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Observations from 2018 San Diego SX - Supercross

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PETCO Park San Diego, CA San Diego Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship

Round six of Monster Energy AMA Supercross rolled into San Diego, and it’s been a hell of a ride so far on the way to a new 450SX champion. We’ve seen a little bit of everything so far this year. New winners, new formats, some good and bad tracks, injuries, surprises, and a guy even got caught in a net! Good times for sure, and San Diego had even more stuff go sideways. Let’s dive into it in a little old-school Observations!

First up the track. It’s a baseball stadium, so you’re not going to get the long lanes and 180-degree turns that seem to produce more good racing than not. But the whoops were pretty long (again) and a decent size. A real test for the racers, and like I said about Glendale, just build those whoops every weekend and call it good. These weren’t Glendale, but they were good. There was a split lane left-hand turn where one part was elevated and you jumped on, jumped off on the outside or went into the bowl on the inside and jumped out. It was a neat concept, but looked like a failure when absolutely no one really used the outside all day long. The teams have software to find out what’s faster, so these things are hard to make equal.

However, by the night show, the track crew slowed down the inside by making the jump out steeper (shot you higher). It was good to see that someone was paying attention. Neat little obstacle for sure, and although there wasn’t a ton of passing there, it gave the illusion that it was closer than it was.

While I’m on the tracks, since I basically got the nets put into supercross and probably saved Colton Aeck’s life, I think I should be granted a wish for track design, like a big old supercross genie who looks somewhat like Tim Ferry. And my wish would be to never, ever, ever have two triples in a supercross. It’s redundant, they’re the easiest thing out there, and many times in supercross, there’s a lack of dirt. Know what takes a lot of dirt? TRIPLES, that’s what! San Diego had two triples and that’s no bueno. That’s my wish. Pretty simple, yeah?

As I said, we’re going to go a bit old-school with OBS here and just touch on some different things that were up and down in Diego…

UP—Justin Hill

Team manager Jeremy Albrecht threw a “W” onto Hill’s number plates two weeks ago and Hill had his best ride all year with a third. This week Hill qualified fastest, won his heat, and then stalked Adam Cianciarulo for most of main before sneaking by and taking the win. His counter-moves to AC’s attempt to pass him back were brilliant. Hill’s a new guy the last couple of weeks and we asked Albrecht about that on the PulpMX Show. He said that yes, he should’ve put the “W” on Hill’s plates to start the year! All joking aside, he said Justin’s got some new bike settings as of three weeks ago, and yes, he’s been struggling a bit, but he never blamed the team or the bike. He just needed to… well, I don’t know, but whatever Hill did mentally has worked. I’m happy for Suzuki (I’m a member of RMArmy, you know) and JGR for this win, the pressure was building each week, I’m sure.

Hill grabbed his first win of the season last weekend.
Hill grabbed his first win of the season last weekend. Rich Shepherd

I didn’t like the pass on Marv last week and I really didn’t like the take-out on Alex Ray in practice. Yeah, I only got one side of it (Ray’s) but it ended with Anderson launching his bike at Alex and both guys ending up on the ground. His trainer Aldon Baker likes to say you can’t win titles by making enemies, but Jason’s determined to plow (other riders) ahead I guess. Anyway, none of that matters all that much and it doesn’t overshadow his riding, which is superb right now. He won his third race of the year with his usual determination and style. He’s so good right now. When I asked if Anderson could “Pull an MC in ‘93” when he won Anaheim 1 a few years ago, what I meant was, could he do it in 2018? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone with three wins, a 28-point lead in a series, and yet be fourth in laps led this year.

DOWN—Ken Roczen

The German’s great comeback from an arm injury to race supercross again is on hold because of… an arm injury. Well, not really, but it’s hard to believe he didn’t seriously hurt his good arm when it got caught in Webb’s swingarm. Broken hand and surgery is the diagnosis, and that really sucks for Kenny and Honda. As far as the pass is concerned, I know people talked about Roczen taking Webb’s pass on him personally and he shouldn’t have pushed it in that turn to get Webb back, but to me, that’s racing. Take any personal issues out of the way between these two and I think Roczen still tries to get Webb back in that turn. It wasn’t a torpedo move or anything way out of line. Webb was aggressive, Roczen met that aggression with his own, but it backfired. The real losers are those who want to watch Roczen every week, ‘cause he’s out for a while.

UP—Cooper Webb

Yeah, he had the Roczen “incident,” but I think Webb is to be admired for going out to ride after his Yamaha was damaged. He pulled into the mechanics’ area 35 times for repairs but kept going out there. He finished seven laps down and it would’ve been easy for him to call it a night. But he didn’t, and dammit, good for him. 

DOWN—Eli “Stew”mac

Well, this is truly a bizarre season for the title-favorite Eli Tomac. With his DNF-DNS-1-1-15-DNF (this weekend he crashed in the first turn and nearly—or did—rip a grip off and tweaked his bike) scores, Tomac’s starting to turn in a “James Stewart-like” season here. The new COW? Who knew?

Can Tomac turn his luck around with a win in Arlington?
Can Tomac turn his luck around with a win in Arlington? Rich Shepherd

I actually had to text Weston yesterday and tell him that I hate to give him compliments, but nice work at the race. He was in that first turn pile-up and came from dead, dead last to seventh. It was a great ride and he’s been so good this year, it’s starting to become “a thing.” By the way, I wear Fly gear and ride a Suzuki with Pro Taper stuff on it just like Weston, and he hates it when I call us teammates. So, I’ll keep doing just that.

