The Good: Chase Sexton & Dylan Ferrandis
Chase Sexton came into Las Vegas with a newly-obtained red plate and a new wave of confidence after claiming his first win in East Rutherford. He crashed a few times in practice, but they weren't serious and by the end of qualifying it was pretty clear that he had figured out the track while his title rival, Justin Cooper, was struggling. He got a decent start in the Main Event and did what he needed to do to win the title. He didn't try to force anything or take any risks. He knew that Justin Cooper was behind him and that was all that mattered. Now, winning this title does raise a question or two about his future. He's only 19 years old and will have to move up to the 450 class after running the number one plate in 2020, so he'll be a full-time 450 guy by the time he's 21 years old. Will he be ready to make that leap? I think so given his riding style, but it will be interesting to see where he ends up and how he does.
Dylan Ferrandis was in a little bit of a different situation. I think most folks would agree that the expectation was for Adam Cianciarulo to at least finish inside the top five and secure the West Coast title. Dylan would do what he could, but the odds of him walking away from Las Vegas with the big trophy were not in his favor. But nothing is ever certain in Supercross. One mistake in the Main Event cost Adam Cianciarulo everything, and gave Dylan the points he needed to win the title. He never held the red plate this season, but now he has the number one plate and that's all he cares about. I will say that it was awesome to see him let his emotions flow after the race. He definitely gained a few more fans by how he handled everything. He'll be a title contender when we head outside in a couple of weeks, no doubt about it.
The Good Bonus: Cameron McAdoo | 3rd Place
Cameron McAdoo finally put it all together in Las Vegas and grabbed the first podium of his career in his last race with GEICO Honda. We didn't get to see a whole lot of him during the Main Event since the broadcast was focused on the championship battles, but it was impressive to see him stay on Dylan Ferrandis' butt for a decent bit of the Main Event before slipping back to third behind RJ Hampshire. Cameron is one of those guys that seems to have more potential than what he's shown so far in his career, and I think this was just a glimpse of what he's capable of. Will this podium help him secure a ride for next year? It should, but single podium results in the 250 class don't seem to carry as much weight with teams as you'd expect. However, there are a lot of guys with contracts ending in the 250 class at the end of this year so it'll be interesting to see how things shape up this off season, and where Cameron ends up.
The Bad: Mitchell Oldenburg | DNQ
Mitchell started off his day in Las Vegas with a bang, by topping the time sheets in qualifying. And honestly, with the expectation that Adam Cianciarulo and Chase Sexton would ride more conservatively, I thought he had a shot at the win if he got a decent start in the Main Event. He never made it to there, though, as he crashed in the whoops in both his heat race and the LCQ. I think it came down to him trying way too hard. He was going into the whoops with a ton of speed, and both times he got a little out of shape towards the end of the set and that was all she wrote. It's nice to see that he has built his confidence back up to where he's comfortable riding on the edge, but ultimately that's what cost him even a chance at winning his first Main Event. Luckily, he wasn't injured in either crash and should be on the line at Hangtown.
The Ugly: Adam Cianciarulo | 20th Place
Oof. This was absolutely heart-breaking to watch. I fully expected for Adam to win the first championship of his career on Saturday night, and I expected him to do it fairly easily. Sure, he had a few slip-ups throughout the season, but it's not like he was in a must-win situation heading into Las Vegas. He just needed to finish fifth, which didn't seem like a tall order given his past success at 250 Showdowns. Halfway through the race it was looking good, too, as he was in fourth and riding pretty conservatively. Then it happened. One mistake led to him going down and immediately losing several positions, but it was when he picked his bike up that it was clear he had just lost the championship. His bars were twisted up and the bike was almost unrideable. He fell all the way back to 20th and had to pull in so his mechanic could try to straighten his bike out. There was no chance he was going to come back and win the championship at that point, but he made the effort to finish the race anyway. I already respected Adam quite a bit, but to finish the race even after it was clear he was going to get 20th place, and to give a TV interview after the race really was a display of how mature he is as a competitor. This one is gonna sting for a while, but who knows, maybe this will light a fire under him as the outdoor season gets underway.
The Good: Cooper Webb | 3rd Place
It's official, folks. Cooper Webb is your Champion in the 450 class this year! Not many saw it coming leading up to this season, but he straight-up earned it. He was never handed anything all season long. He asserted his dominance several times and then relied on consistency when he wasn't the fastest guy. It's clear that switching to Red Bull KTM and Aldon Baker as his trainer was instrumental in leading to this comeback season. He got hurt in his years with Yamaha, but it's not like he was that great when he was healthy. But moving to what is arguably the best team on the circuit right now, and switching to one of the best trainers in the sport, clearly gave him the support and confidence that he needed to take the next step. The number one plate will be back on an orange bike next year, and no one will be underestimating him. Now, will he be able to carry this momentum into the outdoor season? It didn't quite work out that way for Jason Anderson last year as he came into the outdoor season with a bit of a Supercross hangover, but Cooper is also generally a better outdoor rider and I expect for him to show up ready to do battle. Bring on Hangtown.
The Good Bonus: Eli Tomac | 1st Place
Well, Eli must have engaged "balls-out" mode when he woke up on Saturday morning because he was clearly the fastest guy all day. He did have a very sketchy moment in his heat race, but he didn't seem to be phased by it as he just went straight back to laying it all on the line for a heat race win. I understand that he wanted to beat Cooper Webb in the heat race and set himself up with the best gate pick possible for the Main Event, but Eli throwing all caution to the wind like that seemed a little short-sighted. He is about to go for his third-straight outdoor title, after all. But, he didn't hurt himself and ended up getting a great start in the Main Event. No one was ever even close to him, and he cruised to his sixth win of the season and another overall podium finish in the series. Still, it's another year with no Supercross title for him. In 2017 and 2018 he was blazing fast but hurt himself with crashes, and then this year he was more consistent but couldn't find the speed needed to win on some nights. Maybe 2020 is the year he puts it all together?
The Bad: JGR Suzuki Factory Racing
2019 was a rough year for JGR's 450 squad. There's no denying that. Weston Peick had a brutal pre-season injury that kept him out all season, Chad Reed did well until he got hurt, and Justin Hill struggled all season long. I will say that bringing on Reed was a better decision than I initially anticipated. He put in some great results for the team in addition to bringing the attention he always does. An injury did cut his season short, but if I'm J-Bone I try to bring Reed back for one more season. I fully expect for them to bring Weston back next year as well, assuming his recovery continues to go well. As for Justin Hill, he's the question mark. Do they re-sign him and risk another year of him hovering around 10th? Or do they go in another direction? I think going with someone else is the better choice here. Joey Savatgy would be a great choice if he ends up on the market, or even Cole Seely if he ends up searching for a ride, but it'll probably come down to their budget more than anything. It'll be interesting to see what the JGR team (both 250 and 450) looks like by the time 2020 rolls around.
The Ugly: Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing
JGR had a rough year, but at least they had a rider out there on the track at every round. Monster Energy Yamaha struggled all season long with injuries. The season started out amazingly well with Justin Barcia winning Anaheim 1, but it quickly went downhill when he started to get banged up. He was able to come back but ended up getting hurt again and was ruled out for the season. Aaron Plessinger had a slow start to the season but was starting to come around with his speed, and then he got hurt in Daytona. Josh Grant was quickly signed up for the rest of the season, and he got better with each round until he got hurt while practicing...so the team ended up with no riders for the season finale. Yamaha has put a lot of effort and resources into this factory outfit and has yet to see much from it. Let's hope the outdoor season goes a bit better for this squad.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson