Life moves pretty fast right? Three rounds down in Monster Energy AMA Supercross in seven days and we’re onto a new city. Houston was all over the place in terms of results. It was the equivalent of dating a stripper, some nights were calm and stable, some were wild and chaotic.
Take the 450 class as an example. We had eight different riders take up the nine podium spots, three different winners, a couple of controversies involving the same rider and all in all, most of the racing was gold. Let’s take a look at the three races in both classes in an Olympic style-scoring format and give you some “Observations” from what I saw being there in the pits. Well, I was in the pits but 10 feet away from anyone outside my media bubble, which meant basically hanging with Weege all day.
Actually, let’s stay on that topic. The ten days in Houston was a mix of great and horrific. On the good side, my buddy Thomas once owned this company called N-Fab which made Jeep and truck parts. He sold the company and now he is super rich so he offered his amazing Garagemahl to use as a podcast studio. That was awesome. I mean, where else will you find a Ferrari and a Rolls-Royce flanked by old Phil Nicoletti race bikes?
So that was good, but the rules of the pits in these COVID-19 times make it tough for me to get the usual info. No interaction with the teams and riders outside of walking by the truck and saying hi, no interviews with the riders afterwards. Feld Entertainment is really laying on the teams and riders to not do in-person media, as that could potentially expose them to contact tracing, and then, not racing. It makes my job much tougher. Relationships built up by years of being at the races allows me to get information about how things are really going. Not seeing these people makes it, uhhh, really tough.
I get it, I’m going along with it but to say it’s as fun as usual to be a media guy in the pits would be wrong.
Here’s what’s worse: Living with JT and Weege in an Airbnb. They could never figure out where their phone charging cords were, JT moved and disappeared in mysterious ways, Weege was leaving used paper towels everywhere because in his words “they were still good,” Weege was stealing my Donut Shop Keurigs and buying me crap to replace them, JT was upset that I fixed his TV for some reason and on and on it went. Tough deal for me to handle but I worked through it to help provide you readers with the following Observations.
AirBNB Update: I’m out of Donut Shop coffee Keurigs but I wouldn’t be if my “roomies” didn’t take a bunch. Tensions jacked back up— Steve Matthes (@pulpmx) January 22, 2021
Let’s take a look at the standings after three rounds, any DNQ’s or DNS’s were scored as 23 points ICYWW.
Steve Matthes’ Olympic 250SX Points After Three Rounds
1st | Colt Nichols | 3-2-1 = 6 points
I knew that Colt hadn’t won a lot of races before but I was surprised to see his Houston 3 victory was just his second win of his career. We all remember that he won the Anaheim 1 win in 2019 but he didn’t squeak out another one at some point? I’m surprised. Anyways, all of us didn’t spend enough time talking about Nichols before the SX season started and for that, I’m sorry.
2nd | Christian Craig | 1-3-2 = 6 points
Craig was the big winner from the three races in Houston, in terms of we knew he was going to be fast, but would we get the same old Craig or would the new team/bike allow him to get some consistency. Well, we have our answer. He’s 29 years old and the switch has finally flipped! He was very, very good in the three races although getting passed late in two races by Nichols (granted, Craig had some kind of clutch issue at the second race) wasn’t ideal, but he’s proven he’s no longer the old Craig. He’s been solid and consistent through and through. So was it the bike? The team? Not sure to be honest, but I’m leaning towards that bike being a huge part of his transformation.
3rd | Jett Lawrence |6-1-3 = 10 points
THE JETT put a little bit of everything on display through the first three rounds of 2021. Remember, he’s still a kid, but this is his second 250SX season now and you can see he’s better but also still figuring things out. He’s crashed hard, he’s taken dudes out, he’s made mistakes and then he’s also been dominant and won a damn race. In other words, he’s been very much like a young James Stewart. I’m NOT saying he’s on Stew’s level but he’s a Stew-lite out there in my opinion.
4th | Jo Shimoda | 4-5-4 = 13 points
I don’t know man, between the class last year and now this year, has there been a rider to benefit from injuries and lack of depth more than Jo? I just don’t see anything very special here, he’s a very good rider but he gets pushed around, he doesn’t have raw speed, he seems like the ultimate cheese pizza type of rider. (Cheese pizza is good but I’d like to get some toppings on there and make it great). Change my mind.
5th | Michael Mosiman | 7-4-5 = 16 points
Mosiman’s been kind of the same guy on the GasGas (FunFun!) as he was on the Husqvarna. He’s not going to wow you but he’ll be good, he’s in shape and he’ll take advantage of anything that happens to put himself in good position. He had a quiet three rounds in Houston outside of being taken out by THE JETT but you get the feeling he’s lurking and ready for a breakout if things fall into place.
