Well, that was certainly an entertaining opening two rounds of the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series. With two different winners in both the 250SX East class as well as the 450SX class, the storylines couldn’t have been written any better for the start of Supercross. Not only did we get to watch Justin Barcia win this third opening round in a row, this time on the new Gas Gas, but we also watched Christian Craig exercise his demons and win his first main event since 2016. Everyone loves a comeback story. So to hear Craig state on the podium at Round 1 how great it felt to win after being so physically and mentally low during the past few years, was truly inspiring. Also, at 29 years of age Craig sometimes gets a lot of grief for being too old to race in the 250SX class. However, with the sport of SX being so challenging these days, if you can make a good living racing dirt bikes in 2021, who cares how old you are and what class you’re riding.
With almost being almost three decades old Craig winning the opening round in the 250SX East class was incredible. Then with 17-year-old Australian phenom Jett Lawrence winning Round 2, it was almost like the 2021 SX Series script was pre-written. The never ending battle in sport between young athletes and older athletes is always an exciting one to watch. In a sport like SX where the margin of error is so small, is it better to be young and fearless, or older and more calculated? As always, only time and a few more main events will give us the answer. As I said, this is a perfect storyline to kick off the 2021 season in the 250SX East class.
I don’t think we could talk about the opening rounds of SX without talking about Jess Pettis and the devastating news that he’s now out with another knee injury. We all followed Pettis closely during the past few months as he trained his butt off at the Baker’s Factory. I spoke to him weekly for web reports right here on mxpmag.com and trust me, he was excited and confident at his chances in Houston and beyond. However, as fun and rewarding as this sport can be most of the time, there are those instances for every rider when it’s just a cruel and unfair beast. After 45 days of training, hundreds of laps on the three separate SX tracks, all under the watchful eye of the greatest trainer on the planet, all it took was an errant Tuff Block to derail a rider’s dream. Unfortunately, that is how truly unfair the sport of SX can be. Pettis now has to turn the page and focus on getting healthy for his rookie season in the 450SX class this summer. In the grand scheme of things, even if the SX Series didn’t work out as it was supposed to for Pettis, the training he did and all of the things he learned at the Baker’s Factory have made him a better rider and athlete. And he will be able to use these tools for the remainder of his career. Jess’s best days are no doubt still ahead of him.
Going back to the opening two rounds and the 450SX class, how great was it to see not only Barcia win the opening round, but also to see last year’s Champion Eli Tomac win Round 2. Tomac rode great on Tuesday night (wasn’t Tuesday night SX great) and with so many other riders making mistakes, he definitely showed his patience and experience. Again, the battle between veteran riders like Tomac and Roczen vs the young guns like Chase Sexton and Adam Cianciarulo is going to be fun to watch. And while the score in the 250SX East class is 1-1 in the old vs young battle, in the 450SX class it’s 2-0 for the vets! Also, with the retirement of Chad Reed, if you want another ‘old guy’ to cheer for how about giving some props to 36-year-old Justin Brayton! Who after two rounds sits third overall in the 450SX points standings. The 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series is off to a roaring start and Round 3 this weekend will no doubt be just as exciting. Will the vet riders find some more success, or will it be the young guns again?