Monday Morning Coffee Opinion Column

By Billy Rainford

Photos by Tree Three Media

This article will double as my Monday Morning Coffee column:

We’re finally underway for the 2024 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season! After all the pontificating, Jett Lawrence went out and took care of business for win #1 of his official 450 SX race. And before you hyperventilate, last season when he moved up, it was for the Supermotocross Playoffs, so those don’t count as AMA Supercross starts.

There seems to be a lot of discussion about what the broadcast team kept calling his “history-making” 450 result. It was his first 450 Supercross race and he won it. The stats show that it took Chad Reed 3 and James Stewart 5 to get their first wins.

Instead of jumping all over the place with my thoughts, I’ll do it in a more organized manner. Here’s what happened in Anaheim.

250 West:

RJ Hampshire wins at A1.

1. #24 RJ Hampshire – I remember being at Dade City in 2011 and watching RJ take wins in the Cup races they held at night down there in Florida. That was 13 years ago! He’s definitely a man racing against boys, but if the rules allow him to stay in the class then you can’t really hold that against him; rides are hard to come by and hold on to! He really should be the one who wins this 250 West class, so the pressure is actually on him to get it done.

#31 Jordon Smith.

2. #31 Jordon Smith – Yep, the same can and should be said about Jordon. We all know he’s got the speed to win, he just needs to avoid the costly mistakes and get it done. Either way, both of these guys should be looking for rides in the 450 class at the end of the season.

#47 Levi Kitchen.

3. #47 Levi Kitchen – Levi looked great on his new PC Kawasaki ride. He was fastest in qualifying and it seemed like he was going to be the guy to beat in the competitive class. He made a pass on rookie #929 Julien Beaumer on the first lap to take the lead but the impressive youngster took it right back. He dropped back to 5th but managed to get himself back up to 3rd at the flag. He’ll be a podium and win threat every week.

#30 Jo Shimoda.

4. #30 Jo Shimoda – Jo is the pick of many to win this series. He qualified 4th and had to come from outside the top 10 at the start of the Main to get himself up to 4th place. He and Levi will win a Main or two.

#20 Max Vohland.

5. #20 Max Vohland – Max has been the rider with a lot of “hype” that many thought was struggling to materialize. He looked like a new rider early on Saturday and seemed to gel nicely with his new PC Kawasaki ride. He’s young and may just have needed a year to get himself more comfortable. Whatever it is, he looks like he’ll be in contention every week too. His Heat 2 win did wonders for his confidence, I’m sure.

#929 Julien Beaumer.

6. #929 Julien Beaumer – Leading his first 250 Pro race? Very impressive by the youngster who’s been under the tutelage of Davi Millsaps. KTM has to be pretty happy with what they saw in this kid. JuJu could just be the future for the orange team.

#26 Garrett Marchbanks.

7. 26 Garrett Marchbanks – Garrett’s Heat 2 3rd place was a solid ride. He’s a big kid and looks like he’s ready to make a statement in the 250 class for the Club MX team. He’ll need a good start to get himself ahead of some of the se young riders at the checkered flag.

8. #55 Mitchell Oldenburg – Freckle was way back off the start in the Main and worked his way forward to grab 8th at the flag. He’s a rider who shold be developing into a class winner, so we’ll scratch this result and see what he can do in San Francisco this week.

#34 Ryder DiFrancesco.

9. #34 Ryder DiFrancesco – Quiet night for the youngster on the GasGas. It took me a while to get used to seeing him on that ride with that number. He sort of started and finished in that same place so we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.

#41 Carson Mumford.

10. #41 Carson Mumford – Another rider who it took me some time to recognize every time he flashed by. He sort of started and finished in the same place like Ryder D did.

Tough one for #36 Phil Nicoletti who had some bike issues keep him from racing the Main.
#57 Nate Thrasher crashed hard and was out for the night.


#71 Cole Thompson.

12. #71 Cole Thompson – Cole qualified 11th in this deep field and that’s right about where he ended up. If you look at the group that finished ahead of him, he’ll need to start up at the front to be able to stay with these guys because it’s not a field he’s going to be able to simply “pick off” during a race. maybe on a track with some more tricky rhythms he’ll be able to use his experience to make time on some of the greener SX youngsters, but a fast track like A1 isn’t where it was going to happen.

#500 Julien Benek.

#500 Julien Benek – Julien gets more than full marks… You know what? I think Julien may have actually succeeded in giving it “110%” on Saturday. First off, he came into A1 with mono. Yes, mono. That really saps your strength, so he was fighting a difficult battle right off the start. Then he goes out and breaks his right thumb in a free practice crash! Quit? Nope. He qualified 27th. He didn’t make it through in his Heat race but then went out and battled for the win in the LCQ with #116 TJ Allbright. He came up just short but impressed everyone who knew what he was up against!

Listen to what he had to say:

Apple Podcasts

Unfortunately, the broken thumb will likely need to get pinned. He suffered Gamekeepers Thumb or Skiers Thumb as it’s called. It was an avulsion fracture where a piece of the bone is ripped off with the tendon or ligament. It means he’ll have to get it fixed and then take some time off to be able to come back healthy…again. It’s been a tough go for the rider from Mission, BC but he showed a ton of character and made a lot of new fans for that effort.

#551 Guillaume St Cyr.

#551 Guillaume St Cyr – Our old friend from Victoriaville, Quebec, is back at it for 2024. He loves the indoor game and is very comfortable on these big, technical Supercross tracks. He qualified 32nd to head to the night show. He was 14th in the Heat 1 and then took 13th in the LCQ to miss the Main. He and Annabelle “Anna” Leduc will get back to work this week and come out swinging in San Fran, no doubt. He has Kyle Lewis tagged in his posts so he should definitely be getting good starts!


#18 Jett Lawrence.

1. #18 Jett Lawrence – Well, we tried to make it exciting by thinking maybe he wouldn’t force a win. However, like I said, if the start was there he’d go for it and he did just that. I know some people are getting tired of all the attention he’s getting, but you have to admit that it’s warranted. He’s doing things no one else has and he’s the future of the sport, so get used to it! He did hit the ground once, so you know the potential for a mistake is still lurking.

#21 Jason Anderson.

2. #21 Jason Anderson – Jason is a rider who I think made great use of a good start. In this field, that’s what it’s going to take for many of the riders. I don’t think he’s a guy who will tear up through the pack after a bad start, so we’ll have to see what he does when he doesn’t start at the front. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great ride, and he even passed Jett for the lead on lap 1, but there are probably 8-10 other riders who we’ll see podium with a banger of a start.

#1 Chase Sexton.

3. #1 Chase Sexton – If Chase continues to get more and more comfortable on his new KTM ride, he’ll be a threat every week, obviously. He’s stated they are still trying to do that and I think you have to believe a defending champ. When your riding buddy says it at the practice track, you can have your doubts…

#7 Aaron Plessinger.

4. #7 Aaron Plessinger – With a good start, I think this is where we’ll find Aaron most weeks. Otherwise, he’ll be in that 6-12 place. Don’t get me wrong, I was standing right there when he crashed while leading last year, and I’ll be cheering when he gets out front and tries for his first win again!

5. #14 Dylan Ferrandis – I like seeing Dylan do well and I really like watching the American crowd not know how to take him. The love/hate relationship they have with French riders is fun. I was impressed with this result on his new Firepower Honda bike. He’ll be a consistent podium threat.

#2 Cooper Webb.

6. #2 Cooper Webb – I feel like we were watching late-season KTM Cooper Webb at A1. He was up to his old stalking tricks and I hope that’s who we have in 2024. He just sits, learns, and pounces late. Unfortunately, that crash on the jump in the corner that would have me high-siding to my face every lap, threw him over the bars and back to 6th place as he was actually starting to pressure Jett for the lead.

#51 Justin Barcia.

7. #51 Justin Barcia – Notoriously strong at A1, we didn’t get to see Barcia up at the front this year. He was in a really nice battle with Ferrandis but ended up in 7th place. I always seem to underestimate him along with Plessinger.

#32 Justin Cooper.

8. #32 Justin Cooper – For me, Cooper came in way under and out of my radar. In a group this deep, he just didn’t seem to register. He qualified up in 5th place so he has the pace! Unfortunately, he was back around 20th off the start and came across to finish lap 1 in 16th, so this was a very solid ride. He passed a lot of riders and I may have to rethink things this week at Round 2.

#3 Eli Tomac.

#9. 3 Eli Tomac – Like I always say, if Eli is racing, he’s my pick for the win. However, I think he took the old adage that “You can’t win the series at Round 1, but you can lose it” a little too seriously. Coming back from injury in his swan song season, he played it smart and didn’t force the issue. He’d better not let Jett run off a few wins before getting that old fire back though!

#94 Ken Roczen.

10. #94 Ken Roczen – Kickstart found himself on at the back of the pack with #27 Malcolm Stewart at the start of the 450 Main. He qualified in 4th and was the first rider outside the 1:00 mark, so he’s on pace to win again. He won Heat 1 pretty easily and worked his way up to crack the top 10 in the Main. Never count Kenny out.

#82 Mitchell Harrison.

#82 Mitchell Harrison – No, he’s not Canadian, but he thinks he is! Mitchell jumped on the big 450 to take injured Partzilla PRMX teammate #109 Aaron Tanti‘s place in the class. He qualified 33rd, so I’m sure he wasn’t overly thrilled with that, but he headed to the night show. He was 14th in Heat 2 and then he was 8th in the LCQ. His lap times showed that’s about where he was and we’ll see how he adapts to the big bike this week in San Francisco.

#96 Hunter Lawrence.

Tough break for #96 Hunter Lawrence in his 450 debut (de-BOO). When #125 Vince Friese closed off the first turn from the outside, Hunter found himself on the ground and out of the Heat race. He came back in the LCQ but got out to a terrible start and had to force the issue. And of course, it came down to a last lap, last corner thriller with our old friend #81 Cade Clason! Cade protected the inside and took the final transfer spot while Hunter had to head back to the truck. I wouldn’t get used to seeing Hunter watching the Mains from Industry Seating…

#111 Jorge Prado.

We knew MXGP champion #111 Jorge Prado was going to get good starts, but what would he do at his first big, AMA Supercross?

He qualified up in 9th, so he should have been pretty happy with that result. He finished 8th in Heat 2 to head directly to the Main in his first try. In the Main, he crossed the first lap in 7th place and held his own to finish a respectable 13th when the checkered flag waved. He’s doing the first 3 rounds and I’d say he looked pretty comfortable out there. He’ll be back…

Of note, #125 Vince Friese got some love from our old friend #15 Dean Wilson on his YouTube channel:

Fast forward to the 20:00 mark…

So now we head north to San Francisco for Round 2. I don’t think you can always put too much stock in what happens at Round 1, especially in the 450 class, but we’ll see how everyone settles in for this long fight in NorCal.

We’ll end it with a few post-race Jett shots:

Thanks for the great coverage by Jessica Longname from Tree Three Media. We look forward to what she can bring us from the practice tracks this week and the the rest of the western swing. Cheap McDonalds breakfasts and Panda Express are your friend. Oh, and find Taco Tuesdays too!

We have to let #805 Slade Varola say it this week, and welcome to the DMX Family, RP Race Performance. “See you at the races...”