on a factory bike so one would think there would be more podiums than the one. I did have someone tell me that Honda’s goal with the new 250F last year was all peak HP (top end) and with the dual headers, the way the motor is configured, it’ll never have the bottom the other bikes have. So it does have good peak numbers, but getting there is an issue (some of the GEICO riders talked about struggling to get starts if the start straight was tilled up really deep). Keep an eye on the motor development on the Honda in the next year or so. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: I would say no for all the reasons listed above. He was over a hundred points back of Cooper in third and scored one podium. Got to be better in my opinion. Next year he moves to Rockstar Husqvarna with a chance to do that.
5 23 Chase Sexton 316- Oh what could have been. Sexton won that moto in Florida and then promptly went on the injured list with heat exhaustion. It took everything out of him, and it definitely took him a while to get back to his old level, which was still a tick off the front-runners. Again, I don’t think he was stoked on his bike at times, so there’s that, but he’s a rider on the rise for sure. 450MX in motocross in 2020 is something that might happen, but I’d keep him in 250MX for another year. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Tough call because he did break through and win a moto, and because of injuries he doesn’t have a ton of experience in the class. I’ll say yes he did, because when he was at 100 percent, he was challenging for podiums in most motos.
6 26 Alex Martin 305- Troll Train had a complicated year. I have to say the Suzuki 250F was better than I thought it would be, so as a fan of Troll I’d like to sit here and say it was the bike and not “us,” but the bike seemed okay. At least after JGR guys found some power after High Point, anyway. All in all, “we” weren’t up there as much as in the past, but five podiums motos decent. “We” learned a lot and 2020 might be “our” year. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: I have to be honest. No (this saddens me).
7 39 Colt Nichols 292- I don’t care that he got seventh in points, he would’ve gotten fourth had he not missed the last four motos with injury. It was very good year for Nichols, who isn’t known as a motocross guy. Yes, like all the guys, he’s helped by that Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha bike, but there were many motos where late in the race he was setting great lap times. The work ethic is there, he’s just a bit off the elite three in this class. Can he close that gap in 2020? We’ll see. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yes, I would say so. Fourth in points for most of the season and two podiums with a ton of top fives.
8 36 Michael Mosiman 290- A coming out year for Mosiman, who I would say was in danger of losing his ride until he broke out in the second half of supercross. He missed a race with injury but was much improved this year. Mosiman doesn’t stand out much for one particular skill, but he’s got a solid package of everything you want in a rider. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yes, he did.
9 12 Shane McElrath 285- Years from now, scholars will break down Shane’s 1-1 ride at Budds Creek, in the midst of his worst season as a pro, and wonder what happened. They’re still studying Damon Huffman’s 1-1 at Troy in 1997 so it might take a while. Shane wasn’t stoked on his bike, I don’t think the team was stoked on him signing with Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha, and both sides need a break. Still, there’s always that 1-1 day! DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Considering at the start of 2019 we were talking about Shane as a potential 250MX title sleeper, no.
10 196 Hunter Lawrence 252- Hunter had a lot of hype coming into the Nationals and not riding supercross meant he could come in guns blazing like so many other guys have done in the past, but it didn’t happen. Well, at Pala it did and at High Point it did, but again, not to sound like a broken record here, I don’t think he was stoked on the bike. Still, Hunter underwhelmed a bit. If his ACL surgery goes well he’ll be better next year. Tenth in points after missing six motos is good. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: No. I mean, at least to me because I had him in the top three a lot more than he was. Pre-season, I was driving the Hunter Lawrence bandwagon so maybe it’s on me, not him.
11 936 Ty Masterpool 206- Ty was the “Huh?” rider of the class. Nobody knew much about him, or knew he was even turning pro. But he did, and while he fought through some inconsistency issues here and there, that’s okay because was a rookie. I had one rider tell me that they’d love to see how he would do OFF a Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha bike, but hey, thems the breaks. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yes, I would say so. He led laps, he was up front a few times, and just missed a top ten overall as a rookie.
12 45 Brandon Hartranft 174- Hartranft had a rough start to the Nationals with no points in the first three motos, then just some so-so finishes from there. He got better in the second half after, from what I hear, taking control of his program a little more. He’s in shape, he works hard all moto long, and he earned himself a TLD Red Bull KTM ride for 2020. The future’s bright for Brandon. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Considering his bike, team, and all that, I’d say so.
13 44 Cameron McAdoo 168- RAM IT missed the first six motos of the year, then jumped on a KTM and had a great race in the seventh and eighth motos of the year. He bested that result only once the rest of the way (he did have a costly DNF at Unadilla) but he did enough to earn a Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki ride in 2020. RAM IT is one of those guys who slowly gets better, not a guy who makes massive jumps. But, staying healthy and getting races under his belt has helped. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yeah, I mean, he was a fill-in rider who missed six motos to start the year then started getting top tens. Tyler Keefe signs up for that all damn day.
