Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: WW Ranch 1

It's time to dish out the weekly doses of kudos and rasperries. Take it away, Grant.

Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: WW Ranch

250 Class
The Good: Justin Cooper | 1st Place Overall

It's been a long time coming, but Justin Cooper secured the first overall win of his career at WW Ranch. I will say that while I'm not surprised that he locked down an overall win...I am a bit surprised that it happened at WW Ranch. I figured that the Florida crew of Adam Cianciarulo and Chase Sexton would have a slight advantage in the heat and humidity, but that's not how it turned out and Justin was the most consistent rider of the day. He managed his energy well and didn't let the heat get to him late in the motos. I did think for a split second he was going to pass out or throw up all over Jeremy on the podium after the second moto, and I was pretty concerned for him. I understand that there are time limits with the TV broadcast and the race schedule, but wouldn't it be much better if the riders were given at least a few minutes to cool off before having to give an interview? It could also allow some time for them to gather their thoughts and as a result give a better interview. Nevertheless, it's awesome that Justin finally got the first win out of the way but he's going to need a few more rounds like this if he wants to close back up on Adam Cianciarulo in the standings. The gap stands at 18 points right now, and how things turn out at Southwick will most likely set the tone for the second half of the championship.

Justin Cooper.

The Good Bonus: Pierce Brown | 12th Place Overall

Pierce Brown is technically still an amateur rider, but there's a new rule in place that allows for amateur riders in their final year to race a few rounds at the pro level before making one last run at some Loretta Lynn's titles. I'm all for the rule since I don't really see any harm in it, and I hope a couple of other amateur riders try their hand at a national or two before heading to Loretta Lynn's as well. But, anyway, I gotta say Pierce is looking like the real deal! He picked the hottest race of the year as his first pro race, and then he posted 14-10 finishes on his way to 12th overall. He was the highest finishing KTM of the day, too, which I'm sure KTM isn't super-pumped about, but Pierce damn well should be. He has been continuously gaining some hype over his last few years in the amateur ranks, and honestly I think that he has the most potential out of TLD KTM's last few batches of youngsters. He's one to keep an eye on. 

Pierce Brown.

The Mixed Bag: Chase Sexton | 9th Place Overall

Chase rode great in the first moto to take his first moto win of the season, and things were looking great! Right? Well, they were until he gave his post-race interview. It was clear he was absolutely drained while he was talking on camera, and it didn't come as a surprise when he pulled out of the second moto almost immediately due to heat exhaustion. I actually expected for him to thrive in the heat compared to a lot of the other riders, given the fact that he trains in Florida, but I think that he just didn't manage his energy well enough in the first moto and exerted too much while he was pushing for the win. I will give him props for making the safe decision to not race the second moto, because the last thing he needed to do was try to race with foggy vision. The unfortunate news, though, is that he is now over 60 points down in the standings and his chances at the title are pretty much gone. It's all about individual race wins now.

Chase Sexton (23).

The Bad: Cameron McAdoo | 20th Place Overall

After a great debut performance with the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM team, WW Ranch didn't go all that well for Cameron or the team. The team's stand-out performance was Pierce Brown, who as I mentioned isn't even on the pro roster yet, and then it was Shane McElrath in 13th, Cameron in 20th, and Derek Drake in 38th. So the team's nightmare of a year looks like it will continue on. It should be said that Cameron's day was actually looking like it was going to be another solid one until the end of the first moto. He tipped over towards the end of the moto and went from inside the top 10 to 15th. Heat exhaustion got the best of him after that moto and he wasn't able to line up for moto two. So while the day definitely didn't go according to plan, the end result wasn't really in Cameron's control. I hope his recovery is going well and that he'll be ready to fight for more top tens at Southwick. 

Cameron McAdoo.

The Ugly: Christian Craig | 42nd Place Overall

What more can be said about Christian Craig's year? It has been filled with non-stop bad luck, injuries, and even a recent announcement from Christian himself that he tested positive for Heptaminol in a sample that was taken at Daytona in 2018. They didn't even inform him about the positive test until January, and although he has been allowed to continue racing that test has been hanging over his head all year long. There's no doubt that drug testing should be around in this sport, but how inconsistent and slow the process is and how many inconsequential substances riders can get popped for are just unacceptable. Changes need to be made, but will they? Eh, I doubt it. 

Anyhow, when you combine the drug test results with the few injuries he has sustained this year, and add in the less-than-stellar results he has garnered this outdoor season....I can't imagine what he has been going through. Luckily, he has a strong support system around him so I'm sure he'll come out the other side of all of this stronger than he was before. But, man, I can't wait for things to start getting better for him.

Christian Craig.

450 Class
The Good: Marvin Musquin | 1st Place Overall

With how Marvin's season has been going up to this point, his performance at WW Ranch was exactly what he needed to keep himself in the title chase. He's still a bit distant in the grand scheme of things, but he was able to gain six points on Eli Tomac and 12 points on Ken Roczen with his 1-3 finishes. That's a decent amount of damage in one round, and if he can do that one or two more times over the next few rounds he'll be right back in the thick of it. But apart from the big picture, it was a great day for Marvin in general. He didn't qualify the best, but he put himself in a great position off of the start in the first moto and eventually wore down Ken Roczen to take over the lead. It was actually a pretty easy win for him in the end. The second moto wasn't as smooth sailing, but he did what he needed to do and didn't completely drop the anchor when he ran out of stamina towards the end. Southwick is going to be a big test for Marvin. If he can beat both Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen there, even if it's just by a point each, that'll be a big statement from him and a signal that a third bike may be re-entering the fight. 

Marvin Musquin.

The Good Bonus: Fredrik Noren | 9th Place Overall

Holy. Cow. It was impossible not to notice Freddie Noren's impressive pace in both motos. It was one thing to see him latch onto Eli Tomac early on in the first moto as they were both coming through the pack, but then he passed him! Freddie Noren, a privateer who is making his comeback to the sport after being away for a year, straight up passed Eli Tomac. That's some wild stuff right there and something he should be pretty pumped about. Tomac did eventually get him back, but he went on to finish in ninth place that moto and then backed it up in the second moto with an eighth-place finish. He beat several factory guys in the process, and I think this performance could be the one that finally lands him a fill-in gig with HRC Honda, or possibly even JGR Suzuki (according to Steve Matthes). I'm excited to see how he does the rest of the season.

Fredrik Noren.

The Bad: Ken Roczen | 6th Place Overall

Oh, what could have been... After the first moto, I was fully expecting for Ken to walk away from WW Ranch with sole possession of the red plate. Even though it was pretty apparent the second moto was going to be much harder on the guys, I figured Ken would be able to salvage a fourth or fifth at the worst and chalk up the day as a win. But alas, the roles were reversed for the second moto. Eli Tomac got a great start while Ken was a little further back, and although Ken got himself into fifth place with plenty of time left in the moto, he went down at some point (it was off camera) and was never the same after that. He slipped all the way down to 10th place and that's where he stayed as he was just cruising at that point. Since I didn't see the crash, I can't speak to whether or not his fade after getting back up was due to him feeling a little banged up or not. But, I will say that I wouldn't be surprised if it was just exhaustion at that point. It's one thing to continuously ride and deal with high temperatures and fatigue, but once you come to a sudden stop (especially a crash) and try to get going again your head isn't going to be in it like it was and the heat will suddenly feel ten times worse. So, yeah, I'm sure he wasn't pumped at all with his overall result on the day, but the good news is that he's only six points down in the standings and lives to fight another day.

Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen.

The Ugly: Joey Savatgy | 13th Place Overall

Joey is still getting up to speed after missing the first couple of rounds of the season in order to let some Supercross injuries heal, but this wasn't a great day for him on paper. Given how he had a pretty decent day last weekend at High Point, I'm guessing that the heat played a pretty big part in his struggles at WW Ranch. He finished in 11th place in the first moto but that was after getting a sixth place start, and he finished in 18th place in the second moto after a sixth place start. He was just cruising towards the end of the second moto and it didn't look like he had anything left in the tank to give. So I think it's fair to say that the heat and humidity zapped him pretty early on and he just did what he could. Oh well, at least he made it out in one piece. I will say that I'm looking forward to seeing how he performs at the last three or four rounds of the series, as I'm sure he'll be feeling closer to 100% by then. 

Joey Savatgy.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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