McThoughts | 2017 Monster Energy Supercross | 450 Class
By Jeff McConkey
Once again, heading into the 2017 we are blessed with an absolutely stacked 450 SX class. We have former 450 champs, former 250SX champs, former World champions, National champions, heck… we even have a Canadian champion lining up. As usual, the terrible injury bug will rob us of a few racers, but let’s hope I’m wrong. We are about to enjoy 17 races in 18 weekends. It’s not an easy feat, but the man who comes out on top, will no doubt be forever remembered as one of the best of all time. I, personally, cannot wait for the first gate drop at A1! Here are my thoughts on the major players.
1 Ryan Dungey: Ryan is a winner, that is what he does. He is coming in fresh and hungry, and I don’t see anybody matching his speed, fitness and consistency for all 17 rounds. No, he won’t be the fastest at all 17 rounds, but his bad races (the odd 3rd and maybe a 4th) will win the title for him. I only see him off the box 1 maybe 2 times all year. He’s just that good.
2 Cooper Webb: Webb will win a race or two with his aggressive style and skill. He will also rub a few fellow riders the wrong way with that same style. He has all of the tools needed, now he just needs a season or two under his belt before he gets in the title fight.
3 Eli Tomac: Tomac is a serious championship guy, but his starts will hold him back. The class is too stacked to be starting outside the top 5 or even worse, the top 10. I expected Eli to be off of the pace last season early on. Coming off of double shoulder surgery and riding a new bike for a new team will take you a while to adjust. This season Tomac has to be in the mix right from the start, and keep himself there for 17 weeks. I can’t see it this year.
4 Blake Baggett: I think Bagget will be very good and hover around the top 5. He will shock a lot of people.
7 James Stewart: I’m just plain old sad that we may have seen the last of James.
10 Justin Brayton: Brayton has been very good this off season and he will be on very good equipment, but I think his best years are behind him. He will be a regular top 10 guy, with the odd flash into the top 5.
12 Jake Weimer: (Weimer to fill in for an injured Justin Barcia) Weimer is a good pick up for JGR, although I’m a little shocked they didn’t take ‘Mookie.’ Jake is a true professional and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him stick with the team for all of SX.
14 Cole Seely: Cole doesn’t want to be the “#2 Guy” on the team this season. That will push him, but news flash, he won’t be better than Roczen. Seely will be very good and I see him getting 4-5 podiums, but no wins for Seely this year. Seely has made me “eat crow” plenty in the past, but I just don’t see it this time.
15 Dean Wilson: All the talent and drive in the world, only to be held back by injuries. If ‘Deano’ can make it safely through the first 3 or 4 rounds and keep building confidence, he will be ready for some top 5 breakout rides in the East. I still believe in the Scottsman/Canuck/Yank.
18 Davi Millsaps: Davi will quickly remind everyone just how good he is. I think he’s happy and healthy and he will score some podiums. Racing a full outdoor season last year will definitely help Davi this season. I see 3-4 podiums for Millsaps in 2017.
19 Justin Bogle: Justin has me on the fence. Part of me thinks he will keep improving and shock some people with top 5 and near podium rides, but part of me thinks he will show flashes, followed by missed races due to injury.
20 Broc Tickle: I feel Broc is much better outdoors, but he always seems to surprise me indoors. He’s a hard worker that shouldn’t be outside of the top 10, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him with 1-2 top 5 finishes.
21 Jason Anderson: ‘La Flama Blanca’ won a race last season. I see at least 2 race wins this year and a lot of podiums. He’s not title ready yet, but will be a serious contender to take the crown when Dungey decides to retire.
22 Chad Reed: Just when you think Chad is done, he finds the fountain of youth, starts having fun, and ends up on the podium. I don’t see him winning, but I could see 2-3 podiums and a bunch of top 5’s.
25 Marvin Musquin: Marvin is ready for a win. He was so close last season, but even James Stewart won’t stop him from winning this year. He will be a regular on the podium and could surprise us all by winning more than one.
32 Weston Peick: I think we’ve seen the best of Weston. He will still be a threat in the Semi’s, but gone are the near podium rides. I see the odd top 5, but am expecting him to be more of a 7th-12th guy week in and week out.
33 Josh Grant: A healthy ‘JG33.’ That’s something we haven’t seen in a long time. Will we see the old Josh who will hang it out and “wow” us or the Josh riding safe and collecting a paycheque with solid but safe rides? I’d like to see a bit of both.
41 Trey Canard: Probably the biggest question mark is Trey. Trey has endured more injuries than an entire football team, so it wouldn’t shock me to see him take it easy. I just don’t think Trey can or will. He will always have that insane speed, but he needs to be wiser coming through the pack. I’d like to see Trey score a few podiums, but he needs to stay calm and let the track come to him. I’m going to go out on a limb and call Trey for a win.
47 Malcolm Stewart: Poor Mookie won the 250 East and was rewarded by not getting a ride. How brutal is that?! Word on the street is that Malcolm will show up on a privateer Suzuki out of a sprinter van. It’s still unknown if he will have his set up ready for A1 yet. Watch for Stewart to shock some of the “big boys” with his unreal whoop speed.
51 Justin Barcia: I’d love to see the ‘BAM BAM’ of old show up and get himself back into the top 5 and fighting for podiums. I really haven’t seen enough of him yet to make the call, but I can promise you he will turn much better on yellow than blue. [Barcia will miss the first couple rounds with an injured wrist]
61 Vince Friese: Vince has been getting better every season. He’s happy on the Hondas and should easily make every main. I think missing the majority of the outdoors may cause him to start a little slow early on in the season.
67 Jimmy Albertson: I love the look of Jimmy’s new red and yellow Suzuki, and his SEVEN kits are always on fire, but I don’t see him making more than 3 or 4 mains.
75 Nick Schmidt: Last season Nick seemed to have the edge on the ‘border line’ main event guys. I haven’t really seen anything about him this off season, so I’m thinking he will make a few mains, but not as many as previous years.
80 Cade Clason: Cade was ready to really step it up this season, until an injury racing in Germany slowed him down this off season. I think he will start out a little slow, but really turn it on 4-5 rounds in and assert himself as a main event guy.
85 Tommy Hahn: Tommy was supposed to retire after last season. He has the talent to make every main, but injuries have been and will be a major player with Hahn.
94 Ken Roczen: If anyone can take away Dungey’s title, it is Ken. He just has to eliminate all mistakes. His ‘bad’ rides need to be 3rds and 4ths. He has the speed, fitness, talent, and team, now he just needs to be damn near perfect for 17 rounds. He can do it outdoors, now it’s time to do it indoors.
377 Christophe Pourcel: Christophe will once again have us scratching our heads. Out of nowhere he will one moment look like he’s just rolling around, and then the next he will set the fastest lap time, and do nothing with it.
800 Mike Alessi: Mike looked really good last season. It was the first time in a long time where he looked like he was racing SX, and not just trying to survive SX. Back on a Honda, Mike’s starts will be back and he will hover around the top 10.
Champion: Ryan Dungey
2nd: Ken Roczen
3rd: Jason Anderson
4th: Marvin Musquin
5th: Eli Tomac