McThoughts | Daytona SX – 450 Class
By Jeff MocConkey
Photos by Billy Rainford
Daytona….. it’s where some people say the championship starts. No bad races, no off nights, or you’ll miss out on an opportunity to be crowned the champion. The track was tough, like always, and offered good racing and options. I wasn’t a fan of the 2nd turn and the carnage, but shit happens. I, myself, would prefer try go back to the day race format, it just adds a little bit more “Daytona feel” for me.
All in all, this year’s race was good. For the most part, all of the heavy hitters were near the front (sorry, Kenny) and they put on a great show. Here are the results and my thoughts.
1st #3 Eli Tomac: Eli was patient for the first 4 minutes of the main and then it was time for him to send it on the wall jump past Baggett. He then put his head down and cruised to a somewhat easy win. He is the complete package, he really is. He just has to eliminate the awful races. When Eli is on, like he was on Saturday, he will be very hard to beat, and he could slowly but surely chip away at Webb’s 19-point lead.
2nd #2 Cooper Webb: He’s still on fire, he still looks great everywhere, and he’s just not going to win every race. The class is too stacked. But that doesn’t mean he can’t extend his points lead for the remainder. He’s averaging a 6.8 starting position and a 3.2 finishing position. That’s championship caliber. He leads the 450 class by 19 points.
3rd #25 Marvin Musquin: Marvin looked amazing at times, but when he makes a mistake, he gets rattled easily. If he can cut that out of his game, he could take a serious run for the title. Marvin is a great starter and is tied with Tomac in 2nd place, only 19 points behind leader Webb.
4th #4 Blake Baggett: Blake got the start he needed and launched the wall jump first lap. He looked like he should be fighting for wins every round. He seems very calm on the bike and isn’t afraid to fight back after losing a position. He’s been starting around the top 5 all season and putting himself in good position. 5th in points, he’s out of the championship, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play spoiler and steal another win or two.
5th #17 Joey Savatgy: Joey is our top rookie. He’s fast, fit, and aggressive. His decision-making seems way better than his 250 days, and he is not afraid to mix it up. He was a great pick up by the Monster Kawasaki squad. Joey now sits 9th in points with 124.
6th #16 Zach Osborne: Daytona was clearly Zach’s best ride on a 450. He will get better with time, but I still expect growing pains on the 450. He has a kind of wild riding style and it either works well or ends with him in the weeds. Zach will be a podium threat next season, but he will have his crashes this season in between decent rides.
7th #46 Justin Hill: Finally, a little hope from the Hill camp. I was expecting huge things from Justin this season, like winning races and pretty much doing what Webb is doing now. Boy, was I wrong. Justin rides the 450 so well… so, I’m really expecting this to be the turn around. I’m willing to call him battling for a race win before season’s end finishing 2nd, and 3rd in another main event.
8th #94 Ken Roczen: Ken was great all day, and I was thinking first win of the season. Unfortunately, he ended up going down off the start and he was forced to salvage points. Kenny is now 4th in points, only 21 out of the lead. He’s not out of it yet, but he needs to reel off some wins and have no more bad races.
9th #10 Justin Brayton: ‘Braytona’ just didn’t have the magic this season. The class is still stacked, and a 9th is a very good Daytona finish for Justin.
10th #22 Chad Reed: Still getting it done. I know he wants better, we want better, but Chad’s old in dirt bike years, so he’s really got to be happy with how well he is doing and be pumped that he’s out there loving life.
Biggest Stud: I was really impressed with Tomac. Usually, I’m not a huge fan, but I was for Daytona.
Biggest Dud: it’s a bummer that we lost Aaron Plessinger to injury. With Barcia nursing a concussion, who does Yamaha go after as a fill in? Josh Grant are you out there? I’d personally put Jacob Hayes on the bike.
Biggest Surprise: I don’t think anything surprised me this week. I’m not angry.
MC’s ‘G’d Up from the Feet Up’ Award: Ken Roczen and his head-to-toe Fox kit looked amazing. Yes, I know that the Red Bull helmet doesn’t match. That’s part of the allure.