When the 250SX East Region qualifying got underway Saturday, there were many storylines during the day. How will Shane McElrath and Jordon Smith do with their new teams? How will the factory rookies do in their first taste of supercross? Many stories, and as the day progressed, we watched and studied the riders’ progression since the last time we watched them on race day.
By now you know McElrath stole the show in his Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha debut. You know GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton finished second as he looks to defend his 2019 250SX East Region title and his teammate Jeremy Martin finished third in his return to AMA racing. Those were things we were already tracking. But here are some riders you might have missed away from the limelight.
Garrett Marchbanks | 4th in 250SX
Marchbanks managed one top-five finish during his rookie year last year: in the mud-fest that was the 2019 San Diego Supercross. As this main event kicked off only his second season racing Monster Energy AMA Supercross—only his 11th main event start of his career—we saw a Marchbanks who had made improvements during the off-season. While we’ll want to pump the brakes on Marchbanks being one of the championship contenders, he’ll want to prove us wrong. He and his new teammate Smith were chasing after McElrath in the first heat race of the night before mistakes from both gave McElrath the gap he needed to cruise to the win. Marchbanks slipped up in the sand—as did just about everyone else throughout the day and night—but unlike Smith, the second-year rider seemed to have limited mistakes throughout the rest of the evening. A not-so-great start to the main event had him buried deep in the pack within the first few turns and after the first lap he was 11th.
He hunkered down and charged until the checkered flag. He even made a run at Martin for a bit, before falling to a charge from RJ Hampshire. When Hampshire fell, Marchbanks took advantage to score fourth, and he looked comfortable and in control. Watch for him to continue to grow and take steps week in and week out.
Kyle Peters | 7th in 250SX
This isn’t a career best for Peters as he’s recorded ten finishes ranging from second to sixth over the years, but it was a solid ride for the veteran. He’s leading the points standings in the AMA Kicker Arenacross Series but an off weekend allowed for him and his teammate (defending Kicker Arenacross Series Champion) Jace Owen to join the Tampa Supercross party in the sand. Peters logged fast laps in qualifying and finished fourth in his heat race, making his night go rather painlessly. Come the main event, Peters was behind Marchbanks on the first lap and manned his own charge to the front. Not bad for a guy whose main focus at the moment is most likely on another championship.
Joey Crown | 8th in 250SX
For Crown, the Tampa Supercross was his first professional main event. He had a busy off-season where he competed in several exhibition races including Red Bull Straight Rhythm and the Paris Supercross. He even won the Prince of Geneva crown in December. In qualifying, Crown’s abilities were on full display, but although he’s shown speed before, this time his skills transferred into the night show. A great jump out of the gate set Crown near the front through the first turn and while he lost a few spots throughout the evening, he pushed through the entire 15-minute plus one lap race to grab a top-ten finish. Pretty good for a rider who couldn’t even make the mains last year.
The fun races he competed in during last October through December don’t mean anything in terms of championship points, or AMA #1 plates, but Crown has been putting in hard work and gaining confidence, and that was noticeable when he was on the track. This was a big step in the right direction for the Michigan native and I’m sure he’s been over the moon since crossing the finish line in Raymond James Stadium.
Jimmy Decotis | 9th in 250SX
Like Peters, not a career best for Decotis but a solid result for Jimmy D. He raced the first few rounds of the 450SX championship on a Suzuki RM-Z450 to get a few gate drops but then returned to finalize his preparation the the 250SX East Region title. But when qualifying began Saturday, Decotis wasn’t out there for the first session.
Our Jason Weigandt found out Decotis skipped the first session because he was getting a shot to relieve pain and had to wait to the last minute so it would last long enough to get him through the night. The team confirmed yesterday Decotis has suffered a practice crash during the week that left him pretty banged up...with a fractured pelvis!
Despite this, Decotis came out for the second go round and laid down a lap good enough to get him into the night show. He logged that lap late—for a moment it appeared he wouldn’t even qualify. Then he finished 17th in his heat and was forced to the LCQ. For a guy riding through injury, that’s usually the last thing they want, but he told Steve Matthes afterwards it helped loosen him up and find a good pace for the main event. When the 250SX main gate dropped, Decotis went too wide in the first turn and lost several positions but eventually managed to ride home a ninth-place finish. Ninth-place points are great for a rider that was hurting so badly that even qualifying was a struggle.
"Jimmy has been riding better than ever but had a crash last Monday that made his weekend tough," said Jeremy Albrecht, JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing team manager. "I was proud of him for the effort he put in all week and weekend to get a top-ten finish. Jimmy was in a lot of pain and kept fighting to do his best. With another week of recovery, it will help him a ton. I hope you all can see what we have seen at the JGR track."
Jimmy D is another one of those veteran guys that just knows how to get it done.