Next up is High Point Raceway, home race to the very website you are reading. Located just outside Morgantown, West Virginia, which houses the Racer X HQ, High Point Raceway is known for its off cambered corners, rutty terrain, and unpredictable weather. My first trip to High Point was as a youth rider in 1995 and coming from Florida, the steep hills were nothing short of a learning moment. I can vividly remember exiting corners at the top of said hills and cautiously coasting down the hills while those with more experience were accelerating hard, blowing past me with ease. This weekend, watch for time to be gained by those with the willingness to grab another gear while descending into rutty transitions. Some riders will be more confident than others, especially if we get a bit of inclement weather sprinkled into the mix.
Dirty Little Secrets
The start at High Point is a long uphill that bends into a fast left hand sweeper followed by an even faster downhill. If you aren’t able to get up the hill with the first few, diving to the inside and shortening the distance around that sweeper and then blitzing down the downhill to the outside can be a last resort type move. With many of the corners funneling into inside ruts, getting a good start can be a huge difference in track position after only a lap or two.
With rain in the forecast, things could spiral out of hand very quickly. High Point and mud go together like George and Weezy. My first High Point National was the famed 1997 edition and one of the muddiest races I have ever witnessed or been a part of. The hard High Point base doesn’t absorb precipitation per se and immediately becomes incredibly difficult to navigate. The skies might be the biggest variable to watch when fans exit I-79 and crawl up the windy Mt. Morris backroad.
Ken Roczen has come out of nowhere to take this 450 Class series by storm. He’s won 75 percent of the motos thus far.
Dylan Ferrandis’s start to the season has been nothing short of phenomenal. While a tad overshadowed by Roczen, he deserves a ton of respect for how well he has ridden to this point.
Aaron Plessinger looks to have found his 450 groove, even on tracks that might not suit him. Tracks like High Point will be right in his wheelhouse. Don’t be shocked to see the #7 on the podium Saturday.
Justin Barcia might not be grabbing headlines, but I have been very impressed. I didn’t have much in the way of expectation for JB51 this summer. That is proving to be unwise.
Jett Lawrence may have the brightest future of any rider in the sport worldwide. His charisma, talent, and international draw have the makings of a global superstar. He’s only 17 years old!
Justin Cooper has yet to win a moto but he’s going to force his competition to be perfect. His good starts and mistake-free riding apply heavy pressure to his rivals. He reminds me of Ice-Man in Top Gun. He rides ice cold, no mistakes. He wears you down, you get bored, do something stupid, then he’s got you.
Hunter Lawrence is going to break out soon. Watch for him to emerge as the tracks change in our East Coast swing.
Hunter Lawrence earned his first moto win in the U.S. at the 2019 High Point National. His 1-3 on the day gave him his maiden overall podium finish. Rich Shepherd This year, Hunter Lawrence is fresh off of a third-place overall finish at Thunder Valley at round two. Will he return to race-winning form on Saturday? Align Media
If we do get rain on Saturday, fantasy picks can get very interesting. The trends we have seen at the first two rounds become mostly irrelevant. Also, we should have an influx of new privateers that couldn’t make the trek out west, while some of the western riders won't be participating.
Zooming out 250 wise, I will be looking at those riders who haven’t performed that well so far. Riders like Austin Forkner, Nate Thrasher, Max Vohland, Ty Masterpool, and Pierce Brown all present nice value. They are all capable of top-ten finishes yet haven’t put it together through two rounds. After a weekend off and a swing back east, I think this presents a nice opportunity to press the reset button for a few.
In the 450 Class, there is an abundance of talent to choose from. Many of the established elite have had a rocky start to the series, giving team owners a great menu to choose from. Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin, Dean Wilson, Joey Savatgy, and Max Anstie all have their hands up, just begging to join your team. Tomac and Musquin being double points eligible hasn’t happened often in this series, not to mention how dangerous Musquin is at this High Point venue.
While those factory names might be more than enough, a few privateers are due for a bounce back, too. Phil Nicoletti has had a rough start to the series but should ride this High Point track well. Ben LaMay was plagued by fuel issues in Colorado but was well inside the top 20 in both motos before the struggle. Fredrik Noren is another name to keep an eye on, too. He has been a top ten 450 rider in this series for a few years and while his equipment may have taken a step back for 2021, his -8 handicap gives plenty of upside to a good Saturday.
Kris Keefer adopts a pet opossum and names him Kenny.
The younger 250 riders are very confused as to why there is a wooden berm on the High Point track.
Adam Cianciarulo sets the fastest lap time and holeshots the first moto.
Austin Forkner arrives to Pennsylvania in brand new running shoes.
Eli Tomac, as always, is allowed to use factory parts on Saturday. He is fully supported by Monster Kawasaki and in other news, the sun will come up tomorrow.