6th | Max Vohland | 9-8-6 = 23 points
I feel like Mad Max’s first three supercross races have been pretty much the best case scenario for him and the team. At H3 he was up front for a lap, got pushed back quickly but it’s all part of the learning process right? He’s way inexperienced for SX at the moment but he’ll figure it out, he’ll race them when it’s time. We’ll get there.
7th Josh Osby | 10-10-7 = 27 points
I think Osby’s been quiet to start the year, I have a lot of respect for Osby’s bike skills out there, he’s got talent and speed but we haven’t seen him get into the mix with the factory guys like he sometimes does. I do know that him and John Short’s battle at H2 was intense!
8th | John Short | 11-11-8 = 30 points
John Shortgot a ride which is awesome but I’m not sure being on a team where he doesn’t have a full-time mechanic is that great? And then he’s on the RM-Z250 that is probably the worst bike in the 250 class (I thought Troll Train’s bike was good last year but this team doesn’t have JGR’s resources, I promise you that) but on the flip side, he’s not paying to go racing!
9th Austin Forkner | 2-6-DNS = 31 points
Forkner’s SX title shot is gone again for the third year in a row and man that’s a tough deal for him, Mitch Payton and Kawasaki. Here’s the thing though: just look at Adam Cianciarulo for proof that although in the moment this situation kind of sucks, in the end it’s not the end of anything for a kid this fast. So far this year, all we have to judge him on is one bad race where he again showed immaturity and one smart race where we all thought he’d figured things out.
10th | Mitchell Oldenburg | 8-7-20 = 35 points
There were times that Freckle was the fastest dude in qualifying even when he was a total privateer guy. But generally Mitch has an issue with staying on two wheels which he still kind of has but he hasn’t got that balls out speed he used to have. Staying up on two wheels is generally better for the oft-injured Oldenburg.
11th | RJ Hampshire | 5-9-DNS = 36 points
Sweet Jesus Hampshire is pretty beat up right now. He crashed in both main events to start the year and then took himself out in practice for the third one on the same jump that got Forkner. He’s had a frustrating start to the year and will now be on the sidelines for a bit. Lots of heart for Hampshire but in the end, he’s got to be pissed off.
12th | Thomas Do | 16-12-10 = 38 points
The Frenchman has been good, he’s totally a supercross at this point and is going to benefit from the lack of depth in this class to do pretty well from here on out.
13th | Joshua Varize | 12-17-11 = 40 points
I don’t know much about Varize but between him and Max Miller, KTM has a couple of young guys that show some promise. Varize was a bit loose at the first round but he straightened things up the last two and is pushing towards a top ten. Well, he was down in the whoops in practice at round two, but his last two mains have been good. Impressive start to his first full pro season.
14th | Kevin Moranz | 13-DNQ-9 = 45 points
Moranz looked great at H3 and although he’s benefitting from a weaker field, he’s been a “guy” this year and even in the main he didn’t make at H2, he should’ve easily made the main but he didn’t because I picked him in PulpMX Fantasy. Obviously.
15th | Logan Karnow | 17-18-12 = 47 points
Karnow is a main event guy now and he’s come a long way from his beginnings. He owes me because I’m guessing he didn’t know what to do with having the lead in his heat race because he then just flew over a berm. It would’ve been a disaster but the Steve Matthes Memorial Nets were there to save him. Some say I’m an angel.
16th | Jeremy Hand | 21-13-14 = 48 points
Jeremy wins the “Logan Karnow” award in 2021 for the rider most improved from last year. He’s pretty stylish, and he seems like he knows what he’s doing out there. Maybe a tad more fitness is needed but he’s been in all three mains as a privateer so that’s great. He was cleaned out bad at H3 but that was not his fault at all. Some dude just sent it in the whoops and didn’t brake.
17th | Grant Harlan | 14-16-18 = 48 points
Harlan had an eventful H3, at one point he pulled into the mechanics area for a bit and it looked like his night was over. Then next time I checked, he was out there tripling stuff. Weird.
18th | Hunter Sayles | 15-14-DNQ = 52 points
I don’t know why but Sayles didn’t look nearly as good at H3 as he did at the first two rounds and I was waiting for him in the LCQ to start working his way up into the top four.
19th | Tj Albright | 20-22-13 = 55 points
In a complete reverse of Sayles, Albright was much better at H3 than he had been at the other rounds but then it all made sense when he tweeted that he had picked himself in PulpMX Fantasy!
20th | Luke Neese | 15-17-DNQ = 55 points
I liked Neese’s look last year on the Honda, now he’s on Kawasaki and I don’t like his look as much. That’s all.
Steve Matthes’ Olympic 450SX Points After Three Rounds
1st | Ken Roczen | 2-5-2= 9 points
Roczen’s got a right to look at his one point lead and know that it should be eight. Three points lost in the pass by Cooper Webb due to Dean Wilson holding him up and the four points docked for jumping on the red cross (I get the call but he did try to check up, the flagger was a bit obscured and we’ve seen plenty of dudes do this and not get penalized) but it is what it is as of now. Has a racer lost more late-race SX main event leads in the last few years than Kenny? I’ve been impressed by ze German though, the all-new bike looks very good, his corners are something that should be in a museum somewhere. Somewhere deep in his brain, late at night, Kenny knows these seven points are gonna be huge when it’s all said and done.
2nd | Cooper Webb | 9-4-1= 14 points
I was worried about Cooper Webb after the first round. After the second round I thought he was fortunate to get a fourth. After the third round, I’m back on the Webb Wagon! He was dealing with a back injury coming in and still working stuff out with the bike. H3 was superb and yes, he got fortunate again to win (I do not believe he would have won without Roczen getting slowed by Wilson) but still, he was coming on hard late in the race. Webb also had his good luck charm there, as “Filthy” Phil Nicoletti showed up, and anytime Phil is there, it seems like Webb wins. Webb sent Phil & me a text after the main event. He said he was glad that Phil got to see that when Webb is lapping him this summer, he needs to get the eff out of the way.
3rd | Justin Barcia | 1-9-4 = 14 points
BAM BAM IS GOOD GOOD. Seriously, the switch to KTM GasGas (FunFun) has been a good thing for the #51. Him winning the opener for the third year in a row was ridiculous right? Well, he’s a broken shifter and a tip over in the sand from a 1-4-3 in these three races in my opinion. He’s been so exciting to watch and the KTM GasGas has been right on the money for him. Interesting to hear Webb says they’re behind the eight ball on the bike set-up to start the year but as far as Barcia is concerned, I’ve heard that he’s barely touched a thing since he started riding the bike.
4th | Eli Tomac | 13-1-5 = 19 points
I know this is an a**hole thing to type because the dude got a win but I’ve not been that impressed by the champ so far. BUT HE GOT A WIN right? So, yeah that’s awesome but I guarantee you he and Kawasaki aren’t feeling great about his three rounds and are waiting for the traditional heating up of the Tomac. The all important eye test sees Tomac as more vulnerable than I can remember in recent years. Like, Justin Barcia went down in the sand at H3, got passed by ET, got up and went by him again. That was the second time Barcia had gotten by him. I guess I just hold Eli to such a high standard, maybe this is just on me.
5th | Adam Cianciarulo | 4-12-3 = 19 points
After the first main of the year, Adam was very happy with his quiet race in fourth. After all, a quiet fourth is what he wants to do on his “bad” nights, right? Second Houston he was all exciting like usual and was back to being a quad god! But then in all things yin and yang, AC took a header in the sand so we were back to trying to be “quiet” again. Well, H3 was just that as he got his first podium of the year but didn’t have anything for Roczen and Webb. Although early on, after Roczen got Webb and seeing Cooper’s problems in first two races, I thought AC was going to get Coop. Coop picked it up and got away. I’ve been good with AC’s first three races in case anyone cares.
6th | Justin Brayton | 6-3-10 = 19 points
Crazy to me that two rounds in, Justin Brayton had already made a podium and it wasn’t a Triple Crown or anything! Brayton was as honest as anyone was when he told me that he’s not going to go from 16th to third but if he gets the start, he can hang in there. The first two rounds he did but his start wasn’t as good at H3. I’d love to go over to his pits and check out his bike to see what kind of special Honda stuff he has on it but, well, you know. By the way, the worst thing about JB10’s podium was having to live with Weigandt the next few days.
7th | Malcolm Stewart | 5-7-6 = 18 points
Mookie has been solid to start the year, to me he looks on the new Yamaha a lot like he did last year on the Honda. His insane speed is gone but it’s been replaced by consistency. We started seeing that last year though, right? Although Marvin Musquin might dispute that after Mookie rear-ended him after the whoops in H3, Stewart’s been very good to start the season. He’s still in shape, he’s still fast and three top tens in this depth of the field is a good way to start.
8th | Dylan Ferrandis | 7-2-11 = 20 points
Maybe the most impressive ride of the three Houston races was Dylan getting second (and charging!) at H2. I mean, we were told he rode like six times before the first round because of a hand injury and then he already looks this good? He was catching Tomac also which isn’t really supposed to happen. Great start for him and H3 didn’t go that well due to crashes in the heat and the main but hey, we’ll always have that H2 race!
9th | Marvin Musquin | 3-6-12 = 21 points
Marv’s opening round was great and he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat in his return to SX after missing a year. The next two races saw him crash a bunch which is weird. That’s not normal things we see from him, right?
10th | Zach Osborne | 10-10-9 = 29 points
Zach Osborne is the fastest rider in SX history to go 10-10-9 through the first three races. Osborne’s crashed, he’s made unforced errors and all in all, he’s got to be an 11 (out of 10) on the frustration level. On the good side, he’s won a heat, he’s been fastest in qualifying and he was catching Tomac for the lead in H2 before he went down. Look at the bright side Zachery, it can only get better from here!
11th | Aaron Plessinger | 8-16-7 = 31 points
It’s been a little bit of everything with AP to start the year. First round I was onboard with him being way better, his first heat race of the year was great. His main was solid (although I didn’t like Ferrandis getting him late but then again, Dylan got second two days later so maybe that’s more of Dylan shining but at the time, I figured with Dylan’s lack of seat time, that wasn’t good) and the second round he crashed back. Third race he was fourth, got shuffled back but held his ground for a top ten. To me, Aaron should be a 5-10 guy every week without a crash but if the opportunity is there, he could get on the box. So like Meat Loaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad.
12th | Jason Anderson | 15-8-8 = 31 points
Jason’s not been off to a good start through the three races. Lots of people in the pits think that Jason leaving Aldon Baker’s program was the first step in him not grinding as much and just being happy to have some fun off the track but still be a top ten rider. So far, those people are right. With Rockstar Energy getting bought by Pepsi and perhaps changing some marketing dollars (they’ve already pulled away from some other sports), Anderson, Osborne, and Wilson’s contracts all up and the rumors of former team owner Bobby Hewitt coming back into the sport, I’d say the Rockstar Husky guys are the most interesting team in the pits for 2022.
13th | Dean Wilson | 12-11-11 = 34 points
Poor Dean. I don’t know what he was doing once Roczen caught him at H3. I know he didn’t do it on purpose, I know he knows the drill but as he said, he thought he had Ferrandis on him so that’s why he didn’t move over. But there were a ton of blue flags waving at him that I saw. I don’t know man, bad deal for him but props to him for handling it like a man and apologizing. Seeing Roczen on his flight Sunday morning must’ve been tough! Anyways, yeah, Dean needs better starts.
14th | Joey Savatgy | 11-21-13 = 45 points
Good first race for Joey, bad crash and DNF in round two and then he was close to where he was at the first race at H3. The pace is high right now and I think guys like Joey, his teammate Bogle, etc. are finding that if you’re not sharp, it’s tough to go with the leaders.
15th | Broc Tickle | 17-13-16 = 46 points
I’ll be honest, I haven’t really noticed Tickle a whole bunch, he’s been just doing his thing out there and is a slightly better version of Chiz. So are we eventually gonna just start saying “Tick’s gonna Tick”? Yes, I think we will.
16th | Kyle Chisholm | 19-14-18 = 50 points
Chiz will always Chiz. He’s won two LCQ’s and in talking to him, it seems like he’s had a way better off-season this year than he’s had the past two years and it’s showing. We all laugh whenever Chiz shows all the regular hot shot guys on teams what’s up but eventually, we have to just shrug our shoulders and remember that Chiz is good. By the way, I did a real interesting podcast with Kyle while in Houston where he talks about how much money he makes, why he’s still going and more. Look up my Privateer Island podcast and the Steve Matthes Show.
17th | Vince Friese | 16-15-19 = 50 points
I didn’t think Vince was going to race H3 after a good practice crash but he made it happen. He’s also been fast in practice and some of that I think is because he immediately gets out front and gets a good pace going. Good way to learn and figure things out quickly, right?
18th | Martin Davalos | 18-20-15 = 53 points
I don’t know what Marty’s doing out there! He’s fast! He’s crashing! I’m sure he’ll figure it out but in the meantime, nothing signaled that 2021 SX was off and running better than Marty losing the front in the very first practice of the year. It’s a tradition!
19th | Benny Bloss | DNQ-19-14 = 56 points
Benny crashed out of the first race (DNQ) and he crashed out of the second race (DNF) but he held it together (thank God) for H3. He needed to get a good finish here because I was scared of what Jeff Bloss (his dad and a man with an impressive karate kick) was going to do to people.
20th | Chase Sexton | 14-22-DNS = 59 points
Oh what could have been! Sexton was off and leading H2 when he crashed and he missed H3 with injury. Not sure when he’ll be back but he was very fast indeed. His speed and style on the bike reminded me of AC last year.
Thanks for reading, we’re onto Indianapolis which I predict will be as nutty as Houston if not nuttier with the wet dirt we’re going to see. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat about these races or anything else.