Yeah! When the riders took the halfway flag in the 450SX class main event at round nine of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, the championship had officially reached the halfway point. Yeah, it comes up quickly on you right? The series has, for the most part, had terrific racing this year and we’ve stayed relatively injury free although we lost Zach Osbornefor a few weeks before this race. It’s been really good, so get your tickets now people!
Atlanta is always a cool race, this was the first time I’d been to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium (RIP Georgia Dome) and it was nice for sure but to me, every time you replace one of these stadiums that have held iconic races over the years, a little bit of magic is replaced. I was talking to Chad Reed about this on press day and he said the same thing, he loved San Diego and the old stadium so when people ask him about coming to the new Petco Park there, he just says it’s not the same to him. So, yeah while Atlanta has always been one of the best races on the series, the vibe, the feel, the smell has dimmed a little bit because of the newer sterile stadium. I don’t know, that’s just how I feel anyways.
That said, I wonder also how much of the old “magic” of the Atlanta SX is sucked out of due to the security of the place, the location of the pits, the parking hassles and all that. These are things that Feld Entertainment doesn’t have control over, by the way, but they do bring down the feel of the event, you know?
Tied after nine rounds for the 450SX title, can’t ask for much more than that right?
Let’s take a look at the results shall we?
1st | #1E Chase Sexton | Clermont, FL | Honda CRF250R
I, like many others, discounted Sexton’s title last year a bit because well, Austin Forkner was clearly better and Sexton only won one race. But there’s no discounting the fact that he’s much improved this year and has been great through the first three races. He’s got that look of past greats who can put the bike wherever they want to at any time. Lappers? No problem, Chase can get them anytime he wants to. I thought that Honda putting Chase on a 450 for this upcoming Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship and then full-time 450 next year was a bit rash but perhaps not? He looks great and sure, he may get beat straight up here or there, but it’s going to take a hell of a race to do it. He’s on fire.
2nd | #24 RJ Hampshire | Minneola, FL | Husqvarna FC 250
PulpMX.com gets another podium mention! Well, “we” led a lot of laps and “we” are thankful that Sexton didn’t get revenge on last week with his pass on “us.” A great ride for Hampshire as McElrath got close a couple of times and in the past, 100 percent of the time, Shane makes the pass. But this new RJ regrouped and rode away from McElrath late in the race. He’s led more laps the last two weeks than his entire SX career combined and now has to take that one last step to the top step. At least “we” sure hope so!
3rd | #12 Shane McElrath | Murrieta, CA | Yamaha YZ250F
Shane rode well in Atlanta. He seemed to be making a run at Hampshire at times and if I’m honest, I thought he’d get RJ but lappers and not being on the inside hurt him to complete the deal. Then I thought he got a bit tired out there and Hampshire pulled away. I also think he had some goggle problems (maybe from being roosted every lap in the sand). He came into the race tied for the points lead, but the five points he lost were huge because Sexton seems to be totally on his game right now.
4th | #54 Jordon Smith | Ochlocknee, GA | Kawasaki KX250
I know Jordon came into the series not at a 100 percent with a wrist still bugging him so I asked Mitch Payton if he gives Jordon a bit of a mulligan. His response? “There’s no mulligans. That’s golf. I already told him, I’m like, That’s not okay. But I do think he’s improving. I think there’s an improvement from last week to this week. There was less mistakes, which that’s pretty critical. Speed is decent, but at the end of the moto I think he got tired.” Okay then!
5th | #84 Jo Shimoda | Irvine, CA | Honda CRF250R
Didn’t notice Shimoda much out there but good work for him on this finish. He’s a very smooth rider and doesn’t make a lot of noise on the bike but with these finishes, he’s making noise. Also, he’s in the running or perhaps in the lead already for “Best Japanese Supercross Rider Ever.”
