McThoughts | Minneapolis SX – 250 East
By Jeff McConkey
Photos by Bigwave
This past Saturday night, we put the West 250 riders on the sidelines and finally gave the 250 East class their first look of the season. Like always, there are past race winners, hot rookies, and a big group of veterans. I feel like this year’s East is deeper than the West, and it should offer a few different race winners. Just like the West, it will be whoever makes the fewest mistakes.
Austin Forkner drew first blood in a pretty dominating ride. If he can keep it up, I don’t think anyone can match his raw speed, but that is a big ‘if.’
Like always, we have a rather large group of veterans that just don’t seem to ever want to move up full-time. Tons of talent and fresh faces make this year’s East very exciting. Here are the results and my thoughts.
[Editor’s Note: We’ll have new photos starting in Detroit]
1st Austin Forkner: Austin has always had the raw speed, that has never been questioned, but he has also had the brain farts, injuries, and bad luck. After one round, it looks like he is in way more control than previous seasons. Let’s see if it can continue.
2nd Jordan Smith: Jordan bounced back from what could have been a terrible first round. It was discovered that he had a rear flat on the hot lap, and to the credit of his mechanic and team, they got him going with time to spare. He rode really well, but needs to try a little less, and that should limit the mistakes. He needs to be more careful with lappers as he clipped his teammate at the end of the main, which could have ended his season and/or championship hopes.
3rd Justin Cooper: In his second ever Supercross race, Cooper looked like a veteran as he stalked Alex Martin right up to the final lap. He looked very smooth and calm for a rookie, and I think he has lots in the tank. This guy is going to win this season under the right circumstances. Very impressed.
4th Alex Martin: Alex looked very good on the new Suzuki ride. He came in hot and made his way past Davalos, and then held 3rd for the majority of the race until Cooper made a slick pass. He will get many podiums, but I didn’t see the speed for a win in him at round 1.
5th Chase Sexton: Rough round 1 with Chase hitting the dirt a few times. I don’t think they are all his fault. This guy rides and trains with some of the best, so I’m sure they will be addressing all of his round 1 weaknesses this week. I would like to see him mix it up with Forkner to see if he can match the pace.
6th Mitchell Oldenburg: A quiet 6th for Oldenburg, but there is nothing wrong with that. I think Freckle has the raw speed to run with the top 3, I’m just not sure he can do it mistake free for 10 minutes or more. Time will tell.
7th Kyle Cunningham: A 7th on paper doesn’t look too impressive, but Kyle had a great ride coming from 16th or so on the first lap. He’s a veteran and needs to use his experience against these young kids.
8th Brandon Hartranft: I didn’t see much of Brandon, but an 8th is very solid. I don’t think he has top 5 speed yet, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get a 7th or 6th and keep building.
9th Jordon Bailey: I am really pumped about this ride for Jordon. I remember him on 65’s and 85’s and he is an awesome kid. He’s a little under the radar, but I think that is good. His long frame should help him in the whoops. On the perfect night, this rookie has a top 5 in him.
10th Kyle Peters: Not the start Peters was looking for, but you can be sure the veteran will rebound strong. He does have a podium, although I’m not sure that I see him getting one this year. I think the odd top 5 is believable.
Biggest Stud: Austin Forkner was on another level. He looks fast and in control.
Biggest Dud: The 250 Class is a regional class. It is for riders to develop before taking the next step. They only race half of the races, either East or West Coast. They only race against half of the competition and weren’t even awarded points until recent years. Why do we have guys in their 30’s in this class? Guys with wives and kids racing against teenagers. I know for some of them that they can still make better money and there are more rides. I look at guys like Ricky Carmichael and Ryan Dungey retired as early as 27 and we have guys older that still haven’t moved out of the regional Supercross class. Do we need to cap the age?
Biggest Surprise: How scary was that LCQ?! I’m surprised everyone got up from the carnage. What a gong show!