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As it’s proven time and time again in the sport of Supercross, whenever the series has a Triple Crown event exciting things always seem to happen. Saturday night in Arlington was no different as we witnessed multiple crashes, passes, and just about everything else. Three main events equal three times the risk for these riders as they’re forced into situations that usually only come to pass once a night. Like any multiple moto format event consistency is obviously the key to success, but in SX finding any sort of consistency is the hardest thing to find. The riders who were victorious in Arlington (Eli Tomac: 3-2-2 and Cameron Mcadoo: 2-3-1) definitely found a way to get good starts and ride smart in all three main events. Before I get into how our Canadian boys faired on Saturday let’s take a look at the Top 5 from each class.
1. Eli Tomac (3-2-2)
Obviously, Tomac didn’t win any of the three main events at Round 8, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t lead laps and put himself in a good position to find success. His only hiccup came in the opening main event when he got off to a bad start and was forced to charge from behind. With a shorter race, Tomac didn’t have a long to make his passes but he found a way to do so and he also got a little lucky when Anderson and Stewart went down together. In the other two main events Tomac rode extremely smart and not only was he able to take the overall, but he also extended his points lead in the 450SX class.
2. Jason Anderson (6-1-1)
Coming into 2022 I think we all knew Jason Anderson was going to be fast on his new Kawasaki KX450SR. But I’m not sure if too many people thought that he would be the fastest rider in the 450SX class. On Saturday night, Anderson was once again the quickest rider overall and if it wasn’t for being impatient with Malcolm Stewart in the opening main event, Anderson would’ve cruised to his third win in a row and also would’ve ended up sharing the red plate with Tomac heading into Round 9. Although Anderson came back and won the final two main events, his mistake in the opening race was very costly. Now, as the series heads to Daytona, a place where all Tomac has done is win, Anderson is six points back. Saturday night proved once again that when you battling a rider like Eli Tomac for a championship you cannot afford to make any mistakes, even if you’re fastest than he is.
3. Cooper Webb (1-4-4)
What a difference geography makes for certain riders and their confidence. Since the Monster Energy Supercross Series has moved east of the Mississippi River Cooper Webb has gone from an 8th place rider to a podium rider. Now, obviously, KTM has found a few things with their new bike and that has helped Webb, but right now just about everything is better about his riding. After suffering through the opening six rounds Webb is now a much better starter and on Saturday night in Arlington, his speed through the whoops was better than we’ve seen in years. In the opening main event at Round 8, Webb finally got a win and if it wasn’t for a first turn mishap in Main Event #3, he might have challenged Tomac and Anderson for another win. This coming weekend in Daytona is a big race for Webb as I think it will be a great opportunity to prove to himself, his team, and his fans that he’s as fit as he has been during the past three seasons. Also, right now he’s 30 points behind Tomac so a rough and unpredictable Daytona track might serve as a great place for Webb to make up some much-needed points.
4. Chase Sexton (4-3-5)
This was a great comeback race for Chase Sexton after his big crash last weekend in Minneapolis. I’m sure he didn’t feel great all week so to be able to come to Arlington and jump right back into the mix shows a lot about the fight that Sexton has inside of him. Like everyone I’m sure, I love watching Sexton ride as, like Jett Lawrence, he always seems to be in the correct position on the bike. I thought Sexton had a great night in Arlington and I cannot wait to see him race the rough Daytona track this coming weekend.
5. Malcolm Stewart (5-6-3)
Saturday night was most certainly a bit unlucky for Stewart as he had almost a sure win taken away from him in the opening main event. I’m not sure what Anderson was thinking but he definitely got too aggressive and ended up taking both himslef and Stewart down. Mookie was obviously furious as any rider would be in that situation, but if you want to be a SX champion you have to find a way to get over injustices quickly and move on. Stewart did come back and finish third in the final main event but with a 6th in Main Event 2, his chance of an overall podium was gone. Anyway, Stewart is riding better than he ever has and I’m sure he’ll be on the podium a few more times before the 2022 series is over.
250SX East Class:
1. Cameron McAdoo (2-3-1)
After riding to a very smart third overall last weekend in Minneapolis, McAdoo had another smooth and consistent night of racing at Round 2. I had a chat with McAdoo’s trainer Nick Wey last week and he told me that one of the things they’ve been working on is patience and consistency. A lack of both is what cost McAdoo last season and they don’t want the same to happen again in 2022. Well, whatever these two have been working on it seems to have worked as McAdoo simply made fewer mistakes than his rivals and took the win in Arlington. In doing so he also moved into a tie with Jett Lawrence for the points lead in the 250SX East class.
2. Jeremy Martin (9-2-3)
Even though J-Mart was anything but consistent in Arlington he still snuck into a podium finish after capitalizing on the mistakes by Lawrence, Hampshire, and Forkner. Well, let’s give Forkner some respect and not call what happened to him a mistake. Anyway, Martin rode smart in the final two main events and found his way into third place. With his style, strength, and superb fitness, look for Martin to be really good this coming weekend in Daytona.
3. Jett Lawrence (4-1-10)
Well, that was not the weekend that Jett Lawrence and his HRC Honda Team had in mind. After winning the main event quite easily last weekend in Minneapolis, Lawrence really struggled for grip on the slippery Arlington track. In the first main event, he came into Turn 2 with too much speed and pushed the front end, and went down. He was able to climb back up to 4th and then in the second main event he ended up winning without much trouble. Then during the start of the final main event, Jett lost the back end in Turn 1 and went down. Well, that was the least of his troubles as during that comeback he almost crashed in the whoops twice before cleaning poor Austin Forkner out in the air over the finish line jump. Both riders went down hard and sadly Forkner got the worst of it. After seeing multiple replays I don’t think it was anyone’s fault other than perhaps Lawrence getting a little too excited on the exit of the corner, causing him to drift wide and come in contact with a Tuff Block. That pushed him a little further right than normal as took off, and then he inadvertently came in contact with Forkner. It was an ugly incident and one that you could easily blame and be mad at Lawrence for. However, racing is racing and sometimes ugly things happen and sadly one rider comes out in worse shape than the other because of it. Although you hate to see Lawrence make errors like that, he’s very good at speaking after the fact. Like a Tom Brady or even a Tiger Woods, learning how to say the right things after a game or race is extremely important. In this case, I thought by showing compassion and even some remorse for his mistake, Lawrence defused the situation on the podium and kept a lot of fans on his side. At the end of the day, he’s a likable kid and it’s a lot easier to forgive someone you like. Jett also mentioned in the post-race press conference that he went and personally apologized to Forkner after the race. Everyone makes mistakes but it’s what you do after that counts. Having said that, I sure hope Forkner is okay and he sure doesn’t deserve to have another injury.
4. Mitchell Oldenburg (5-6-5)
Considering Oldenburg missed the main event altogether last weekend in Minneapolis because of bike issues in his heat race, fourth overall on Saturday night is a pretty decent finish. Oldenburg is fast and in Arlington, he was remarkably consistent while most others in the 250SX East weren’t. I’m sure Oldenburg was pumped with his finish and I’m even more sure that he’d take another Top 5 finish this weekend in Daytona.
5. Jordon Smith (6-10-7)
This was another rider who benefitted from riders like Forkner and even Phil Nicoletti having some bad luck. Smith has had a history and getting injured so I’m quite sure he’s happy with 5th overall at Round 8 and 7th overall in the series after two races. It will be interesting to see what the next few races hold for Smith as hopefully, he can begin to build some much-needed confidence.
So that was the Top 5 in both classes and now let’s get to our Canadian boys. With Arlington being a Triple Crown event it meant that qualifying meant everything. Because of qualifying being more intense than normal to log a fast lap time you really had to go for it. Sadly, all three of our riders (Tanner Ward, Julien Benek, Guillaume St-Cyr) came up short of making it anywhere near the night show and that was most certainly a bummer. As I said, whenever there is a Triple Crown event the riders are forced to really hang it out in qualifying. Also, let’s be honest here, the 250SX East class is stacked with high-level and mid-level talent this year. All you have to do is look at the names of the riders who did make the night show and every single one has some speed. Anyway, now it’s onto Daytona where Ward, Benek, and St-Cyr should all do well. Ward always rides well in the sand, Benek, with his long legs should be able to handle the rough Daytona track, and St-Cyr heads into this weekend with the most experience of all three riders. I look for at least one of them to have a breakout ride this weekend.
Speaking of the Daytona SX. Growing up and through my years as a pro rider Daytona and Pontiac were my favourite SX races. Maybe it was because as a kid I went to both with my dad, sat in the stands, and imagined what it would be like to one day be on the starting line. When I finally did get to line-up it was obviously a dream come true. The Daytona SX is extra special as it’s as much about the venue as it is the race itself. Whenever you’re not focused on the track it’s cool to just look around and take in everything that is the Daytona International Speedway. Although the track has changed a lot over the years and has become a tamed version of it used to be it still is a very challenging race. I mean, the jumps are bigger now, but back in the 1990s and 1980s the track builders basically dumped some clay in various spots on the infield, groomed that dirt into a jump, and then left it. The Daytona SX track used to have very little rhythm and it was a lot, I repeat, a lot rougher than it is today. I first time I raced in Daytona was in 1994 and I couldn’t believe how rough the track was by the time the gate dropped on the 250 LCQ. In those days the Daytona SX was a day race with the main events taking place around 4 pm. Sometimes it was hot and that made the track even worse. I know that today’s Daytona SX still has some teeth and remains the most challenging race of the series, but it pales in comparison to what it used to be like. Anyway, if you ever get the chance to go and watch the Daytona SX I think everyone should at least once as it really is an iconic event.
Well, that is it for me this week. Thankfully February is over this evening and now we move into the month that hopefully brings us spring and some decent riding weather. I hope you have a great start to March and thank you for reading this week’s Sailun Tire Monday Gate Drop.