Well, the penultimate round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship has happened, and in terms of this awesome 450MX title fight, we’re right back to where we started—there’s only one damn point separating the two riders! What a finale we’re going to see this weekend, that’s for sure.
Ironman looks like a great track to me. We’ve seen it pretty muddy over the years and even when the weather’s held out, we’ve gotten it drenched so that it turns into “rutcross.” But not this year! I think it was a mix of some of the wet and rutty conditions we’ve seen before and then the “newer” prep of the last year or two. Jalek Swoll told me he doesn’t like this place, but most riders I spoke to over the years rate the Ironman track as one of the sneaky good ones. One thing’s for sure, it has good crowds and they’re into it, which makes me think that we won’t see Ironman off the schedule anytime soon.
Chase Tomac? Eli Sexton? I mean at this point there’s not much to separate the two top dogs in the 450MX class. They again swapped scores this past weekend, with Sexton getting the overall, but the gap remains—Tomac up by one point with just two motos to go. Sexton had an easy win at Lakewood when he tipped over in a turn and gave the win to Ken Roczen, and there’s three points right there, plus he got docked a point for jumping on a red cross flag. It’s the little things that sometimes all add up when it comes to a season-ending title chase.
Again, like Budds Creek I thought both riders could hang their heads on something that went well for them at Ironman. Tomac led the first moto for a long time before Sexton sucked him up and made the pass late. In 98 percent of these situations, it’s over for the rider who got passed. It’s just too hard to pick up your pace and match a guy that has been going faster than you. You’re tired, you’re in your pace, and that’s it- the race is over. But oh no, not for Tomac! He put it into berserker mode and got Sexton back two laps later and then stretched out a lead! That, ladies and gentlemen, is hard to do. It was a great moto for Tomac and it gave him a four-point cushion in the championship.
In the second moto the tables were turned again with Sexton taking the lead early, Tomac doing the stalking and using some lapped traffic to get the lead from 5.5 to 1.1, but that was it, he couldn’t get any closer. He made a mistake near the end and that was all she wrote. Both of these athletes have been so impressive this summer, it’s a shame they can’t maybe both win the title? Can we look into this?
Aaron Plessinger loves Ironman MX. He’s got four podiums in six starts there (both classes), with two of those four podiums being overall wins. Yes, a fan just wandering into our sport might think AP is from Texas or perhaps somewhere in the deep, deep south, but oh no, he’s from Ohio and it’s not far from Indiana and he probably raced a lot of tracks with similar soil to Ironman. He was very impressive again this weekend going 3-3 for his second podium of the year outdoors and third overall in the 450 class. As I’ve been saying, it’s been a very up and down season for the KTM rider, but we all knew he’d be awesome at Ironman and he was. Afterward, I heard he really enjoyed the podium celebration. Aaron Plessinger is a treat, indeed.
Jason Anderson rode great, like super-fast. He’s got a 12.9 average first lap position in the first moto, which isn’t great, and it shows how hard he’s got to work out there to finish where he does. He passed 36 riders in the two motos at Ironman and has passed an amazing 133 riders all season long. Tomac, for example has passed just 47 riders this year. He did get, yet again, docked one position for gassing it when he went off the track by the tunnel jump. We were talking about all his off-track penalties he’s gotten and a gentleman on Twitter named MX Reference pointed out that he’s gotten nine (!!) career penalizations from this, indoors and out. The man goes for it. All the time. Anyway, that prompted Jason’s funny response on IG:
Hey guess what? The 250MX podium consisted of both Lawrence brothers and Jo Shimoda. These three guys have basically dominated this class and let me throw some stats at you here in regard to backing up that domination.
The three of them have:
10 overall wins out of the 11 races so far
17 of the 22 moto wins
Eight fastest, lap-of-the-day in either moto out of 11 races
16 fastest laps in the moto out of 22 motos
26 podium spots out of a possible 33
Five times out of 11 races the podium has been those three
244 laps led out of a possible 354 (69% of total laps led)
The Jett took his first overall in a few races this weekend with some typical great riding in moto one and then a charge up in moto two while Shimoda took another second-moto win and did enough to prevent the Jett from clinching, which he’ll do this weekend. Also, strangely, Hunter Lawrence doesn’t have an overall win this summer and also sits third in the points, so there is something to battle for this weekend. I guarantee you Hunter doesn’t want Shimoda beating him, and it’s got to chap him that Jo, who was once clearly the slowest of these three riders, has surpassed Hunter this year in the outdoors.
RJ Hampshire rode another impressive race, just missing the podium with a 2-4 score. He’s been so much better since he got his bike dialed in with some suspension parts and has to be thinking that in 2023, he’ll be back to his form. The new KTM has definitely caused some consternation amongst all the riders (just four wins all year from KTM/Husky/Gas-Gas in both 250SX/MX and 450SX/MX, with Hampshire getting two of them, Mosiman and Musquin the others) but I think there are some changes coming to the bike (maybe a new factory edition with significant frame changes from what I hear) that will help the Austrians get back to where at least not every rider is complaining about the motorcycle.
Maybe you heard about this kid Haiden Deegan racing Ironman? No? Let me fill you in here. He’s a highly touted amateur rider who’s been watched for years and has had grown men on the internet talk about him, get mad at him, debate about him, etc. It’s all a little much to me and a reason why I’m 96 percent out on amateur racing. I’ve just heard too many dumb stories about kids, parents, sponsors, and so on and so forth. I like to cover “professional racing” where, like, it actually matters how you finish and stuff.
Anyways, Deegan rode two races to get his A Class points and jumped right into the deep end this weekend. He crashed out of moto one spectacularly, crashed in the third turn in moto two, and scored zero points. But you know what? He was still good and he’ll look back and laugh at this debut years from now, he was in 11th for the first moto for a long time before the crash (he moved up into that spot) and then second moto he was dead, dead, dead last after getting up (limping) to his bike. He soldiered on though, just missing the points. All in all, yeah, not good, but good, you know? He’ll get another chance this weekend at Pala.
Some other news and notes:
Derek Kelly has been the source of praise in this column for scoring points in all the motos this year and being the top privateer most weekends in the uber-tough-to-be-a-privateer 250MX class. Well, that streak ended this weekend when he either broke or crashed out of moto one. Just four riders have finished every moto this year as Kelley’s, and his teammate Josh Varize’s, streak ended at Ironman.
It’s so like Filthy Phil [Nicoletti] and Alex Martin’s friendship that Phil flew all the way to Ironman to support his buddy’s second-to-last national ever, and Alex dislocated his shoulder Wednesday, didn’t race, and also didn’t tell Phil he did that until Phil got to the race on Saturday. Friends forever!
Nate Thrasher was really good at Ironman, leading the first laps of his career in motocross, eight in fact, in moto one. He would finish fifth overall, which is the first time he’s ever gotten a top five outdoors. There’s something here with Thrasher, I’m just not sure what. I’m not sure Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing knows either.
Michael Mosiman has been having a rough second half the nationals and this week he crashed in moto one and hurt his neck, and he’ll be out for the last round as well. Even with the rough ending, Mosiman won his first moto of his career this summer and you’d have to call it successful.
Speaking of TLD Gas-Gas, they had a race like I had when I was on KTM in 2000 as in, it was rough. Mosiman was a DNF-DNS, Pierce Brown was a 13-DNF, Barcia went 8-27 (he stopped in mechanics’ area for repairs). Lot of money and time spent to do absolutely nothing at the race. Ehhh, that happens. I blame Wil Hahn.
Hawaii’s own Grant Harlan went 16-14 for his best race of the year, the lush Indiana forest must have reminded him a lot of the Big Island’s terrain.
Ryan Dungey had a podium in his grasp in moto two after a fourth in moto one. He just had to beat his teammate Plessinger (Jason Anderson he could let go), but he couldn’t get that done and not only that, but he also faded backward late in moto two. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence out.
Christian Craig had a good day with a holeshot and a 5-5 on the day. Afterward he told me how bummed he was to not be on the USA MXoN team and how he was told he was the guy and then the AMA went with Justin Cooper not long after that. I mean, if that’s true, that does suck, but as I told him afterward, just the fact that Christian Craig was very close to being on the team is a win for him.
Speaking of Justin Cooper, he didn’t have a good day. He was one week removed from being sick enough to maybe miss Budds Creek. His holeshot-to-fifth in moto two is unlike him for sure, and one would have to think that it’s a bit of lingering sickness still affecting him. We have some time before the MXoN, so relax you people on social media…
We had Malcolm Stewart on the PulpMX Show, and he told us how much he felt like a fish out of water at this first national back at Unadilla, but how the last two weeks have also been fun for him. When I asked him about his bike, he basically said the bikes are fine, he’s just not going fast enough to try to get better settings. I wish I could go that slow.
We also had his teammate Dean Wilson come on and talk about his adventures out there, including plowing over Doc Bodner from the Alpinestars medical unit when he was forced off the track. Then he told us a hilarious story about how he was forced to cut the track to get back on, and that Barcia might’ve crashed because of that.
Thanks for reading everyone, OBS from Ironman is complete! Email email@example.com if you want to chat about this race or anything else.