Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Indianapolis
Kyle has been riding a lot better than his results have shown this season. The speed has been there but the starts have not, and there have been a few mistakes sprinkled in there as well. But he got an okay start in Indianapolis and was able to maneuver his way into seventh place, which ties his best finish of the year. I say a lot of guys have top-five potential, but I really do think Kyle could stay up there for quite a while if he started up there. He's got the fitness and talent to do it, and despite his program with HRT (Hansen Racing Team) coming together not long before the start of the season, his bike seems to be in a pretty good spot as well. Now he has a few weeks off to get himself or the bike better, and then it's back to work. He's one to keep an eye on as the season winds down.
The Good Bonus: Justin Cooper | 3rd Place
We all want to see Chase Sexton challenge Austin Forkner, but I think Justin Cooper might be the one that gives Austin a run for his money before this season is over. He got a horrendous start on a track that wasn't the easiest to pass on and charged from 14th to third by the time the checkered flag flew. He was laying down some absolute heaters towards the end of the race, too. Of course, for any of these guys to challenge Austin they need to start with him, and preferably in front of him. Austin is going to get a top three start in every race regardless of where he is on the starting gate. He has proven that time and time again, and combine that with how deadly his early race sprint speed is, and it makes sense why Justin and Chase haven't been able to beat him all year. Hopefully, Justin is able to get at least one Main Event holeshot before the end of the season.
The Bad: Alex Martin | 9th Place
Alex's season has been...not great? He sits fourth in points and he has looked good out on track all season, but his starts have been off and even when he has gotten a start he has been prone to making a mistake or two that cost him. This has been pretty on par with his recent years in Supercross, though. Whether he was on Star Racing Yamaha or Troy Lee Designs KTM, he has always had the speed to win, and we know he's fit, but it has just never come together for him. It's odd since I'd say even the guys who don't seem to have much luck in Supercross tend to have things go their way every once in a while, but it doesn't seem to be like that with Alex. His last podium in Supercross was in 2017, and before that he got two podiums in 2015. So it'd be sweet for both him and JGR if he was able to get on the podium before the end of the season.
The Ugly: Racing Action
Even when it's a fairly dull night of racing, I try to find positives to take away from it....but the 250 Main Event in Indianapolis was not the most entertaining race in recent memory. Austin Forkner got the holeshot and was gone, and apart from Justin Cooper charging through the pack not a whole lot changed as the race went on. There was a lot of talk about the track layout leading up to the race and how it looked a little "meh", and how there was another sand corner which some of the riders seem to dislike. Of course, I'm not the one getting sandblasted every lap so I'm a fan of Supercross tracks with sand sections, but it ended up getting taken out before Saturday. In the end, it was just not a memorable night of racing, but then again not every race can be a barn-burner. The track layout for Seattle looks decent, and hopefully, the weather cooperates.
The Good: Marvin Musquin | 1st Place
Finally! It was a relief to see Marvin put all of the pieces together and secure his first win of the year. He definitely would've preferred to do it before round 11, but better late than never. It was understandable to see him go through the first part of the season without a win as he let his knee recover from the offseason injury he'd sustained, but over these past few weeks, it had started to get a little concerning. Marvin's mental toughness, and how seeing his teammate and "presumed" number two guy at Red Bull KTM, Cooper Webb, win multiple races and lead the points may contribute to his struggles started to become fairly common topics of discussion. I have to admit that I was starting to question things as well. I had always kind of figured that when Ryan Dungey retired Marvin would become the number one guy at Red Bull KTM for quite a while and would essentially take over the "Dungey" spot in the series (be consistent, win when needed) and win at least one title. He has been consistent but hasn't been able to claim a title, and now there's the question of whether or not he's even the number one guy at Red Bull KTM anymore. However, if he's able to take the momentum from this win and make a run at Cooper in the standings, he could finally put all of the doubts to rest. It'll be interesting to see how he does over the next few rounds.
The Good Bonus: Justin Barcia | 5th Place
Back again! It's always good to see a factory rider back behind the gate, although for Yamaha this was a bit bittersweet as they lost Aaron Plessinger last week, but gained back Justin Barcia this week. It does sound like Josh Grant may fill in for Aaron so at least they'll be back to two riders. But anyway, Justin not only returned but rode well all day and capped off the night with a fifth-place finish. He was fairly quiet and we didn't see much of him, but the important thing here was that he got through the day without any mishaps and still got some a solid result. At this point, I think it's fairly safe to say that the goal for Justin is to stay healthy and start building up some momentum for the outdoor season.
The Bad: Ken Roczen | 8th Place
Ken Roczen's eighth-place finish at Daytona was a decent salvage job considering he went down in the second turn, but it was different in Indianapolis. He wasn't on pace all day and it showed. He qualified in 10th place, got third place in his heat, and then started around eighth in the Main Event and finished in eighth place. Sure, the track was not easy to pass on and it encouraged "follow the leader" racing, but we expect someone like Ken to make some moves during the race when he gets a mediocre start regardless of what kind of track it is. What could have led to this? It could be as simple as him just not gelling with the track, or it could be something more complicated. How he performs over the next round or two should give us an idea as to whether this was just an off weekend or something more.
The Ugly: Eli Tomac | 4th Place
After Eli won last week, we were once again left wondering if he'd make it a regular thing or if he'd struggle the next week. And, well, it was kind of half-and-half? He didn't struggle as bad as he typically has the week after winning a race this year, but he was clearly the fourth best guy in the Main Event. He was aggressive in the beginning but he just didn't have the pace to get it done, and then Cooper Webb passed him and that's when it got a little questionable. He dropped like an absolute rock after that and finished 15 seconds behind Cooper. I will say that with how the track shaped up I'm not surprised he didn't win, but the concerning part is how drastic his lap times dropped right after Cooper got by him. As I've said before, weird isn't new for Eli, but I think that this has been the weirdest season of his 450 career so far. Which Eli will show up in Seattle?
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson