Back to the normal format this weekend in Oakland for the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. By that I meant the normal, one main event for each class format. What was different was the program time change. Not a day race and not the usual opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m., racing at 7 p.m. thing either though. This was a tweener with the main event ending around 8:30 p.m. ...it was cool! I like it. Who wants to get out of there at midnight or 1:00 a.m.? Plus, it’s better for TV for people on the East Coast (where the majority of the TV audience live)s. Let’s make them all this time! Who’s with me?
Ken Roczen. Eli Tomac. We’re starting to see two 450SX riders rise above the rest. With apologies to Cooper Webb who rode well and got into second with a last-corner pass, it’s been these two guys that have been going at it for the past three weeks (and have combined to win the last four) and Tomac pulled to within three of Roczen for the series lead.
I think one of these guys, with a small percent chance to Webb, will win this 2020 450SX class title barring injury. Everything in our sport is barring injury of course.
Let’s break this thing down, yeah?
If either of these riders win the title it will be cool and worthy of a Hallmark movie of the week. Roczen of course is coming back from like a dozen surgeries to his arms after two bad crashes. It’s cool that he’s even able to get back to this level. Tomac has the cool story of having an ass-ton of 450SX wins but no championship. He’s seventh all-time in wins but has no titles. It’s…incredible.
So either guy winning this will be great for different reasons. For Tomac it’s the end of something that’s been the bane of his existence. For Roczen it’s a capper on everything he’s already done. Cue the tears for both guys.
Roczen, when on, is poetry in motion out there on a motorcycle, he barely looks like he’s trying. He keeps the revs low, rides a gear higher and is all about momentum. Tomac on the other hand is an aggressive/slasher type of rider that uses his tremendous leg strength to move the bike around under him. He’s like a rabid badger that hasn’t eaten in a week when he catches up to you. Totally different styles, different ways to get it done but both exciting in their own way.
Well this is a big one because Roczen’s got a FIM MX2 World Championship, two 450 Class Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship titles and a 250SX West Region title. Tomac’s got three 450 Class Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship titles, one 250 Class Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship title and a 250SX West Region title…notice something that’s missing? Yeah, neither guy has a 450SX title and honestly, throw out the 250SX titles cause those don’t mean much. Tomac’s up 4-3 in major titles but there’s a big asterisk for Roczen because of the gnarly injury (although Tomac missed time also from shoulder surgeries). If Roczen wins the championship, he’ll pull closer to Tomac in titles but if Tomac wins, he’ll complete the sweep of all the titles a rider could win in the sport. If neither of these guys win a 450SX title before they’re done there will ALWAYS be a “Yeah but…” when discussing legacies. They need this title bad.
I basically can’t say anything bad about either team because then I can’t get coffee from their trucks. Kidding! I mean, look, it’s factory Kawasaki and Honda; they’re two of the best out there. Interesting subplot to all this is Oscar Wirdemen, who wrenched for Kenny the last three years, is now at Kawasaki as crew chief for Adam Cianciarulo. If there’s any inside info on Kenny and/or Honda, Oscar knows it. Both teams are very up on data and use it to help the riders out and Honda hired Shane Drew back in this off-season to help with suspension and chassis as it’s no secret Roczen hasn’t always been stoked with his bike set-up the last couple of years. Tomac is on year two of a brand-new model so that’s got to help him out as he and the team learn the bike better.
Well John Tomac runs the show over there as Eli’s coach/trainer/agent and as we all know, he’s gnarly. Eli’s mom Kathy is an awesome lady. Ken’s dad comes and goes from Germany but hasn’t been here in a while from what I’ve seen. This is a wash.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
Yeah, this is a thing now. Roczen’s awesome at social media and perhaps even a bit too open if that’s possible. Going back at fans isn’t something I would recommend a rider do with his time, but hey, it’s amusing. Eli on the other hand is all business in social media and seems like he’d rather not do it at all.
AND THE 2020 450SX WINNER IS…. I have no idea yet.
Let’s take a look at the results shall we?
1st | #1W Dylan Ferrandis | Lake Elsinore, CA | Yamaha YZ250F
Great ride by Dylan who used the same whoop line and technique to catch Forkner that Tomac (later) used to get Roczen. I said this on the PulpMX Show and I stand by it—West, East, supercross, motocross, Ferrandis is the fastest 250 rider in the USA. How you like them words? I didn’t stutter either.
2nd | #52 Austin Forkner | Richards, MO | Kawasaki KX250
Forkner admitted afterwards that Dylan just rode better than he did and talked about how hard it is to get someone back when they catch and pass you. Hence why Tomac’s ride was so impressive because he’s right. Still, he was out of this thing a few weeks ago and is now only ten back so this is better than where he was.
3rd | #32 Justin Cooper | Menifee, CA | Yamaha YZ250F
For the first time since A1, Cooper won’t have the red plate on his bike this weekend. He crashed in the heat, couldn’t get his bike started right away again (what’s up with that?) and had to go to the LCQ. In the main he rode well to get Troll Train (Alex Martin) on the last lap for the last spot on the podium but he’s got to, in my opinion anyways, stop this Ferrandis train this weekend to make a statement.
4th | #26 Alex Martin | Clermont, FL | Suzuki RM-Z250
TROLL TRAIN! “We” were third for a while after grabbing the holeshot and leading a lap. And the whoops weren’t killers so that worked for “us” also. Alas, that Cooper kid stole “our” podium but it was a good ride for the veteran. By the way, I don’t watch all these rider vlogs (since AC folded his), but I’ve heard Alex’s is really good from a few people. Like, for real. Maybe I need to watch.
5th | #101 Luke Clout | Hemet, CA | Honda CRF250R
Clout and Freckle (Mitchell Oldenburg) were going at it for the lead in the heat race and I thought that had to be pretty cool for Yarrive Konsky, the Penrite Honda team owner. First year out of the box and two riders going at it would be sweet. Anyways, best race of the year for Clout and sure, he got a bit fortunate when Brandon Hartranft fell on the last lap to give him this spot but whatever, he was on it.
6th | #40 Mitchell Oldenburg | Godley, TX | Honda CRF250R
Mitchell Oldenburg…solid like a rock lately!
7th | #57 Derek Drake | Corona, CA | KTM 250 SX-F
Derek rode well to come up from the back to this spot. I feel like he’s been a bit underrated this SX season, right? Or is it a lack of depth and some underperformance from other guys that has helped him out? Remember, in this class a factory bike is a big help.
8th | #30 Brandon Hartranft | Corona, CA | KTM 250 SX-F
As I said, Hartranft had a top five in the bag before crashing on the last lap and that’s a bummer but still, 2020 has been a big step forward for him. He kind of reminds of Colt Nichols in the way his career is going. Not as much talent as Colt, but close anyways.
9th | #108 Aaron Tanti | Silverdale, NSW | Yamaha YZ250F
Great ride for Tanti here. Usually there’s a time or two in the main event where you have to close one eye to watch him (like a crash is allllmost coming) but when I caught him out there in Oakland, he looked good.
10th | #55 Martin Castelo | Murrieta, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
Castelo was good in Oakland and he had gotten 14th in his previous two visits here so he broke that streak. Generally speaking he puts himself into good spots with good starts.
11th | #95 Carson Brown | Ravensdale, WA | Husqvarna FC 250
Brown was awesome in Oakland…like, seriously he was near dead last early on after going down in the second turn (I think) and then worked his way up to this spot. Carson’s been very good this year and that’s cool to see.
12th | #45 Jacob Hayes | Lodi, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
First bummer race for Jacob this year. Not sure what happened to him other than a crash, but he didn’t move up as much as you would think he would.
13th | #170 Michael Leib | Temecula, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
Leib’s had a strong look all year long with his gear and bike. With him wearing Canvas MX, he’s able to match both gear and graphics/plastics and it’s sweet.
14th | #29 Cameron Mcadoo | Sioux City, IA | Kawasaki KX250
RAM IT’s first race back since injury and he reminded me in the morning that I once gave him $400 to get a flight upgrade back from Geneva SX one year when he was a privateer and had no money. So now that he won his first ever heat race in Oakland, maybe I should go at him for that cash back plus interest?
15th | #72 Robbie Wageman | Newhall, CA | Yamaha YZ250F
I don’t notice Robbie out there too much to be honest but like Brown, he’s doing the most with the least.
16th | #106 Jay Wilson | Palm Beach, QLD | Yamaha YZ250F
There was a 38-man pile up (okay, maybe not that many but still) in the second turn of the main event and a lot of guys caught some luck by not getting involved in it. Jay missed it but then went down shortly after.
17th | #60 Mitchell Falk | Costa Mesa, CA | Honda CRF250R
Last year, Falk had a pretty strong race or two with the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM team in SX, but I haven’t seen anything this year just yet. He's dealing some some injuries, but I bet he misses the factory motors!
18th | #929 Taiki Koga | Kurume, Japan | Kawasaki KX250
There was no stopping King Koga from getting into the main event this weekend. Leib, Lorenzo Camporese, and Logan Karnow all took shots at knocking our Asian visitor down and out of the main, but none could succeed. KOGA NATION!!!! (Note: all this may have to do with the fact that I picked Koga to make the main in PulpMX Fantasy at an outrageous 16 handicap).
19th | #88 Logan Karnow | Amherst, OH | Kawasaki KX250
Karnow is one of those guys, like A-Ray in the 450s, that gets into the main or into the top nine of the heat no matter what happens.
20th | #284 Lorenzo Camporese | Campodarsego, ITA | Kawasaki KX250
Lorenzo was in ninth in the heat and had a good gap to 10th. But that didn’t stop him from trying to dive bomb Koga out there and slow them both down allowing Leib to catch up and pass them both. Then he decided to go off the track in the same spot twice eventually going down. It was weird, but typical of a 250SX class rider.
21st | #90 Killian Auberson | Winchester, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
It’s been a good season for Killian but in Oakland, him and his teammate Hayes didn’t have the greatest races. Something to do with a hex on the Gas Monkeys?
22nd | #28 Michael Mosiman | Menifee, CA | Husqvarna FC 250
Rough night for Mosiman after leading the heat race in front of his hometown fans. Gets into the main, goes down hard and KO’s himself. That’s got to suck, right? I thought Mosiman would take a step up this year after his strong second half of 2019 but so far, no bueno.
1st | #3 Eli Tomac | Cortez, CO | Kawasaki KX450
Last week, Eli was very good. This week he was great. Like, Anaheim 2 great—well maybe not THAT great but he was pretty damn good. Catching Roczen is impressive for sure, but then making a mistake, going off the track, reeling him in again, getting by, and pulling away a bit? Yeah, that’s legit. Yes, he’s still got to work on his starts but he’s ridden well all year long besides his seventh at Anaheim 1. Will he still pull a “Tomac” this year? I don’t know honestly, seems like he’s got it figured out. I have ZERO proof of this but it’s something I feel…like the force or something.
2nd | #1 Cooper Webb | Clermont, FL | KTM 450 SX-F
Great race by Webb. He looked better all day long, got out front in practice and was feeling it. He slowly kept at it and late in the race, when AC and Roczen looked a bit winded, he kept it going and made that last corner pass on Kenny. Great ride for Coop, even better than his A1 ride in my opinion. We had Chad Reed on the PulpMX Show on Monday and he says that Webb is really the guy to fear for this title.
3rd | #94 Ken Roczen | Clermont, FL | Honda CRF450R
The pass was bad enough for Roczen (losing two valuable points), but the potential injury to his foot is the real issue. I saw Kenny the next morning and he was having serious trouble walking. He didn’t seem upset about his race as he mentioned to me that sometimes, like last weekend, he’s on and can’t be beaten and then sometimes it will be Eli. Sounds like the softer dirt didn’t work great for his motorcycle also. One thing is for sure, Roczen’s got his starts dialed!
4th | #9 Adam Cianciarulo | New Smyrna Beach, FL | Kawasaki KX450
AC was happy with his race afterwards and I think he should be. Heck, he even creeped up to Kenny for the lead at one point. And how about that pass on his teammate? I love it, shows me a lot of heart and fight even though he said he knew that ET would come back around for him. Also, I don’t like the way Adam is treating me when I’m around the truck—he’s very mean.
5th | #21 Jason Anderson | Rio Rancho, NM | Husqvarna FC 450
Quiet but good night for Anderson. He’s been in the top five every week so he’s right there, but I don’t get the sense he can run with the top couple of guys, you know? I’m waiting for that balls out speed from JA. I’d ask him about it but we’re on a break right now.
6th | #51 Justin Barcia | Greenville, FL | Yamaha YZ450F
Barcia rode great. He was far outside of the start due to his bike breaking in the heat. He still managed a decent start, and rode forward all main event. It was his best ride since St. Louis, and he was happy after the race as he should be. I was talking to a Yamaha guy about the bike and how it reacts so much differently from a “normal” bike in terms of what the chassis does when you add power. They’re working on it with Justin and it seems like in 2020, they’re making some strides. The interesting thing to me will be whether they keep Barcia for next year or not.
7th | #15 Dean Wilson | Murrieta, CA | Husqvarna FC 450
Wilson rode very well. He rode well last week also in Glendale but was pissed after he crashed, so this week he actually got a real result he should be happy with. He and Barcia had a little mini-battle and when these two get together, it’s often glorious. This time around it looked to me that Deano just gave the position to Justin and tucked in behind him. By the way, both Dean and Justin had to go to the LCQ and had 19th and 20th gate pick and yet pulled starts against the rest of the field and finished well. So the next time so top guy starts losing his mind in qualifying practice because he’s going to get eighth overall instead of sixth and therefore goes from third gate pick to fourth, I’ll just continue to roll my eyes.
8th | #46 Justin Hill | Yoncalla, OR | Honda CRF450R
Hill won the heat race which is awesome for him and the team. He looked good all day long and was one of the first riders (no surprise, by the way) to bust out the triple out of the crooked rhythm lane and then the 3-3 before the finish also. I can’t believe I’m going to type this but Hill looks solid…like a very predictable, you know what you’re going to get kind of rider. That sound you hear is JGR's Jeremy Albrecht hitting himself in the nuts with a hammer.
9th | #4 Blake Baggett | Grand Terrace, CA | KTM 450 SX-F
Baggett’s heat race was great, and he looked good all day. Then his entire night went to poop when he got a crappy start. Yeah he moved up a bit but sooner or later, he’s got to stay upright and/or get a great start and land on the podium. Got to happen soon right?
10th | #27 Malcolm Stewart | Haines City, FL | Honda CRF450R
Steady night for Mookie who seemed to be riding by himself every time I looked over. I like Stewart’s strategy of just keeping within himself and knocking down laps but it’s more fun when he’s HEAT RACE MOOKIE for sure.
11th | #16 Zach Osborne | Abingdon, VA | Husqvarna FC 450
This was a terrible night for Zacho and the less said, the better. We’ll just move on mmmmk?
12th | #7 Aaron Plessinger | Hamilton, OH | Yamaha YZ450F
I went to bat for AP last week in this column but man he made me look bad in his heat race. Yikes! Main event was just okay for him. Not bad, not great.
13th | #10 Justin Brayton | Charlotte, NC | Honda CRF450R
Brayton’s entire race was effed when he was right behind Friese on the inside of that tabletop corner thing when Vince stalled. He had to sit there while 34 riders zoomed past him and Vince while they sat there.
14th | #64 Vince Friese | Menifee, CA | Honda CRF450R
Friese jacked Brayton (not on purpose) but got away much cleaner than Justin after he stalled. I was then watching to see when Brayton caught back up if we perhaps put a little emphasis on his pass back but then got distracted and didn’t see #10 go back by.
15th | #37 Martin Davalos | Tallahassee, FL | KTM 450 SX-F
Marty went down early in the main event and spent the rest of the race trying to move up from that. No, this is not a typo from another OBS column.
16th | #34 Tyler Bowers | Lake Elsinore, CA | Kawasaki KX450
The Bear got a good start in Oakland and remember, last year he was crushing it here before crashing on the last lap. This year he went backwards a bit and again, he told me he was the most unprepared he’d been coming into the season in a while so I suppose that’s still lingering around.
17th | #11 Kyle Chisholm | Valrico, FL | Yamaha YZ450F
Chiz is gonna Chiz…he missed the first practice with bike problems, barely rode the second practice so he got one practice in, plus he missed the last race with injury so you know he wasn’t 100 percent. Then he puts it into the main event. Because he’s Chiz! His Chizzes so hard! That’s what he does people.
18th | #61 Alex Ray | Milan, TN | Kawasaki KX450
A-Ray’s ride in the LCQ was amazing. He blew the start badly and then had to work his way up passing Jason Clermont on the last lap to get into the main. It was impressive and he didn’t even look cattywampus at all. Great work.
19th | #44 Kyle Cunningham | Willow park, TX | Suzuki RM-Z450
Cunningham hasn’t had the easiest start to the year in his return to HEP Motorsports Suzuki, but he’ll get better as he gets the bike working for him a little better.
20th | #82 Cade Autenrieth | Hemet, CA | Honda CRF450R
Good work for Cade to get in as he broke away from the mess behind him in the 450LCQ.
21st | #71 Ryan Breece | Athol, ID | Suzuki RM-Z450
Breece ended up crashing into the finish line in practice and joined AC and a couple others laying on the ground there. Weird, the ruts were obviously sending dudes that way and I couldn’t figure it out. Anyways, Breece is pretty solid each week and I like that he gets it done almost every time. Look at the guys in the mains each week, HEP did pretty well grabbing Ryan right before A1.
22nd | #86 Joshua Cartwright | Tallahassee, FL | Kawasaki KX450
I think this is Cartwright’s first ever 450SX main and good for him. He was in the mix in qualifying for the first time all year and remember last week he came so close to making it before looping out. So he's taking some steps here on the 450.
Thanks for reading, if you have a question email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat about this or anything else.