The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series was in Arlington, Texas, this weekend and perhaps a better name would’ve been Monster Energy Carnage Cross. It was the second of three Triple Crown format events this year as well and perhaps the format added to the “flavor” of things we saw in Jerry World, I’m not sure. Let’s try to wrap our heads around this, yeah?
We’re three years into the Triple Crown format which was really the biggest revision to the sport of supercross in 35 years. In 1985, we had two 12-lap mains and an overall winner and then a looooong time of 20-lap main events before we went to timed mains a few years ago. The Triple Crown format has been a positive for the sport in my opinion but it’s not perfect of course. I think having them all the same length has been a good thing and the program being adjusted to give the teams and riders more time yet not having huge lulls in the show has worked out. The promoters have tinkered with it to try and make it work which is a good thing.
I thought the track was good, it was tougher than Tampa (outside of the sand section, last week’s was basic) with a whoop section that gave the riders fits all day (it was long!) and some rhythms where you could some things different and even the little booter tabletop thing was cool because you could do it another way and not really lose much time.
But as far as the track is concerned, all everyone wanted to do was talk about this dragon’s back that claimed a few riders. Let’s recap the crashes:
-Justin Brayton crashed off it in the first practice. Brayton also crashed more throughout the day than he had in the previous three years combined.
-Jimmy Decotis ruined himself off the dragon’s back and had to sit out the night’s racing.
But there was more than just one obstacle that claimed riders. Martin Davalos crashed everywhere but the dragon’s back over and over while Jordon Smith also spent the night on the ground. Kyle Chisholm got bit hard by the whoops as did 32 other riders (rough estimate).
I asked Justin Barcia about the obstacle.
“The dragon back was sketchy a little bit, for sure. I’m sure everyone had a moment on that thing because the dirt here is really good but it breaks apart and gets slick and you lose traction, and then you get kicked on that last one,” said Barcia after the race. “So it took out a lot of guys. Then there were other sections that took out guys, too. So I’m not too sure. For me, I never had any too scary moments so I felt super good. It sucks to see some competitors get taken out right now.”
So Barcia didn’t seem to have an issue with it and I went to Chad Reed about it.
“It was the easiest dragon back I’ve ever raced,” said Reed and thereby confusing me even more. “There is this weird thing on the right side of the bars guys can use!”
Typical Reed, blunt and not holding back, continued: “I thought it [the dragon’s back] was like everything nowadays, super fast and easy and the top one got steep. The issue is everyone’s just used to pinning it with no real technique. To me the real problem is everything’s so easy and fast so when there are crashes that are huge and costly. The bikes are the best they have ever been, tracks are faster and easier than they have ever been.”
So what was it about Arlington Supercross then that caused so many issues?
“In my opinion, it was the dirt and the way they built the obstacles,” said Brayton. “If we have good dirt and traction, we don’t see the crashes. At one point we had good traction, but the more we went the traction goes away. The whoops are the same way. The obstacles and the dirt didn’t match. Also, too many whoops on dragon back also and the way it shaped up didn’t work out either. It was more of that, we were hoping and expecting traction and didn’t get it.”
Other riders, like Dean Wilson, think it’s the Triple Crown format with more laps which logically would equal more crashes. Whatever it was and we can’t discount the fact that maybe it was a full moon or a blood moon or something else. Or maybe it’s just like, hey man, supercross is dangerous and we got a reminder of that this weekend.
Sometimes the simplest reason is the actual answer.
Anyways, onto the race results!
Eli Tomac has won three out of the last four races and we’re all giving him a win in Daytona, right? So that would make four out of six and maybe five out of six if he makes it happen this weekend in Atlanta. In other words, he’s starting to heat up which is great news for him and Kawasaki and not so good for anyone else. A championship that a VIP at Kawasaki told is “Our mandate is to win this (SX) title” seems to be getting closer and closer.
