Atlanta - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
If there is one thing that I really like about the Triple Crown format, it's that it provides an opportunity for guys who may not normally challenge for Main Event wins to get up front and run with the top guys. Justin Brayton was that guy in Atlanta, and not only did he challenge for a Main Event win, but he won one of them! He didn't get lucky, either, as he straight up beat Jason Anderson and Blake Baggett for it. He wasn't able to replicate that success in the final two Main Events of the night, but he seemed plenty satisfied with his night afterwards and I'm sure his team was as well. It really has been a great year for the #10 so far, even though there hasn't been a ton of talk about him. He has stayed out of trouble, and has consistently finished inside the top ten at every single round so far (seriously, his worst finish is tenth). Now I'd like to see him get a start like he did in the first Main Event at a round with the normal format and see what he can do.
The Bad: Weston Peick | 12th Overall
Weston isn't "The Bad" because of his performance. Oh, no. If anything, his performance is beyond exceptional considering why he is "The Bad"...which was his practice crash. That crash was absolutely nasty, and as I've said in the past when Weston's had bad crashes like this, I'm convinced that the dude isn't actually human. How he could crash like that, get up, race, and finish inside the top ten in the final two Main Events is something I'll never understand. If we were to keep track of the Weston vs. Track fight records, I think it's safe to say that Weston is still undefeated.
The Ugly: Justin Hill | 22nd Overall
One thing JGR did not want to happen when they decided to let Justin ride the 450 for a few rounds? For Justin to get injured. What happened in Atlanta? Justin got injured. Luckily, it sounds like he only broke some toes and is bruised up, but still this is not what he or the team wanted. How will this impact his hopes for the 250 West title? Well, it can't help any, but I think he'll be able to overcome some broken toes and still race to his potential in Indianapolis.
The Good: Jeremy Martin | 5th Overall
The first two Main Events of the night were pretty par for the course for Jeremy Martin's season so far, but he finally got that oh-so-elusive start in the third Main Event and was able to capture his first win of the season. And while he may have only walked away with fifth overall on the night, he really needed that third Main Event win. This season was quickly approaching 2017 level of disaster, and I feel like his frustration level had to be getting pretty dang high. It is also a really good time for him to have some momentum on his side, considering Daytona is this coming weekend (where he got second in the 450 class last year). Let us just hope that he gets another decent start in the Main Event.
The Bad: Martin Davalos | 8th Overall
Martin has said that this will be his final season in the class regardless of what happens, but, man, I don't think he expected for the season to go this poorly. It doesn't help that he had to get a procedure after his Arlington crash just to be able to race, but he has also made some mistakes all on his own that have cost him dearly. It's weird how things seem to just happen to this guy whenever he seems to finally have everything in order. He came into this season looking really good, and then he got taken for a ride in the first corner of the first race, and ever since things haven't been all that awesome. I still think we'll see him win a race or two this season, but his championship hopes are basically out the window.
The Ugly: Dylan Ferrandis | 17th Overall
Oh, what could have been. Dylan had some serious speed this season, but he went down in the first corner in Arlington and couldn't secure the win in Tampa. He once again looked very good in Atlanta but a huge crash left him with a broken arm, broken teeth, and a possible broken jaw. His season is over, and I couldn't be more bummed. The injuries keep piling up this season and it seems like they will never stop piling up. I don't know what the solution is....heck, I don't know if there is a solution to this. A lot of people have pinned the blame on the bikes being faster, tracks being more gnarly, and whatever else. I've started to subscribe to the idea that it's just the nature of the sport and how competitive it is now. There are so many talented guys now that everyone is pushing harder than ever before, and when everyone is putting that much effort in...crashes are bound to happen. It sucks, it's not good, but it is what it is.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson