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Monster Energy Cup - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Man, Marvin sure did look superb out there on Saturday, didn't he? He was as smooth as ever, but he also had some blistering speed and was the absolute class of the field. His starts were on point, too. He started up front, made any moves he needed to in the first couple of laps, and it was all over for everyone else. If you had tuned into the final main event of the night without knowing anything about the event, you would have never guessed it was a race for a million dollars. Marvin was just cruising out front, completely unchallenged. Pretty damn impressive.

Of course, it was a bummer to see his battle with Tomac in the first main event get cut short due to Tomac crashing out, but it is what it is. Let's just hope they can both keep it on two wheels when the gate drops at A1.

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The Good Bonus: Jordon Smith | 5th Overall

Jordon hasn't received a whole lot of buzz since Saturday, but he rode really well for a guy who has never raced a 450 at a professional Supercross event before. What's even more interesting to me is just two years ago Jordon was still the fast kid who couldn't stay off the ground. He'd show some great speed and flashes of brilliant racecraft, but then he'd hit the dirt and pick up an injury or DNF the race. That completely changed this year in Supercross when he finished on the podium multiple times and claimed two wins. Yeah, he crashed out in Las Vegas when he had the red plate, but a lot of pressure was placed onto his shoulders in a very short amount of time. And now that he's shown that he can ride the big bike very well and stay off the ground on a very technical track, I'd say we're starting to see something special here. He's finally living up to the sky-high expectations everyone had for him when he turned pro, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him be a serious threat to either 250 Supercross Championship next year.

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The Bad: Eli Tomac | DNF

Nope. Not good. 

Eli was heavily favored to win this event. He was running the #1 (although he was running the #3 on his jersey, not sure if on purpose or if Alpinestars messed up...weird either way), and with the retirement of Ryan Dungey many thought it was his time to be "The Man". And for most of the day, and a fraction of the night, he was. He qualified ahead of Marvin Musquin in both timed qualifying sessions and looked to be on his way to checking out in the first main event before the red flag came out. He got another good start on the restart, but Marvin was able to close up and make the pass. That seemed to get Eli a bit fired up, and he decided to crank up the Eli-Tryhard-Meter to about 11. We saw what happened as a result. It's not like it was a huge surprise. Eli is a lot more consistent than he used to be, but he still has a tendency to crash when he gets into an intense battle with someone. He just pushes the limit to the absolute max, and it bites him sometimes. Redemption will be on his mind in January.

Also, has anyone else noticed the "#1 Curse" at the MEC? Let's take a gander, shall we? Ryan Villopoto ran the #1 in 2012, crashed during the second main event. Justin Barcia ran the #1 in 2013, crashed out of the third main event. Ken Roczen ran the #1 in 2016, crashed out of the second main event. Eli Tomac runs the #1 in 2017, crashes out of the first main event. The only #1 to have a drama-free night was Davi Millsaps in 2015; he went 3-6-6 for fifth overall. So, I think it's safe to say we have our own version of the "Madden Cover Curse" a-brewin'.

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The Bad Bonus: The Racing

I don't want to be a Debbie Downer, but the racing just wasn't very exciting, apart from the brief Tomac-Musquin battle in the first main event. It was basically follow the leader, and the Joker Lane didn't add much of anything to the racing (the lackluster TV coverage didn't help things, either). It felt like I was watching three heat races, or even semis, not three main events that are potentially worth a million bucks. A big reason for this was Tomac crashing out, but it also didn't help that there was a large chunk of the normal entry list missing due to injuries. Now, would anyone that was out with an injury have been able to challenge Musquin? Probably not, but it may have added a bit more excitement to a rather dull night of racing. 

And no, I'm not trying to take anything away from Musquin's dominating performance. It was impressive, but acknowledging that doesn't mean I can't be a little disappointed with the racing action. 

On another note, I gotta say that the Supermini main events were great. It'd be cool to see them race at a couple of regular season Supercross rounds, too.

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The Ugly: Crashes, Crashes, and More Crashes

Crashes happen in Supercross. It's just part of it; it's a risk that the riders are well aware of before they sign up to compete. But, man, there were quite a few big crashes at this year's MEC. Justin Bogle went down hard  after getting cross-jumped and it sounds like he has a concussion, Tim Gajser had a pretty scary crash that reminded me a bit of Ken Roczen's crash during Supercross, and Eli Tomac swapped out while flying back into the stadium. And those are just the ones from the Cup Class that we saw. There were also several amateur riders that found themselves on the ground throughout the night. Some of the crashes were no doubt just part of racing, but it's also hard to ignore the possibility that the track was a bit too gnarly for an off-season race. It feels a bit ironic to say that considering it always seems like that the track is pretty easy and many have called for it to be more difficult, but I think they may have turned up the technical aspect one click too much for a one-off, middle-of-the-off-season Supercross race. We want to see some good racing, sure, but we also want everyone to survive the event and make it to A1 healthy. Luckily, it sounds like most of the guys that went down are going to be okay, but I think whoever designs next year's track should take a hard look back at this year's event before making the layout.

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The Ugly Bonus: TV Guy Runs onto Track During Race

Dumbass of the weekend award goes to the guy who ran out onto the track as the gate dropped for one of the main events to...what was he even doing? Adjusting a bale? Picking up something? C'mon dude, really? The gate drops right next to you, you see the guys take off, and you still run out onto the straight they're about to come flying down? He's extremely lucky that Jason Anderson didn't hit him, or else he, along with several others, may have gotten injured. Hopefully he got his butt chewed out and learned his lesson.

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Words by Grant Dawson

Photos by Steve Giberson