Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Arlington 1

250 Class

The Good: Seth Hammaker | 1st Place

I knew of Seth Hammaker when he was coming up through the amateur ranks, but I wasn't really able to gauge what the expectations would be for him at the pro level since I don't keep my ear to the ground on the amateur scene as much as I used to. I know that he did win the Amateur All-Stars class at the Monster Energy Cup in 2017, but from that point on, I hadn't heard much about him until it was announced that he would turn pro at the start of 2021. His first two rounds were about what you'd expect from a factory-level rookie, as he got a sixth at the opening round and an 11th at Daytona. Something was different from the get-go at Arlington 1, though. He looked comfortable on the track immediately, and the eye test proved true as he finished second overall in timed qualifying. He then took the holeshot in his heat race and took the win after a hard-fought battle with Jordon Smith. He had already made a big impression at that point, and it would have still been a great night for him even if he was only able to finish in fourth or fifth place in the Main Event, but then he grabbed another holeshot in the Main Event and ended up winning the dang thing! He found himself in a battle with Jordon Smith once again early on, but Jordon took himself out, and Hunter Lawrence wasn't able to close up much until the end of the race. His margin of victory ended up being a little under two seconds, but it appears much closer on paper than it did in person. He was never in any danger once Jordon was out of the picture. That's two career-first wins in two weeks for Pro Circuit Kawasaki riders, and I'd bet that Mitch Payton is pretty stoked right now.

Seth Hammaker (510) battling with Jordon Smith (80) early on in the Main Event.
Seth on his way to the win.

The Good Bonus: Hunter Lawrence | 2nd Place

Hunter needed this podium after the rough couple of years he's had since jumping into the U.S. scene. He's dealt with multiple injuries and body issues, and that has left him with barely any Supercross experience, even though many would think he should be contending for titles by now. In reality, this is basically his rookie season in Supercross. He did race a few races last year, but they were in Salt Lake City, and it was fairly clear that he wasn't very comfortable on a Supercross track yet. So far this season, he has looked way better than he did last year, and now he has a podium finish which should only bolster his confidence even more. It would be awesome if he is able to win a race before the end of the season, but I would imagine that his main goal, for now, is just to stay healthy and gain experience. 

Hunter Lawrence (41).

The Bad: Jalek Swoll | 6th Place

This is a big year for Jalek. He's towards the end of his contract with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, and like every other 250 factory team, Husqvarna's riders are expected to deliver podiums and wins within their first two years, or else they probably won't be brought back. These teams always have someone new coming down the pipe, and if a rider can't develop into a title threat within a couple of years, they're going to move on to the next kid that they think can win. I've never really agreed with how little time these kids are given to develop, but that's the way of the sport, and I doubt it'll ever change. Jalek has made progress this year, but so far, I'm not sure if it'll be enough for him to be retained for 2022 unless he makes some serious noise here soon. He seems to have the talent to succeed, but whoops are a major weakness for him, and he tends to fade towards the end of races. He got the holeshot in his heat race on Saturday, but he was in fourth place by the end of the race, and it was a similar result in the Main Event as he started in fourth place and slipped back to sixth place. The good news is he seems like a hard-working kid, and both of his biggest weaknesses are fixable, but it'll be interesting to see if Husqvarna feels the same way when contract time rolls around. 

Jalek Swoll.

The Ugly: Jordon Smith | 22nd Place

This season has been an absolute disaster for Jordon Smith and at this point I don't think it could get much worse. He had another big crash in the Main Event and it looked like he injured his shoulder. However, he did re-join the race and rode around even though he had no chance of passing anyone, so at the very least he showed that he's one tough dude. The problem here is that Jordon also continues to show that he still can't shake off his tendency to crash. He has always had plenty of speed which is why he is still a factory rider, but teams can only justify "we can work with speed" for so long. I hope that he's able to turn it around, but things are not good right now.

Jordon Smith.

450 Class

The Good: Jason Anderson | 3rd Place

Jason Anderson's season started rough, and it looked like he may have taken a step back from when he was considered a contender. He made some changes, though, and over the past several rounds, he has looked much better even though his results haven't been mind-blowing. He finally put all of the pieces back together at Arlington 1 and looked like the old El Hombre out there. His wild riding style was in full force, and he made multiple block passes as he made his way through the pack towards a third-place finish. I hope the Jason Anderson we saw on Saturday is here to stay for the remainder of the season. That would make things even more exciting. 

Jason Anderson.

The Bad: Marvin Musquin & Dylan Ferrandis 

It was not a good night for French riders as both Marvin and Dylan found themselves on the ground. I didn't see Marvin's crash, but he was down for a while, and he looked pretty dazed and confused, so I imagine he hit his head pretty good. The good news is it sounds like he passed the concussion protocol, but, man, it felt like Marvin was primed to click off a win if he had made it to the Main Event. 

Jason Anderson assisted Dylan's visit to the ground, and Dylan didn't re-join the race after picking himself off the ground. I haven't seen anything posted about his condition, but this is just another tough moment in what has been a turbulent rookie season for Dylan. 

Marvin Musquin receiving assistance from the Alpinestars Medical Crew.

Dylan Ferrandis (14).

The Bad Bonus: Malcolm Stewart | 14th Place

Malcolm rode well throughout the day, but he landed in this spot because of his incident with Jason Anderson during the Main Event. I don't think it was intentional, but, my goodness, didn't it look like an odd crash? Jason had just put a block pass on Malcolm a couple of corners earlier, so it's understandable that Malcolm was fuming and wanted to pay him back. However, the line Malcolm took and the speed he had made it look like his throttle got stuck. He did say on Instagram that he intended to cut down and that he just messed up the line, so I guess you could say it was more of a brain fart than anything. The kind of brain fart that sends you flying onto the concrete and into a wall. I bet he's a little sore this morning...

Malcolm Stewart makes contact with Jason Anderson.

The Ugly: Ken Roczen | 6th Place

Kenny got a bad start in the Main Event, which contributed to his sixth-place finish, but we can't let that distract us from the fact that he didn't look great all day long. He was sixth in timed qualifying, and he seemed to get a bit rattled during his heat race which led to him casing a jump and subsequently crashing. So, yes, he got a bad start, but I think if he were really feeling it out there, he would have been able to run down Aaron Plessinger when he got to sixth place and had a clear track. He wasn't able to close up on Aaron, though, and now his last three finishes are 4-4-6, and he has lost the points lead to Cooper Webb. Kenny is officially in a mid-season slump, and he has to pull himself out of it before the series departs the Arlington area. 

Ken Roczen.

Words and photos by Grant Dawson

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