Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Fox Raceway 1

Settling into the outdoor season (and the first dry event), which riders are scoring points, and which ones are earning GBU badges?

Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Fox Raceway

250 Class
The Good: Hunter Lawrence | 9th Overall

Wow, talk about a surprise. GEICO Honda has had high hopes for Hunter since signing him while he was racing the GPs, and with good reason. He showed lots of promise while racing in Australia and at the couple of Motocross of Nations he has done. His time in the GPs had its ups and downs, but the potential was clearly there. Fast forward to Hangtown and things were looking good for the rookie. He was, honestly, exceeding my expectations before he went down in the first moto and got his bum stabbed by a footpeg. The second moto wasn't so hot, but it was also in the mud. Even with the speed he showed at Hangtown, I didn't expect him to perform like he did at Fox Raceway. I'm sure he had been able to ride the track during open practice days, which is an advantage he will not enjoy at pretty much any other track on the circuit, but it was still something else to watch him start to close in on the Star Racing boys in the first moto before suffering a mechanical issue that played into him and Jordon Smith going down together. He had just set the fastest lap of the race before that happened, too. His second moto was the real talking point of the weekend, though, as he went from fifth place early on all the way to the lead. His journey to the front included passing the likes of Justin Cooper, Alex Martin, and Adam Cianciarulo...and he made it look easy! He did end up going down all by himself shortly after taking over the lead and ended up settling for second place, but he showed that he could be a spoiler throughout this series. Now, I'm curious to see how he'll do in Colorado, since I'd imagine it'll be the highest elevation he has ever raced at. 

Hunter Lawrence.

The Good Bonus: Christian Craig | 11th Overall

Is 11th overall what Christian Craig is ultimately looking for? Most definitely not. But at this point, I would say staying healthy and making progress, no matter how little at a time, is what he should be striving for. He basically missed all of Supercross due to injury (he did try to race a couple rounds during the season), and I'm sure that he came into the outdoor season less prepared than he'd like to be. Anyway, his first moto was actually pretty good! He took advantage of what was given to him and made some solid passes to get himself into sixth place by the time the checkered flag flew. That's definitely a lot closer to where we'd expect for someone of his caliber to finish. His second moto went pretty poorly as he got a mediocre start, and judging by the lap times it looks like he might have tipped over at one point. But again, he made some great progress compared to his performance at Hangtown, and I'd predict he'll have his first solid overall finish of the season within the next few rounds.

Christian Craig.

The Mixed Bag: Thomas Covington | 17th Overall

Well, uh...okay? It was a weird day for Thomas Covington in what has been a weird year for him overall. We knew he didn't have much (if any) Supercross experience before coming over from the GPs, but Supercross really didn't turn out well for him after failing to qualify for a couple and injuring his knee in the process. He was eventually pulled out of the series to let his knee heal for the outdoor season, and I'm sure it was also done to save his confidence. Then Hangtown came around was much of the same of what we saw in Supercross, which was slightly more baffling seeing as though expectations for his outdoor season were much, much higher than Supercross given the amount of race wins and podiums he had in the GPs. But, okay, let's see how Fox Raceway goes since maybe it was just first race nerves. And the first moto was much better! He got a great start and hung up front for a while before sliding back to 11th place by the end of the race. He was definitely not on pace with the lead pack, but at this point finishing one spot outside of the top ten was a huge step in the right direction. Then he started around 25th place in the second moto and, you guessed it, finished in 25th place. He's just a mystery at this point and I'm still not quite sure what to make of his year so far. It's definitely disappointing, but is it disappointing because he's truly struggling, or is his knee more messed up than the team is letting on? This is one of those situations where if he is injured to the point where it's drastically affecting his riding ability...what's the harm in releasing that to the public? Honestly, at this point I'm almost hoping there is something holding him back, because if this is him going all-in I'm going to start worrying about his future on the circuit here in the United States. 

Thomas Covington.

The Bad: Jordan Bailey | 20th Overall

Jordan Bailey was pretty impressive as a rookie in Supercross and I think he has some serious potential in that discipline. However, these first two outdoor races have not been great for him. Now, I'm not over here expecting for him to make the jump to being a top five guy this year or anything, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect improvement from last year's outdoor results. He should be inching towards the top ten or just outside of it this year, not hanging around the edge of the top 20. Luckily for him, Supercross results weigh more than outdoor results these days in the grand scheme of things, but it'll be interesting to check in with his results again towards the middle of the season and see if he has started to rise, or if he has remained in the same spot. 

Jordan Bailey.

The Ugly: Jordon Smith | 21st Overall

Oof, it another rough round for Jordon Smith in what has quickly become a throwaway outdoor season. There's still a lot of races left, but at this point he's going to be racing more for individual race finishes than any big picture results. It was bad luck that took him down in the first moto, as Hunter Lawrence was struggling with a dying bike and faded to the outside of a corner that Jordon was already committed to going full send on. They collided on the downside of the hill and ended up hitting the deck together. Luckily, neither of them were injured and Jordon actually re-joined the race after collecting himself. He was able to get back to 16th in that one, which was actually pretty impressive. His second moto only lasted a few laps, though, due to a hard crash that ultimately took him out of it. Jordon did say on Instagram that he was happy with the progress they made this weekend, so regardless of what the results on paper show maybe things will start getting better from here on out.

Jordon Smith.

450 Class
The Good: Eli Tomac | 1st Overall

The scary version of Eli showed up at Fox Raceway this weekend. For a bit in the first moto, though, it looked like his day might mirror the one he had at Hangtown. He was in a battle with Cooper Webb for a little while and for a moment I thought fourth or fifth place might be where he'd end up, but once he was able to get around him Eli decided to flip the switch. He caught up to Jason Anderson in no time, and started to run lap times that were one to two seconds faster than Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen. He disposed of all three of them within a few laps and went on to win the race by almost four seconds. After that moto, I'm sure a lot of Eli Tomac fans breathed a sigh of relief. I will always find it interesting how Eli can feel uncomfortable, or just not like himself, for half a moto and then out of no where he'll click it into gear and start going faster than anyone else on track. It's wild. Anyway, his second moto was much easier since he got a better start, but he did have to work Musquin for a while before eventually making it stick and riding off into the distance. He has now won three motos in a row heading into his home state race. On another note, I think that it's interesting how the three main title contenders are in different spots heading into the third round. Eli is clearly feeling pretty confident and probably thinks he's starting to take control of this championship, Ken Roczen has had one good race and one okay race so he's looking for a solid bounce back, and Marvin Musquin is trying to claw back some points after losing a chunk at Hangtown. Thunder Valley is gonna be very interesting. 

Eli Tomac.

The Good Bonus: Zach Osborne | 4th Overall

Dang, Zacho! I have to admit that I didn't expect for him to be this good through the first two rounds of the series. I was expecting him to have his moments, but ultimately I would've predicted that he'd be in the seventh or eighth place range for most of the season. But, here we are. He is arguably becoming the "other guy" besides Roczen, Musquin, and Tomac. Anderson is in there too, but so far Zacho is edging him out in the late race fitness/pace department. I'd really like to see him start up front with the top three guys soon and see what he can do. 

Zach Osborne.

The Bad: Cole Seely | 10th Overall

Alright, this wasn't necessarily a "Bad" performance from Cole. It was a disappointing day, though. His first moto was pretty much a salvage job from the start after he went down early and had to ride the entire moto with some messed up levers, and to come back to 11th place with what he was dealing with was a valiant effort. He didn't crash at the start of the second moto, but he was in 16th after the first lap and had to battle his way forward to an eighth place finish. Overall, the start of each race shaped his entire day, but that doesn't detract from the fact that it was not a great day on paper. He's gonna need a few great days this season if he still has his eyes on a factory ride for next year. 

Cole Seely.

The Ugly: Blake Baggett | 16th Overall

I talked about Blake last week, but I'm back this week to formally declare the death of his championship hopes. After two rounds, he sits 11th in the standings and is a whopping 60 points behind Eli Tomac. I don't care if there are 20 motos left in the season; there is no way he's coming back from this deficit. It's all about individual race performances now. Anyway, his first moto started out well but quickly turned to caca after he went down and had to take his bike into the mechanics area some repairs. He finished the race, which was admirable, but he was in the mechanics area for so long that there was no way he was going to score any points. Then he seriously struggled in the second moto, and I mean really struggled. He got the holeshot, laid down a couple of quick laps, and then his lap times quickly started to climb as he went backwards in the running order until he crossed the checkered flag in 14th place. You read that right, 14th. Something's gotta be up with him or the bike, and hopefully he figures it out soon.

Blake Baggett.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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