Las Vegas - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 5

Here's the last GBU of the Supercross season. Who made it to the "podium" in each class?

250 Class

The Good: Adam Cianciarulo | 1st Place

Adam finally got the win that has been eluding him all season. He was clearly not going to allow himself to come up short again, as he just straight up made it happen when it came time to pass Jeremy Martin and Shane McElrath. But, unfortunately, he also lost out on a 250 Supercross title by two points...for the second year in a row. That has gotta sting a bit, but at least he has proven two years in a row that he is very close to putting it all together and claiming his first #1 plate. He'll be back in the 250 class for 2019 with Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, and although we won't know which coast he will compete on until around December, I think it's fair to say that he's going to settle for nothing less than a title no matter which one he ends up competing in. It's time for him to rack up a couple of 250 titles before he moves onto the 450 class, where I believe he'll do some serious damage.

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The Good Bonus: The Red Plate Holders

Well, would you look at that! The red plate holders, Aaron Plessinger and Zach Osborne, did exactly what they needed to do in Las Vegas to claim the two 250 Supercross titles that were up for grabs. Both of them got pretty bad starts, but they avoided getting themselves involved in any sketchy situations and cruised for the second half of the Main Event, eventually crossing the finish line in seventh and eighth, respectively. Would it have been cool to see the two of them battle it out? Absolutely, but they definitely didn't plan on doing that, and actually, they were probably pretty relieved to end up right next to each other, because they knew neither of them would try anything stupid. However, I don't think the same can be said if they find themselves right next to each other in a couple of weeks at Hangtown, as they will both be heading into the season as title favorites.

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The Bad: Phil Nicoletti | DNQ

No! Phil! You had a solid season going... Making all of the Main Events, snagging some top 10 finishes, and securing a ride for at least a portion of outdoors. And then Las Vegas happened. First, he lost the final transfer spot in his heat race to his teammate, Justin Hill, which had to suck, and then I'm not exactly sure what happened to him in the LCQ, but I think it's fair to say he got a bad start or went down early, because he could only manage a 14th. That ended his night and his Supercross season. 

I feel like Phil is one of those guys that's in a weird position right now. He can top 10 on a 250 indoors, and he can kill it on a 450 outdoors, but there aren't really any teams that can make that sort of deal happen right now, outside of JGR, and it seems like it's up in the air as to whether or not he'll return to them next year. I hope he does, but if a deal can't be reached, where does he go? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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The Ugly: Adam Cianciarulo Will Miss the Outdoor Season

If there was one 250 rider I was certainly looking forward to watching this outdoor season, it was Adam Cianciarulo. I felt like he could contend for the title since Zach Osborne was supposed to move up to the 450 class, but then he announced on the podium that he'd miss all of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship to get his ACL fixed. So, yeah. It sucks that we're going to be without one of the big names at Hangtown, but on the bright side, he should come back even stronger considering he has been riding with a torn ACL since last year's Indianapolis Supercross. If he has been as good as he has with a torn ACL, what will he be able to do when he's completely healthy? 

Also, we may have lost Cianciarulo, but Osborne did announce on Saturday that he will stay down in the 250 class to defend his outdoor title. Some people won't be too pumped about that, but the more talent we have in the 250 class the better. Plus, I always enjoy watching riders attempt to defend their title. It adds an extra dash of excitement to the season, and puts another number one plate on the track.

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450 Class

The Good: Jason Anderson | 5th Place

After the wheel change drama of last week, and getting what he believed to be food poisoning on Friday, Jason Anderson has to be extremely relieved to have finally clinched his first 450 Supercross title. It's crazy how he was in control damn near the entire year, and then he had to face two weekends of adversity before being crowned the champ. If there is some kind of test to assess whether or not a rider truly deserves to win a title, Jason passed it with flying colors. I mean, did you see him during the press conference? He looked exhausted, eventually asked for a sweatshirt, and then got out of there as quickly as he could.  If he was in that bad of shape, the fact that he even showed up to the press conference is impressive. Now, does he go back-to-back and win the outdoor title? Eh, I wouldn't bet money on it. But, hey, I wouldn't have bet money that he would win the 450 Supercross Championship this year, either. So maybe he'll surprise me once again.

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The Good Bonus: The Outdoor Season is Upon Us

Do you smell that? That's the great outdoors, my dudes and dudettes. Hangtown is coming. The 30 minute + 2 lap motos are coming. The gnarly ruts are coming. The speed and roughness are coming...and I can't wait. There's just something different about the outdoor season compared to Supercross. Supercross is great. I love it. But when the outdoors roll around, it truly feels like it's summertime. It's during the day, it's outside, and it really pushes the endurance of the riders to the limit. Plus, it's always a nice change after watching 17 weekends of Supercross. May 19th, folks, mark your calendars.

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The Bad: Eli Tomac | 1st Place

Yes, Eli won Las Vegas. Eight wins on the season (double the number of either rider in front of him in the final standings) is fantastic. And yet, he still lost the championship for the second year in a row. It's been clear for a while now that Eli's biggest threat is Eli. When he's on it, he's easily the fastest guy. There is not much of a chance that someone else is going to catch and pass him. But he has a tendency to take himself out of contention for titles. He was able to keep it together (for the most part) during the outdoor season last year and as a result, won the title, but he hasn't been able to do the same indoors. Hopefully, these two title-less years of dominance have taught him that outright speed and determination don't guarantee that the championship will be his and that sometimes it is perfectly okay to back it down and take a second or third place. Consistency is the name of the game in the 450 class, and I'm optimistic that he will head into next year's Supercross season with that in mind.

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The Ugly: Malcolm Stewart | 13th Place

Malcolm has more potential than he has shown in the 450 class. A big reason for this, I believe, is that his fitness level is not the best. It sounds like he's been working to improve it, and it does seem like he has had a bit more pep late in the Main Events recently, but it still hasn't resulted in the type of finishes he needs to truly impress the factory teams. I think he needs a full offseason of training and another season with a solid team before we can truly make any conclusions about his capability in the 450 class, but will he get another shot on a factory team? A lot of big names are available this offseason, and there aren't enough spots for all of them. I don't see a team hiring Malcolm over someone like Justin Bogle. It's going to be interesting to see what he does for the 2019 season.

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Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson


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