DOWN—Alex Martin

Crashed in the heat, hurt his wrist, and then realized on the parade lap that he couldn’t hang on. So, he made the difficult choice to not race the main event, which crushed him and fantasy teams everywhere.

UP—Blake Baggett

Baggett’s got his second podium in a row and he’s been getting better each week. Man, he’s in shape out there. He may not have the raw speed of Anderson, but if you want a rider to do the same lap time for an hour, he’s your guy. Baggett was cracking me up in the post-race press conference when he was loving the tension between Anderson and Musquin. You see, Baggett’s not one of those guys who cares who likes him and who doesn’t, and his and Anderson’s issues go back a few years now. And I’ve heard that Blake’s not too pumped on Musquin because Marv puts the kibosh on Blake practicing at the KTM SX track when Marv’s there. So, this is great for Blake, he’s loving these quasi-teammates not digging each other, and he’s getting better and better. His whoop speed this weekend was amazing, and speaking of whoops…

Everyone knows Musquin’s Achilles heel is whoops. The bigger and nastier the whoops, the more he struggles. And in San Diego, especially in the heat, he struggled with them. Again. But he made some bike changes and in the main, he was pretty good in them. He wasn’t Blake Baggett-good, but he was decent. It was not a weakness in the main for him, and since we hammer on the dude for not being good in them, let’s make sure we praise him when he’s good.

UP—Anderson and Musquin Rivalry

Well, Anderson finally had to talk about that pass he put on Marv and had this to say: “I think we’re just competitive, and it comes out on the track. Sometimes we get a little too far ahead of ourselves. In Oakland, it was honestly my bad. I just was trying to go forward. Obviously, it’s not good between us. At the same time, I want to be battling with Marv. I don’t want to take him down, but I just get ahead of myself in the heat of the moment. It’s hard to put it into words.”

Which I asked Marv about, and he told me: “It’s sad to see a crash when you’re in a third position in the main and a good position. But I didn’t see him coming at Oakland and it caught me off guard, honestly. The thing is, he did that on me, that really aggressive pass. He never did anything like that on Roczen afterwards. But anyway, I don’t think he did that because it was me. It’s racing. It’s aggressive. He was aggressive tonight on Seely. You have to make it happen. If one day I have to make it happen, I will. It’s not like I want to give him back.”

I love Fro, but when Musquin went into the turn hot on the first lap in an attempt to slam Anderson and Emig responded with “that’s odd,” I wanted to slam my head in the door over and over.

UP—Dakota Tedder

He somehow pulled off a mid-air correction to land on the side of the triple and therefore not kill Ronnie Stewart. The moto gods were apparently not impressed; he was on crutches after the main event.

DOWN—Jake Weimer

Just getting back from an injury and slowly working into things, Weims crashed in practice and broke his wrist. When it rains, it pours.

DOWN—Justin Bogle

Another injury for the #19 as he got landed on off a triple, broke his upper arm, and will be out for a while. This guy can’t catch a break these days.

UP—Broc Tickle

I am no longer “still waiting” for Broc Tickle. He scored a fifth this weekend in a nice ride. Yes, he benefited from that first turn crash that took dudes down, but he still rode great. This is the kind of result a rider needs to start turning things around.

DOWN—Cole Seely

I’m not a fan of most of the parents in the pits. They’re absolutely nutty and so incredibly biased that I can’t handle it. I steer clear of talking to most of them because you can’t make ‘em happy. Little Johnny Racer is always perfect and I get it, they’re the parents. But, John Tomac, Gary Chisholm, Alan Cianciarulo, and Tom Baggett are some of the ones I like and talk to. Some people have crazy stories about the names above, but hey, I like ’em. Of course, the gold standard for a parent is the great Terry Wey. I miss T-Wey.

Anyway, I say this because Jeff Seely is one of the good ones. He’s just happy to be there and be supportive of Cole in any way he can. He’s friendly and honest about Cole, so I feel bad about putting Seely in the “Down” category, but I gotta be honest to myself and you readers. You can’t lead the number of laps he’s led the last two races and not come away with a podium. Pops Seely told me after the main how hard he’s been working and that this isn’t a fitness issue, which I believe. Cole just seems to get rattled a bit when he makes a mistake or two. This leads to too much thinking and then another mistake and soon, it’s all over.

Seely is currently third in points standings, but has yet to win a race this season.
Seely is currently third in points standings, but has yet to win a race this season. Jeff Kardas

Dude had a rough Oakland, like way rough. Like, I think he crashed five times. His team told him to not ride all week (“You think about what you did to that Honda, Vince!”) and he came out at San Diego and finished tenth! Yeah, I know it’s not popular in Temecula for me to say this, but up with Vince Friese. He’s been good this year (outside of Oakland).

DOWN—Cats and Space?

Does anyone know if the designers at Thor have taken acid and then taken everyone else there hostage? We’ve got some gear with space and atmosphere all over it, as well as gear with cats on it. The tie-dye with the cats on it is a nice touch, by the way. Webb’s had some good looks this year (even nominated for a LIT KIT award!) but there’s this rouge wing of Thor that is straight out to lunch. Someone stop the madness.

UP—Malcolm Stewart

With Bogle’s injury, Malcolm will be on the team filling in for a little while. Hill has expressed racing a 450 and Albrecht did not rule that out on the PulpMX Show. In fact, I would bet we’ll see that at some point. Stewart’s had a bit of a rough time the last couple of weeks; we need some more “HEAT RACE” Mookie in our life.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Good times in Diego! Please email me at [email protected] if you want to chat about this race or anything else.