Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Tampa

250 Class

The Good: Shane McElrath | 1st Place

With Shane's win in Tampa, he has now won the opening round of whichever coastal series he has lined up for in three out of the last four years. That's a cool stat to toss out there, but, ultimately, it hasn't meant much for Shane. He's been capable of winning, but year-after-year, he hasn't closed out the series with a championship. In 2017, his best season to date, he was right in the thick of the title fight with Justin Hill until a mechanical DNF in Arlington dropped him out of contention. In 2018, he looked good for the first four races of the season. He won the opener once again, and he logged three podiums in four rounds until a crash in Oakland put him in a 19-point hole. A couple of rounds later, he had a rough race at the 250 Showdown, which resulted in a 13th place finish, and that was it for his chances in 2018. Last year was a weird one for Shane. He was able to win Anaheim 2, but he seemed to have taken a step back in speed and consistency compared to 2018 and 2017, and he would eventually pull out of the series with a back injury after six rounds. Things will hopefully turn out differently for Shane in 2020, though. He has a new team, a new trainer, and it seems like he has a new attitude as well. He also appears to be very aware of the fact that this is his last chance to get it done. If he finishes out the series this year but doesn't win the title, he will most definitely point out of the 250 class. He looked absolutely fantastic on his way to the in Tampa, which is very encouraging, but as usual, it's going to come down to whether he's able to avoid that one bad result that has pushed him out of contention in the past. 

Shane McElrath

The Good Bonus: Jeremy Martin | 3rd Place

It was so awesome to watch Jeremy race for the first time since 2018. The sport is better with him in it. Plus, he got a podium in his first race back! That's the way to make a comeback, and he's probably just going to get better as the series goes on. I think it's inevitable that he'll win a race or two this year. I'm not sure if he'll be a serious title threat, but he could lurk close enough to the top two where if one (or both) of them make serious mistakes, he'll be there to take advantage. 

Jeremy Martin.

The Bad: Jordon Smith | 5th Place

Kind of a weird season-opener for Jordon, right? He was the clear second-best guy last year behind Austin Forkner before a wrist injury did him in, and he was in the title fight during the couple of seasons prior to that. I was under the impression that he'd be a strong title contender from the get-go this year. He had a rough time in the sand section all day, though, and he just wasn't on par with the rest of the big names as a whole. His teammate, Garrett Marchbanks, looked better than him as well, which was a surprise to me. I dunno, just weird. Lack of recent races could be a factor, as well as the possibility that he just didn't gel with the track. Either way, I'm sure Mitch Payton is going to expect much more from him going forward. He's going to be one to keep an eye on over the next couple of rounds. 

Jordon Smith.

The Ugly: Brian Moreau and Jalek Swoll

These two have landed in this spot for two very different reasons. Brian Moreau is definitely the more concerning of the two. Brian crashed hard during the free practice session and suffered a spinal injury to his C7 that required surgery. There's some controversy about how everything was handled after the crash and during transport on the Medical Mule. The photos taken by LeBig do raise some serious questions, though. I'm sure many more conversations will be had about the situation. The note I want to hit here is how sad it is that Brian incurred such a serious crash in his first race as a pro in the U.S. He seemed excited to kick off his career over here after racing the GPs for a few years, and then this happens before he even takes his first gate drop. I anxiously await more news about his condition, and I sincerely hope it's positive in the days ahead. 

Brian Moreau.

Jalek Swoll had a rough Supercross debut, but so do a lot of rookies. This race had a rather simple layout, but the sand section was difficult and the whoops seemed to become more unpredictable as the night went on. Jalek had a decent start in his heat race, but a crash in the whoops sent him to the LCQ, where he did not get a great start and lost out on the final transfer spot in the final section. I bet he'll make the Main Event next week. 

Jalek Swoll.

450 Class

The Good: Eli Tomac | 1st Place

After missing the podium at the first two events of the year, Eli Tomac has won three out of the last five races and will have the red plate heading into Arlington. He held the red plate once last year for precisely one race, but I think we're going to see him hold onto it for longer than that this year. He looks far more comfortable on the bike than last year, and he hasn't had any of those head-scratching races that we've come to expect from him early on in the series. Could this be the year? Or am I once again boarding the train too early? Eli may look great so far, but there's a long way to go, and Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb still look very strong. Arlington is going to be very interesting, especially when you throw in the Triple Crown format. 

Eli Tomac.

The Good Bonus: Broc Tickle | 12th Place

Broc's back! Heck yeah! I think everyone was curious about how his return to racing would go. I mean, there was truly no way to know. He had been sidelined for nearly two years after failing a drug test, and he was initially going to race as a privateer. JGR ended up signing him to a deal a few weeks ago, though, and they just so happen to ride Suzuki, which is the brand Broc had some of his best years on. Once he hit the track in Tampa, he looked about the same as the did the last time he raced professionally. And while a 12th-place finish on the night may not have set the world on fire, it's a solid result to build off of in this stacked 450 class.

Broc Tickle.

The Bad: Ken Roczen | 3rd Place

As with a few other guys that I've placed here this year, Ken Roczen's performance in Tampa isn't really deserving of "The Bad." He finished on the podium and had the speed to keep up with Cooper Webb before he slid out, entering a corner. However, he did lose the red plate, and that's not nothing. He's now down four points in the standings, and he has gone 3-6-3 since his win in Glendale. He needs to get things moving back in his direction and, of course, a win is the best way to do that. I suspect that we'll see him back on top of the box here very soon.

Ken Roczen.

The Ugly: Jason Anderson | 10th Place

Jason was 15th on track after the first lap and worked his way up to around eighth place by the last lap. He tried to make a move on Malcolm Stewart for seventh place in the last few corners, but Malcolm pushed him off the track in the final turn, and then Jason accelerated while off track and got back on right at the finish line to finish in eighth place. The AMA clearly didn't like that and penalized him two spots; as a result, punting him back to 10th place on the final results sheet. After finishing inside the top five in each of the first five rounds, Jason has finished 14th and 10th these past two weekends, dropping to sixth in the standings. So much for claiming he was going to emerge as the dark horse as the season went on, eh? Starts have been a problem for him recently, but the past few times he has banged bars with riders, it hasn't gone his way, either. I don't see this becoming a long-lasting trend, though, and I would be surprised if we don't see him battling for podiums again as early as this coming weekend. 

Jason Anderson (21).

You can check out my personal Power Rankings here.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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