Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Daytona

250 Class

The Good: Chase Sexton | 2nd Place

He may have still finished behind Austin Forkner, but Daytona was a step in the right direction for Chase Sexton. He has been close to Austin in speed all season, and at times in the Main Events he has been able to run lap times faster than Austin. But he has also made at least one or two mistakes in each race that have cost him greatly. He has basically had Tip-Over Syndrome all season, but he was able to keep it together during the Main Event in Daytona and rode a smooth and consistent race. Austin was just a tad better (Chase would match his time for a lap or two, and then lose half a second or so in one lap), and so second place was all Chase could do. But, honestly, the biggest takeaway from this race was that Chase was able to stay away from making the mistakes that have been hampering him all season, and now the hope is that he can do the same in Indianapolis. But also maybe find that extra half-second that he needs to challenge Austin.

Chase Sexton.

The Good Bonus: Brandon Hartranft | 6th Place

Sixth place may not look like a whole lot on paper, but it was a hard-fought sixth place for Brandon Hartranft. It's also worth noting that he was the top finishing non-factory rider. He looked great all day, too, as he qualified fifth and then got third in his heat race. He got a seventh place start in the Main Event and then seemed to be engaged in a battle with someone the entire Main Event. But the most impressive moment to me was when he caught up to Martin Davalos and made it pretty clear he was eventually going to pass him. His season had been pretty quiet up to this point, but it'll be interesting to see if he can build off of this finish and perhaps break into the top five by the end of the season.

Brandon Hartranft.

The Bad: Jace Owen | 22nd Place

Jace Owen made his return to Supercross last weekend in Atlanta after spending several years racing AMSOIL Arenacross and the first part of this season racing Kicker Arenacross. Of course, returning to Supercross at the East/West Showdown was probably a rough re-introduction into the series, but he did look good despite not making the Main Event. With only the East riders on the gate in Daytona, though, he was looking much more impressive. He finished fifth in his heat race and got a decent start in the Main Event. I honestly thought that he had top ten potential if he was able to keep it together, but he went down fairly early in the race. While I didn't see the crash, he was shown being tended to by the medical crew and it didn't look like he was too quick to get up. I haven't seen any updated info on whether or not he sustained any injuries, but I hope that he's physically okay and will be able to race in Indianapolis.

Jace Owen.

The Bad Bonus: Troy Lee Designs / Red Bull / KTM

One team that didn't have any 250 results to speak of at Daytona was the Troy Lee Designs / Red Bull / KTM squad. Jordon Smith finally pulled out of the championship after Atlanta because of the wrist injury he picked up in Arlington, and Mitchell Falk was still healing up from the injuries he picked up at the very beginning of the series. We can talk about some teams having disappointing results, but having no results at all is about as bad as it gets. They did have Shane McElrath contest the 450 class on his 250, and he did very well, all things considered, but this was far from a dream weekend for the team. They're hoping that Falk will be back for Indianapolis.

Shane McElrath.

The Ugly: Martin Davalos | 10th Place

Martin has been anything but extraordinary this year. We've come to expect for him to at least dazzle us with his qualifying and heat race speed, and perhaps even challenge for a race win here and there. This year, though, he has been a bit of a ghost. His best finish of the season is a fifth (which he has done twice) and his three other finishes are a 16th, an eighth, and now a 10th. He actually did look good most of the day in Daytona, and noticeably more aggressive than he has looked at any other time this season. But something happened in the Main Event. He was on camera for a good bit while he was engaged in battles with Brandon Hartranft, Mitchell Oldenburg, and Alex Martin, and there was a point where it was as if he got zapped. All of his aggression disappeared, and it looked like he just wasn't in it anymore. I'm not sure if he lost focus and wasn't able to get it back, or if he got arm pump, but something happened and he was noticeably different. His lap time dropped from a 1:14 to a 1:17, and then he crashed the next lap and that was it. He got up and eventually crossed the finish line in 10th place. At this point, I'd bet that his chances of being re-signed by Pro Circuit Kawasaki for 2020 are not very high.

Martin Davalos.


450 Class

The Good: Zach Osborne | 6th Place

Zacho was finally able to keep it on two wheels in Daytona and logged the best finish of his rookie season with a sixth place. There was actually a trio of rookies (Savatgy, Osborne, and Hill) running inside the top ten for the entire Main Event which was impressive in its own right, but it was especially good to see Zach finally showing the potential that we all know he has. Maybe now that he was able to survive a whole Main Event without throwing himself over a berm, or slamming himself into the dirt, we will start to see more of him inside the top ten.

Zach Osborne.

The Good Bonus: Justin Hill | 7th Place

Hey! This was more of what we expected from Justin Hill heading into the season! Like Osborne, this marks his best finish of the season and could potentially be the spark he needs to turn his season around. Because unlike Osborne, this isn't a "no pressure" year for Justin. He needs to convince JGR that he's worth investing in for another year, and so far he hasn't really done that. The last third of this season is going to be huge for him, as it could determine whether or not he'll land a factory contract for 2020.

Justin Hill.

The Bad: Ken Roczen | 8th Place

This was the first "bad" race for Ken all season and it all came down to a crash in the second corner. This wasn't the kind of track where you could start 21st, and then charge all the way back to the top five or better. It was too easy to make mistakes and the top group was pretty far gone by the halfway point in the race. Unfortunately, this dropped Ken to fourth in the standings and 21 points back from Cooper Webb. He's going to have to capture that elusive win, and then several more of them, if he wants to get back into the championship fight.

Ken Roczen.

The Ugly: Aaron Plessinger | 22nd Place

After being the consistent one out of this year's rookie class, Aaron Plessinger got taken down by the track during the Main Event and ended up breaking his heel. This sort of injury is no joke, so I suspect that this will keep him out until at least the start of the Pro Motocross series. This is especially disappointing because it was starting to look like Aaron was getting close to finding his groove on the 450, and I was hopeful that we'd see him finish towards the front more often than not by the end of the season. Heal up, Aaron.

Aaron Plessinger (7).


Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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