High Point - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
RJ's back! The almost forgotten member of the GEICO Honda squad returned this week after missing the majority of the Supercross season and the start of the motocross season. And I'd say that eighth overall is a great result for his first race in a few months. He wasn't super-flashy or anything, but he did run up front for a bit in the first moto before slipping back to ninth. Plus, considering this was his first race back, we should see him improve further as the season goes on. An eighth this week, maybe a seventh next week, and then hopefully he just keeps working his way up the running order. Heck, with how crazy this 250 class has been, we could see him up on the podium by the end of the season! It'll be interesting to watch, for sure. I suggest you keep an eye on the #31 as he continues to reaquaint himself with racing professional motocross.
The Bad: Colt Nichols | 17th Overall
Colt Nichols started out the season on fire, but Thunder Valley and now High Point were no bueno. Of course starting 31st in the first moto didn't help things any, and really the 12th place that he salvaged is actually pretty good. But a DNF in the second moto really hurt him in the overall results and the points, as he's slipped all the way back to ninth after being inside the top five after the first two rounds. I'm hoping that this doesn't lead to a string of bad luck and disappointing finishes for Colt, but we've seen this happen many times before with other riders. Great start to the season, but a couple of rough rounds in a row and all of a sudden all of the momentum they had vanishes and their results suffer as a result. Like I said, I hope I'm completely off base with that thought, and he bounces back next week with a couple of top ten finishes.
The Ugly: Justin Hill | 19th Overall
The 2017 250 West Coast Supercross Champ is struggling outdoors this year. Bad starts, mechanical issues, crashes....you name it, it's happened to him. But to be fair, I'm not going to sit here and say that without all of those things Justin Hill would be competing for podiums or wins. He wouldn't, but I do think that he'd be in the top ten a whole lot more than he has been. I mean, he's had three top ten moto finishes so far this season. Three! That's definitely not what he or Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki wants, and I'm sure he's not the happiest dude in the world right now. He needs to get his starts (and everything else) straightened out soon so he can boost his finishes consistently.
The Good: Blake Baggett | 1st Overall
Blake Baggett was 19 points away from the red plate coming into High Point. And while I expected him to make up some ground on Marvin Musquin, I definitely didn't think he'd be leaving High Point with the red plate in his hand. But here we are, Blake Baggett is now the 450 class points leader. Crazy how the unexpected tends to happen in motocross, eh? I mean, think about it, a few weeks ago I was talking about how Blake didn't do nearly as well as I thought he would at Hangtown. Then he had a mediocre day at Glen Helen and it wasn't looking like he'd be in the hunt for the title this year. Since then, he's been on absolute rails and has two overall wins in a row. His confidence also appears to be sky-high as he hasn't been afraid to speak his mind. So, is he "The Guy" now? Eh, he's definitely one of "The Guys", but I'm not sure if there even is only one "The Guy" right now. I think Marvin, Eli, and Blake are about on the same level right now as they've all had highs and lows this season. I will say that Blake definitely pulled ahead of the other two this week, especially with Marvin being injured, but we'll really get a feel for how the rest of the championship is gonna go over the next few weeks. If Blake continues to win overalls and beat Eli, then he will, without a doubt, be the man to beat and possibly the 450 motocross champion. But if Eli responds over the next few rounds and closes up some in the points, we'll be in for quite an intense title fight. Two riders that both want to win their first 450 title and don't seem to really like each other going at it? Heck yeah, that's what I'm hoping for. But at the same time, Blake Baggett running away with this title would be a huge story, because it's been a while since an "underdog" came out and won a championship. No matter what happens, we're in for one of the better motocross seasons in recent history.
The Good Bonus: Dean Ferris | 7th Overall
While we're on the subject of unexpected stuff happening in motocross, a wild kangaroo came all the way from Australia and whooped up on 38 other riders in the first moto! Alright, it wasn't actually a kangaroo, it was Dean Ferris, but this was still very unexpected. Not that I didn't think he'd do good, but a podium? Pfft, that didn't even cross my mind. Clearly I'm bad at predicting stuff, though, because he went out and rode amazingly well in the first moto and finished in second. There was even a point in the moto where it looked like he could win the damn thing. He went down early in the second moto and could only come back to 14th, but it was still a great day overall for him.
Now that he's proven he's the real deal, I wanna see him over here full time! He already proven that he can do alright in Supercross back in 2014, so why not? I'm sure the Australia motocross/Supercross gig pays his bills, but there's a lot more money to be made here if he can land a spot on a decent team. Hopefully one of the teams extends him an offer for next year. I wanna see what he can do over the course of a full year.
The Bad: Marvin Musquin | 11th Overall
Marvin rode pretty well considering he has a torn meniscus. It was kind of mesmerizing to watch him keep both feet on the pegs through almost every corner on the track in the second moto, and passing some pretty fast dudes in the process! That just goes to show how talented he is on a motorcycle, and how high his pain tolerance is. Unfortunately, he did lose the points lead and will probably be hurting pretty good for the next few rounds. It could be much worse, though, and he's definitely not out of this championship yet. Keep fighting, Marvin.
The Ugly: Weston Peick | 16th Overall
Weston, heck the entire JGR squad, cannot catch a break this year. Their luck is even worse than GEICO Honda's, and that's saying something. Weston already hasn't been having the motocross season he was hoping for, although that is primarily because of how little time he had to prepare for the season, but it got even worse at High Point as he re-jammed the wrist he hurt earlier in the year during the second moto. Of course, Weston being Weston, he plans to be on the gate at Muddy Creek because he's a bad-ass dude. I mean, seriously, he's nearly indestructible. We'll see if he actually makes it to the gate, though. I think I speak for everyone in the entire industry when I say that JGR deserves some good luck. Maybe they'll have some at Muddy Creek.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson