McThoughts – Oakland SX
By Billy Rainford
McThoughts – Oakland SX 250 West
By Billy Rainford
“Batting for Jeff McConkey today will be #45 Billy Rainford.”
That’s right, Jeff is away on holidays, somewhere in the Caribbean, so I will have to step in and give one of these ‘McThoughts’ columns a shot.
Round 4 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series headed north up the PCH to Oakland, California, Saturday night. As the old Mark Twain quote goes, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” OK, it’s winter now, but you get the point. The mid-50’s weather (15C) and the rain the area received forced the AMA to shorten the practice schedule to just 2 rounds of qualifying for each group.
It looked like it was going to be another easily-predictable night when #1W Cooper Webb and #1 Ryan Dungey sat at the top of the lists when qualifying was finished. However, one thing that’s certain about Supercross is that things are never certain. #41 Trey Canard was forced to sit out due to his sore hand and groin from last week, and James Stewart pulled out of the race at the 9-lap mark due to post-concussion symptoms.
Here’s a look at my thoughts on the top 10 at round 4 of the 450 Class at Overstock.com Coliseum in Oakland:
1. #1 Ryan Dungey: What can you say about this guy? He just keeps winning. He’s now got 20 podiums in a row and is closing in on Chad Reed‘s record of 25. He was miles ahead in his heat race and then pulled the holeshot in the main and it was lights out from there. On the podium, he said he was just trying to “hit my marks and focus.” He was also quick to point out how happy he was for his teammate to make it up on the podium in 3rd spot. Did you bet against Dungey before the season started? Pretty dumb, eh.
2. #94 Ken Roczen: Roczen had the second fastest time in qualifying and finished 3rd in his heat to go straight to the main. Kenny got out into 4th place on the start and once he got around Marvin Musquin, set his sights on Dungey out front. At the flag, he was only 3 seconds behind and 10 seconds ahead of 3rd. He’s due for a win and should be the one to challenge Dungey for this title. He said he changed his lines for the worse halfway in and that he twisted his knee a bit, and then was quick to add, “But no excuses.” That always cracks me up.
3. #25 Marvin Musquin: I like this guy. He seems to work hard and really appreciate what he gets to do for a living. He crushed it on the 250 and seems to be getting the hang of the big 450. This result should let him know he belongs out front, so I expect his appearance on the podium to become routine. Oh, the great start certainly helped, too.
4. #21 Jason Anderson: Jason was back in 11th spot at the end of the first lap! We’ve seen him come through the field before and he did just that again this week. That crazy pass to get by Reed was…crazy. Did you see Reed look back to see if anyone else was coming? He’s got the speed to challenge Dungey, but obviously can’t spot him that much time off the start. He sits 2nd in the point but is 22 points behind. He can’t afford too many more bad starts if he wants to make Jeff look good for picking him.
5. #22 Chad Reed: How can’t you cheer for this guy?! I like Chad’s new-and-improved attitude. The excuses aren’t there anymore and he seems really happy to be back on his trusty Yamaha. With a good start, Chad is going to win one or two of these things this season. I thought he was quitting to race cars about 5 years ago? We’re all glad he didn’t. I just wish James Stewart would hurry and get back so they can battle like the old days. It feels like ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ when these two go at it these days.
6.#14 Cole Seely: Cole has now finished 3-3-6-6. He’s still in this thing at 5th overall, but will need great starts if he wants to beat some of the guys ahead of him.
7. #Eli Tomac: I tried to get Eli as my pick for this title before the series began. Anyone who beats these guys by over a minute outdoors is my pick for any championship! He has yet to hit the podium and I have to think it will start happening once he’s confident in his bionic shoulders and his Kawasaki. He will start winning when the tour heads east.
8. #12 Jake Weimer: When Weimer first turned Pro, I was really impressed with his aggressiveness – you did not want him behind you outdoors! He’s got a great opportunity to get back near the top with his RCH fill-in ride. He was as far back as 12th in the main, so an 8th is a great place to start on his new team. I’d like to see that ‘never say die’ attitude back in his riding.
9. #10 Justin Brayton: Brayton seems like a really nice guy and probably finished right where he belongs. He will have those flashes when he pulls the holeshot but will not be able to stay ahead of these guys for long.
10. #54 Wil Hahn: It could just be me, but Wil doesn’t seem comfortable out there in the big bike class. I know everyone can’t win and he’s coming back from injury, so let’s give him some more time to get back to where, I’m sure, he believes he belongs.
Biggest Stud: I’m giving this one to Marvin Musquin. He looked comfortable up at the front and I think he will now be used to that feeling. Unfortunately, if he’s not near the front again in the future, Jeff may just give him ‘Dud’ status! Pro sport is fickle, folks.
Biggest Surprise: James Stewart lining up to race. It’s obviously still a problem when his heart rate goes up at race pace and this should be noticed during the week. James, do not line up until the post-concussion symptoms are completely gone. You’re only 1/3 of the way into your life!
Biggest Dud: What’s eating Gilbert Pourcel? (Google it, Bowker!) He sits back in practice and then pulls off one of the quickest laps to qualify at or near the top each week. He started 20th in Oakland and moved up to 14th. From the Husqvarna Press Release, “I felt pretty good for 20 laps in the main. I charged to the front but made a mistake and crashed. Hopefully I can be ready to battle for the front after Daytona.” Daytona? Let’s go, Christophe! He proves every week he has the speed of the top guys. It’s time to do it in the main event. I hate picking a dud.
Thanks for reading, and don’t worry, Jeff will be back next week. See you after Phoenix!