6th | #66 Enzo Lopes | Huntersville, NC |Yamaha YZ250F
Good work for Lopes again this week in a deep field of 250SX riders and sucks for his team that Joey Crown, the SOY (surprise of the year), broke his collarbone on press day. Lopes needs to keep this up so he can be the new SOY (although he’s gotten a few top tens before, unlike Joey). By the way, Lopes doesn’t like that “Filthy” Phil Nicoletti is dating his sister one bit because now he has to spend more time around Phil. I’m SO here for the Enzo/Phil/Enzo’s sister reality TV show.
7th | #36 Garrett Marchbanks | Coalville, UT | Kawasaki KX250
More from Payton. He was not happy that his guys weren’t doing this little triple that the lead group was doing and told me “They [Marchbanks and Smith] just didn’t pick up on it. We put it on the pit board and they just didn’t read it. Really? So, this week we have to practice and then I’m going to send them books, some basic reading, so you can read.” The 1995 Mitch Payton is slowly coming back.
8th | #68 Nick Gaines | Ringgold, GA | Yamaha YZ250F
I finally picked Gaines in PulpMX Fantasy! I just couldn’t get years of him crashing out of my mind but in the past couple of years in outdoors, he’s smoothed out and is still fast. He was great from the first practice on and it’s amazing that he didn’t make the main last week (not all his fault). Look at the names above and below him and think about how much worse his bike is. This is a real privateer situation.
9th | #352 Jalek Swoll | Belleview, FL | Husqvarna FC 250
Swoll was up there early before dropping back but two top tens in last couple of races is pretty good for him. He’s a student of THE Tim Ferry so you know that he’s being brought up right. It’s odd to me that Ferry works with Swoll and obviously his own kid Evan and they both “seem” to me to be better at SX stuff, which was not Ferry’s specialty.
10th | #175 Joshua Hill | Huntersville, NC | Yamaha YZ250F
Hill rode great out there to get into the top ten after crashing and being way back early on. It was impressive more so because his hair didn’t get caught in someone’s spokes as he was blowing by them. Also, Hill has to be doing the work off the bike to have a ride like this, because he’s been strong late in the races. I wonder if he’s thinking at times about “If I only knew then what I know now.”
11th | #201 Cedric Soubeyras | Plant City, FL | Husqvarna FC 250
Soubs was solid out there and like Hill, he’s got a ton of experience and should be able to outwit a lot of the kids with just having better race-craft.
12th | #39 Jordan Bailey | Orlando, FL | Honda CRF250R
I thought Bailey might be hurt when he went down in practice and got his leg/foot ran over as he was trying to get up. He looked to be in a lot of pain out there so to get this finish is good, he had to be hurting.
13th | #53 James Decotis | Huntersville, NC | Suzuki RM-Z250
JIMMMYYY DDDD had to go through the LCQ again (by the way in case you missed it, JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki’s incredible run of bad luck continued with the news that Isaac Teasdale tore his MCL last week and will be out a while). JGR almost didn’t have any bikes in the main until Decotis got it all figured out. He’s so banged up it’s ridiculous but he’s out there trying his best. Maybe they should put him on the 450 if they need a guy?
14th | #77 Kevin Moranz | Topeka, KS | KTM 250SX-F
It’s a wonder how Moranz missed the first main of the year right? Solid ride for him in the A-T-L.
15th | #367 Hunter Sayles | Chassell, MI | KTM 250SX-F
Sayles got himself an interview with Supercross Live folks which is awesome for him and his sponsors. He seems to have the ability to go pretty fast at times.
16th | #56 Justin Starling | Deland, FL | Honda CRF250R
Good ride for Starling who’s battling a shoulder injury but, on another note, what the hell has happened to Jerry Robin this year? Jerry’s having a tough go and I don’t know why, where’s Jerry’s speed gone? Did the 450 sap him of it? Does Jerry need to live in his van in order to be hungry? Jerry isn’t even Jerry-ing this year! Let’s pull this together here Jerry, okay?