14 61 Garrett Marchbanks 132- Garrett’s plan for 2020 should be to skip High Point, as that track put him out with injury for the second year in a row. When he was racing he was good here and there. This was really his rookie year as last year he got thrown in without a ton of notice and then got hurt quickly. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: I don’t know. Part of me wants to see more speed on that bike and team, more, “Hey look at Marchbanks!” But part of me says, “He’s still learning and 2020 is going to be huge for him”.
15 52 Jordan Bailey 119- Second year for Bailey and on that team, bike, training program, you definitely wanted some more flash. Try to remember if you saw any moments of greatness from Jordan. It wasn’t there. He certainly had some good rides ripping up through the pack and some steady rides inside the top ten, but he was kind of, just “there” a lot of the time. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: No, I don’t think so. The question is, will he be a Mosiman and come alive in his third year, or will he be cast aside and never really have another good shot like these past two years?
16 55 Kyle Peters 94- I didn’t realize Peters hadn’t ridden outdoors for, like, ever. In that sense, he’s not an outdoor warrior guy but he grabbed a holeshot, led a lap, and he seemed like he tried hard. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yeah, I’d say so, right?
17 66 Mitchell Oldenburg 90- Tough year for Freckle, who’s a good dude, but you can’t help but think that once he knew he wasn’t coming back to Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha, and didn’t have anything, he let those facts hurt him mentally at the races. It’s amazing he couldn’t put it together on that bike because “we can work with speed” and Mitch has plenty. He needs a fresh start. Anyone see JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing in his future? DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: No.
18 73 Martin Davalos 89- Oh Marty! His last 250MX series went a lot like so many of his other ones with crashes, injuries, and some decent rides here and there. There weren’t any flashes, but remember when Marty rode 450MX and killed it? Yeah, exactly. Time to move up Marty! You’re better up there because you’re too old and smart to go balls out with these kids. I just hope someone signs him. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Look, Marty got some arm pump surgery and NO ONE would’ve said anything had he decided that was it, he didn’t want to come back. So he deserves props for coming back to end his 250MX career with his head held high.
19 156 Jacob Hayes 86- Hayes was never going to be this gnarly outdoor rider. It’s been a long time with just indoor racing for Jacob. There were lots of zeroes for Hayes at the races before going out with a knee injury. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Considering my expectations were pretty low going in (I think his value is in SX), I’d say sure.
20 233 Derek Drake 83- Drake had a tough rookie season, although there were flashes of something here and there. Enough to work with? We’ll see, but yeah, I’m saying he’s graded as an incomplete. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: I don’t know, sure.
450 Class Top Twenty
1 1 Eli Tomac 521- I think out of the three title runs for ET, this one didn’t have as much balls out speed as last year’s (but trust me, there was still plenty). But, he was just better than everyone else more times than he was in the past. I know Roczen and him split the first four rounds, but “Hot-Weather-Kenny” was always lurking. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Uhhhh, yeah, you think?
2 94 Ken Roczen 463- It was a very complicated season for the German. Like, he won two Nationals early, which was awesome, as they were his first wins since his injury. So that’s cool. But then there were the tough motos when his virus or whatever would make him look very average. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Well “Cooler-Weather-Kenny” certainly did but “Hot-Weather-Kenny” was a different guy. This is weird I know.
3 25 Marvin Musquin 451- Is Marv just destined to be a runner-up? Had he not gotten hurt at Ironman I think he would’ve finished second in the points. Again. Either way, he was impressive at times with two wins, but at other times it did seem like he was third best. His starts and/or opening laps weren’t very good, or as good as in the past anyway. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yes he did because he won Nationals and that ain’t easy. If you ask him though, I bet he’d say no. Marv wants a title.
4 21 Jason Anderson 407- Anderson missed basically all the outdoors last year and quite a bit of 2017, so this was his first attempt at a full 450MX season in a long time. It went pretty well. At times he was in position for an overall win but faded a bit at the end of motos. He was steady. I think Zacho had more flashes of brilliance but Jason was more consistent. Some of his opening ten minutes were impressive. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yes, I’d say so.
5 16 Zachary Osborne 403- Osborne missed a race, won a moto, and made a crap ton of podiums. I’d say this was a success for Wacko. He proved to get stronger as the motos and series went on and he’ll never cheat you for effort. On a text earlier this week Zach told me Hangtown was one of the best tracks of the series so I don’t know what to believe about him anymore. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yeah, he did.
6 2 Cooper Webb 324- Bro, he won the 450SX title, then went 1-1 at a 450MX National. It was fine. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: YES.
7 51 Justin Barcia 315- Hey man, at least he got better at the end of the year right? Happier with the bike, a little healthier, and we saw glimpses of the old Barcia at times. Especially when he and Wilson were locked in a duel of death at Unadilla! Hard to believe it but Barcia’s a veteran of the class now. Remember when he was a kid, jumped into the 450MX class, and Ryan Dungey was all pissed at him? That was a long time ago. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: No and I think he would agree with this.
