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. Here’s a look at my thoughts on the top 10 at round 4 of the 250 West at Overstock.com Coliseum in Oakland:
1. #37 Joey Savatgy: Although Joey was handed a gift when Cooper Webb got bitten by what he said was “gas cap vapour lock” while leading, Savatgy was pressuring Cooper and possibly waiting to take a run at him during the 15-lap main event. To add to this win’s impressiveness, Joey’s shift lever was bent early and was almost completely useless! He finished with a 7-second lead (bigger but he slowed down). If anyone was going to break Cooper’s win streak, safe money was on Savatgy.
2. #69 Colt Nichols: Everyone has been saying that Colt Nichols was on the verge of a big night and he delivered it Saturday night. When he found himself up in 2nd place, he said he “got nervous and rode bad.” It will be interesting to see what this finish does for his confidence and his performance should he find himself up at the front again. Great ride by Colt.
3. #38 Christian Craig: Christian is the only one keeping him from winning one of these things. He’s got the raw speed, but needs the calmness and composure to do 15 solid, mistake-free laps. He washed out in the main, fell back to 6th, and had to scramble to take this podium finish. It was another good ride that should have been great.
4. #42 Mitchell Oldenburg: Jeff keeps saying he expects more from the Texan but I remember not long ago when he was fighting just to make in into these things! Yes, he’s got the equipment and program now, but I think a 4th place finish is one hell of an accomplishment for Mitchell. Great ride.
5. #16 Zach Osborne: Zach was up in 4th place on the 3rd lap but had a problem and fell all the way back to 13th on lap 4 (maybe farther, but that’s where he’s scored). To make it back up to 5th shows he’s another rider that should be capable of a win should anyone else beat Cooper Webb. He went down really hard on his shoulder earlier in the day, so it was a great ride that kept him in this points chase. He sits in 3rd place, only 5 points out of the lead.
6.#40 Kyle Peters: I have to admit, the name ‘Kyle Peters’ has been lurking for a long time but I don’t know a whole lot about him. I find myself wondering who #40 is each week and then saying, “Oh ya, Kyle Peters!” This, of course, is no fault of his. A 6th place finish is a very good finish for him but I fear it will be his best of the series.
7. #85 Michael Leib: Leib qualified 11th and started the main back in 13th, so for him to get a 7th at the flag is a great result for the journeyman rider. Hopefully for him, this lets him know he’s got the speed and give him a shot of confidence.
8. #45 Kyle Cunningham: Jeff bags on Cunningham pretty hard each week. Yes, he’s been around a long time, but there are a ton of new fast kids for him to battle, so, to make the top 10 is actually pretty impressive.
9. #58 Jimmy Decotis: Jimmy is a top 5 rider in this series and so this is a terrible finish and has to be disappointing for him. Although, I bet he’s still smiling. He had troubles early and had to fight hard for every position. It dropped him to 7th in the points but he’s got a few left to get back up ear the top 3.
10. #127 Cole Thompson: I’m just glad I didn’t have to include a separate addition to the bottom of this article for the Canadian, like Jeff has had to each week, so far. Cole looked to be working on something in qualifying and spent some time in the pits. He grabbed a 2nd place start in his Heat and finished 4th to go straight to the main. He looked like he was going to fight for the holeshot in the main event but went a little wide and came around in 14th at the end of the 1st lap. He was in some great battles and made it up to the top 10 at the flag. Good ride, but he needs a start to prove he can push himself past what looks like his comfort zone.
Biggest Stud: Joey Savatgy AND Colt Nichols. Can I hand out ties? Without knowing Joey’s shifter was bent, his win would have been great but he wouldn’t have been my stud. And how can Colt Nichol’s 2nd place main event NOT be my stud-like performance of the class?!
Biggest Surprise: What on earth is going on with Alex Martin?! He was way up in 3rd place for a while in the main. He crashed hard and only completed 8laps. “NOT what he had in mind!” ~ Marv Albert. Alex is now way back in 12th place.
Biggest Dud: Cooper Webb’s “gas cap vapor lock.” Is that still a thing? Whenever you can establish a streak like Cooper was on, it’s great for the sport and really sucks when it gets broken, especially through no fault of the rider. He was quick to point out he didn’t stall the bike.
Thanks for reading, and don’t worry, Jeff will be back next week. See you after Phoenix!