McThoughts | Oakland Supercross | 250 West
By Jeff McConkey
Photos by Billy Rainford
We had some very good racing in the 250 class on Saturday night. The track was very technical due to the soft rutted conditions, and made some of these top level riders look like beginners. For the most part, we had the top guys up front and battling, which kept it exciting.
Shane McElrath had some bad luck which will hurt his title hopes, but defending champion Justin Hill looked good for the first time all season.
West Coast is usually known for dry blue grooved hardpack, but we have had 2 really soft and technical rutted tracks which have helped points leader Aaron Plessinger. I honestly can’t see it being this soft again, unless we have a mudder, but once again that will an advantage for Plessinger.
Let’s take a look at the results and my thoughts.
1st Aaron Plessinger: What a ride for our points leader. The red plate has been bouncing around each weekend, but even though Aaron was under the weather, he still dug deep and got the win. Everyone knows that the lanky Plessinger is a beast in the soft rutty conditions, and he once again proved it with a great ride and a ton of heart.
2nd Joey Savatgy: Joey has been pretty consistent this season, but I keep expecting a dominate performance from him. I almost think that he’s trying to be so perfect, he’s afraid to hang it out and is making more mistakes than normal. We haven’t seen him hang it out yet, and I think that may be what’s missing.
3rd Justin Hill: Someone finally found the real Justin Hill. Justin looked very good and had a nice battle with Savatgy. I think both Hill and Savatgy slowed each other enough once they got super close to allow Plessinger just enough for the win. Great race for Hill, now he has something to build on.
4th Christian Craig: Christian looked a little too aggressive while chasing Martin. I was afraid he was going to clean him out like he did in Detroit last season. He looked very good going into the whoops and looked good out front. But for whatever reason, Christian just can’t seem to seal the deal. He cross-rutted and lost the lead but was lucky enough to have escaped injury. A 4th is a good result, but I’m thinking we have another 250 class lifer in the works.
5th Alex Martin: Great first race back for Martin. Alex looked great out front, but had to be a little nervous seeing Craig’s wheel in a few corners. He fell off the pace a little bit, but that has to be expected with being off for so long. Alex will get better as the season goes on.
6th Chase Sexton: Another solid ride for the rookie. He is riding very well and will more than likely be back on the podium within the next 2 rounds. With a start, he has the speed to end up on the box.
7th Adam Cianciarulo: Terrible start for AC, which pushed him off the track and he kind of got hung up on a tough block. After that he had nowhere to go when Phil Nicoletti squirreled out into Dakota Alix and went down. AC was as far back as 19th and he rode his butt off to get back to 7th. He’s really got to get the start and get the monkey off of his back.
8th Kyle Chisholm: Kyle has been getting great starts lately. But even with the great starts, or when he gets an average start, his results stay the same. He will be riding a 450 on the East Coast where I think he belongs, but, in all honesty, he just loves to race his dirtbike.
9th Mitchell Harrison: Mitchell had to make the main via the LCQ. He’s got all of the tools, but he just has to put it all together. He needs to work on his starts, but he had a pretty good ride to come from way back.
10th Hayden Mellross: Hayden had a great heat race and looked really good. A 10th is good for him, and he needs to keep the momentum, and he needs to ride with the faster guys more and get used to their pace.
Biggest Stud: Aaron Plessinger is my Stud. He left it all out on the track and was visibly exhausted after crossing the finish line. Some guys make excuses about being sick blah, blah, blah, while Aaron just went out and got it done. Great ride for our points leader.
Biggest Dud: Christian Craig has been saying how mad he is, and how he should be winning. I agree, he should be winning but he isn’t and that is why he is my Dud. The guy looks so good out there and has a great bike/team. It’s all on him to get that win.
Biggest Surprise: Justin Hill showed up in Oakland and showed everyone that the JGR RMZ 250 Suzuki can run with the big boys. Hill mentioned that he was sick all week and hadn’t ridden since last weekend’s race, maybe he’s trying too hard? Anyway, his ride Saturday was a surprise, but in a good way.
Canadian Content: Jess Pettis made his SX debut Saturday night. He qualified well and got a great start in his heat race. He looked real good before a small mistake cost him a qualifying spot. In the LCQ, he got a terrible start and made his way all the way up to 5th before the gnarly rutted track bit him. Jess has the speed and skill to be a main event guy very soon. Congrats, buddy.
Fellow Canadian, Brock Leitner, went down hard during qualifying and elected to sit out the night show. Brock is a super tough kid, and he will most likely be back next week.
MC’s “G’d Up from the Feet Up” Award: Rockstar Husqvarna’s Mitchell Harrison looked good in his Fly kit, Airoh helmet, Dragon goggles and TCX boots on his way to the LCQ win.