8 101 Fredrik Noren 240- Wow, what a story. Fast Freddie missed all of last year, came out in a van on a privateer Honda then killed it enough to get picked up by JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing. After the Justin Hill fiasco, the team loved having a dude who just delivered solid results and kept the team off the roller coaster they were on. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Hells yes.
9 19 Justin Bogle 222- Bogle had some ups and downs and then we find out he’s had Epstein-Barr all year. Yeah, this sport is weird sometimes and I don’t know how to cover it like a real media person. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: I mean, kind of right? Is Bogle a top five guy outdoors? Not really, so he’s a five to ten guy who got ninth. Boom.
10 4 Blake Baggett 175- It was a weird year for El Chupacabra. He did win that moto at High Point but other than that it was pretty underwhelming before being shut down with a virus issue. Every time I went to the truck to talk to Blake he seemed unhappy. He knows he’s paid to win and he wasn’t close. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: C’mon, I don’t need to tell you do I?
11 17 Joseph Savatgy 160- Was this the weirdest MX season ever for a factory rider? Well, no, not as long as Suzuki employed Matt Moss, but still, Joey had some good speed but either crashes or bike problems held him back most of the year. He was finally able to put it together at the end of the season. I don’t think these results mean anything for his 2020 season, it was just weird. He’s good. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: No but it’s not really on him. Maybe 20 percent blame pie? The rest was bike and coming in injured.
12 29 Benny Bloss 160- Benji came in late to the series off a supercross injury and there were flashes here and there of his old form. At this point Bloss is showing that outdoors is his thing. We just don’t have enough SX results to say anything else. He qualified second at Indiana, and you don’t luck into that. He missed eight motos and almost made the top ten in points. That’s good work. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yes, I think so. At some tracks he was awesome!
13 15 Dean Wilson 140- Dean jumped in late from injury and told me his shoulder was never 100 percent. He was really just trying to get some laps in and get slowly better. He never really did. He kind of got the same results in all his motos, but he didn’t get beat by anyone who shouldn’t be beating him, you know? Decent return for Wilson and on to 450SX! DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: I think so.
14 103 Dean Ferris 136- I think Dean had higher expectations, but I also don’t think he was stoked on the bike, as he got a late start as a fill-in for Plessinger. There were moments when he was pretty good and charged up to a top ten, but I think he wanted more. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: I bet he would say no but to me, what else did you expect?
15 63 John Short 135- Man, Short really came on this summer huh? Some impressive rides for the privateer and he’s a slower version of another Short as in, Andrew. He’s not flashy, he’s in great shape, and he quietly got some great finishes. Strong summer for John! DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: YES.
16 49 Henry Miller 117- Miller had that moto in Millville in the mud when he got fifth and other times was very solid out there. He didn’t get a lot of good starts but when he did, he could usually hang with whomever. That tells me he should get better starts for better results. I know, pretty deep right? DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yeah, I think so. That one moto at his hometown track was awesome.
17 56 Lorenzo Locurcio 103- Lorenzo’s program always seems loose, as in, he’s got a lot of bike issues for whatever reason. Maybe it’s a budget thing, but when you look at him compared to guys like Short or Miller, he seems to have more issues with the bike. Still, he was solid despite not racing the last National with, yep, bike problems. He certainly rides with a lot of heart. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yeah for sure. The guy had “For Hire” on his shrouds for god’s sake!
18 43 Tyler Bowers 99- I don’t think the outdoors went the way he, or I, thought they would go. He had some injuries, and in some motos he just wasn’t as good as he can be. Still, I admire The Bear for doing all the Nationals for the first time since 2010 (ish) on his own dollar with some help from a few key guys. It ain’t easy and he didn’t have to do it but he did. Unfortunately he didn’t get into the top ten overall at the end of the year to get that career number. There was that time he rode a PulpMX KX450 though! DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Difficult question. I don’t want to say because he might beat me up.
19 41 Ben LaMay 84- Ben’s last four motos couldn’t have gone any worse but overall, he was solid. I think he’s better indoors than out at this stage of his career, but he works hard and seems to have his crap together as a privateer. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Yeah, I think so.
20 37 Kyle Cunningham 76- Kyle raced just under half the motos this year as a full privateer and put it into the top ten a few times, including some qualifying times that made you go, “Huh?” Cunningham was very solid, he’s a talented rider for sure, and is a guy who needs a team to support him. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: Did we have any expectations for him? Exactly, so he met them.
21 7 Aaron Plessinger 75- I wanted to put AP in here even though he wasn’t in the top 20. I just wanted to give props to Aaron for coming back from a gnarly injury when maybe he didn’t have to. But it didn’t go well. He had a few bike issues also that can’t happen on a factory team, and then his last race this weekend was horrible. The curse of the #7? I don’t know bro. DID HE MEET EXPECTATIONS: I mean, he came back from a bad injury so there wasn’t much expected of him, but I don’t think he, or anyone, thought it would be this bad.
Thanks for reading this week! We’ll be back here and there in the off-season recapping some of the prominent off-season races, but in the meantime, thanks for the time all year long. You can email me at email@example.com if you want to chat about this race or anything else.