17th | #163 Pierce Brown | Sandy, UT | KTM 250SX-F
First ever SX for Brown and he showed great speed in practice and his heat. Last year he made his pro debut in the nationals but this was the first time we’d seen him in a while. Some of the amateur motocross “experts” I spoke to in the press box before the day didn’t doubt his speed but did doubt his ability to stay on the bike for the entire main and unfortunately they were right. But hey man, we can work with speed, right? The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM guys need something good to happen for them and this was something despite the actual finish.
18th | #349 Grant Harlan | Justin, TX | Honda CRF250R
I don’t know anything about Grant Harlan but good work to him.
19th | #6 Jeremy Martin | Rochester, MN | Honda CRF250R
Poor J Mart. Hampshire knocked a Tuff Block out and then five seconds later Martin hit it and cartwheeled. Big crash for Jeremy. I ran into him in the morning and he told me he’s okay with the start of his year but has been running into a bit of arm pump they are trying to figure out. By the way, 20 years of Tuff Blox and there’s just NO WAY to anchor them down a bit so a slight bump doesn’t throw them out onto the track? There’s NO WAY to make them longer so that it takes more than a stiff breeze to knock them out onto the track? Sigh…just like the nets, I have a brilliant solution to keep Tuff Blox in place so someone call me. I’ll save supercross lives. Again.
20th | #125 Luke Neese | Jamestown, NC | Honda CRF250R
Neese rode so good that I had to look and see if this was his first race of the year. Seriously. Breaking news, it’s not. He finished ninth and seventh in the LCQ’s at the first two races. Then this week he just comes out and qualifies out of the heat. Did Luke channel the ghost of Jim Neese in 1997 or something? What changed? Inquiring minds want to know.
21st | #981 Curren Thurman | Rosharon, TX | KTM 250SX-F
I wouldn’t know Thurman if I ran him over on my Intense Tazer but we met after the race and he seems like a cool kid. He’s been a surprise this year for sure as far as privateers go. He told me that less than a year ago he raced his first SX ever and didn’t make the night show. From that to three straight mains to start the 250SX East Coast is impressive.
22th | #194 Lance Kobusch | New Florence, MO | KTM 250SX-F
I know that Lance was once a Team Green amateur rider annnddd that’s about it for me. I think this was his first SX race ever so good work qualifying.
1st | #94 Ken Roczen | Clermont, FL | Honda CRF450R
Picture perfect ride from Roczen in Atlanta and he needed this badly. We should’ve known it was going to be a special day when he qualified second, just 0.3 off Tomac, because Kenny doesn’t usually qualify that well and frankly, he doesn’t care about it all that much. So knowing that, Roczen smoked his heat race and led every lap of the main. Truthfully I barely watched him out there as he looked to be in complete control and at one point had a 15 second lead on a 55-second lap time track. Impressive! And by the way he needed this badly to stop Tomac’s little streak going into Daytona. Think he doesn’t know that us “experts” have awarded Tomac the Daytona win on paper? “Hoping to shut that down” he told me after the race about us “experts” saying ET is going to win Daytona.
2nd | #51 Justin Barcia | Greenville, FL | Yamaha YZ450F
Another impressive ride for Barcia in the ATL. This is quietly becoming a story behind the top three guys. Little mini-slump for Bam Bam after round two but last three weeks, he’s been great coming from outside the top ten to this finish. After Tomac slammed him pretty hard in a turn (enough that his hand swelled up) to get by you could see the fire awake in him and he was GOING for it to get ET back. He got the last laugh by forcing Eli into a mistake (in my opinion) with a rushed pass attempted on Blake Baggett. Justin had some harsh words for Eli after the main about the pass (although he’s better this year than in the past, not soooo sure JB51 should be complaining about a hard but fair pass?) and although he squashed the Davalos beef from San Diego this week he’s got a new one brewing with Tomac. Behind the scenes I’m wondering if he’s done enough to get a new deal from Yamaha. I think he has but Ferrandis is coming up of course and I think Plessinger’s got another year on his deal so something has to give.
3rd | #1 Cooper Webb | Clermont, FL | KTM 450SX-F
What a ride from Coop who you knew would dig deep after his crash and do something right? He just never gave up, got banged around a bit and grabbed a podium. What if you had told Coop last Saturday night that he’d get on the box the following week? He would’ve taken that in a heartbeat and he even gained points on the leader of the series.
4th | #3 Eli Tomac | Cortez, CO | Kawasaki KX450
I was watching Tomac off the start and he was just late off the gate which caused him to get pinched off. He was seventh after lap one but by my count was around 15th going into the first turn. That’s not good (by the way, once AGAIN the AMA fails us in the stat department by being listing a rider’s “start” as actually the positions at the end of the first lap. The TV broadcast clearly shows the running order around the first turn which is truly a measure of a riders start yet we aren’t able to get this information on the stat sheets. Perhaps the actual start starts go into the same black hole that the winners of the Triple Crowns stats go, I suppose) and it took some frantic riding by Tomac to get up there but also more than a fair share of mistakes as well. He and his buddy Barcia got into it again and I think that led to him forcing the pass on Baggett that took them both down. Call it the “I gotta get away from BAM BAM before he BAM BAMS me” syndrome. Eli doesn’t deserve 100% blame pie for the BB4 takedown to be fair because Blake cut down pretty sharply but still, he didn’t really have it going into that turn.
5th | #37 Martin Davalos | Tallahassee, FL | KTM 450SX-F
OH MARTY! I got some texts from a couple of big named riders that are out with injuries right now and they were both cheering Marty on. One even said “ROY” (rookie of the year) and I think a lot of people were pulling for Davalos to get his first ever 450SX podium. He ran second for a while, then let Barcia by and trailed him in third until the two champs got him on the last lap! Heartbreak for Davalos but he was still happy afterwards at his ride. It’s true that a start and carnage helped him a lot but Marty’s got skills and this was the highest he’s ran up front this year so now he knows the pace he needs to go. The best part of the whole deal was after the race when he told me “You believed in me, Steve” which, if you know our history, is pretty remarkable. We just need to go run the beach together in our short shorts like Rocky III.
6th | #46 Justin Hill | Yoncalla, OR | Honda CRF450R
Man, I’ve been wrong about some guys here and there over the years, but my worst prediction might’ve been on Hill. He’s been rock solid for the MCR guys this year. He’s in shape, he’s fast, and if he keeps riding like this, he’s going to end up with a top ten in or even top five in points which was unthinkable last year at JGR when he was getting tired, crashing, slacking off. There were so many stories of Hill from past teams he’s ridden on that it was hard to believe he was going to turn the corner on MCR but he’s done just that. We all know he can ride the crap out of a bike but now everything else is coming together for him. It’s…amazing.
7th | #7 Aaron Plessinger | Hamilton, OH | Yamaha YZ450F
AP was stoked after the race and as he mentioned to me, he had carnage going on all around him! Aaron’s been slowly building and has been finding his spot in the pack each week. There hasn’t been a breakout ride from him (did run third in San Diego for a bit which was a career high for him in the 450SX class) just yet but it’s been good for him. This week is something to build on for sure.
8th | #27 Malcolm Stewart | Haines City, FL | Honda CRF450R
Mookie was dead last on lap one when he screwed up the wall before the sand. So to get into the top ten is impressive and he rode very well. Like, maybe one of the best rides of the night that no one will really talk about. It was a track that didn’t allow Mookie’s skills to come through but he charged hard the whole time.
9th | #64 Vince Friese | Menifee, CA | Honda CRF450R
Good race for Vince, he was in the top five forever and looked perfectly at home there. Again, I think the track helped dudes who got good starts and Vince’s have been back lately. Take nothing away from him, he rode well; it’s his first top ten of the year and good for him and the team. Folks, MCR Honda had three riders inside the top ten, more than any other team. Yes, it’s true.
10th | #15 Dean Wilson | Murrieta, CA | Husqvarna FC450
There was chaos everywhere around Dean-O all main event and he got caught up in a couple of incidents that he had nothing to do with. Had to be frustrating for him as he had a top five or better in his sights. Still, a top ten with a crash is a good result.
