Monday Morning Coffee | Presented by MX101
By Billy Rainford
Well, another round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross has come and gone. We’re only 3 rounds into the 17-round schedule and we’ve already got more than enough to keep us busy talking at the Monster Cooler at school or work. (Can you imagine if anyone else at school or work actually paid attention to motocross?!)
After having the same winners at both the first two rounds at A1 and San Diego, the deck was shuffled at A2 and now we’ve got an all-new series moving forward.
Let’s get straight to the elephant in the column. Ken Roczen won the first two rounds with relative ease and now we’ve lost the new Honda rider for the foreseeable future. That was one of the uglier crashes you’re ever going to see. To be ejected immediately like Kenny was is something you just can’t prepare yourself for as a rider. There was very little he could do to make the impact any less. He was just a spectator to his own reality in this one.
While Ryan Dungey was making hay out front, Kenny was forced to make passes as quickly as he could so as to not let the 3-time champion disappear from the rest of the field. And he was doing it too! He was lining upper level riders up with relative ease and making clean passes on his inevitable way to the front, until the crash happened…
As the entire crowd held its collective breath and braced for impact, Kenny flailed through the air trying to keep himself upright as best he could. The rhythm section where the crash happened was giving riders fits all night and #25 Marvin Musquin even commented at the end of the main event that, “That section where Kenny crash, I almost died a couple times!”
Rhythm sections on these tracks are so pin point that you can’t afford to miss your marks by an inch without the risk of catastrophe. Also, add in the torrential rain the area has dealt with the past week and there were some very different dirt textures as they circulated the drying track. It was a tough one!
I was on the other side of the track making my way around to a few different spots to shoot photos when it happened. You can always tell when something happens by the reaction of the crowd. Being right down on the track is really cool, but we tend to miss a lot of the actual racing action from there. When Ken crashed you just knew it was a big one even without seeing it. The silence that followed was ominous.
We all just stood there fighting that strange urge as a photographer to ‘press the button.’ Of course, usually no one snaps shots until we get some sense that the downed rider is going to pull through. There’s an unwritten rule on this. Crash sequences are fine, but you just don’t take photos of the riders when they’re down. To be honest, I felt strange taking a photo of Ken on the back of the mule as he was taken off the track by the Alpinestars Asterisk Medical Crew. However, when ‘historians’ look back on this one, they will want to see what happened, so I took the shot.
Kenny left the track to a thunderous round of applause from the big crowd. I’m sure he appreciated it, but it was little comfort to him as he could only think of what the injury meant.
Kenny is the ‘new guy’ over at the Team Honda pit and had a lot of pressure to perform at the top level to bring them their first title in a long time. He was doing exactly what was needed, and now this. Motocrossers are a funny breed – all we think about when we crash like this is, “Where’s my bike? Can I finish the race? Wait, am I injured? Shit, how long is this injury going to keep me away from the races?” In that order. Here’s the thing…
As you get older, the order of these questions gets modified a bit. Instead of wondering when you can race again, you insert the new question, “Can I go to work on Monday?” Once this level is reached, it gets tougher and tougher to ask the first questions. When you realize your first question isn’t about where your bike is or if you can finish the race, it’s time for reevaluation.
Obviously, Kenny isn’t anywhere near that level yet and is only thinking about more racing and the team. I always tell the story of the time I went to a race (Copetown in Ontario, actually) and after practice my close friend had all his stuff loaded in the trailer as if he were injured. I went to see what was going on and he simply said, “I’ve got a bad feeling about today.” He never raced again. It was an acute and permanent case of the motocross ‘yips’ and he never raced again. Weird, huh?
But I digress… (what’s new?)
After the crowd at Angel Stadium saw that Ken was moving and was being taken off the track, the next thoughts went to what this meant for the rest of the season. With Ryan Dungey out front, we all thought the same thing, “Get used to this…again.”
Are we in for a snoozer of a season from here on out? I sure hope not but these two have shown that they are the class of the 450 field in 2017. We’ve seen flashes from a few others, but there was no denying this championship would and should come down to the #1 and 94 of Ryan and Ken.
Get well soon, Kenny. The sport needs your personality and your talent.
In 250 action, I think most people saw this one coming. #46 Justin Hill has shown that he has the speed to be the guy to beat in 250 West competition, he just hadn’t closed the deal…yet. He qualified just off the pace of #6 Jeremy Martin and went out and put in 15-minutes-plus-one of amazing riding. He led from the drop of the gate to the waving of the checkered flag. Can you imagine what that must feel like at that level? I can’t!
#38 Shane McElrath won the first two rounds but you knew there were a few others out there who had the chance at wins. #23 Aaron Plessinger, #30 Martin Davalos, #6 Jeremy Martin, and #24 rookie Austin Forkner come to mind.
We’ve got 3 more rounds of 250 West action before the East guys take their turns at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN, February 18th. Is your money on Hill to now dominate or will there be other winners in Phoenix, Oakland, and Dallas? I’m betting #23 Plessinger will add his name to the win column before we head east. With a little more development and confidence, Forkner is poised to go on a run too.
Oh wait, I almost forgot about the other pachyderm in the room…
Yes, by now we’ve all seen the footage of Jason Anderson and Vince Friese as they rode off the track and into the tunnel.
