It was the second year Monster Energy AMA Supercross visited SnapDragon stadium in San Diego. It’s always great to go to SD for a race. There’s so much history in our sport with this city, and so many great races. The move to SnapDragon (a college football stadium) isn’t probably going as well as when the race was held at Petco Park or the old Qualcomm. It’s a smaller stadium (along with a small floor), so not sure the Feld Motor Sports guys are turning as much of a profit as the old days but hey, it’s got a great parking lot for throwing footballs around (shout out to Ping, who really missed tailgating when the race went to PetCo downtown.) Again, SD has a great history of racing and it's kind of interesting to think SnapDragon Stadium is basically on the same piece of land as Qualcomm.
It rained again. Like, hard. Now, the track did sort of come around for the main events, but it was a mess. Lewis Phillips and I were up in the press box before the night show and the rain had stopped and the track looked okay. We even said that it should be okay.
Then the gate dropped, and it was a mess! Not as bad as last week, but not much fun for heats and LCQs. Lewis and I do not have a career in “track dirt prediction,” that’s for sure.
Cade Clason pointed out to me that for him and the seeded guys, it really was a case of having a different track each time they hit the track. The first session (doesn’t count for qualifying) was great. Perfect track. Second session was in the rain and slop. Heat races were a mess with a lot of rolling around, and then the main was somewhat better. Weird conditions for the riders and teams.
Let’s take a look at the results, shall we?
1 | #57 | Nate Thrasher
I was talking to Nate Thrasher and Jordon Smith during track walk and asked Nate how he’s doing with the two crappy races to start the year. He said he was fine, it’s coming, and then I asked if he’d been yelled at by his team yet and he said no. I said to him that we know he can ride the mud and he calmly said, “yup.” Well, he got another win with a slow and steady march to the front and then also got a bit of help with a lapper. Nate Thrasher has the weirdest Racer X Vault ever, BTW. Congrats to him for yet again turning around his season with a win!
2 | #26 | Garrett Marchbanks
Oh man! Would G have won if he didn’t get tangled with a lapper? No one knows for sure but I’m thinking he was going to pull it off. He was great all day, won his heat, and came from 12th off the start to leading the thing. He was VERY sendy off the big triple a few times that had us in the press box concerned for his health. Marchbanks has got to have some confidence after these last couple of weeks. On a dry Anaheim 1 he was good but his podium came in the garbage track conditions. He needs to do something this weekend or a lot of people will just shrug and say, “Mud guy.”
3 | #31 | Jordon Smith
I know a lot of the criticism of Jordon is he can’t stay healthy, but he was, a long time ago, leading the points going into the last round. So, he DOES have title experience, in a way, and this is the type of ride that gets titles. He was never the fastest dude like he was last week, but RJ Hampshire was the one who made the mistake, and Jordon took the free podium. The winner of the race [Thrasher] is already out of title contention, so Jordon only lost two points on the night (to Marchbanks) and put points on everyone else.
4 | #30 | Jo Shimoda
Not good. Three races in and no podiums for Jo. Bad starts (A1 and SD), and crashes (A1 and SF) have held him back. I get it, his bike broke in San Fran, but that was after he fell on the first lap and was in about 14th, so it would’ve been a tough night for him there. This week he was 13th off the line and worked to fourth. So sure, good ride, but he’s out of this title and can only hope to win races at this point. The slow starts (literally and figuratively) for Jo have continued in 2024.
5 | #47 | Levi Kitchen
Kitch looked a bit off all day in qualifying and you just knew he was supposed to be good in the mud with his PNW background. And early on in the main, it looked great for The Chef, but he went down and couldn’t get back his early Mojo.
6 | #24 | RJ Hampshire
Oh RJ! He led early and then went down. Sitting third with two turns to go, he OJ’d and then slid out in a turn (in an effort to try and get second) and went down pretty good. That’s four points he threw away right there and he's 13 down on his buddy, Smith. This is the stuff we were all afraid of.
7 | #55 | Mitchell Oldenburg
Freckle was in the mix early for a podium but slid back a bit. In the 250s it was between MCR, and the Team Solitaire guys for the best retro look out there.