11th | #21 Jason Anderson | Rio Rancho, NM | Husqvarna FC450
Anderson had an exciting main event! He almost went down 36 different times and ended up tangling with his teammate Wilson. He was up, he was fast, he was down and then I don’t know what happened to him the last couple of laps. Seriously, I don’t know how he ended up 11th, there was too much late-race chaos to keep up with.
12th | #10 Justin Brayton | Charlotte, NC | Honda CRF450R
Brayton was up into the top ten but was getting caught by some guys that surprised me a bit. Then late in the race crashed in the sand and that was all she wrote. Two stinkers in a row for JB and this wasn’t his type of track so it was hard to see him shining here no matter what. Good heat race though and he’s back with Weege so things seemed to be looking up going into the main event.
13th | #50 Benny Bloss | Oak Grove, MO | Yamaha YZ450F
Benji’s not been having the best season and came into this race with a pulled muscle in his back thinking he maybe wasn’t going to race either. So of course he sets his season best finish right?
14th | #34 Tyler Bowers | Lake Elsinore, CA | Kawasaki KX450
You know, I never saw the Bear all day, never talked to the Bear and honestly, I don’t even have anything to say about the Bear good or bad. Weird. I don’t think I noticed him once but this was the best race of the year for him which is cool.
15th | #22 Chad Reed | Cornelius, NC | Honda CRF450R
Reed looked good this weekend, qualified well, and made it to the main from the heat race. He told me after the race that he’s been feeling pretty good although his fitness isn’t there yet. He was last early in the main when he got “Bam Bam’d” and it was an uphill battle from there. Still, the old guy’s been looking better lately, I swear.
16th | #11 Kyle Chisholm | Valrico, FL | Yamaha YZ450F
Chiz said that he sucked, that’s all I got. Oh and Chiz is ALWAYS gonna Chiz, never forget that.
17th | #722 Adam Enticknap | Lompoc, CA | Suzuki RMZ450
Best ride of the year for the 722, in the LCQ it looked like someone hit the nitroo button on him for a couple of laps like in those old Ivan Stewart videogames. He was on it! Let’s hope he keeps it up from here on out.
18th | #393 Daniel Herrlein | Bethesda, OH | KTM 450SX-F
Herrlein’s been a bubble guy all year for the main event and he, like a few others, have to not be happy to be in the main event and work on going forward in the mains.
19th | #4 Blake Baggett | Grand Terrace, CA | KTM 450SX-F
Insert any comment I’ve made about Zach Osborne (now out for a while with an injury) or Blake for this week’s report. He was cleaned out by Tomac (he did cut down though so not all ET’s fault) as he was just riding up near the front. This is the stuff that happens to you when you’re in a deep slump like this. Can’t do anything but keep working hard and Blake’s talent and endurance will eventually reward him. By the way, look for a replacement rider for Justin Bogle this weekend in Daytona and it might be an old friend coming back.
20th | #65 James Weeks | Punta Gorda, FL | Yamaha YZ450
Two weeks in a row for Weeks in terms of making the main events, this is his first year of 450SX and early on this year he crashed a bunch and looked sketchy. You can see a difference in his riding the last few weeks and it’s paying off. He’s definitely fast but now he’s sort of harnessed it.
21st | #44 Kyle Cunningham | Willow Park, TX | Suzuki RMZ450
Cunningham took a hard spill when he over-jumped the tabletop-on in the main and went down hard. I thought we might see a red flag as he laid there in a dangerous spot and wasn’t moving. He eventually got up and walked off but it was scary there for a bit. Now we’ve learned he’s got an AC separation in his shoulder and will be out for a bit.
22nd | #71 Ryan Breece | Athol, ID | Suzuki RMZ450
I have no idea what happened to Breece but cool for the HEP guys to get all three into the main event even if two of them DNF’d.
Thanks for reading everyone, it’s been real and real fun! Email me at email@example.com if you want to chat about this race or anything else.