Houston SX #3 | Bigwave’s Brainstorm
By Billy Rainford
Where do we start with this one?! NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, hosted the first 3-race residency of the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series and got more than its fair share of action and stories to tell. Round 3 gave us a lot to talk about, to say the least.
Let’s go back to the beginning to take a look at this day that kept us all on the edge of our seats and many riders on the edge of theirs and beyond!
The track was reworked and gave the riders ample opportunity to stretch their legs and make passes. Yes, there was the return of a sand section. It didn’t claim the number of riders that it had on Tuesday night, but it left you wondering how many riders would swing wide and take themselves out as the headed dangerously near the tough blocks at break-neck speed.
It was the return of a right-hand first turn, and that always has us wondering if it’s going to be an issue. I think the tight first turn from Tuesday night proved to be more of an issue than Saturday’s tricky-to-turn-and-use-the-rear-brake set up.
It also seemed like they were using more of the floor and the track had a “bigger” feel to it.
During Free Practice, #18 Jett Lawrence was 1.5 seconds faster than the next fastest 250 East rider. On top of that, no 450 even managed a faster lap time.
We lost #24 RJ Hampshire to a wrist injury, so we were already down a possible podium threat. About the injury, RJ said, “Taking the rest of the week to recover and will come back swinging on Saturday!”
When the 250 B riders headed out for the first timed qualifier, Canadian #551 Guillaume St Cyr from Quebec went out from the gate drop with the others. He would finish 12th in the session with a best lap time of 54.261 compared to England’s #260 Dylan Woodcock who clocked a 52.385.
250 A was next and #29 Christian Craig and #30 Jo Shimoda headed out first. #38 Austin Forkner would go down awkwardly and get up immediately holding his right arm as if he had hurt his shoulder. He walked off the track and was done for the day. Craiwould log the fastest lap with a 48.181.
450 Group A went out with #9 Adam Cianciarulo leading the way with #40 Vince Friese in tow.
#94 Ken Roczen dropped his time into the 47’s with a 47.857 and the best time of the session as the only rider to break 48 seconds.
After a break, riders were back out on the track for their final qualifying sessions.
In 250 Group B, St Cyr would manage a best lap of 54.094, slightly better than his first session.
Top of the B Group again belonged to Woodcock with a 51.413, almost a second better than in Q1.
Lawrence went down awkwardly in 250 A when he got out of shape in the whoops and the front end dug in and sent him over with the bike coming down hard on his right leg. Fortunately, he had pulled his leg out of a very vulnerable position and the damaged seemed to be minimized. He limped back to his bike, putting on his goggles, but nike damage meant his session was finished. He still managed to stay at the top of the board with a best lap of 48.300.
450 A went out for their final session and Roczen got the jump until #2 Cooper Webb passed him on the inside of turn 1 in a move that would come back later in the evening.
Friese would go down hard and cause a red flag for the session. #1 Eli Tomac took top spot with a 47.432 lap. Roczen let it be known that he was not happy with what had transpired on Tuesday when he was docked points for jumping on a red cross flag.
With Hampshire and Forkner missing, 250 Heat 1 was definitely watered down from what we’ve come to expect.
Lawrence grabbed the holeshot followed by #42 Michael Mosiman, #124 Lane Shaw, #116 TJ Allbright, and #49 Mitchell Oldenburg.
Group B’s fastest qualifier Woodcock would fall hard on his right hip and take a ride off the track on a board in a Mule. He said, “I have had a lot of pain in my back and numbness in my legs and feet pretty scary right now but I’m still smiling and taking the positives from this all in the hospital.”
Lawrence took the win but took a dig at 2nd place finisher Mosiman by alluding to the fact that he hadn’t rode very well since Mosiman was so close to him at the flag.
Oldenburg was 3rd and #95 Josh Osby took 4th after making passes the entire heat race in an impressive ride. Allbright held on for 5th.
250 Heat 2 start went to our old friend #88 Logan Karnow. He was looking pretty comfortable out front util an odd left-hand bowl turn saw him get up high and drop over the top with his bike handlebars ending up caught in the safety net and he launched just beside it and almost landed on #21 Jason Anderson.
#115 Max Vohland took over the lead and had a nice 5-second gap back to Craig, who put his head down and started closing in on the young rookie.
#186 Wilson Flemming was 3rd, #637 Bobby Piazza dropped down to the 250 class and was up in 4th early, #55 John Short 5th, then Shimoda, #85 Kevin Moranz, and #64 Colt Nichols in 8th after going off the track early and dropping well back.
St Cyr was in 14th at the flag and Craig took the win ahead of Vohland, Shimoda, and Short.
450 Heat 1 had #51 Justin Barcia out front with the holeshot followed by Webb, Roczen, #7 Aaron Plessinger, and #17 Joey Savatgy, back after that hard fall at Round 2.
Barcia would bump into the rear wheel of #83 Alex Ray, slowing him enough to allow Roczen by to hold on for the heat race win.
Behind him it was Barcia, Webb, #16 Zach Osborne, Anderson, and Plessinger.
#28 Brandon Hartranft was in a qualifying position but fell and would have to go to the LCQ.
Cianciarulo grabbed the start in 450 Heat 2 and would hold on for the win. #36 Martin Davalos was up in 2nd place followed by #20 Broc Tickle and #25 Marvin Musquin.
#27 Malcolm Stewart took a run through the whoops to try and get by Musquin. He wold get loose near the end and see his rear end swap left then right putting him in the path of Musquin, taking him out.
At the flag it was AC, Tomac, Stewart, Davalos, #10 Justin Brayton, and #15 Dean Wilson.
St Cyr got out to a solid start and made a ton of passes up the inside of turn 1 until he clipped a tough block and got sent to the back of the pack, finishing 17th.
Moranz took the win ahead of Karnow, #122 Jeremy Hand, and #625 Jonah Geistler, who was on his way to his first main.
The 450 LCQ had #11 Kyle Chisholm out front for the gate-to-flag win followed by #648 Joan Cros, #260 Cade Clason, Tickle, #981 Austin Politelli, and #805 Carlen Gardner. We were in for a battle!
Cros would fall way back, Tickle would get around Clason, and Politelli and Gardner would battle their way forward, charging for that final transfer spot. Cade was under pressure.
On the last lap, it was Chisholm, Tickle, Politelli, and then Clason and Gardner. You knew something was coming.
Cade let the pressure get to him as he struggled through normally smooth sections for him, and Gardner was on his rear wheel.
Heading into the final corner, Cade must have been sure he’d covered the inside enough but was wrong. Carlen pushed inside and made the pass at the line to steal away Cade’s shot at the main. It was a classic LCQ fight to the finish.
Holeshot to Craig, followed by Nichols, Vohland, Mosiman, #241 Joshua Varize, Shimoda, and Lawrence.
Mosiman would get by Vohland, but Max would fight back and retake the position with a classic block pass.
At the halfway mark, Craig and Nichols were in a battle for the lead followed by Mosiman who had a gap back to Shimoda and Lawrence, who made the pass for 4th.
Lawrence would make the pass on Mosiman and put him down. Oldenburg was nursing a sore wrist and was well back in the pack as the leaders cam eby to put him down a lap.
Nichols made the pass with 3 laps to go but Craig immediately retook the lead with a nice block pass.
Osby moved up well again and came from 16th on lap 1 all the way up to 7th at the flag.
Nichols went back by Craig with 1:00 to go and pulled a slight gap by the flag through lapped traffic.
The top 5 were Nichols, Craig, Lawrence, Shimoda, and Mosiman, all spread out.
On the podium, Nichols said it was “euphoric,” Craig was now tied for the points lead with his teammate, and Lawrence admitted that his pass on Mosiman was “a bit of a dirty move because I know he’s a pain to get around.”
Holeshot to Webb, followed by Roczen, Cianciarulo and Plessinger.
When they came around to complete the first lap, it looked like this: 2, 94, 9, 7, 27, 51, 36, #19 Justin Bogle, 1, and 16.
Roczen would take the lead on lap 3, and the top 3 riders would start to pull away a little bit from the rest of the field.
Davalos would fall in the sand section.
At the half, Roczen and Webb were close and had about a 3-second lead over AC, who had Barcia on his rear wheel. They were 7 seconds ahead of Tomac in 5th ahead of Stewart, who was coming back at Tomac, Plessinger, and Osborne.
Barcia would go down in the sand and get going behind Tomac and make a pass on him as he, Eli and Stewart were close.
With 3 to go, Roczen and Webb were still at the front, AC was on his own in 3rd, then it was Barcia and Tomac, who had dropped Stewart a little with Plessinger behind him. Anderson came next, followed by Osborne.
On the last lap, the leader came up on Dean Wilson, who was running in 11th place at the time.
As Roczen came up to put Deano down a lap and head to the checkers, Wilson seemed unaware of his presence and continued to stay in the racing line and hold up Roczen enough so that Webb was able to make a nice pass and take the win.
At the flag, it was Webb, Roczen, AC, Barcia, Tomac, and Stewart rounding out the top 5.
So, after they checkered flag, Wilson still had another lap to go because he had stayed ahead of the lead duo. Roczen waited for him to ride by and gave him the classic “What the hell was that?!” gesture as Dean rode past.
Ken was understandably angry with Dean for holding him up and, in all likelihood, costing him a win. This past of the story can be argued, as some feel Webb was closing in anyway and was going to find an opportunity to make a pass. I feel he had run out of time and would not have had the chance to get close enough. That’s my opinion.
Dean went immediately to social media and posted an apology:
This finish and move will be argued for years to come. The only one who knows the truth is Dean, himself. As I commented on his post, I think his record speaks for itself and he’s not known as a rider to do something like this.
Having said that, whenever, for example, a red and a blue bike come up to lap a red bike, the announcers almost always make a comment that the lapped red rider is going to make it as difficult for the blue rider to get past with out making things too obvious.
I feel that had Dean realized it was Ken and Cooper coming up to lap him, sure, he may have tried to hold Ken up very briefly but would then have made a clear move to get out of their way.
I just don’t think he would have been that much of a road block had he known. Having said that, I also don’t know how he didn’t know it was them coming up on him that quickly. It just doesn’t make sense, but Dean said that he didn’t and I’m inclined to believe him, based on his character. Sure, they both ride for Roger DeCoster, but it was just too obvious to be a “team move,” I believe.
As I said, the only person who knows for sure what happened is Dean, himself. He’s apologized and we all simply need to move on to Indianapolis for Rounds 4-6.
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you at the races…