8 | #34 | Ryder DiFrancesco
Ryder D’s team manager, Olly Stone, is happy with Ryder’s progress through three rounds even if DeFrancesco may not be. “He’s still a rookie. He’s doing what he needs to do. The kid is quite mature. I’m quite impressed with his thinking and the way he approaches the races. You’ve just got to build. He’s racing against guys who should be in the 450 class. There’re guys out there racing in the 250 class who are older than me,” Stone says. Which is why the class rules need to change…but I’ll spare you guys this week.
9 | #85 | Hunter Yoder
Yoder’s breakout came last year and he’s carrying it forward this year with three good finishes and being top ten in the points. That’s awesome for him and his team, Partzilla PRMX. He’s a really good starter, BTW.
10 | #100 | Anthony Bourdon
The Frenchman has been a good find for the Toyota of Redlands BarX Suzuki guys, who I heard are doing much better with support this year than in years past, which is great to hear.
11 | #73 | Robbie Wageman
Wageman has had a tough start to his season. He doesn’t strike me as a particularly great mud guy, but this was a good result.
12 | #71 | Cole Thompson
Solitaire guys did a retro 1996 look for their bike and team with Bradshaw replica helmets. It’s a real shame the mud covered it all. Top marks for those guys.
13 | #78 | Joshua Varize
Oh man Varize in the heat was in the mix for qualifying (he and the team had sweet replica 1991 Answer gear) and then fell over going up a jump. He just couldn’t pick his steaming bike up. Like, couldn’t do it. Too tired, I guess. It seemed like maybe his night was over, but he got it done in the LCQ.
14 | #245 | Matti Jorgensen
The Danish hero was on it last week in the way-worse mud and this week he was great again. At one point he was ripping through guys before, I think, he fell. He’s obviously from Europe and it’s very clear to me over the years that any rider from Europe is automatically in the top, say, 20 percent of American riders in ability to ride in the mud. Bummer that he was the guy who got in the way of Marchbanks and maybe cost him the win. Obviously not on purpose but yeah, sucks.
15 | #41 | Carson Mumford
I’m guessing by looking at Mumfy’s lap times that he fell twice and also, he was dead last after one lap. Last week he was shredding in the mud, although a little loose. This week it never quite got to the “shredding” part.
16 | #929 | Julien Beaumer
JuJu had a tough main event. It seemed like every time I looked around, he was picking up his bike.
17 | #162 | Max Sanford
I dunno what happened, Sanford was on a Honda last week and crushed it for my PulpMX Fantasy team. This week he was on a Kawasaki and still had to make it through the LCQ. [Editor's Note: The Grindstone team picked him up and they race Kawis. -- Weege]
18 | #135 | Lance Kobusch
Lance had a good ride in the LCQ to get up into a qualifying spot.
19 | #35 | Talon Hawkins
Hawkins looked better this week than last and was around tenth before crashing his way back.
20 | #116 | TJ Albright
Albright missed the night show last week after qualifying for A1. That’s a tough blow for sure for him, although last week practice was only one session. Anyway, this week he showed he can ride the mud as he made the main again. I’m not sure what happened to him out there in the main.
21 | #509 | Alex Nagy
There’re privateers like Dylan Ferrandis who get no factory salary but receive a few special parts, and there are privateers like Cade Clason, who gets a small salary from a private team owner. Heck, there are privateers like Justin Starling, who owns his team. Beneath that, deep, deep, deep down there are privateers like Nagy, who made the main this week, which is awesome. Probably celebrated by going to Denny’s and sleeping in his van in a really nice hotel parking lot.
22 | #36 | Phillip Nicoletti
Phil’s stat line of DNS-4-DNF is wild to start the year. He was third early, like really early. All he needs is a DQ this weekend to really round it all out. Phil got lapped by his buddy Marchbanks and waved him on by, which was cute.
1 | #7 | Aaron Plessinger
Everyone loves AP. Like, even Cooper Webb said that if he had to lose, he was happy that Aaron won. After having a win ripped away from him with half a lap to go last season, AP gets it done and gets the red plate. He was getting over a tabletop in the endzone rhythm section, which was really helping him, and he seemed to me to be the first guy to really get the whoops down, in terms of doubling and tripling. Aaron Plessinger – 450SX POINTS LEADER! Pretty cool story.
2 |# 2 | Cooper Webb
The old Webb was lurking out there. After a sure podium got thrown away at round 1, he was up there last week and crashed. This week he was close, real close, to pulling off a typical Cooper Webb win (where he gets faster as the race goes on) when he got held up by Sexton (Chase apologized afterwards). That was it but he was still really good and if you give him a podium at the opener, he’s closer to the red plate. I think this is starting to be “a thing” here with Webb and maybe the SMX performances sort of made us demote Coop’s title chances a bit? His first title year at KTM really kicked off with an Anaheim 2 Triple Crown race, and oh, look at what’s this weekend!
3 | #51 | Justin Barcia
After being on his death bed last week, Mr. Mud Mudder, AKA Justin Barcia, was back this week. A strong third was a nice rebound for the 51 and he even ran second for a while.
4 | #18 | Jett Lawrence
Well, Jett is finding it a little tough the last couple of weeks in the mud, but he’ll be fine. He may have a bit of a thumb injury going on after a big case on press day, but he rode well in the main to get fourth, despite being upset with Jason Anderson after the race, as we all saw. So, three rounds in, he’s met Mr. Anderson and I also look forward to him getting “acquainted” with a Mr. Barcia at some point this season. The 450SX class just hits different, eh?
5 | #21 | Jason Anderson
Anderson and The Jett were going at it for a long time with Jason shaking his head a few times at the kid. He was riding smart out there, holding the 18 back and knowing where to go, and when. I don’t have a problem with this, it’s racing, and Jason is good at the extra-curricular stuff.
6 | #14 | Dylan Ferrandis
Dylan wasn’t as happy this week as he was last week, which I figured was weird because last weekend was no fun. But then I remembered he won a heat so that was it. He’s new to Pirelli tires and it seemed like afterward he wasn’t that happy with them on this night. He told me last week he thought they were the best tires ever so there was probably a bit of adjustment for him. He then said this week it wasn't the tires, it was him. I will say that last year after a sixth, he would’ve been grumpy. But I found him anything but that after the race. He really seems happy with Ziggy at FC and everything at Phoenix.
7 | #96 | Hunter Lawrence
Quiet night for Hunter as he chased his brother for a long time as they made their way through the pack. I’m sure Hunter will take the quiet night and gather some points. Also, to no one’s surprise, Hunter and Honda won the award for best retro look in the 450s. Super sharp.
8 | #1 | Chase Sexton
Sexton went down off the start and had his work cut out for him. Last week he got the start and won! This is not a coincidence, by the way. Mud has a way of grabbing everyone at some point. Anyway, he went down again later and that was it. He got an eighth, which is good with two falls. I heard he found a suspension setting before last week and hasn’t touched his bike since then. He’s much happier with his setup than a few weeks ago. Sad that KTM didn’t feel like doing up a retro KTM 2000/2001 look when Kelly Smith became the first KTM rider to ever win a SX or MX in the USA.
9 | #3 | Eli Tomac
ET crashed twice. I wonder if his teammate, Webb, was a bit upset with him as ET rode right in front of him for a long time after AP lapped him. Coop seemed to focus on Sexton after the race, but I wouldn’t doubt if he was a bit ticked off at Eli, too. [Editor's Note: Yes Webb mentioned Eli in the press conference.] Also, Eli probably doesn’t know what to do when being lapped and also, he knows every single point matters? IDK man, it was weird to see Sexton, Tomac, and Roczen getting lapped.
10 | #15 | Dean Wilson
Wilson got a great start after cutting under and doubling some stuff after taking the 22nd and last spot into the main event. From there he rode steady and got a top ten, which he was happy about in what he told me was “my last year,” which I think is breaking news? I mean, we figured it was, but not for sure? Anyway, Dean also wins the retro “off the bike” look as well. Check his IG for that stuff.
11 | #111 | Jorge Prado
Prado is going to stay another week and I’m sure he’s like, “Please let Anaheim 2 be a normal race,” as he’s seen it all since he got here. We really don’t have a clear idea of how good he can be. I didn’t think A1 was all that great for him. It wasn’t a disaster by any means, but he gets a pass for his first race and then I was looking forward to seeing what else he can do and then we had what we had with these mud races.
12 | #94 | Ken Roczen
I thought he was gonna win. Seriously, I did. He rode great last week, he got the start this week (this is KEY in a mudder, BTW) and he looked great. He switched his line in the section where he crashed and as soon as he went there, he washed out on top of the jump. Then he crashed again, and then had to go to into mechanics area to get repairs. That was it for Roczen. He got lapped, despite putting in some laps with a twisted-up bike. Oh, what could have been! He’s ridden so much better than his 10-2-12 scores through three rounds.
13 | #9 | Adam Cianciarulo
Adam had to go to the LCQ after he “got together” with Barcia in the heat and he took the win in that. Nothing is scarier than being a factory rider and being in the LCQ. Trust me, I’ve been there as a mechanic. Adam’s got a broken finger from a Prado collision at Anaheim 1, I guess, so it’s been a bit tough on him. He also told me he’s not talking about his arm issues anymore. Big year for Adam and his future at Kawasaki. Also, I tweeted this, but Kawasaki sells a retro bike that looks awesome. They have a great history in the sport, this was a retro race, and they did…nothing. Odd. I know Mitch Payton thought so also.
14 | #32 | Justin Cooper
Cooper holeshot the main and then was third for a bit before tipping over. And that was all she wrote for Justin as the work started from there. One of the things I love about our sport is, you can be tall like Mike Bell, short like Ricky Carmichael, have muscles like Mike LaRocco, or be a string bean like Damon Huffman and you can still win titles. But there is no doubt that being taller helps a ton in the mud. Justin Cooper is not tall ICYWW.
15 | #67 | Benny Bloss
Benny “Beta” Bloss made history in San Diego by being the first rider to put a Beta into the main event! Good for those guys, it’s been a rough start for the new team and even in practice there were some issues, but they figured it out and Benny rode well. I see they went back to a stock exhaust on the bike, which is weird, but maybe they’re thinking some of their ECU issues are due to the exhaust? Not sure but great to have Beta there and good for Benji.
16 | #12 | Shane McElrath
Last week we saw Shane get a fourth in the mud and that backed up his result last year in the mudder that was New Jersey. So there seemed to be something there for Shane in the mud, right? Well, it didn’t work this week and honestly, I have no idea what happened to him. I have no memories of watching Shane out there. It’s like I got zapped by the Men in Black thing.
17 | #22 | Freddie Noren
Freddie’s three-for-three to start the year for main events and that’s great. He’s not been happy with his riding in the mains though. Also, he was one of the first guys to start jumping the triple and I didn’t have that on my bingo card.
18 | #81 | Cade Clason
Cade was leading the heat! He was being pretty cautious out there as the factory dudes zoomed by him (at least to me) but he got it into the main event and, like Freddie, is three-for-three to start the year.
19 | #27 | Malcolm Stewart
He’s really, really trying , but it’s not working for Malcolm. Crashing, bad starts, and I would think he’s really looking forward to just getting on some sort of roll here.
20 | #28 | Christian Craig
Okay, I don’t know who I feel sorry for more to start the year. Malcolm Stewart, Christian Craig, or Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team manager, Nathan Ramsey. Within five minutes of every single main event this year, the two Husky riders have been last and next to last. Or close to it. Craig crashed early and then again later. Rough night again for CC.
21 | #148 | Justin Rodbell
Rodbell is great, he’s having a blast out there and after missing A1 recovering from injury, he’s two for two in the mains. He told me that he showed up Thursday and he had to totally prep his bike from San Fran. As in, it was still totally roached from the race weekend and he had to get to work. He’s not working in HVAC either these days. After a rough 2023, could this be the winter of Rodbell?
22 | #125 | Vince Friese
Between the riding on the track, the social media stuff he’s got to deal with, and his tough races to start the year, I would bet Vince is not having a good time to start SX 2024.
Thanks for reading Obs! Email me at email@example.com if you want to chat about this or anything else. We’re onto a Triple Crown this weekend at A2!