Ironman - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 6

Throw in a little (okay, a lot of) mud, and there are all sorts of options for Goods, Bads, and Uglies.

Ironman - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

250 Class

The Good: Colt Nichols | 4th Place Overall

At the final race of the season, Colt Nichols yielded his best result of the season with a fourth place overall finish. He looked comfortable out there and handled the mud very well. And while mud races don't usually seem to have the same intense pace as dry races, his fitness seemed to be at a good level and his lap times were fairly consistent the entire second moto with no significant drop-off. Now, it's no secret Colt has had a rough go of it for most of his career so far. He has had great Supercross results and decent motocross results at times, but injuries have both hindered his offseason preparation and taken him out of championships these past few years. He was able to stay healthy after making his return to racing during this outdoor season, though, and the hope is that he'll have a great offseason and come into the 2019 Supercross season more prepared than ever. Staying healthy is the name of the game for him right now, because it's time for him to contend for a Supercross title.

Colt Nichols.

The Bad: Cameron McAdoo | 36th Place Overall

Oof. Yeah, this was a mud race but a good result to end the season would really help Cameron McAdoo in his pursuit of a ride for 2019. The GEICO Honda team is going to be pretty full next year with Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire, Jeremy Martin, Christian Craig, and Hunter Lawrence. This means that Cameron will most likely be the man left standing without a ride. And, unfortunately, he hasn't had an amazing year that calls for them to take him over one of the other riders I listed. He, for the second year in a row, spent a lot of the year dealing with injuries and when he did race he didn't set the world on fire. I do think there is enough potential for some smaller teams like Rock River Yamaha and MotoConcepts Honda to consider him (plus, he already has a relationship with MotoConcepts), so I'm not saying that I expect for him to be lining up next year as a privateer, although you never know. It sucks that most riders aren't given more time to prove themselves in this sport, but a lot of these teams essentially run on a one or two year cycle regardless of when the rider turned pro. If a rider doesn't produce any meaningful results within the first year or two, he'll most likely lose his spot on the factory team. I'm pulling for Cameron to succeed, regardless of what kind of equipment he ends up on, in 2019.

Cameron McAdoo.

The Bad Bonus: Austin Forkner | 6th Place Overall

What a weird season for Austin Forkner, eh? At times he had the speed to win races, at times he looked to be a bit off and not up to the pace of the leaders, and at times he just had terrible luck. His overall finish at Ironman wasn't the great result I'm sure he was hoping to end the season on, but on the other hand he's probably happy that this season has come to an end. It has been an absolute rollercoaster. He still kinda reminds me of Adam Cianciarulo when he was still figuring out this whole pro racing thing. Austin hasn't dealt with the same injuries that Adam has had to overcome, but he is the same in that he has crazy speed at times but he hasn't exactly nailed down how to be a consistent championship contender yet. He also came into the pro ranks with around the same amount of hype that Adam had, and he hasn't necessarily lived up to it yet. The potential is clearly there, though, and I do think 2019 is going to be a step in the right direction for him. Now, I'm not saying with certainty that he'll win either title next year, but I could see him improving his consistency and staying healthy during both championships.

Austin Forkner.

The Ugly: All of the Factory Riders Who Didn't Qualify (Mitchell Falk, Mitchell Harrison, Sean Cantrell, Jimmy Decotis, etc.)

Wow, it's not every day that you see seven factory riders not even make it to the gate at a pro national! This was entirely unexpected and honestly a bit of a head-scratcher. MX Sports was in a bit of a bind here, though. Do you discount the times that the B Group put in on the track when it was in better condition, or do you let it play out as it's meant to play out (no special treatment outside of the top ten spots, which are seeded in)? They chose not to make any exceptions and because of this several factory riders had to watch from the sidelines, including both of JGR Suzuki's 250 riders. Talk about a sucky situation for these riders, their teams, and their sponsors, but I guess that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. If there is any silver lining to this...I guess it would be that several privateers scored some good points in both motos?

450 Class

The Good: Justin Barcia | 1st Place Overall

Justin Barcia's back on top! This story wrapped up just like I'd expect the Hollywood film to end. We had the rise with Justin being a 250 Supercross Champ and 450 factory rider for several years, the fall with him losing his factory ride at the end of last year, the transformation with him racing last year's Monster Energy Cup as a privateer and having to figure things out on his own, the opportunity with the fill-in ride at Monster Energy Yamaha, and finally the return to form with his overall win this past weekend. Time to pick up the film rights and make it happen. Anyway, this was a great ride from Justin in the mud, which he seems to really excel in. I'm not entirely sure how his crazy, pin it all moto, every moto style works so well in one of the most unpredictable conditions you can race in....but I'm not gonna question it. He was the fastest dude out there and not only did he secure the overall win, but he did it in dominant fashion with 1-1 moto results. It was also announced that he has signed an extension with Monster Energy Yamaha for next year, and I'm sure he's happy to be making decent money again. He was pretty good on the Yamaha right off the bat in Supercross, so how good will he be next year after a whole offseason of preparation?

Justin Barcia.

The Good Bonus: Eli Tomac | 4th Place Overall

Eli Tomac wrapped up his second-straight 450 MX title at Ironman with a decent performance. He did what he needed to do, and he didn't really push the limits at all because he didn't have to. I will say that, considering he's not the most emotional or talkative guy in the pits, it was nice to see him show some emotion and genuine happiness after he clinched the title. I guess the weight of the championship being lifted combined with the euphoria of winning a title allowed for him to loosen up a bit. Anyway, as I've said a few times this year, Eli was much more dominant and level-headed this year compared to 2017. In 2017, he probably would have entered panic mode after his bike grenaded at RedBud, but this year he kept his composure and put in a few dominant performances leading up to the final two rounds. He was able to gain even more ground at Budds Creek, and he never seemed too nervous at Ironman. I'm not sure if the same can be said for him at Ironman in 2017. Basically, I'm saying that it seems like he has matured mentally and is becoming better at managing a championship. And with two motocross titles under his belt, I'm sure his focus is now on winning the Motocross of Nations and a Supercross title. This year is Team USA's best shot in years to win the MXoN, and assuming he stays healthy the 2019 Supercross season may be his best shot at securing the title yet, especially if he manages it as well as he did during this year's outdoor campaign.

Eli Tomac.

The Good Double Bonus: Tyler Medaglia | 6th Place Overall

Tyler rides for the Factory Kawasaki team in the Canadian Triple Crown Series, but their outdoor season wrapped up last week so he decided to come down and try his hand at our series. He is coming off of his best Canadian Motocross season in several years, has raced the GNCC series before, and is known as a hard worker, but I can't say that I expected for him to almost break into the top five at the end of the day. I'm guessing that his GNCC experience came in handy and he just felt more comfortable in the mud than a lot of the guys out there. Canadian folks are probably pretty pumped to see their guy finish ahead of so many factory riders. And if I were him, my confidence would be higher than ever. This is very similar to when Jake Nicholls came over and did well earlier in the season. This wasn't really an audition for a ride or anything; he just wanted to come and race our series...and he ended up doing very well.

Tyler Medaglia.

The Bad: Justin Hill | 15th Place Overall

Justin has been dealing with another injury (this time after flying into a tree at Washougal), and he didn't even race at Budds Creek so I knew expectations weren't sky high going into Ironman. He didn't do too bad with a 10th place in the first moto, but he ended up several laps down and out of a points paying position in the second moto. Justin is another guy that had a bit of a weird year. His 250 Supercross title defense was pretty much a disaster, but at the same time he impressed when he rode a 450 in Supercross before injuring himself. His 250 motocross season was also a bit underwhelming, but once he jumped up to the 450 he was once again impressive until he got injured. So I've basically come to the conclusion that while this season didn't look that great on paper...he has given us a reason to look forward to watching him on a 450 full-time next year.

Justin Hill.

The Ugly: Jason Anderson | 23rd Place Overall

Eh, Jason came back last week and had a solid first moto before deciding to sit out of the second moto. I was expecting a better performance at Ironman, but the mud kind of threw a wrench into my expectations. He ran in sixth place for most of the first moto which wasn't bad, but then a 5:06 lap time towards the end of the race (I'm guessing he got stuck in the mud) caused him to fall to 19th at the finish. He didn't come out for the second moto, as I guess the mud didn't seem appetizing enough to come back for a second helping. Anyway, I do have to commend Jason for making the effort to come back and line up at the final two rounds. A lot of guys would have just coasted off into the offseason after recovering from an injury, but he clearly wanted a couple of gate drops to get back into race mode before having a few months off. He'll now have an entire off season to get his fitness back to where it needs to be and prepare to defend the #1 plate in Supercross, while we all enjoy the few off season races there are and (im)patiently wait for Anaheim 1 to get here.

Jason Anderson.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson