Round five of the Monster Energy SX series was, to me, going to be the first real race of the year. What do I mean by that? Well, Anaheim 1 has always been a weirdo race, nerves are high, and so it’s not always been one to learn from, you know? Then we had two straight mudders and that shit’s crazy so we’re out on trying to figure that out. Then we had Anaheim 2 and that was a Triple Crown format so, yeah, shorter races and Cooper Webb won without winning so, yeah, I’m out on trying to really draw conclusions on that.
So, with that all being said, Detroit was the first “normal” race of the series and we can learn from that, right?
Well, maybe not. The dirt in Detroit was very soft, it rutted up bad and although we’ve seen worse conditions before in SX, this one was gnarly. In talking to the riders and watching the race it seemed like it was pretty treacherous. Plenty of riders crashed or had close calls. So, was this a “normal” race? I would still say no. It’s an outlier in that, out of the 17-race series we usually only have one or two races a year that are this bad. So, we’ll move on and I’m 99 percent sure this weekend in Glendale will be our first “normal” SX of the year!!!!
Also, ICYWW, I have some questions and answers about the series so far with five rounds down and twelve to go.
[Editor’s Note: Matthes, you’re a middle-aged man. You should stop using acronyms, In Case You Were Wondering.]
What about these mandated track changes?
ICYMI, [again with the acronyms] the guys at Feld, with the AMA, worked together to try and keep the riders healthier (it's a huge detriment to our sport, that we can’t keep the stars healthy because supercross is, umm, dangerous) with some track rules. No more than nine whoops, built by a bulldozer, not a loader, and no more dragon backs either. I did an interview with the Director of SX Mike Muye who explained more HERE.
Are they going to work?
I don’t know but hey, can’t hurt to try.
What would you do if anyone important actually cared about your opinion?
I’M GLAD I ASKED, ME! I’d tell them that starting grates, start maps, RPM gauges, start hooks, and start blocks we already have are causing first turn crashes because there’s less separation between the riders and technique means less than ever. I’d also say we need more dirt on the track (a huge expense for Feld) to keep the track in better condition, so we don’t have it down to the concrete. I’d give the track crew more time to fix the track between races, and I’d eliminate one practice and/or shorten the main events. The bikes destroying the track causes ruts and kickers, and more issues than having ten whoops and a dragon back. But no one asked me.
You did bring up the safety nets to Feld years ago and now they work great.
True, I am a pioneer for safety, maybe someone will listen to me for once.
Does this win in Detroit mean it’s Jett Lawrence’s title to lose?
Jettson took off with his second win of the season, the first rider to do that, and although he had some close calls, it wasn’t really anything too stressful for him. Much like his Anaheim 1 win, right? He’s got 48 laps led to the next highest of 15 for Aaron Plessinger (Cooper Webb is listed with zero laps led on the year and one win, BTW, but that's because the AMA doesn't keep track of laps lead in Triple Crown races). Jett's two wins have looked really similar. And maybe that’s the key for Lawrence, to get out front early. The Honda guys said they figured something out for him off the start and that worked. I really believe no one has the speed to outright catch Lawrence if he’s alone in front and doesn’t make a mistake, so the other riders have to hope Honda didn’t find something to help him off the start. Or, they have to hope his starts aren’t going to be this good very often.
[ICYWW Yes when a team tells you they figured something out with starts, a lot of that goes back to the starting grate/ECU/RPM gauge/start block/holeshot lock down devices I was talking about above.]
How’s Chase Sexton been?
Well, it’s odd to see him not be the fastest rider at any round so far (although he’s been second twice and a third), and in Detroit he caught Jett a bit but nothing I’m sure we can’t attribute to lappers. By the end, Lawrence had pulled out a nice lead. Sexton’s been…solid? Not flashy, but workman-like? Not adjectives that have been used before in regard to Chase, that’s for sure. He’s got the red plate back (by one point) and you’d think he’s going to get better right?
Who do you wish you had taken more seriously in 2024?
That’s easy—Cooper Webb. I guess I was thrown off by the SMX rounds and then also the Paris SX round, but I didn’t think Webb was going to be in the mix for the title this year. He’s a bit older, he’s back at his old team, and it seemed like a nice chance to maybe relax a bit and ride this thing out with five titles to his name. Well, no. He’s been very good with one win and in Detroit he was on it all day long on a track that suited his style. It didn’t work out because he fell in the heat while leading and then didn’t get a good gate pick for the main, but he ripped by some very fast guys in the main to get a fourth. I really wish we had gotten a Webb versus Jett battle in Detroit.
You’ve been saying that Ken Roczen is the fastest guy with no real results…how about now?
This still stands. Roczen got his second podium on the year, but through five rounds this is the fewest number of points he’s had, not counting the years where he missed races. He’s been fast, trust me! In Detroit he came from ninth to third quickly and was closing in on Sexton before settling in. I’d love to see a Roczen/Jett battle also at some point here soon.
What’s up with Eli Tomac?
That wasn’t good, right? ET started off strong, had some good laps, and then completely fell apart later on. Here’s the thing though—Tomac hasn’t had these weirdo rides on Yamaha, but he’s had plenty of them on Kawasaki and normally, arm pump or bike setup were to blame. He’s not one to push through this stuff. Also, normally he rebounds strongly to be back to his old self. I’m putting this fade into the “uncomfortable with the bike/arm pump” category and we’ll move on. Now having said that, this weekend in Glendale, at a place where he’s normally great, will be a crucial for his title hopes. I’m betting he responds with a great race.
Austin Forkner won the opener rather easily, is he back?
Well, he was helped by the first turn crash that took out some heavy hitters, but make no mistake about it, Forkner was fast all day and my pick to win going into the night show. He looked smooth, calculated, and fast, and I didn’t see him put a wheel wrong anywhere. After a long run without much success, a couple of years ago he took his first win in a while (Foxborough 2022). Then more troubles. We had him on the PulpMX Show last year when, after Washougal, he almost rode back up into the points after being dragged through the dirt in the first turn of the first moto. Sometimes you need to change things up for the sake of change and last year, Forkner agreed with me. He changed locales, trainers, and his riding coach, and Mitch Payton told me last week he’s been riding the best he’s ever seen him. And Payton is not a guy to just say these things. What a cool story if he wins this title, right?
Cameron McAdoo’s balls out ride might win him a title right?
Yeah, we all saw what happened to Ol’Cam in Detroit. Frankly, some of the videos and photos I’ve seen, I might never be able to unsee. But full props to McAdoo for his dig to get up there from a lap down (he and his teammate Seth Hammaker’s bikes were, like, fused, together). He got seven points and like Haiden Deegan, these are points that could help him down the road. McAdoo has been involved in some of the wildest stuff on the track in recent years and it’s always a little odd because he’s such a nice, reserved, humble guy off the track.
Who was biggest surprise of the 250SX east region?
I’d say Pierce Brown. The Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GasGas kid qualified fastest, got caught up in that first turn crash, and came all the way back to fifth. He looked very fast and spicy all day long in what is a pivotal year for him. I’ve upgraded him from ‘Ehhh, he could podium,’ to ‘I think he can win a race.’ There’s always been speed here but he can’t stay upright until maybe this year?
For once the “flying at the test track” stuff was true, right?
Yup! Mad Max Anstie was getting tons of pre-season hype, and he came through with a strong second after qualifying second overall also. Heat and main event, Max moved forward, looked good all day and night and this was overall a good performance for him and his FirePower Honda team. This is awesome for them and Max. He won a race last year but yes, it was a massive mudder. But look at his results, they were pretty good, right? This Anstie thing could be real.
Why won’t Deegan tell us he broke his wrist?
I don’t know man. Like a lot of things Deegan, I don’t know why everything has to be so difficult and such a “thing.” He probably told 15 different media members on press day that his wrist was only sprained. But anyway, props to Haiden for toughing it out with a jacked-up bike and saving some points that could be huge for him down the road. His heat race comeback late to almost get the win was impressive also.
Who’s the kid in third in 250SX?
Well, I’m sort of the amateur MX expert here so I’ll tell you who it was. Daxton Bennick risked a comfy ride with KTM amateur squad to try out with the Star Yamaha guys a couple years ago. When you know how Star works, you know that this could’ve gone sideways if he didn’t ride really fast. They're not afraid to cut ties if you don't show speed. Well, the kid’s gamble paid off with a full ride on the team and there’s been low key buzz about how fast he was going. Now we saw it. Impressive ride for sure!
Who is someone that no one is really talking about in the 450SX class?
Justin Cooper man! He qualified fastest last week which is pretty incredible this soon (even though he’s a beast in the 250s with setting one fast lap, 450SX is different) and he’s been very solid to start his first full season. He’s also probably very confused that in two of his five races he’s caught and passed Tomac late in the race. I wonder if he’s conflicted over this? Anyway, good start for Cooper. He and Hunter Lawrence, 250SX and MX rivals, are both rookies, they’ve both missed one main, and they’re three points apart in the points.
Who are you most worried about in 450SX class?
I’d say Justin Barcia. I know he got a late start on the season from injuries, and I know he got a third in the mud a couple of weeks ago, but he’s gone 13-16-11-12 in his last four mains (yes, I’m including all three TC races last week) and mentioned on social media he’s battling arm pump. His team crew chief, Olly Stone, told me not to worry, they’re working on the bike, but hey man, it’s been five races and he’s not had his usual flash. He’s also 31 years old now and hey man, father time is undefeated. I’ll trust Olly and check back in a few weeks but…
Who’s been the best privateer so far through the first five rounds?
Well first of all, don’t come at me with that guys-in-semi-trucks-and-making-a-salary-aren’t-privateers nonsense because if you just want to count the dudes in the vans driving each race, that’s about 15 and they rarely make mains. Ok, having gotten that out of the way, the best privateer so far has been BarX Suzuki’s Derek Drake. Yes that is not a factory team. I don’t know Derek at all, but he’s been crushing it out there. Consistency has always been an issue for him, along with some constant bike issues last year (it was getting out of hand in 450 motocross for him last summer), but this year, he’s made every main but one and has been impressive. Also, shoutout to Cade Clason—he’s taken last year’s surprise speed (granted, in a thinner field) and ridden very well.
Who was the Schock in the 250SX class?
Funny you ask that, Steve! It was Club MX’s Coty Schock who scored a career-best fourth place. He’s always been a pretty talented dude and a few years ago he was the “mega fast privateer bugging the factory guys in the 450MX class.” He got done pretty dirty by the Phoenix Honda guys but was picked up by ClubMX. He rode steady to get to fourth and yes, he was helped out by the first-turn chaos, but hey, someone had to get fourth.
Thanks for reading OBS! Good times were had, right? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org you want to chat about this or anything else. We’re onto Glendale, which is always an awesome race.