Glen Helen - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The National at Glen Helen is never easy, but it gives some riders a chance to shine, while taking it out on some others. Check out Grant's picks for this week.

Glen Helen - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

250 Class

The Good: Aaron Plessinger | 1st Place Overall

What a day for Aaron Plessinger. He looked much, much better than he did just a week ago at Hangtown and straight up beat his top rivals for the overall victory. He's also now a co-owner of the red plate, and I'm sure he has his sights set on being the sole owner after Thunder Valley. What was the key to victory this week? Aaron has made a point to mention that his sprint speed wasn't quite there at the opening round, but he worked on it quite a bit during the week and was able to push the entire time at Glen Helen. Of course, solid starts both motos also didn't hurt any. Aaron's achilles heel in motocross has always been inconsistency. He has often struggled with the west coast rounds, before getting better the further east the series goes. But now it seems like those days may be over, and that he could very well challenge for, if not win, the title. Next weekend's round in Colorado will be a very important race for the number 23.

The Bad: Zach Osborne | 4th Place Overall

Glen Helen doesn't strike me as a track that would make it into Zacho's list of favorite motocross tracks, considering he doesn't have the best track record there (although he did win last year's Glen Helen National with 4-2 scores). So, at the end of the day, I'm not sure Zach was super-bummed about ending up fourth overall. But, at the same time, he's probably not thrilled to be tied with Aaron Plessinger for the points lead, either. And to pile it on just a bit, he did hurt his thumb during the week leading up to Glen Helen, so I guess not everything is going fantastically in the Osborne camp. Adversity is not a new thing for Zach, though, and I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest to see him bounce back in a big way next weekend in Colorado.

The Ugly: Jordon Smith  | 12th Place Overall

Jordon hasn't raced the outdoors since 2016, so it's understandable that he's going to spend at least the first part of this season reaquanting himself with the grueling 30 minute + 2 lap motos. Still, I would say that I'm a bit disappointed with his 12th overall at Glen Helen, but starts were not on his side in either moto, with 28th being listed as his starting position in the first moto, and 25th in the second moto. In a stacked 250 field like this, a rider can't start towards the back of the pack and expect to be top five or even top 10 at the end; it's just not gonna happen. I'd like to see him get a couple of good starts soon so we can see what he can do, because he showed us in 2016 that he does have the speed to run up front in the outdoors...he just has to get a solid start and stay upright.

450 Class

The Good: Jason Anderson | 3rd Overall

Jason looked much more like Jason at Glen Helen, especially in the second moto. However, I think he still has a little bit more in the tank and I wouldn't rule out him snagging a couple of wins this season. I know a lot of people thought that maybe he would just cruise through the outdoor season without exerting himself too much or taking it too seriously, but it seems pretty clear to me that he wants to win outside just like he did inside. Plus, he wants to be selected for the United States MXoN team again, and he's not going to get picked for it without showing that he deserves the spot. The usual question mark of the season for Jason is coming up next weekend in Colorado. He handled the altitude well last year and ended up third overall. Can he do the same this year? I don't see why not.

The Good Bonus: Ken Roczen | 5th Overall

Ken looked great at Hangtown, but it was clear that he got a bit fatigued in the second moto and perhaps his setup was not-so-great as well. Glen Helen was a whole different story, though. He looked like the old Ken Roczen out there when he held off Eli Tomac for the first 20 minutes of the first moto. Seriously, that level of improvement in one week is insane. Before the season started, I honestly wasn't even sure if he'd hit the podium much this year considering the injuries that he has endured over the past couple of years, but he seems to already be close to race-winning shape. His second moto doesn't look that great on paper, but he pulled in on the first lap to have his mechanic check out a weird sound his bike was making. It turned out to be a minor issue caused by a rock getting stuck so he was sent back out pretty quickly, but he still lost a ton of positions in the process. He charged the entire moto and ended up eighth, which is pretty incredible with all things considered. Give him a couple of more weeks and I wouldn't be surprised to see him grab his first moto win.

The Bad: Blake Baggett | 7th Overall

Blake held the red plate by round four last year, but it's not looking like the same will happen this year. He was a bit off at Hangtown, and he struggled once again at Glen Helen with only managing a fifth in the first moto and being forced to come back from damn near last in the second moto to grab ninth (his left grip got ripped off in the crash that put him back there). I understand that he's having to adjust to the new KTM, but he is going to have to figure it out and start challenging for wins soon, because he's already 40 points behind Eli Tomac...and that's a big, red "NOT GOOD" for his championship hopes.

The (Almost) Bad Bonus: Alex Ray | 18th Overall

I am a thinkin' it might be worth it for the NBC Sports to start having an A-Ray segment during every moto, because his few sections of fame during the second moto were entertaining as hell to watch. It looked like he was riding a bucking bronco! He almost died twice and looked completely out of control the entire time.  The dude absolutely sent it without any regard for his own life....all to get 12th place in a moto. He is the true people's champ.

The Ugly: Christian Craig | 42nd Overall

The injury bug bit for the first time this outdoor season, and it took down Christian Craig. Ugh, it sucks to see anyone get hurt, but I really did want to see how Christian would progress as the season went on, so this one sucks a little bit more. I'd like to see him on a 450 full-time next year, but I'm not entirely sure what his contract situation is looking like. If he is still contracted to race for GEICO Honda in 2019, hopefully they consider putting him on a 450 like they did with Eli Tomac, Wil Hahn, and Justin Bogle in past years. Granted, each of the riders I just listed had won a championship for the team in the 250 class, but I think Christian deserves a true shot to show what he can do on a 450...because that's where he has the most potential.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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