Too many riders to watch at the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship opener at Loretta Lynn’s. The first 450 moto alone saw about a dozen riders making moves toward the front, and between career comebacks, surprises, rookies, a new winner, and more, it was hard to remember every single thing that happened.
Round two looms with many of the same stories. Here’s a review of round one. Expect more this Saturday!
The Comeback: He didn’t look far off from his old self—and by old, we mean the one-year-younger version, because Marvin Musquin hadn’t raced in almost exactly a year (357 days, to be accurate). Not only did Marvin have a ton of time away, but piling up knee injuries is never good news, and the 450 Class always gets deeper with new talent. Marv wasn’t on the podium at Loretta’s, but he was in the hunt, and now that both Roczen and Webb are out for the summer, it’s especially comforting to see an old favorite running back up front.
The Flyer:Chase Sexton carried a lot of hype into this race thanks to flying at the test track, but rookies and hot test-track times are nothing new. Turning that into a fast qualifying lap was impressive, but again, we’ve seen that before. Look, rookies are gonna rookie, right? Indeed, Sexton crashed away his chances in moto one. But what’s this? A strong, solid, smart ride in moto two for a podium? Can this kid keep it together? This has just become a more tantalizing prospect than we realized.
The Win:Jason Anderson is haunted by this weirdo “never won a national” stat, which paints him as a far less capable outdoor rider than he actually is. The reality is he’s always been good, but he’s always just a hair off of some other elites when the time comes to seize the victory. Normally, just staying in the hunt like this results in a win, but the stars just don’t align for the Rockstar rider. This dominant first-moto victory is a reminder he can still go very fast outdoors. One of these days, this has to just work out.
The Suzuki: Remember this guy? Joey Savatgy was up front off the start of the first 450 moto, and while he didn’t stay there (9-11 for ninth overall), it was a brief reminder that he used to be a frontrunner. But he hasn’t raced since November. "Yesterday was subpar for me. It was my first race back in almost a year and it got the best of me," Savatgy said. If he has more in the tank as he gets his racing legs under him, there’s a chance Joey surprises the people who forgot how good he was last year.
The Free Agent: Three straight years of Justin Barcia starting seasons with great Anaheims, followed by talk of Yamaha having it dialed in, only to have it fall apart. It’s finally over, as Barcia has all but said he’s not coming back on blue next year. Yet he’s still stationed in California and riding and testing sunup to sundown with the team, trying to find that elusive setup. He was damned good at Loretta’s. Someone else is going to have him next year, and you’re getting glimpses of the kind of damage Barcia is still capable of.
The First Time: While a large majority of the 250 Class had previously raced at the Ranch for the Loretta Lynn's AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship Dylan Ferrandis had never once been there. He could have fooled anyone, though: he carved up the Tennessee soil like he grew up racing in those exact conditions. Whether or not the dirt in Avignon, France, actually does move just like the dirt in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, after some rain cannot be confirmed at this time.
the Rookie: Among a trio of riders making their Pro Motocross debuts a week on from the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, Rock River Yamaha's Mason Gonzales shined through. After losing both Pro Sport titles to Stilez Robertson—and perhaps being talked about less than Dilan Schwartz—Gonzales got good starts and put together two solid rides for a top-ten in his debut.
The Attrition: Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Darian Sanayei and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Jalek Swoll will miss the second round of the series due to injuries sustained at the opener. Sanayei suffered a shoulder injury, and Swoll’s mild concussion will leave him on the sidelines as well. Both are expected to return potentially as early as the third round at Ironman Raceway.
The Healer:RJ Hampshire beat normal recovery expectations from ACL surgery by a couple of months when he lined up for the opener just four months removed from the procedure. And he did more than just line up, as the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider picked up second overall on the day.
The Return:Jeremy Martin lined up as the only former series champion in the 250 Class, but his presence on the gate was much more than that. After a burst fracture in his spine during the 2018 Muddy Creek National kept him off the starting gate for well over a year, Martin finally returned to Pro Motocross on Saturday. Third overall was a welcome return for the GEICO Honda rider.
The Wrong Foot:Justin Cooper and Hunter Lawrence entered this season as expected title contenders. Cooper had a rough day, including a few falls; Lawrence had an awful day, including a DNF in one moto. The old phrase goes that you can't win the championship at the opening round, but you sure can lose it. Well, Cooper and Lawrence may well have seen their championship hopes disappear before they really ever got started.