Seattle, man! I love this area of the country and for the first time in, like, forever, the weather was great for Monster Energy AMA Supercross. It was a great day for the people in the Pacific Northwest and you know what: I’m happy for you people. You’ve had to put up with watching the world’s best riders roll around in the mud for years, so it’s about damn time we had a good track, good weather, and a real SX there.
Ah yes, the track. It was pretty good and the talk all day was about the whoops. They were big and nasty. For these days, this was a rare proper whoop section. The whoops did claim a lot of riders in the first two practice sessions and for the third one they smoothed them out a bit and although they were still nasty, they weren’t as bad. Yes, I’m usually the one screaming about track changes in between qualifying sessions, and this was one of them, but it wasn’t too bad. They were still tough, the times didn’t drastically alter, and I think the crew should think about putting these tough whoops out there more often.
All night long the whoops were the key to a great time, they were a key to the race (sorry, Jeff), and whether you jumped them or skimmed them was a huge decision. Some riders just said screw it and jumped them all race which was fine. It was consistent and you could do it the entire main event. Some riders skimmed them most of the time (no one did it all the time, they were too tough) and that was fast. But for as good as Cole Seely, Ken Roczen, Dean Wilson, Chad Reed, Chris Blose, and Tyler Bowers looked at times by skimming the monsters, one mistake and they would lose most of the time they gained by manning up. It was fascinating to watch.
There was also the wild card of a larger whoop at the very end. The section almost kind of went uphill at the end, so your strategy to attack the last whoops determined a lot. Some guys could blast over it, hit the downside and accelerate; others hit it, popped up into the air and lost time. I can’t think of a section this year that produced such a wild swing in lap times. It was pretty cool!
We have five rounds left here, people, and things are heating up. Here are some things from Seattle that I understand and things I don’t understand.
THINGS I UNDERSTAND: Marvin Musquin’s Penalty
This rule was changed at the start of the 2017 season and it makes sense. Points and purse equal to two positions plus an additional two points for jumping on a red cross (if no positions were gained). Musquin rode great to win his second race in a row and I don’t think the error he made by jumping through the red cross was the determining factor in his win. But he needed to be penalized and taking the win away (like what happened to Ryan Dungey in 2016) is wrong. I’m the first guy to rail on the AMA/FIM for inconsistent penalties but they got this right in my opinion. Who else thinks these seven points are going to be huge at the end of the year? Yeah, me too.
We literally had the same thing happen last year in Indianapolis with Jeremy Martin but the crew in the booth couldn’t seem to remember that. Musquin jumped on the first lap so there was the rest of the race for someone, anyone, to get in contact with the AMA/FIM and find out what was going on. Granted, it didn’t seem that the official ruling came down until after the show was off the air so they couldn’t say for sure what was going to happen but for the guys to say that Ken Roczen was going to win was ridiculous. There was never any way Roczen was going to win—of course, unless he simply passes Musquin. There was either going to be nothing done or the penalty that was applied LAST YEAR (taking points away from Musquin, the same thing that was done to JMart last year) was going to cover it. To suggest that Roczen was holding up because he knew he was going to win or that Roczen was going to be awarded win was ridiculous. C’mon, guys, we’ve got to be better here.
THINGS I UNDERSTAND: Cooper Webb’s Title Hopes
It’s all working out. We’ve seen it before: when it’s your year, it’s your year, and it is Cooper Webb’s year right now. In Seattle he rode well, not great, and his lead was going to be seven points with five races left. Instead it’s 14 points, the same margin he entered Seattle with. Webb was catching Eli Tomac late in the race which was good, but he never looked entirely comfortable. Still, it all worked out in the end for Webb, like it’s been doing all year long.
THINGS I DON’T UNDERSTAND: Ken Roczen Riding Well
Roczen rode great to get second in Seattle, he put some heat on Musquin, and got close at times to passing him, but the whoops cost him at times. He was so good in them for so long but in the end, he made a few mistakes in them and I would imagine it took something out of him. What I don’t understand though is Ken’s recent rides haven’t been that great, he explained that he’s not feeling very well, and this week he went to the Red Bull facility to get some blood work/physical testing done. But he was great in Seattle all day, including qualifying which he’s never that fast in. So while I do believe him in that he’s not feeling well and something is wrong, I don’t understand how in Seattle he can shine like the old Roczen? Weege talked to him earlier in the day and Kenny said he felt better for some reason. Who knew?
Congrats to Dylan and the entire team on his first 250SX win. He controlled the race and now adds a SX win to his MX wins. Honestly, and I think Dylan would tell you this, it was overdue for the Frenchman to get a win. He’s been that good for a while and when teammate and early leader Colt Nichols went down it was Dylan’s race to win. If he had been passed by Adam Cianciarulo, it probably would’ve slammed the nail down on his title hopes. But now it’s still up for grabs and Ferrandis might just make this a bit closer before it’s all said and done.
THINGS I DON’T UNDERSTAND: McElrath’s Back “Injury”
Shane McElrath didn’t race Seattle, he practiced and qualified but didn’t line up the night show. He also happens to be one decent finish away from pointing out of the 250SX class, but if you talk to his team manager Tyler Keefe, it’s a back injury that’s holding Shane out and not this potential pointing out issue. He hurt it on Atlanta press day, but was able to race in Atlanta and raced a full 450SX main in Daytona but the issue has flared up again. He’s out for this weekend in Houston and I would bet this injury holds him out until after Vegas and he’ll be all set to race 250SX again next year. I’m sure his back is sore. I’m also sure that he could be racing but is taking a dive to stay down another year. Troy Lee Designs, KTM, and all the team sponsors are apparently okay with Shane missing almost half the races in SX, missing out on wins and podiums to make sure he can race the class again. But, sure, everyone, the 250SX rules are great. No need to change anything here.
Me to Adam Cianciarulo after the race: "Rough day today for you in the whoops a little bit.”
Adam: "Not really.”
I guess if you don’t count the two crashes in practice, everything was peachy keen. Anyway, Adam was very good in the whoops but they did bite him. I couldn’t help but notice he immediately cut the turn hard, headed to the right side, and then was very good jumping through them the entire main event. He was even getting over that last bigger whoop clean most times. So his decision to jump was a smart one and he rode well to put pressure on Dylan Ferrandis.
THINGS I DON’T UNDERSTAND: Eli Tomac
Yup, still. Moving on.
THINGS I UNDERSTAND: Dean Wilson’s Speed
I like Deano and I’m glad that he’s now a factory rider at his old team. I’m also glad that he told me after the race that it looks good to stay with the team through Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross even though Jason Anderson is coming back. That’s all well and good, but even bigger than that, Wilson is getting some good momentum going here. He won a heat last week, he was fastest qualifier this week, and he busted out this sweet 2-4-3 rhythm that was, according to teammate Zach Osborne, 0.2 seconds quicker than the “normal” way. Wilson had a great race with Joey Savatgy (another impressive rider this year) for the entire main and although he’s been a tick off the podium guys, I think it’s coming. I’m a sucker for dudes that bust out big rhythms first (although Justin Hill might have done it same time as Wilson or one lap later).
I think the JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing guys would also fit in with me on this group. Do you know Hill has one top ten all year long and it came at the roughest track of the year in Daytona? See? It’s all weird.
THINGS I UNDERSTAND: Tyler Bowers’ Anger
The Bear is very good in whoops. He’s always been very good in whoops and he was very good again in Seattle in the whoops. When the modifications to the whoops were made, The Bear showed his disgust with this decision in a harshly worded Tweet that is now deleted. But I understand why he did that… because he’s good in the whoops. Nothing against Tyler personally but this is an example of why the riders will never agree on track stuff. We can’t have them helping out because they’re all biased!! I get it, but The Bear is example A of why riders can’t seem to stick together.
THINGS I DON’T UNDERSTAND: Zach Osborne’s Start
I was ALL IN on Zacho in the off-season but after a couple of injuries and jumping into the series late, I get that it’s going to not be an ideal premier class debut for him. But for him to grab the holeshot and then get passed all the way to 10th in six laps is… not ideal either. I mean, wow. That was a shock. Osborne sort of rebounded and ended up eighth on the night but he looked like a turnstile out there early on in the race. Maybe he thought it was still the parade lap?
These two veterans were absolutely killing the big whoops. Chris Blose was amazing and Chad Reed, well yeah, he was pretty good also. These riders grew up with monster whoops in SX and in Blose’s case, arenacross as well. They know how to ride them well and it showed all day long. Think about it: guys no longer build huge whoops on their practices tracks; why would they do that and risk injury? So when they build them big, the guys struggle. Not the vets, though. Reed and Blose had to deal with these things every single week for many years and it showed. Blose went on to finish an impressive fifth in the 250SX main event after going down in the first turn.
THINGS I DON’T UNDERSTAND: Why I Picked Collin Jurin in PulpMX Fantasy
Jurin’s a solid veteran rider and works a real job during the week. He’s made mains before in Seattle and qualified 16th on Saturday so I was thinking he would be solid pick. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it happen. He was close but suffered a mechanical issue in the LCQ. We called him up on the PulpMX Show to give him shit for letting everyone down but he said that he let himself down the most. Which then made all of us feel bad. Dick move by us, bro.
Why? Why? Why do bad things happen to good people? We lost two vets of the series and a couple of good dudes when Chad Reed made a mistake in the first rhythm and took down a few riders, including Justin Brayton. Reed’s most likely done for the series—although a recent Instagram post denies it—and Brayton’s knee is wrecked after falling from the sky (how weird was that?). Both riders are really popular guys and the series is worse off with them being out.
THINGS I DON’T UNDERSTAND: Phil Nicoletti’s “Pep” Talks
Our buddy “Filthy” Phil doesn’t race SX anymore but he’s still out there trying to tell everyone what to do with their career and life. First it was accosting Justin Brayton earlier in the year trying to tell him how to start and ride SX despite JB beating Phil in probably 95 percent of the SX races they lined up for. Then I did a Privateer Island Podcast with Josh Obsy and he told me that Phil tells him to go get a real job all the time. This week I interviewed Enzo Lopes, who did well, about his interaction with Phil.
Me: “What would Phil say (about your finish)?”
Lopes: “Phil always complains. He would say “f**k” all the time. I’m neighbors with him, so that’s not really good at all.”
Me: “I interviewed Osby this week and Osby told me that Phil tells him to go get a real job.”
Lopes: “Yeah, true. He said I need to live alone because I’m spoiled as f**k.”
Yep, Filthy Phil Nicoletti, inspiring younger riders every day!
Thanks for reading, everyone, appreciate it and we’re going to Houston this weekend. Should be a fun time, send me an email to [email protected] if you want to chat about this or anything else.