Monday Morning Coffee Opinion Column

By Billy Rainford

What a night of racing that was in Detroit on Saturday! There were a few things that happened that are worthy of discussing here while you drink this next cup of coffee: the off night for #58 Jordon Smith, the Yamaha Star Racing teammate battle between Smith and #238 Haiden Deegan in their Heat race, the clear dominance of #96 Hunter Lawrence, the 7-point penalty to #23 Chase Sexton, and the fall heard around the world by #7 Aaron Plessinger.

Jordon Smith showed more speed entering the whoops in Detroit than I think anyone else in either class. He had them dialled in for sure. Unfortunately, he had a confrontation with his teammate #238 Haiden Deegan in their Heat and he ended up being the one that went down. Obviously, I have to assume both of them would handle the situation differently with the benefit of hindsight…maybe? I think Jordon was likely a little surprised to see the youngster doing the old “slow down look-over” move in the corner after the whoops. I’m not saying either of them is without blame in this, but once the game of cat and mouse starts things tend to escalate.

The team guys were not happy as it was all going down, so for those of you saying it’s “just racing,” go tell that to their team…

It’s funny how competition goes in the heat of the moment. You can say you’d never ride like that and then all of a sudden there you are…riding like that.

And when he tried to blitz the whoops on the outside of some slower riders after that first incident, he lawn-darted himself off the track and through the block at the end. It was a wild one! I watched the whole thing slack-jawed and without shooting the photo sequence like I should have. Fortunately, he got up right away but his race was over and he was off to the LCQ.

And then he found himself at the back of the pack in the 250 LCQ and out on a very impressive charge to make it up to 5th place in the final lap. He closed in on #192 Jack Chambers with only the last corner to go. Jack played it smart and tried to protect the inside line (which he did). Jordon tried to rail the outside line around the berm, but that’s exactly where Jack ended up and Jordon found himself on the ground as he tried to keep the power on. He was out of the Main and really damaged his position in the 250 East points chase.

It was a night he’ll do his best to forget.

Hunter Lawrence wins in Detroit. | Bigwave photo

Hunter Lawrence looks like a man among boys out there in the 250 class. Like his younger brother in 250 West, Hunter is making this look too easy. He’s riding the bike in the meat of the power and never looks to be riding over his head or on the edge. It’s impressive.

Like I keep saying, American MX had better get used to these two guys because we’re entering the Jett (Lawrence) and Hunter era of racing.

250 podium: Hunter Lawrence, Nate Thrasher, Haiden Deegan (We need to sort out the podium positions, guys – Deegan and Thrasher are in the wrong places) | Bigwave photo

In the 450 class, we had some of the best racing of the season going on behind Aaron Plessinger, who was running away with this one and making it look easy in the process.

#23 Chase Sexton was putting on a charge that would see him passing all of the heavy hitters. He was showing the speed and composure you’d expect from the rider who keeps qualifying first. Unfortunately, he came up on the spot where #15 Dean Wilson had gone down and a red cross flag was waving before he hit a jump and doubled it.

The red flashing lights were on at that jump and Chase was the only one of the group who jumped it – everyone else checked up.

Now here’s my argument:

In this situation, Chase happened to be right and Dean was out of the way and the track was clear, but you can’t make the assumption that you’ve passed the incident and that everything is fine and to go up to race pace – you just can’t. You have to go by what the flags and lights are saying. Who’s to say there isn’t something else going on that has the crew flashing the lights? I know that’s a long-shot but it’s true. It’s not up to the riders on the track to determine when it’s safe to race again, you have to leave that to the AMA workers. Sometimes you’ll get burned by the timing and other times you’ll benefit, it’s just the way racing goes.

And then we have the heartbreak of the year, so far, with #7 Aaron Plessinger.

Aaron always gets the 2nd biggest cheer from the crowds during opening ceremonies behind only #1 Eli Tomac. The fans love Aaron and his Cowboy-with-a-mullet image. He only qualified in 9th place and, although he’s said he’s going to surprise people with his speed several times this season, I never think he’s a threat for a win.

He had a good Heat 2 race, finishing behind Sexton in 2nd and then went out and dominated the field in the Main.

He got himself out front and left the other top riders to sort things out behind him for the rest of the spots. He rode like he’s been winning these things for years! He made it look easy and had everything under control…until he didn’t.

He decided to stand up in the right turn before the section before the last couple turns, the rut ripped his right foot off the peg and he was along for the ride. He’s actually lucky he didn’t do more damage to himself when he decided to try to roll out of this one. A lot of times, you’ll watch riders scorpion themselves in slow motion and wish they’d decided to tuck their heads and tried to roll, but Aaron wasn’t rotated to the point where this looked to be the best option and he hit the ground pretty hard.

Again, I was standing right in front of this section with my jaw on the ground instead of shooting photos. The collective heart of Ford Field broke in that moment. Aaron was about to win his first 450 SX Main and then it got ripped off his footpeg. He tried to ride but the front end was locking up or something and he couldn’t get the bike to roll so he turned left and threw the bike to the ground in a smoking heap.

He can’t appreciate it yet, but that was one of the most memorable moments our sport has seen and we’ll be talking about it forever. A win would have been great, but 10 years from now you wouldn’t remember when and where it was. This? You will.

And do you realize he’s actually scored in 13th place?

Chase Sexton wins in Detroit. | Bigwave photo

Sexton would win the Main and rightfully celebrate it. He rode great, made passes the whole time, and was closing in on Plessinger, but would have run out of time and laps. It was good to see him close the deal but the excitement was tampered by the fate of Plessinger.

I think I put the jinx on #9 Adam Cianciarulo. You know when you’re just saying to yourself how good someone is looking and it’s going to be great to be able to talk about how well they did and then…down they go! Well, that’s what happened with me and AC on Saturday. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, but it always feels a bit ominous when it happens. Sorry, Adam.

Honda goes 1-1 in Detroit.
Canadian Shane Drew was pumped for his team. He yelled out that I was also a Canuck…nobody cared. Lol
#551 Guillaume St Cyr.

We had #551 Guillaume St Cyr back in action on his RRCZ KTM in the 250 class.

Qualifying: 36th

Heat 1: 17th

LCQ: 15th

#573 Chris Blackmer tried his first AMA Supercross in Detroit.

#573 Chris Blackmer decided to give AMA Supercross a shot in his home state of Michigan. He told me he hadn’t been on his bike in 3 months and that he’s got an appointment with his doctor in late April to sort out what to do with his back issues, so he decided to go for it. He suffered arm pump and really never hit his stride out there, but it’ll be good to see him give it another shot in the future.

Qualifying: 49th

Now the series heads to Lumen Field in Seattle for what will 100% (it may be higher) be a mudder. Hey, I lived out in Vancouver for 11 years and can say this with some experience. Who doesn’t put a roof on a stadium in the Pacific Northwest?

We’ll have Jessica Malaknejadorangi (known throughout the land as Jessica “Longname.”) from Three Tree Media shooting the photos for DMX on April 25th in Washington State. We’ll have Canadians #83 Cole Thompson, #500 Julien Benek and the return of #518 Parker Eales to cheer for. Good luck, everyone.

Have a great week, everyone, and we’ll see you back on the sidelines when the series heads to Atlanta on April 15th.

The weather is supposed to break here this week and that means we’ll be loading up the van and hitting some local tracks very soon!

Greg Poisson Detroit Supercross
We have to let Greg Poisson say it this week: “See you at the races...”