Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Oakland
Adam's championship consistency may be in question, but he has fit into a consistent pattern this season by going 5-1-5-1. His two bad races haven't been that bad, and his two good races have in large part made up for the bad ones. He now sits three points out of the championship lead and while I'd like to say that he has the momentum going into next week and could walk away with the red plate...I just don't know with Adam. He did show during the Main Event on Saturday that he is capable of recovering from some mental mistakes and isn't going to grenade himself every time things start getting a little choppy, but he needs to have two good races in a row. I don't think he'll be able to win this championship by riding out of control one week and getting a fourth or a fifth and then winning the next week. Colt Nichols is too consistent, Dylan Ferrandis is getting stronger each week, and Shane McElrath is just lurking in the back watching it all unfold. San Diego is going to be a big test for Adam.
The Good Bonus: Cameron McAdoo | 6th Place
Cameron started off the season a little shaky, but he also didn't have much time back on the GEICO Honda before the season kicked off, so I think giving him a two-round buffer is fair. And with that in mind, he's doing well. He was very solid in the Triple Crown format at A2, finishing sixth, and backed it up in Oakland with another sixth-place finish. If you didn't know it, you probably wouldn't think that he's a fill-in rider for GEICO Honda but rather a full-time rider. I am curious if these finishes will garner any attention from other factory teams at the end of the season, though, since GEICO Honda is going to be full for the foreseeable future. If he continues to finish close to, or in, the top five for the rest of the year, I think it's pretty obvious that he deserves at least one more full season on factory equipment.
The Bad: RJ Hampshire | 13th Place
RJ Hampshire had six straight fourth-place finishes (dating back to last year) heading into Oakland. I don't know if that's quite the finish he'd like to be consistent at getting, but he's been very consistent, nonetheless. It all came crashing down in The Black Hole, though. The day started off with him qualifying well and leading some laps in his heat race before tipping over. But unfortunately, he crashed on the first lap of the Main Event, and there were some other crashes (including a back-to-back crash while trying to remount) and he was all the way back in 22nd, six laps into the race. His charge back to 13th is fairly impressive with all things considered, but this really stuck a fork in his chances at contending for the title. He now sits 24 points out of the championship lead, and with the way his main competition has been riding, I don't see him making up that much ground without some serious help.
The Ugly: Jimmy Decotis | 15th Place
Jimmy Decotis was another rider who was looking to have a great night. He came from behind to win his heat race, and looked dominant while doing it...and then he crashed in the Main Event and that was about it. He isn't "The Ugly" for any reason other than that I think this was a missed opportunity for him, because with how well he was riding in his heat race he could have easily been in the top five at the checkered flag, or perhaps even on the podium. He's had two rough rounds in a row, so does this mean next week is redemption time for Jimmy D?
The Good: Cooper Webb | 1st Place
Our first two-time winner of the season, and new red plate holder, is none other than Cooper Webb. If you predicted this during the pre-season, please head to your local gas station right away and purchase a lottery ticket. We just thought we'd reached peak weird with this season, but no! Apparently it can get weirder. There's no ceiling. This isn't to say that after last week I didn't think that Cooper could go out and win again, but I can't necessarily say that I expected it, either. This win made it very clear that he's not only a title contender now, but he should be considered a title favorite. You can't win two out of the first four races of the season and still be considered an underdog. Of course, with 13 rounds left everything is still pretty wide open, but it's impossible to deny that we're seeing the resurrection of multi-time 250 Champ Cooper Webb right in front of us. It's gonna be weird seeing a red plate on a number two bike out there next week, though. It's been a while.
The Unsure: Eli Tomac | 4th Place
Eli has been both better and worse than ever before through the first four rounds of the season. On one hand, he's been super-consistent and hasn't finished worse than fourth place, but on the other hand he hasn't looked like a real contender outside of the final Triple Crown race in Anaheim. If anything, this makes me think that the pre-season rumors of an injury were true and that he's still getting up to speed. I also think that he might have toned himself down a little bit, since he has picked up plenty of experience with destroying his championship hopes early in the season over the past couple of years. The combination of these two things have led to a version of Eli that I don't think we really ever expected to see. It could be dangerous for the rest of the field if he starts to bring back his race-winning speed as the season goes on, while remaining as consistent as he had so far this season. We'll see if anything changes with his race speed/performance over the next couple of rounds. Although, I will say that if nothing does change then it will raise further questions.
The Bad: Ken Roczen | 5th Place
What an odd day for Kenny. He looked strong during timed qualifying which is not typical for him, so I thought that it was already looking like a gloomy day for the rest of the field. I fully expected him to win the Main Event one way or another. Whether it was through a holeshot and checking out or coming through the field, I was all in. His race went nothing like that, though. He made moves to get to the front after not getting the best start, but then he stalled out for a while before, surprisingly, fading back to fifth. I'm not sure if the way the track got beat down made him want to back it down some to stay safe, or if he maybe got arm pump, but something happened to him that killed his pace about halfway through the race. The good news is that he did make it out without any major mistakes and is still well within the title chase, but he did lose the red plate. We'll see how he does next week.
The Bad Bonus: Joey Savatgy | 21st Place
Joey raised some eyebrows at Monster Energy Cup back in October, and I put him as the rookie with the most potential this year. Well, Aaron Plessinger has been the best of the 450 rookies so far, with Zach Osborne missing the first part of the season and Joey having a pretty rough season so far. He did poorly in the mud at Anaheim 1 and had to sit out at Glendale after having a crash during practice. Last week was a little better for him as he snagged eighth overall in the Triple Crown, but Oakland was looking to be his best race so far. He won his heat race and looked to be a lock for at least a top five, if not a podium, through the first half of the Main Event. Then his bike died on him and he was left with his head hanging in disbelief on the side of the track. I'm sure he's immensely disappointed with how things turned out, but he at least showed that Monster Energy Cup wasn't a fluke and that he does have the ability to run up front in the 450 class. Hopefully, he gets another great start next week and his bike survives the whole race.
The Ugly: Jason Anderson Injured
Was Jason's title defense going well? Not by a long shot, but that doesn't make his departure from the series due to an injury any less of a bummer. This will inevitably lead to many people saying that this puts an asterisk on his 2018 title, or that this injury just saved him from having a terrible season, and I hate that kind of talk. The dude won the 450 title in 2018, and then came into the 2019 season and for whatever reason (whether it be mental or physical) struggled for the first few rounds before breaking his arm while practicing. That's really all there is to it, but a lot of the talk on social media will skew negative because that's how things are in this sport for some reason. I can't wait for him to return to racing at some point and get back to his winning ways.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson