Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Monster Energy Cup 1

Blend some unexpected results (both good and bad), an injury or two, and a few surprises, and you get this week's edition of GBU.

Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Monster Energy Cup

The Good: Adam Cianciarulo | 1st Place Overall

The Pro Motocross Championship was already a revenge tour of sorts for Adam after he lost out on the 250 West title in Vegas, but this past weekend he was finally able to get revenge on the track that did him wrong back in May. 2-2-1 were his final scores at the end of the night, and he walked away with his first win on a 450 and a cool $100,000 in his pocket. I think most of us have pretty high expectations for Adam's 450 career, but I really wasn't expecting him to get comfortable enough to challenge Eli Tomac in a race this quickly. Yes, it's the Monster Energy Cup, which historically have been much easier than most of the Supercross tracks the guys will face during the season. But, Eli was able to tear through the field here last year so to see Adam hold him off for the entirety of the third Main Event is quite promising. I still don't think that Adam will seriously contend for the title in 2020, but I'm going to bet that he'll at least win three race in his rookie year with a lot of podium finishes as well. Man, the 450 class sure is getting crowded with young talent...

Adam Cianciarulo.

The Good Bonus: Smartop MotoConcepts Racing

The surprise of the night definitely goes to Smartop MotoConcepts Racing. Who expected the only riders to give Eli Tomac and Adam Cianciarulo a hard time to be from a private team that doesn't receive full factory support? This squad has really been making strides these past few years and I think we'll be seeing them mix it up with the factory teams all season long in 2020. Malcolm is definitely their best shot at landing podiums, and he showed once again at MEC that he's the fastest and most fit he has ever been in his career. He got robbed of showing his full potential earlier this year, but if he can stay healthy he will find himself on the podium again soon. Vince Friese continued to show that he's one of the best starters out there, and it seems like his race pace is the best it has ever been. He's going to frustrate some factory riders soon when he's in the top ten next season and they're not. The team's third rider, Justin Hill, is the wild card. He didn't race the MEC, but we all know that Justin is capable of going very, very fast. However, we haven't seen much of that speed in a long time. His 2019 Supercross season was a disaster, and 2020 is going to be a do or die season for him. In the end, it's all going to come down to how motivated he actually is on each race day. 

Honda actually had an incredible night all around. The brand claimed five of the top ten overall spots, Tim Gajser stayed upright and put in some great results considering how his last attempt at the MEC went, and Jeremy Martin's return to racing after 16 months was a smashing success. They should be pumped. 

Malcolm Stewart.

Vince Friese.

The Bad: Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing

The mystery of Yamaha's factory team continues. I never would have expected a factory team with as many resources as Yamaha to struggle so much to obtain decent results. Aaron Plessinger's stint in the 450 class has been short and filled with injuries, but he should be fairly healthy now and he still seems to be struggling with some things. He did crash in the first Main Event and miss the Joker Lane which led to a 22nd place finish on the scorecard, but his performance in the second Main Event left a lot to be desired and he was just okay in the third Main Event. Still, I think the main focus for him right now is to stay healthy and build some momentum. Hopefully, his results will start to improve over time...but we'll see. Justin Barcia's night wasn't necessarily terrible, but sixth place overall with a relatively small field of factory guys left me scratching my head a bit. Looking at the lineup on paper, I'd say that he should have been a clear third place overall. He lost out to two MCR Hondas and Tim Gajser, though, and I'm left with no idea what to expect from this guy next year. The general expectation will be for him to carry the flag for this team, but I'd be lying if I said a little bit of doubt about him hasn't crept into my head over the past year. 

Justin Barcia.

The Bad Bonus: A Thin Field

As I referenced above, this was the weakest field we've seen compete at the Monster Energy Cup since the event began. Only two factory teams brought both of their riders, and the rest of the field was made up of private teams and privateers. It is cool that more privateers got to participate, but the racing action was severely hurt by the lack of top level guys competing. The thing is, though, I don't blame top level teams and riders for deciding to not race this event. It's in the middle of the offseason, and it's not outrageous to see racing it as taking an unnecessary chance of getting injured. I'm interested to see what the lineup will look like for next year's MEC. Will a trend form of more teams and riders skipping it? Or will most of the teams in the paddock send their guys? I will say that the event, from an entertainment perspective, was saved by the final Main Event duel between Eli Tomac and Adam Cianciarulo.

The Ugly: Dean Wilson Goes Down

Ugh, the one thing we do not want to see at an event like this? An injury. The one thing we absolutely do not want to see? A major injury. Dean Wilson went down while attempting a quad during timed qualifying and slammed into the dirt hard. It was the same exact spot where Jordi Tixier had just crashed a little while earlier and he sustained a concussion, so I initially expected a similar result for Dean. Unfortunately, it sounds like Dean dislocated his hip in the crash. A timetable for his recovery hasn't been released, although I imagine that he'll at least be forced to miss the start of the 2020 Supercross season. The worst part? This happened a couple days after Rockstar Energy Husqvarna announced that he had signed with the team for next year. Get well soon, Dean.

Dean Wilson.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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