Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Salt Lake City 7 1

Get Grant's take on wrapping up the post-COVID half of the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross series.

Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Salt Lake City 7

250 Class

The Good: Chase Sexton & Dylan Ferrandis Clinch Titles

The 250 class provided some wild racing action at the final round, but both of the defending champs were able to keep their cool through it all and walk away with another #1 plate. Dylan Ferrandis had the hardest path to a successful title defense, which I wouldn't have predicted before the series of Salt Lake City races started. Dylan was in firm control of the championship at that time, and I didn't believe that Austin Forkner would make up enough points to make it very close. Austin was able to win both of the races leading up to the finale, though, and there was a chance he could win the title if things went wrong for Dylan. And, well, it almost did all go wrong for Dylan. He had a crash in his heat race and was stuck under a bike for a hot minute. There wasn't enough time for him to make his way into a transfer position, and just like that, he was headed to the LCQ. The potential drama dissipated pretty quickly after he started up front and left everyone in the dust, but we are all aware that he's not the best starter, so a bad gate pick could still lead to some issues for him. It looked like he was in trouble early on in the Main Event, too, as Austin was in second place, and Dylan was around eighth or ninth place. Do I think Dylan would have been able to work his way up to sixth place to win the title if Austin stayed in second place? Absolutely, but there was going to be a lot of opportunities for shenanigans in the 13 minutes + 1 lap that they had left at that time. Then Austin crashed out, and pretty much all of the pressure that was on Dylan evaporated. He got a better start the second time around, and he was able to make a few key passes and then pace himself until the end. He now has two Supercross titles on his mantle, but I'm sure he's looking to add one more to his collection before he moves up to the 450 next that he felt like slipped just out of his reach in 2019. 

Dylan Ferrandis. He went to the gate for the main with the 19th pick, and went way to the outside. He didn't realize that there was an available gate on the inside, right next to Chase Sexton. Fortunately, it worked out for him.

Chase Sexton's journey to his second 250 Supercross title wasn't quite as stressful as Dylan's, but he still had to deal with Shane McElrath playing mind games with him all day long. Shane tried everything you could think of (short of taking Chase out) to rattle Chase and get him to throw away the title. Chase was rock solid from the beginning until the end, though. Was Chase in a bit of a pickle in the Main Event that was eventually red-flagged? Absolutely. Shane was out front trying to break away while Chase had to move his way up from outside the top five. With the speed and smoothness Chase had shown all day, and at the previous round, though, I wouldn't have been surprised if he would have made his way up to Shane by the end. Plus, if anything, the Main Event restart after the red flag showed that Shane didn't really have anything for Chase speed-wise. Chase let him by, and then Shane made the decision to let Chase back by in what I assume was a last-ditch effort to create a block pass opportunity...and then Chase left him in the dust. I can't really blame Shane for taking the gamble as he was pretty much out of options at that point, but it did hurt to see him let Chase by and then fall to over five seconds behind at one point. This race proved that Chase 100% earned this title, which should shut up all of the people that believe that he was handed the 2019 title on a silver platter. Now he's off to the 450 class, where I believe he has the potential to win some titles. 

Chase Sexton and Jade Dungey.

The Good Bonus: Jo Shimoda | 8th Place

Injuries to other riders helped Jo out a little bit here, but he did earn third place in the 250 East Coast series as a rookie. He was able to make it through all nine rounds with seven top tens and only one DNF, which for a rookie is damn solid. His riding style is an absolute joy to watch, and he's only going to get better from here. I think his outdoor results this year will convince a lot of people he's the real deal.

Jo Shimoda.

The Bad: Shane McElrath | 2nd Place

Like I said above, Shane tried everything within his control to force Chase into a mistake and just couldn't get it done. His 250 career has ultimately ended up very similar to Cole Seely's; he got close to winning the title multiple times, but he could never seal the deal. I think the difference between the two is that most people believed that Cole Seely was going to be just as good, if not better, on a 450, but I can't say the same for Shane. He has raced a few 450 races over the years, but I don't think he has shown anything next level, and it doesn't seem like a lot of 450 teams are chomping at the bit to sign him, either. There's a lot of talent in the 450 class right now, and it's about to get a whole lot more crowded with Chase Sexton and Dylan Ferrandis moving up. I think he'll end up on a team, but I'd be surprised if it's on the same level of support as he received in the 250 class. 

Shane McElrath.

The Bad Bonus: Colt Nichols | DNS

A lot of people seem to put most of the blame pie on Colt Nichols for his crash with Chase Sexton. I don't disagree that he deserves a large portion of it, but I do think that Chase could have made a better decision by not committing to the triple into that corner considering how fast he was closing in on Colt. Still, Colt did look over at Chase and made the decision to cut in before the turn, so I understand why there's always going to be differing opinions on this. Bottom line, Colt is injured once again, and I'd imagine he'll end up missing some of the outdoor season...bummer.

Colt Nichols (13).

The Ugly: Austin Forkner | DNF

Ugh, this was the worst-case scenario for Austin. Not winning the title? It would have solidified 2020 as yet another frustrating Supercross season for him, but he would be heading into the outdoor series as one of the title favorites. But getting injured? There is no outcome worse than that. I haven't seen any verified updates on Austin, but I'd be surprised if the news we eventually receive is that he'll be good to go for the Pro Motocross opener. Injuries are quickly becoming the dominant storyline of Austin Forkner's professional career. 

Austin Forkner.

The Ugly Bonus: Hunter Lawrence & Pierce Brown Fail to Qualify

Okay, both Hunter Lawrence and Pierce Brown got bad starts in the LCQ. I get that, but I was surprised that Hunter could only work his way up to sixth place (he eventually finished eighth) and never even caught of a whiff of a transfer spot. Granted, he doesn't have much Supercross experience at all, and he was probably a little concerned about having a big crash right before the outdoor series. It's always odd to see a factory rider struggle to make passes in the LCQ. Pierce Brown charged until the end, but he ended up doing what Hunter was probably trying to avoid as he launched himself into the dirt after losing control in the whoops. Luckily, it sounds like Pierce escaped without any injuries and will be ready for outdoors. 

It was a bummer to see Pierce Brown hit the deck.

450 Class

The Good: Eli Tomac | 5th Place

It was a long time coming, but Eli Tomac finally secured his first 450 Supercross title! He did it without really any drama during the season, too, which is a whole other accomplishment for Eli. Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb challenged him throughout the year, but Cooper's sickness early on in the season and crash at Arlington put him in a tough spot to ever have a real chance at the title. And for Kenny, well, we all know he has had a lot of struggles with illness this year. It was also another season where Eli tallied up a nice number of wins, scoring seven of them for 2020. If he decides to race two more years, I'm curious how far he'll get on the all-time wins list. Will he pass Ryan Villopoto and Chad Reed? I think it's possible, but the talent of the field is going to be damn high next year so we'll see. 

Now Eli will go for his fourth outdoor title in a row...this is gonna be interesting. 

Eli Tomac.

The Good Bonus: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Sweeps the Podium

It was an up and down season for the Factory Husqvarna crew, but they were able to put it all together at the final round and sweep the podium. Zach Osborne won his first race in the 450 class, Jason Anderson got his best finish of the year (and if his seat hadn't decided to exit stage left things could have been a little bit different), and Dean Wilson got a much-needed podium. They should all be able to carry this momentum into the Pro Motocross series as all three are fully healthy and ready to go. I will say that the main thing I'm curious about with this team is if they'll keep the three-rider program for the 2021 season...

The pack heads to the first turn for the final 450 main of the year.

All three of these guys took turns at the front and seeing Zach Osborne grab a 450 win was cool bonus.

The Bad: Justin Barcia | 20th Place

Justin was involved in a crash in the first turn of the Main Event, and that was it for the 51. He was a lap down immediately and ended up with a 20th place finish to end the season. It was an odd season for Justin. He won Anaheim 1, got a couple of podium finishes, and got a whole bunch of eighth/ninth-place finishes. He remains a rider who I believe deserves a factory ride because he will give a team a handful of great results every year, but he can also be very frustrating at times. I believe this is a contract year for him, so we'll probably find out at some point during the outdoor season if he'll ride a Yamaha in 2021 or make a change. 

It looked like Justin Barcia hurt one of his hands during the crash at the start of the 450 main.

The Ugly: Cooper Webb | 8th Place

Cooper's Main Event performance at the final round of the season was a bit disappointing. He didn't get the best start, but he completely stalled out once he got to eighth place, and a battle between him and Eli Tomac never came to fruition. My guess would be by the time he got to eighth place and saw that Eli was in the top five he knew that unless Eli crashed out the title was over, so he just stayed safe and rode it in. I do think that Cooper has a lot to prove outdoors this year. He has a 250 outdoor title to his credit, so the potential is there, but can he actually challenge Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin, and Ken Roczen for a 450 outdoor title? Cooper does ride his best when he has something to prove.

Cooper Webb.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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