Arlington SX #2 | ‘The Robe’ is Back to Give Us His Take

By The Robe

Arlington #2 Round 11 | Feld Entertainment photo

Where have I been, you ask? Well, first off, that’s really none of your business. Let’ just say I’ve been through some things. However, I’ve come out the other side a better person…I mean, a better The Robe.

How much better? Not much. In fact, on a scale of A Robe to The Robe, I’d say the change is minimal. But enough talk about me, let me do some talking.

Round 11 of the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series (Arlington #2) took place on a completely changed track from just 3 days earlier. Was it a better track? I’d say yes. Was it a great track? I’d say no.

In the 250 class, there are a few riders who should be going elbow to elbow for wins, but that’s not what always happens in this sport, especially when the track is as tight as this one in AT&T Stadium was.

They say this mammoth stadium actually has one of the smallest usable floor spaces, but I still think they could have spread this track out a little more and let the bikes and riders roll a bit more freely.

Let’s just take a look at the top 5 in both classes and break things down.

250 Podium: Hunter Lawrence, Jalek Swoll, Kyle Peters. | Feld Entertainment photo

250 West

#41 Hunter Lawrence. | Feld Entertainment photo

1. #41 Hunter Lawrence HON – The Robe likes this guy. I remember watching the MXON in England a couple years ago. He blew me away and I knew he’d be a winner in the USA at some point, no question.

He got pretty lucky off the start of the Main when the only riders ahead of him were ones he had to know he could catch and pass. He ran them down and made a nice “two-fer” pass for the lead and never looked back.

We all knew that if he got a start he had winning speed and that’s exactly what he did. And like The Robe always says, confidence is one of the most dangerous things a rider can have in this sport. Just like dropping out makes it easier to drop out again, winning has the same effect. He will win again.

#47 Jalek Swoll | Align with Us photo

2. #47 Jalek Swoll HQV – The Robe doesn’t get sentimental very often but this podium by Jalek almost softened my hardened emotions. He said that a whole lot of people started doubting him.

Hammertime is not a fan of his riding style, but he showed that it could get the job done. I don’t know if he’s got the speed to podium again this season if the regulars don’t go down, but the only stat that will show in the record books is him finishing in 2nd place on Tuesday.

#56 Kyle Peters | Feld Entertainment photo

3. #56 Kyle Peters HON – Kyle Peters just came off a perfect season in Kicker Arenacross. No, the competition there wasn’t on the same level, but even never losing against a field of Junior riders would be impressive – everything still has to go your way for 20 races.

Like Jalek, I think he was fortunate to capitalize on a bad race by some other heavy hitters, but this was a great podium for the #56.

4. #48 Garrett Marchbanks YAM – Garrett was outside the top 10 when the gate dropped, so this was a solid ride for the Canadian-backed Club MX Jeffery Homes Yamaha rider.

He was less than 3 seconds from taking a spot on the podium, so he should be happy with how he rode. He’s a big dude for a 250 and it will be tough for him to holeshot, but that’s what he needs. He’s been in the top 5 at every round so far.

#32 Justin Cooper did not light the candles in Arlington | Feld Entertainment photo

5. #32 Justin Cooper YAM – Cooper was 6th off the start and then crashed and dropped all the way back to 19th. Game over, right? Nope, not for Justin. He clawed his way back to land in the top and put the classic adage into practice: you win championships on you off nights. This was an off night and possibly a championship-winning performance.

#31 Cameron McAdoo crashed in the whoops, got up, and then went straight across and down the straight instead of popping back in at the end of the whoops. He was docked for the infraction.

Back in The Robe’s day, you would never catch anyone not going back onto a track past where they went off! It just wasn’t done. I don’t know if it’s a respect thing that has changed or why we see this happen these days. It was ingrained in our heads that you simply never do that. The Robe just doesn’t understand this one.

Because of this, he has lost the red plate to #41 Hunter Lawrence. If I were #31’s Team Manager, I would not be happy about this.

450 Podium: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen. | Feld Entertainment photo

450 Class

You could see that it was going to rut up and get very technical. Of course, that favoured defending 450 SX champion #1Eli Tomac, so you had a feeling it would be a good night for him. Lately, you just never know which Eli is going to show up! How is it possible that someone of his talent is seemingly incapable of getting consistently good starts? It makes no sense to me.

We all had the feeling that if #2 Cooper Webb won this one that he was going to have a strangle hold on this series. He did and he does. He’s got the uncanny ability to shut things out and bear down to win races. The same can’t be said for everyone.

#94 Ken Roczen says he’s “enjoying life” right now, but he’s got to be getting pretty tired of having Cooper put it to him when the chips are down. The series is far from over, but the end is coming and riders need to put an end to Cooper’s dominance if they want to stand a chance of taking this to Salt Lake City because a rolling Cooper gathers no moss and Cooper is indeed rolling right now.

#2 Cooper Webb. | Feld Entertainment photo

1. #2 Cooper Webb KTM – I don’t think I’m going to shock anyone reading this when I say that Cooper just put a pretty big stamp on this championship. When The Robe saw the ruts developing I thought this was easily Eli’s night, but Cooper’s steely nerves didn’t crack under the relentless pressure and he held on for the win. He’s not going to relinquish the points lead now.

#1 Eli Tomac | Feld Entertainment photo

2. #1 Eli Tomac KAW – We all thought Eli was simply sitting behind Cooper and waiting for his chance to pass him, likely in the whoops. I think that really is what he was doing until he lost control of the bike in that turn and fell off the rear wheel of #2. That was all Cooper needed to rid himself of the pesky defending champ who looks to have gotten his groove back. It’s too late, but it’s good to see him battling. Eli be tough to beat in Atlanta. It will be cool to watch but won’t affect this title chase.

#94 Ken Roczen | Feld Entertainment photo

3. #94 Ken Roczen HON – Far be it from The Robe to pile on, but it seems like Ken has been broken. There’s no doubt he got the tenacity to work at least as hard as everyone else to come back from those terrible injuries, but Cooper seems to be in his head and that’s a big deal at that level.

He’s going to be right there every round, but I don’t see him collecting this title.

Jeremy McGrath said it onRace Day Live that Kenny needs to punt Cooper off the track to let him know he’s still there. I don’t know if hitting anyone is what’s needed but you can’t show any weaknesses at the top level and Ken seems to have shown the field a bit of one. We’ll see what happens on Saturday.

#51 Justin Barcia | Align with Us photo

4. #51 Justin Barcia GASGAS – You had to be impressed with that ride put in by Justin. He was back in 12th place on lap 1 and just kept making great block passes on everyone he came up to.

The Robe always counts him out as far as a title contender goes, but he sure is fun to watch! He may have another win in him yet this season, if he can snag a start, because he doesn’t care who’s behind him.

#23 Chase Sexton | Bigwave 2015 photo

5. #23 Chase Sexton HON – This was probably exactly what Chase needed as he comes back from that shoulder injury. He rode up at the front with the top guys for a while to check out the pace and then settled into 5th place.

It would have been worse if he’d pushed a pace he may not be ready for and went down again. This 5th place is something he and the team can work off of heading down the stretch. He’ll be on the podium if on of the top 3 slips again.

#21 Jason Anderson | Align with Us photo

#21 Jason Anderson was dead last after going down in turn 1 and passed his way up to 7th by the checkered flag. He ripped down beside the whoops section after #40 Vince Friese fell then rolled back and into his line at the entry.

I guess they didn’t see it as him gaining an advantage because he wasn’t docked positions or points from the AMA.

OK, we’re back in action this Saturday for Round 12 and our last stop in a covered stadium. The Robe abides…