The Good: Cameron McAdoo | 1st Place
Cameron McAdoo is a Daytona winner! We've seen glimpses of his potential over the past few years, but he'd been in a variety of situations that I think, ultimately, held him back until now. Yeah, it has definitely been an interesting journey to this point for Cameron. He was never a stand-out amateur rider. He was solid, but I don't think he caught the attention of a lot of people until he won the Amateur All-Stars class at Monster Cup back in 2016. Even then, I don't think many people thought he'd set the world on fire. He then turned pro with MotoConcepts Honda, which turned into a fill-in ride for GEICO Honda, and he stayed there for a while before filling in at Troy Lee Designs KTM. His results as a fill-in rider weren't the most consistent, but he had a few impressive rides here and there that eventually caught Mitch Payton's attention. His first year with Pro Circuit was much like the years before, with flashes of speed but no real consistency. Here we are now, though, and in his second year with the team he's gone 2-1 in the first two rounds, and he now has the points lead. Will he be able to hold off Justin Cooper for the title? I'm not willing to bet on that yet. This will be Cameron's first title fight, while Justin has been in this position before.
The Good Bonus: Stilez Robertson and Pierce Brown
It only took the youngsters until the second round to take podium finishes in this series, and I have to imagine both teams are feeling pretty good about their futures right now. Pierce Brown is one of those riders who has enough talent to contend for titles if he can get his tendency to crash under control. Stilez Robertson, on the other hand, seemed like more of a wild card when he graduated from the amateur ranks. His amateur career had some highs and lows, and to be honest, Rockstar Husqvarna seems to be kind of hit or miss with the amateur riders they sign to pro contracts. I'm hoping that Stilez is the one that can bring them consistent podiums and wins at some point in the future.
The Bad: Justin Cooper | 4th Place
Justin had a lot of ground to make up after starting almost dead last, and then he also had an off-track excursion while making his way through the pack that just made everything more difficult. Right now, one bad round that resulted in a fourth-place is nothing to worry about, but he needs to make a statement in Arlington and take back control in the championship. Justin has faltered under championship pressure before, and I think if he misses out on this title, we have to question if he'll ever be able to win one.
The Ugly: Mitchell Harrison | 22nd Place
Mitchell was able to resurrect his career in the U.S. last year, as he landed a fill-in ride with Monster Energy Pro Circuit, and he went on to post some solid outdoor results for them. His performance as a fill-in rider for Pro Circuit helped him secure a ride for 2021 with Muc-Off Honda, but I think these first two rounds have left much to be desired for both him and the team. I think a realistic range for Mitchell in this year's 250 West class should be 8th-10th place, which is a far cry from the 15-22 finishes he has posted so far this year. Hopefully, he improves as the season goes on.
The Good: Aaron Plessinger | 3rd Place
Not only did Aaron Plessinger finish on the podium, but he looked like he belonged on the podium. It's been a long time since we've seen Aaron ride at this level, and it's fantastic to see. He still needs to close out the Main Events a little better, as he let second place slip away in the final section, but a podium is a podium. I don't think anyone is questioning Yamaha's decision to hold on to him for another year now. He's finally healthy, and he seems to be the most comfortable he has been on the bike since he moved up to the 450 class. I'm excited to see how he'll do the rest of the season.
The Good Bonus: Eli Tomac | 1st Place
It doesn't matter what kind of year Eli's having; you can always count on him to show up at Daytona. Heck, he wasn't much of a factor for most of the season when he first rode for Monster Energy Kawasaki back in 2016, but he still won Daytona. It's just a track that he gels with, and I'd imagine he'll be the sole owner of the Daytona win record when he eventually retires. Now, what does this mean for Eli's championship hopes? Eh, I still think it'll be tough for Eli to make it a three-way title fight at this point. He's still 24 points down from Kenny, and he'd have to go on one heck of a run to catch up, which he hasn't proven that he can do this year. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins half of the remaining races but is still never much of a threat to Kenny and Cooper in the standings.
The Bad: Ken Roczen | 4th Place
Kenny is bleeding points right now, and his post-race interview didn't do him any favors. Sure, it was pretty clear that Cooper Webb made a point to take him super wide in the first turn to ensure that Kenny had to come through the pack. Anyone would be pissed about that, but Kenny's interview afterward made it clear that Cooper is winning the mind game right now. Cooper is in his head, and I bet he smells blood in the water. If Cooper leaves Arlington with the red plate, I don't think Kenny will hold the red plate again this season.
The Ugly: Zach Osborne | DNQ
Zacho's rough and tumble Supercross season got worse leading up to Daytona as he announced that he would sit out due to a back injury. He might as well take however much time he needs to heal up and get back to 100% since he doesn't have much to ride for in Supercross now (except individual podiums/wins). He also has to consider that he'll be lining up to defend his outdoor title here in a few short months, so I definitely wouldn't be rushing back too soon if I were him. I do hope he's able to snag another podium or two when he does come back, though, so that he has a little bit of momentum heading into the summer.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson