Round ten of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series could prove to be a pivotal race when this thing is all said and done. Two riders tied in points with one of them a heavy favorite to win and the other determined to stop it, things were going to get intense at Daytona Speedway. In the end, the one guy did what we all thought he was going to do but it wasn’t easy by any means.
I’m as old school as they come, and I love the history of Daytona and all that comes with it. It’s different, it’s gnarly and it has a place in the sport of supercross but I just wonder, watching this year’s event from the couch, if it’s time to talk about Daytona and what it wants to be and what it could be.
Back in the day it was a day race, it had more in common with motocross than supercross, and was an interesting twist to the series. Then, it went to a night race and basically a full on supercross track in a radical change from the old days. Lately it’s been bit of a hybrid between the old school and traditional supercross and I wonder when you try to make everyone happy if you lose what you did well, you know?
The track this year, designed by Ricky Carmichael, lacked in passing lines, inserted split lanes when there wasn’t enough room, had a sand section that proved to be pretty dull, and rider after rider clenched their teeth in talking about the track. RC’s got some restrictions placed on him in the track design and so it’s not all on him but we haven’t seen a great track at the speedway in a number of years because, in my opinion, RC’s trying to go old school but doesn’t have the room (pit lane was widened a few years ago) and has too many things he can’t do to make an old school track work. It’s not all his fault, but the 2020 Daytona SX was boring outside of one man putting on a hell of a show.
If it’s me, I make the track like it was in the 2005 era which is more towards a full supercross track with a few Daytona-ish obstacles thrown in and run it new school. Stop trying to be something that you can’t be anymore, embrace the new and run with it.
Plus, add in the expenses for the teams to go there (bike week), the security (Ken Roczen was threatened with ejection from the event by a security guard), the extra passes needed (two hour will call waits), the lack of viewing options for people who follow the series week to week, and the fact that the supercross is now the biggest event there yet the speedway people don’t seem to care, maybe it’s time to talk about Daytona and what it wants to be. Because right now, to me anyways, the pluses don’t seem to outweigh the negatives.
I wasn’t there but these are all things that were reported to me or videos that I saw from the race and riders/team people I spoke to that were there.
Ok, enough about that, let’s focus on some thoughts of mine from the couch.
Eli Tomac put on another show for us and we should all send him a thank you card because without his charge to get Ken Roczen, we might have had the all-time worst supercross on record in terms of racing. It took Tomac going HAM to make this race something to remember, no way did I think with this track design and Eli’s start that he was going to get Roczen. He was around 12 seconds down to the #94 Honda rider and not really moving forward that much.
Until the second half of the race where he absolutely started stringing some serious speed together (particularly in the sand) and reeled Kenny in. Yes, Ken made a mistake but it wasn’t going to matter, Tomac was getting to the front no matter what. I know Roczen made it close at the end, but did anyone get a sense that Eli couldn’t have wicked it up? Besides, where was Roczen going to pass?
Another amazing ride from Eli at Daytona and man, does he gel with that place or what? He also takes a three-point lead in the series with seven to go. Tomac was on the PulpMX Show on Monday and mentioned how jumping into the fourth whoop off that single Excitebike-type jump broke his rear wheel in the heat race. He said it was really wobbly and might not have lasted another lap. With the gate pick being so crucial to the race, because there was no passing people, Eli said that could’ve screwed his whole race up had the heat race been one lap longer because with a DNF, he would’ve gone to the LCQ. Whew! You know how hard you have to be landing to break a factory hub and spokes? Crazy hard, that’s a fact.
Eli himself admitted on the PulpMX Show that he can’t give Roczen the lead he did at Daytona and expect to reel him in at a normal supercross and he’s right. Daytona’s black sand, bumps all work in Tomac’s favor while at a regular SX, Roczen would’ve been gone. Heck, he was gone just one week ago in Atlanta. Tomac’s starts haven’t been as good as they need to be, early on they were but lately they’ve gone away a bit and that’s the only thing holding him back. Roczen can get away quickly if he’s out front and not even Eli going HAM can stop that (at a regular track).
So we’re set for a race to the finish between two guys who couldn’t have any more different styles. It should be great and I’m looking forward to this weekend in Indy being the next battle.
We all thought on our Racer X review podcast that Roczen should be happy for his ride. He knew Tomac was the favorite based on past history but he was determined to stop the #3. He almost did! Roczen looked to be in control of everything but I don’t think his fitness did him in, he had one bad lap near the end but other than that Tomac just rode amazing to get him. So Roczen did just about everything perfect and was right there.
One man who didn’t think Roczen should be happy with this ride was four-time Daytona SX champion, Ryan Villopoto, who was in-studio with us on Monday. I mean, I get it because RV’s coming from a spot where there was nothing acceptable for him other than a win. Bottom line, Roczen lost the race and a share of the points lead so Villopoto couldn’t wrap his head around a moral victory I guess.
“I’m pretty bummed (if I’m Kenny),” Villopoto told us on Monday. “Just because of the lead that he had, and where Eli started. Daytona is always where a Chad (Reed) or myself, James (Stewart), we looked at Daytona as kind of the turning point of the season. We watched Kenny win a couple races recently. Getting out front early, sprinting, getting that gap… I just feel like it’s going to change, I think. The momentum has switched for Eli.”
Still, I think Roczen should be happy!
Cooper Webb probably wasn’t stoked with the fact that Roczen and Tomac pulled away from him, but he grabbed the third spot on the box. I know Jason Anderson was on him, but are we starting to see three riders emerge from the pack here as the season grinds on?
Are we going to go through a seventeen round SX series with just four winners? Barcia, Webb, Tomac and Roczen? Yes, I think so folks.
Good battle between the Yamaha teammates, Justin Barcia and Aaron Plessinger, throughout the main event (or it seemed that way from the couch) and don’t look now but AP is starting to get his groove back. Of course it was this race last year when he had that bad crash that has set him back but he’s getting better. I wrote about this last week but Yamaha is going to have a real decision on their hands with re-signing Barcia, Plessinger or getting Ferrandis. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrandis goes to KTM as they add a third guy and Yamaha comes back with the same team. Just a way-too-early guess at 2021 silly season I suppose. One thing for sure is Plessinger is making their decision tougher than it looked a month ago.
I don’t know what got into Garrett Marchbanks in Daytona but let’s hope for his and Mitch Payton’s sake, he keeps doing whatever the hell he did before Daytona. One week after Mitch seemed rather agitated after the race at his riders performances, Marchbanks wins his first career heat race and then goes WIRE TO WIRE for the win, his first ever, in the main event. It was…remarkable. He’s been improved this year for sure but this really came out of nowhere. We had him on the show as well on Monday and Garrett mentioned that the first few laps he was wondering where everyone was but after that, knew he had it won.
Great work for him, the team and everyone around him. Imagine winning Daytona as your first race, that has to be pretty cool. This could really be something for Marchbanks here as a lot of younger riders just need that boost of confidence, that belief that they can win in order to win. Guys like Garrett have always been great riders, they have great equipment behind them and they’ve always won- they sometimes just need that little kick to get them to always be there.
I’m excited to see if this is “something” or not for Marchbanks. He’s in a contract year and this is huge. Another thing to think about is Garrett was probably rushed to the pros a bit, after all he’s same age as Pierce Brown but he’s almost two years into his pro career and Brown is just two races in.
Chase Sexton reeled Marchbanks in a bit later on in the main event but wasn’t able to get that close. Afterwards I heard he was not happy about the track and I know he said in the PR that he struggled a bit with the bike and what it was doing out there. Daytona is different after all and most teams (from what I gather) don’t change their SX spec much like they used to for this race. Still, Sexton put points on the board and extended his lead in the series so he can’t be that bummed right?
Jeremy Martin is good at the speedway as we all know, so perhaps when Marchbanks passed him and won the heat, we all should’ve known that it was going to be Garrett’s night right? In the chaos of the McElrath/Jordon Smith takedowns, J Mart got jostled off the track and was a ways back of the top three but he reeled RJ Hampshire in (looked like Hampshire had a couple of bad laps more than being consistently slower than Jeremy) and grabbed the last spot on the box.
Vince Friese was trying to do something to Brayton on the last lap and ended up breaking Justin’s hand with his flailing body. It was a bizarre crash that JB10 posted to his social media as I think Friese was coming in for the kill and either hit a rut or aborted the attempt after he realized it wasn’t going to be a good look for him. I think he just hit a rut personally but who knows. One thing on the MCR team is owner Mike Genova has a unique bonus structure for their riders and every place is worth more money. Brayton had just passed Vince for tenth and I imagine the bonus payments for inside the top ten are pretty good so I guess Friese was doing anything and everything he could to get that spot back?
Either way, Brayton’s out for a few weeks and that’s a bummer for him and the team. Especially for another Honda supported squad rider to do that.
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Unfortunately I got taken down on the last lap in Daytona which resulted in a broken hand. I was still able to finish the race in tenth but knew right away something was wrong. Gonna take a couple weeks off then have it re-evaluated. Hate I have to miss a race or two but I don’t think it’s worth risking it with limited strength in my hand. Thanks to the team for the continued support!! @honda_racing_us
It seems like Chad Reed’s starting to enjoy himself a little more these days and he says he’s getting into the shape he needs to start racing the entire main event. Looking at his riding and results, I would agree with that.
Jordon Smith tweaked a knee in his crash with his old teammate McElrath and looks to be out a while. Man, he’s having a rough start to his Pro Circuit Kawasaki career.
Benji Bloss grabbed Justin Bogle’s spot on his old team this past weekend and scored season best 12th after getting a season best 13th last weekend on the old Rock River Yamaha team. I wrote about the pros and cons of Bloss making this move last week in Racerhead so you can go check that out. I haven’t heard anything official but I would think that Benny is banking on Bogle being out longer than just SX to take this ride. He told me it was just SX only but unfortunately with Bogle having a history of concussions, Bloss might be gambling that his ride will last longer.
Thanks for reading everyone, I’m back at Indy this weekend so I’ll be more in-depth on my Observations! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat about this or anything else!