McThoughts: 450 SX Predictions
By Jeff McConkey
Photos by Billy Rainford
This year’s group in the 450 SX class is very impressive. We will have ex-250 SX champs struggling to make the top 10, and we will even see some big names missing main events. It’s hard to bet against Ryan Dungey, but there are certainly some serious players that can steal his title. It will honestly come down to good starts and to riders making their ‘bad nights’ better than other riders’ ‘bad nights.’ I, myself, cannot wait for the gate drop at A1. Let’s take a look at my thoughts and predictions below. There’s a good chance I’m wrong on a few, but these are my thoughts, so enjoy:
1 Ryan Dungey: Ryan is the favourite for good reason – he has always been consistent and had great fitness. Well, now his fitness is even better and he has found aggression. He doesn’t always settle now, and the new Dungey is very dangerous. He will very rarely be off the podium on his way to yet another title.
3 Eli Tomac: When Eli is on, I don’t see anyone matching his raw speed. Tomac will have to get up to speed quickly after double shoulder surgery last summer. If he can learn to control his emotions and not get caught up in the heat of the moment, he may have a real shot at this title. He will win 2-3 after a slow start.
4 Blake Baggett: Blake was a huge surprise last season. Unfortunately, he is out injured and will miss a few rounds. I see him hovering around the 6th-10th place after his return.
7 James Stewart: Is James healthy? If he is, he could win 6-7 and win the championship. I’m just excited to see JS7 back on the track!
10 Justin Brayton: Justin was on the verge of winning a main event not too long ago. Unfortunately, I think he missed his window. He should be good for 2 podiums this season.
11 Kyle Chisholm: Kyle is sneaky. By that I mean you never really notice him on the track, but he always sneaks up the results with solid rides. He could be anywhere from 13-16 on any night.
12 Jake Weimer: Big question mark beside Jake’s name. Almost forgotten is how Jake completely dominated the West Coast 250 series a few seasons ago. If healthy, I could see him around the 8-12 spot every week.
14 Cole Seely: I was wrong about Cole all season long last year. I didn’t think he’d have the fitness or strength to last all 17 rounds, and I expected him to really struggle on the loose east coast dirt. I was way off! Cole will, once again, be in the top group each and every week. I see him picking up 6-7 podiums, but I don’t see a win in him this season.
15 Dean Wilson: Dean has a lot of pressure on him. He has been putting in the work and it should land him 5 or 6 podiums. He needs a great SX season to secure a good ride next season.
18 Davi Millsaps: In this stacked 450 class, I think Davi will struggle to make it in the top 5. Sitting out for as long as he did will hurt him. He has a ton of talent, but I think he might even fail to qualify for a main event or two.
19 Justin Bogle: Bogle was forced to move up into a very thick 450 class. I don’t see him having 17 strong rounds in him yet. He will show some speed, but he will also show some weaknesses.
20 Broc Tickle: Broc is going to give you a solid top 10 ride with a good start or a bad start. I’m calling Broc to get at least 1 podium, maybe 2.
21 Jason Anderson: Jason was a very pleasant surprise last year as a rookie. With a year of 450 SX under his belt, and another Baker’s Factory Boot Camp behind him, I truly believe he will get his first win this season to go along with 6-7 podiums. He could even surprise us all and challenge for this title? He could be the wildcard.
22 Chad Reed: I want to say Reed will be back fighting for podiums and a win or two, but I just don’t know. Although, I do know that when we count him out is when he is most dangerous.
25 Marvin Musquin: I think Marvin’s smooth style will help him on the 450. He will be a 5th-9th place guy and will sneak on the podium for 2.
28 Weston Peick: Weston keeps blowing us away and getting better every year, but his style won’t allow him to win a main event. He still tries to muscle through everything and doesn’t have the fitness to match the top guys. He will get a few podiums, but his bulldozer style could lead him to injury.
29 Andrew Short: Shorty announced that this will be his last season. He will miss the first few rounds before returning. By then, he will be back to ripping great starts and getting solid TV time for his team.
41 Trey Canard: Trey just may be the fastest guy in the class. He may also be the most unlucky. It all depends on his starts. Trey gets impatient when he starts back in the pack and makes costly mistakes. He needs to start with the leaders and then he’s safe. He will win 3 races and finish the season healthy.
47 Tommy Hahn: Tommy is back on the 450 where he belongs. He should be able to finish anywhere from 10th-16th most nights. Like his brother, Wil, he needs to stay in one piece.
51 Justin Barcia: Barcia is going to get great starts and be the super aggressive, super edgy ‘Bam Bam’ of old. He will win 2 or 3 races and re-insert himself back with the top guys this season.
54 Wil Hahn: Will needs to make it through a few races in one piece and then build from there. It’s not out of the question to see him hovering around the top 10 in points at the end of the season, but he needs to make it to every round for that to happen.
55 Vince Friese: Vince will surprise a lot of people this season. He won’t back down from anyone and will fight for a few top 10’s.
94 Ken Roczen: If Ken is happy with his bike and team, he could be our champion come Las Vegas. Either way, he will still win races. If he’s happy, I could see 4-5 wins, maybe more.
377 Christophe Pourcel: We’ve all been waiting 5 years to see this guy ride a 450 in SX. I don’t think he will get on the podium, but he should be finishing 5th-10th every weekend.
761 Cade Clason: Our good friend, Cade, is lining up in a very stacked 450 class. If he could make 6-8 main events, I think that would be great. I haven’t seen enough of him riding to predict any more.
800 Mike Alessi: I know Mike has been working very hard on his SX skills. I think this will be the best Mike yet. He will battle for heat race wins and get a bunch of top 10 finishes.