Tomac’s success at the TC format is a bit odd because if there’s one thing that we’ve seen, it’s been that Eli’s starts and/or opening laps aren’t his strong suit. But for whatever reason, the TC format is his bag. He was very dominant in the third race which he had to be because he was trailing in the overall to Jason Anderson going in. His first race was just okay due to a bad start.
Great race for Eli and the team in Arlington, he seems to have everything rolling his way.
Ken Roczen rode spectacularly in the first race to take the win, then I swear someone else rode his bike in the second race (Erik Kehoe? Lars Lindstrom? Rooster?) while he rested and then he got back on and was pretty damn good for race three. Not sure what happened for the second race, I asked around and there weren’t any bike changes for the third race so I don’t know. Sometimes if you get banged around off the start back a ways like Kenny did, you never get into your flow. Maybe it was my pep talk before the night show in his motorhome I gave him while getting coffee?
Roczen’s hanging tough in this thing and I don’t think he’s got the balls-out speed that Eli has (does anyone in the world have that?) but he’s got the starts, the stamina and the skill to bring this title home. With Webb’s crash and missed points, is this 2020 title now down to just two riders?
I say yes.
Jason Anderson had a few motocross overalls slip through his fingers last summer late in motos and a few of these Triple Crowns as well. He’s been very good at this format and, as I mentioned, had the lead and the win in the third race until Eli Tomac did Eli Tomac things. Then he also went down which threw away the runner-up spot. Still, JA21 was good all day and needed to get back into the mix after a couple of down races.
Hey, Zach Osborne…we can work with this, right? Like Blake Baggett in San Diego, Osborne broke a rough patch with a fifth overall but more importantly, he got better each time out and led laps in the last main event.
Okay, here’s the point of the story where I talk about how we’ll NEVER see Osborne’s laps lead on any type of stat sheets, we’ll never know who won the individual races at the Triple Crowns even though they are “mains” with everyone in them and should count for all of when looking at a riders statistics for the season. Why they don’t count these and why we can’t see them is yet another thing that’s basic and makes me shake my head…okay, rant over…
But with Baggett, well that podium in San Diego was cool and all but he’s back to being Bad Blake the last two weeks and the real goal for Wacko should be to keep this thing going upward and onward. So let’s see which direction Zach goes this weekend in the A-T-L.
The SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda guys had a solid weekend with Justin Hill securing the fastest time in the two qualifying sessions and going on to get a very good sixth overall (with a crash in the first and third races) on the night. His brother Josh also got sixth in the 250SX Class so there’s that. Justin’s been very strong this year with not as much flash as I thought we’d see from him but good finishes. The team, from owner Mike Genova to team manager Tony Alessi, deserve a lot of credit for keeping Justin on track, working hard, and staying focused. All things that the past managers that have worked with Justin have told me aren’t easy with Hill.
Still with the team, Malcolm Stewart had a good race as well. I thought Malcolm would be crushing the long whoop section all day long but he was one of the first guys to figure out the jumping rhythm in them. Mookie, like Hill, doesn’t have that crazy balls speed this year but has changed tactics. These two guys in 2020 are like if Batman showed up with a golden lasso to fight crimes.
In the 250SX class, it was Chase Sexton’s day in Arlington. He looked great right from the first moment he hit the track and was by far the best rider in the whoops. Last week it was Shane McElrath who looked dominant and these two flipped flopped on Saturday night. We asked Chase about Tampa last weekend and even though he got second, Shane was checked out. Sexton told us that yes, it did go through his mind that he needed to make sure that Shane didn’t do that again.
Mission accomplished I’d say. The most impressive thing about Sexton’s race wasn’t the win in main #2 nor the second in main #3. It was after being taken down by RJ Hampshire getting up and passing Shane McElrath, Jeremy Martin, and Jordon Smith AKA, the rest of his main championship competitors to get into second. That was the best thing to see if you’re a Sexton fan. To go down and salvage a second in a short race was awesome.
