450 SX Mid-Season Report Card

By Jeff McConkey

The great Ricky Carmichael always said that the season “officially starts at Daytona.” Some riders start the series a little slow, and need time to peak. Others seem to start hot a fizzle out quickly. Let’s take a look at the top 20 in points and the grades that I have given them:

1st Ryan Dungey 199pts:  A+ I gave Ryan an A+, and it’s quite simple. He has been off the podium only once this season, and he seems to have a new edge to him. In the past, people have ragged on Dungey because it takes him too long to make passes, and he seem to settle for safe results. Not this year! The “Diesel” is more aggressive and is looking for wins every round!

Ryan Dungey just keeps moving forward and receives an A+. - Bigwave photo

Ryan Dungey just keeps moving forward and receives an A+. – Bigwave photo

2nd Trey Canard 169pts:  Trey gets an A. His starts are what’s holding him back. I believe he is the fastest in the class, but his poor starts are allowing Dungey to check out. Trey will have to practice his starts if he wants to catch RD5.

3rd Ken Roczen 156pts : B  Ken looked like the best of the field after the first few races, but this is a 17-race series. After a few big crashes, the young German sits 43 points out of the lead. He really needs to reel off a few wins to have a chance to this title. The talent and the speed are there, and he may not win this season, but he will retire a multi-time 450 SX Champ.

Ke Roczen takes a B. - Bigwave photo

Ken Roczen has had his struggles in 2015 and takes a B. – Bigwave photo

4th Eli Tomac: 137pts  B-  In my eyes, Eli has the 2nd best raw speed of the group. Unfortunately, so-so starts and a small beef with Chad Reed will keep Tomac out of this title chase. Tomac let his emotions get the best of him, and now he looks to be pushing a little too hard for wins. He will win a main event very soon.

5th Jason Anderson 126pts:  B+ ‘La Flama Blanca’ started off with an incredible 2nd place finish at A1. Since then he has had a few hiccups, but is still having a fantastic rookie season. With a good start and clean track, I believe Anderson is a podium guy, and could even sneak a win.

Jason Anderson gets himself a B. - Bigwave photo

Jason Anderson gets himself a B+. – Bigwave photo

6th Chad Reed 124pts:  B+ The ‘old man’ taught us another lesson: Never bet against Chad Reed. He started off a little slow but has picked up a win before the halfway point. He had a podium in the bag before an uncharacteristic mistake cost him. I don’t think he will win another race this season, but he will be on the podium a few times.

Chad Reed has surprised everyone but himself and receives an A+. - Bigwave photo

Chad Reed has surprised everyone but himself and receives a B+. – Bigwave photo

7th Cole Seely 120pts:  Cole has really surprised me this season. He has been WAY better than I ever thought he would be. I’m not sure how he will make out on the rougher East tracks, but he’s doing very solid so far.

8th Blake Baggett 115pts:  A  For a guy who had zero 450 experience leading into the season, all I can say is WOW! Blake has been working his way forward all season long. He has a 4th place under his belt already and is constantly improving. I’m even going to call Blake for a win at Daytona! I can’t wait to see this guy outdoors.

9th Andrew Short 100pts:  B Shorty has been very good so far. He is getting great starts and finishing well. Not bad for the “2nd rider” on the team.

10th Broc Tickle: 96pts  A  Broc is only 10th in points and has missed 2 races due to injury, but he still gets an A. For a guy who had to almost retire due to scary back injury from last season in Toronto, he is killing it this season. He rode fantastic at Atlanta 2 and doesn’t seem to be slowing.

Broc Tickle gets an A. - Bigwave photo

Broc Tickle gets an A. – Bigwave photo

11th Davi Millsaps 75pts : D If I would have told you before A1 that Davi  would sit 11th in points at the halfway mark and not be injured…you would have called me crazy. After winning the Monster Cup, Davi was considered a serious title threat. I haven’t seen anything even close to a podium threat. He hasn’t lost his talent or speed, but he needs to find the entire package soon to salvage his season.

12th Justin Barcia 71pts:  C  Barcia was picking up steam and edging close to the podium before a nasty practice crash and pelvis injury derailed him. He wasn’t bad in the early races, but he wasn’t great. He needs to come back and ‘Bam Bam’ a few guys right away and get his mojo back.

13th Jake Weimer 62pts:  C+ I’m sure Jake would like to be higher in the standings, but he is healthy and doing well his first season off the factory bike. I’d like to see some top 10’s and closer to the top 5 before the seasons end.

14th Weston Peick 60pts:  B Weston is having a great season. He missed a few races due to injury, but is still fighting hard. He believes he has some wins in him, but me, myself, haven’t yet drank the ‘Red Kool Aid’ and don’t ever see it happening. I don’t ever see him being the number 1 rider on any team. Either way, he is doing a great job.

It's a B for Weston Peick. - Bigwave photo

It’s a ‘tough love’ B for Weston Peick. – Bigwave photo

15th Josh Grant 56pts:  C+ JG33 is picking up steam and improving each week. As long as he can stay healthy, his results will continue to get better. I’m just hoping we see that incredible JG speed that he shows us every now and again.

16th Mike Alessi 47pts:  C+ His results don’t show on paper, but Mike is getting better and better every season. In past years, Mike has looked like he is just trying to survive SX, now he is racing. Once he gets his starts back, the top 10’s are possible.

Jeff is impressed with Mike Alessi steady improvement in SX and receives a B. - Bigwave photo

Jeff is impressed with Mike Alessi’s steady improvement in SX and receives a C+. – Bigwave photo

17th Josh Hill 40pts:  C- Hill is way too good to not be making every main event. I’m sure the results will get better after Josh gets more races under his belt on the new team.

18th Brett Metcalfe 40pts:  C+ Brett’s SX deal was for the first 6 races only. To be sitting 18th at the halfway mark for a guy who hasn’t raced SX in a few years is a win in my books.

19th Phil Nicoletti 37pts:  C+ ‘Filthy Phil’ is doing a great job as a fill-in rider. Top 20 in points and not doing all the rounds is impressive.

20th Kyle Chisholm 36pts: C Kyle is sneaky fast and having a very good season. Nice to see a guy out there that just loves racing.