Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Arlington

250 Class

The Good: Chase Sexton | 1st Place Overall

The first round of the season wasn't a disaster by any means for Chase Sexton, but Arlington still felt like a bounce-back performance for him. His starts were on point, he was one of the only riders still skimming the whoops at the end of the night, and he was the best in the class at tackling the dragon's back section. Chase was also able to pass his title rival, Shane McElrath, straight up in the first Main Event after sliding down in the order due to an incident with RJ Hampshire. He then cruised to a win in the second Main Event and just settled in behind Shane McElrath in the third Main Event while knowing he had the overall victory in the bag. I'll admit, after Tampa, I was afraid that this season would turn out very similar to 2019. Chase would be fast and consistent, but there would be another rider (Austin Forkner last year, potentially Shane McElrath this year) that was just one small step above him, and we'd see the same type of outcome every week. Arlington proved to me that this could turn into more of a shootout between the two. Now they're both heading to Atlanta with red-plated bikes...oh boy.

Chase Sexton.

The Good Bonus: RJ Hampshire | 3rd Place Overall

RJ seemed to turn his aggression level up to about 11 in Arlington. I've never really thought of him as a super-aggressive rider, to be honest, so it was refreshing to see him fight as hard as he did for every position on the track. His move on Chase Sexton in the first Main Event of the night was the only pass of his that I found questionable initially, but at the same time that corner was perfectly designed for moves like that, and RJ was going for his first win. So while it would have been nice to see him race Chase as cleanly as Chase had raced him, I can't really fault him for making a move that Chase didn't protect himself from. I felt that all of his other passes were fine. Sure, he put Jordon Smith on the ground as well, but I think Jordon could have done a better job of backing out of it before he ended up hitting the dirt.

All in all, RJ has clearly taken a big step up since leaving GEICO Honda. He is the fastest he has ever been, and looks more comfortable on Husqvarna than he ever did on the red machine. I'm sure the training program at Aldon Baker's place doesn't hurt, either. Frankly, I'll be shocked if he doesn't win a Main Event by the end of the season.

RJ Hampshire.

The Good Double Bonus: Club MX Yamaha

Club MX Yamaha's riders finished in sixth, seventh, and eighth in Arlington. That's damn impressive for the team, and impressive for Josh Hill, Joey Crown, and Enzo Lopes individually. It's great to see Josh Hill put in the work to take another stab at racing the 250 class and actually succeed; it is not easy to make a comeback in this sport after spending years away from it, regardless of talent. This is Joey Crown's first real shot at racing Supercross and he has done nothing but impress so far. His first two races have resulted in two top-10 finishes, and there's no reason to think he won't continue to improve as the season goes on. As for Enzo Lopes, he has spent the past couple of season with JGR Suzuki and he has a couple of top 10 finishes to his name, but Arlington showed that he's still improving. Yeah, this is a squad to keep an eye on.

Josh Hill.
Joey Crown and Enzo Lopes.

The Bad: Jordon Smith | 13th Place Overall

I wrote about Jordon Smith last week after a mediocre performance, but Arlington turned out much worse for the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider. He struggled to find the groove last week, but the majority of his struggles were in the sand section, and I do think if you take that out, he would have been a little better. The same cannot be said for Arlington, as he did not look great all day and then had an absolutely horrible time during the night show. His first race was fine. He got fourth place, and while it wasn't a remarkable ride, he put himself in a good position for the overall standings at the end of the night. And then, well, the rest of the night happened. Jordon came together with Jace Owen in the second Main Event in what I see as a racing incident (Owen clearly felt differently about it), and then he crashed again in the whoops later on in the race. It couldn't get any worse, right? Wrong. In the final Main Event of the night, RJ Hampshire came to the inside of Jordon in the turn after the finish, and Jordon found himself in the dirt once again. I don't agree with those that are saying that he's a "bust" for Mitch Payton's team has only been two races! But it has definitely been a rough start to the season for Jordon. Things can only get better from here!

Jordon Smith.

The Ugly: Phoenix Racing and Chaparral/FXR Honda Teams

Two of Honda's most notable support teams will most likely want to forget Arlington and never think of it again. Phoenix Racing Honda has had a great year in Kicker Arenacross so far, and after the first round of the Supercross season, it was looking like they'd find some success here as well. That was until Kyle Peters pulled out of the night shortly after the first Main Event started, and then Jace Owen collided with Jordon Smith a little while later and exited the stadium with a member of the medical team. I'm not sure what happened with Kyle, to be honest, but he was just rolling around before pulling I'm guessing he either tweaked something in practice or had a crash on the first lap that I didn't see. As for Jace, he was holding his wrist/hand area after his collision with Jordon Smith, and he never returned. Hopefully, they're both okay. 

Chaparral/FXR Honda Racing (Michael Lindsay's team) had an even rougher day with neither of the team's riders making the Main Events. There's no doubt in my mind that Justin Starling and Jerry Robin had the speed to transfer through the LCQ, but Justin crashed and re-injured his shoulder, and Jerry got a bad start. It was really just bad luck, and they'll be back to try again next week. 

Kyle Peters.
Jace Owen.
Justin Starling.
Jerry Robin.

450 Class

The Good: Zach Osborne | 5th Place Overall

It wasn't the most fabulous night ever for Zacho as I'm sure he would have liked to stay up front longer than he did, especially in the last Main Event, but it was his best race in over a month. His finishes at the four rounds leading up to Arlington were, yeah, I think he'll take the fifth place to build off of. It's been a weird year for him as he has dealt with a couple of illnesses and some in-race incidents that have cost him in one way or another. This performance could provide the spark he needs to string together several top-ten finishes, though. We'll see how he fares in Atlanta. 

Zach Osborne.

The Bad: Justin Brayton and Broc Tickle

Arlington had no shortage of crashes, and as a result, I've spread them out in the "Bad" and "Ugly" categories based on severity. Justin Brayton got off the easiest out of this group of riders as he crashed something like five times throughout the day, but somehow he didn't sustain any significant injuries. The worst of his crashes came in practice as his feet got ripped off of the footpegs on the face of the finish line jump, and he slammed hard into the dirt after landing. The night show didn't go much better for him as he crashed in the whoops in the first Main Event, and then one other time in the second Main Event. At that point, he called it a night. I don't blame him. Regroup and get ready for Atlanta, Justin. 

Broc Tickle crashed in the whoops towards the end of the final qualifying session, but it was a crash at the beginning of the first Main Event that would leave him with a broken hand. I don't believe the severity of his hand injury has been announced, but I'd be surprised if he's able to race in Atlanta. The black cloud over JGR Suzuki may never leave...

Justin Brayton.
Broc Tickle.

The Ugly: Cooper Webb and Adam Cianciarulo 

The two biggest crashes of the day both came in the dragon's back section, and they were both nearly identical except for where the riders ended up in the end. Adam Cianciarulo's was the first of the two and I was actually standing next to the section when it happened during qualifying. There's video of it out there now so you can see for yourself, but his front wheel missed the final whoop of the dragon's back and then his back wheel clipped it. It sent him front-heavy into the face of the triple and that was all she wrote. He now has a broken collarbone and we won't see him back behind the gate at least for a few weeks. It has been an up and down rookie season for Adam, and this doesn't help things, but I am glad it wasn't worse.

Cooper Webb's crash occurred in the second Main Event of the night, and it was very similar to Adam's, except Cooper actually rode a nose wheelie up the face of the triple and launched onto the concrete. He landed squarely on his tailbone, and his bike hit him in the back of the head as well. It was a horrible looking crash, but Cooper has announced that he didn't sustain any broken bones in the crash. He does have deep bone bruises to his pelvis, though, so it's not like he's going to be out there contending for the win next week. However, we'll see the champ back up front eventually. 

Adam Cianciarulo.
Cooper Webb.
Get well soon, Cooper.

Check out my personal Power Rankings here.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Grant Dawson and Steve Giberson

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