Save it on the Hampshire/Sexton collision also. Sexton himself told us that he said to his team on track walk that someone was going to get tuned up right in that corner and that’s what happened. Too bad it was him. That was hard aggressive pass and there’s been contact made in supercross throughout its history. As I’ve always said, taking out a front tire or T-boning someone is out of line but coming inside a guy, making some contact and completing the pass is part of the game. And for his part, Sexton didn’t like it but he understood it.
As far as Hampshire, for as many years as he was a GEICO Honda rider he really doesn’t have as many SX podiums as you would think. Being older is an advantage in this class as is having factory equipment. Hampshire came into 2020 with only three career SX podiums (but to be fair, about 63 fourth place finishes—again a rough estimate) in his career, which, to me, is a bit of underperformance for all the reasons I wrote about above. He had the fastest lap of the main last week and came from the back before crashing, this week he won the first main event and seems to be a better rider than he’s ever been before.
We’ll see how it ends up but I like the moves he’s done (so much that I’m a sponsor!) because moving from Honda to Husqvarna, joining the Baker’s Factory, working with Aldon Baker, and getting a family going seemed to work pretty well for Zach Osborne.
Some other news and notes:
-MTF riders Jordon Smith and Martin Davalos must have both walked under a ladder or stepped on a black cat on their way to the airport because I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a pair of riders crash more than these two friends did.
- I can’t even believe that JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki’s Broc Tickle broke his hand and will be out for a long time. Like, WTF is going on with JGR Suzuki? The anvil keeps falling on them over and over like they’re the Wile E. Coyote in Looney Tunes. Tickle was a replacement for Fredrik Noren who was a replacement for Joey Savatgy. I don’t know what the team’s going to do now, I suppose they could put Alex “Troll Train” Martin on a 450 but I’m not sure he or they would want to do that. Maybe put Isaac Teasdale up on the big bike?
-Just two races into the 250SX East Region but two very good races for Joey Crown this season. Another top-ten for Joey and impressive speed in every race. Crazy how this guy couldn’t make mains last year and now is in them easily and getting top tens with no problem. Good for him. Nice rebound for his teammate Enzo Lopes as well this week.
-Speaking of ClubMX, Josh Hill had a good ride and even got a holeshot in one of the main events. The Hill, Hampshire, and Crown battle at the end of main #2 was pretty exciting. Hill finished sixth overall and was the first non-factory dude. Team ClubMX went 6-7-8 in case you were wondering.
-Saw Justin Bogle at the race, he said it was the first time he’d really been out since his crash in St. Louis that knocked him out. Bogle’s got a history of concussions so this wasn’t good for him at all. Seems like he’ll be out for a while, you can’t really predict the nature of healing from a head hit. So the team should be shopping for a fill-in guy one would think.
-Chad Reed had his best race of the year in Arlington. He didn’t have to go to the LCQ for only the second time this year and then looked frisky most of the night. In San Diego and Arlington, you can see he’s still got the whoops down which is cool.
-Larry Ward and Kevin Windham were both in Arlington…amazing to see both of these guys at a race. They’ve stayed away since retiring, Ward more than KW, but having them both there was like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster coming over for tea.
-Before wrapping this up, we had a great discussion on our wrap up pod about Weege’s kid racing the Stacyc race in-between the races at AT&T Stadium. I would just like to submit the photos below here (we obtained some top secret video from a source that shall go nameless but rhymes with “Scmustin Schmayton”) proving that Weege’s claim that there was no flag was false. There was a flag and he and his son missed the mark on this one. Badly at that. Weird because Weege was a flagger back in the day and you would think flagging would be something he had down pat. What a complete disaster for Weigandt and his family, poor kid, he can’t help his genes!
Thanks for reading this week, lots to talk about when it comes to the championship, right? We’ll do this again next week as we breakdown Atlanta and all that happened there. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat about this race or anything else.