So, Vince took Musquin high in the corner before and then took the line away from Jason in the following corner. Had these two events happened a little farther apart it would have probably been just a ‘racing incident.’ Had they involved someone other than #61 it would have been a ‘racing incident,’ but it wasn’t.
As a racer, it’s funny how you’ll react completely different to someone without a reputation who simply does a textbook block pass on you. You give yourself a mental slap in the face for leaving the door open and you move on. However, when it’s done by someone known for on track confrontation, you react in more of a ‘road rage’ manner. You can try to stay cool and “leave it all on the track,” but it is so close to impossible that you tend to make the wrong decision because of the ensuing blind rage.
That’s how I see this one. If it were anyone other than Vince, Jason would have yelled at himself under his helmet and gone on with his life.
The door was wide open and Vince walked in. I think anyone else would have taken that same line and made the pass without much ado. Jason, himself, has to know he’s famous for his passing and I think he would have said, “Hey, I would have done the same thing,” but this was the uber-villain, Vince Friese – the rider everyone loves to hate. He’s lost his chance at saying he’s sorry for making a poor or questionable decision on the track. If this were a WWE situation, Vince would be one of the ‘bad guys’ and embrace it.
Anyway, I’m not on the track having to deal with any of this stuff, so all I can do is watch and enjoy the action. You KNOW Feld and Supercross will use some of the footage to entice viewers to get out of their seats at home and come to a stadium. They have to be talking out of both sides of their mouths when they give Vince trouble for his antics.
Amsoil Arenacross | Baltimore Results and Points
Friday Baltimore Arenacross – 1/20/2017
Royal Farms Arena
Saturday Baltimore Arenacross – 1/21/2017
Royal Farms Arena
CSRA Snowcross/Snowbike Schedule
Shawn Maffenbeier to MX101 FXR Yamaha?
Did MX101 FXR Yamaha get their man? Did Shawn Maffenbeier get his team? I cannot confirm or deny this rumour, but, like I always say, “If I were a betting man…”
There are definitely rumours floating around that the squad will indeed have the 2nd overall in MX2 rider and 2016 Team Canada MXON team member from Swift Current, SK riding for them in 2017. If it’s true, that will make them an All-Canadian team for us to root for in 2017.
The team should be:
#12 – Shawn Maffenbeier
#16 – Jess Pettis
#19 – Hayden Halstead
Congratulations to the guys over there for getting a solid team together for the 2017 season, and beyond. But hey, you didn’t hear this rumour from me…
Brock Leitner to Race this Week in Phoenix?
When #497 Brock Leitner crashed last week at Lake Elsinore, he was worried his SX season was over. Fast forward a few days and he is thinking about trying to line up in Phoenix this coming weekend. He said at A2 that he will try to get on the bike this week and see how he feels.
Brock was ‘oh so close’ to being on the line in San Diego after qualifying just off the pace and being the next rider to head to the gate should a rider fail to appear.
We’ll have to wait to see how the week progresses before anyone knows for sure what their plans are. Good luck, Brock.
Jess Pettis is Back on the Bike but not Ready to Race…Yet
The good news is that Jess Pettis’s shoulder blade has healed up and he’s back on the bike. The bad news is that he just won’t be ready for action in the west until the series swings back after a trip east. That means we can look forward to seeing him on the track in Seattle and Salt Lake City, possibly.
Jess got the good news last week and went straight to the corner track near Kevin Urqhart‘s Bulldog Training Facility. Jess was at A2 hinging out with his buddies, Noah McConahy and Chris Howell, and is itching to get back in action.
Are You Ready for Some Snowbike Racing at the Winter X Games?!
Our next stop is the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, this coming week. With the addition of the Snowbike racing event, I just knew we had to be there! In fact, if it weren’t for this, there’s a pretty good chance we wouldn’t have made the drive all the way out here to California at all.
Canadians, Brock Hoyer, Cody Matechuk, and Reagan Sieg, will be on the line to challenge for the first-ever gold medal. It’s going to exciting.
Snowbike Invited Athletes:
- Keith Curtis
- Ronnie Faisst
- Alfredo Gomez
- Colton Haaker
- Nolan Heppner
- Axell Hodges
- Brock Hoyer
- Harris Huizenga
- Jimmy Jarrett
- Cody Matechuk
- Darrin Mees
- Ronnie Renner
- Jake Scott
- Reagan Sieg
- Jackson Strong
- Cody Thomsen
Let’s not forget about the Snocross athletes whose list includes Canadian motocrosser, Tim Tremblay!
- Andrew Carlson
- Logan Christian
- Tucker Hibbert
- Elias Ishoel
- Kody Kamm
- Trevor Leighton
- Lincoln Lemieux
- Ross Martin
- Petter Narsa
- Brett Nastala
- Kyle Pallin
- Adam Renheim
- Ryan Springer
- Corin Todd
- Tim Tremblay
- Corey Watkinson
It’s going to be good. We just don’t know where we’re staying yet. Is Aspen expensive…?
OK, we’ve got Jeff off on a plane and headed home, and now it’s time for me to head to a beach somewhere out here and edit some photos from A2 and get Jeff all set to caption some ‘Faces at the Races’ pics. Between the two of us, we took a bunch so look for a pretty extensive column up on the site as soon as Jeff gets home and gets a full day of work under his belt.
Have a great week and watch for more coverage from out here at the practice tracks before we make our way east later this week for the X Games.