Minneapolis - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 1

Look out, after the final Triple Crown event of the season, Grant's got a whole lot of opinions.

Minneapolis - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

450 Class

The Good: Justin Barcia | 5th Overall

He's back! It was a bummer to see Justin Barcia's impressive comeback run get cut short when he was landed on in Arlington, but he worked hard to get back to the races and he looked better than I expected on Saturday night, as he was only three points off of the overall podium. Could you tell that he's been out for a bit? Sure, but every rider that comes back from injury takes a race or two to readjust to the high level of intensity, which is something they can't emulate during training at home. Really, at this point in the season, when it seems like a rider gets injured every week, it's nice to see someone return to racing. I expect for him to use these last few rounds more as training than anything, so that he can go into outdoors fit and ready to let it all hang out.

The Good Bonus: H.E.P. Motorsports

I'm not exactly sure how much support the H.E.P. Motorsports team receives from Suzuki, but they are making the most of what they have at their disposal. They're fielding a four-rider 450 team, something most factory teams don't even do, and they're doing pretty well results-wise, too. In Minneapolis, three of their riders (Kyle Cunningham, Cedric Soubeyras, and Henry Miller) made the Main Events, and all three finished inside the top 20 overall. That's pretty impressive for a small team. It was also cool to see them pick up Cedric Soubeyras, who was left without a bike right before Seattle. Not only did they step up for that race, they then went ahead and signed him for the rest of the series once they gathered enough resources. Cool stuff, and great for Cedric, who has been putting in solid results ever since joining the series. It's always awesome to see smaller teams succeed.

The Bad: Cooper Webb | 22nd Overall

Cooper Webb's bad luck is palpable at this point. The dude cannot catch a break (although it seems like a lot of riders "cannot catch a break" lately), as he's out with a fractured tibia. This also means that he'll probably be out for at least a portion of outdoors, which, as you might have guessed, ain't good. It may be time to start talking about what Cooper plans on doing at the end of this year when his Yamaha contract ends. He'll have other options if he wants to try something different, and I have a sneaking suspicion that might be what he's going to do. His time at Yamaha in the big-bore class has been underwhelming, to say the least. He's dealt with quite a few injuries, bike setup problems, and just straight up disappointing results. And even if he's at a point where he likes the bike, it may be a good idea to go somewhere else just for a change. Personally, I'd like to see what he can do on a KTM, but it could go any number of ways when the time comes. In the meantime, get well soon, Mr. Webb.

The Ugly: Broc Tickle | DNQ

This was a bit of a surprise. When I initially started reading the press release, I was wondering what in the world they could have popped him for, and then after I had researched what they popped him for....I couldn't believe that's what he got dinged for. It was quite a rollercoaster of thoughts. I believe that we do need drug testing in this sport. Without testing, I can guarantee some guys will do something, even if it's minor, to try and gain an advantage. That's just the reality of not having testing. But...but, I do think that some of the drugs, supplements, or over-the-counter medications that can show up in these tests shouldn't carry a penalty. At the very least, not the standard four-year suspension. A suspension that long can be career-ending, especially in Tickle's case. Hell, even a suspension of a year or two  can be career-ending in this sport, which moves on very quickly. If a rider isn't able to race for two years, he'll find it very hard to find a decent ride when he comes back, and it'll be even harder if he's pushing 30 years old. So, while I think there are some drugs that should carry a multi-year suspension, I think there needs to be another set of softer penalties put in place for situations like this. When it's something that is in a powder or supplement that can be bought in a regular store, and because of this the rider will probably have no idea it's not allowed, put them on probation and warn them that if they're popped for it again then they'll receive a suspension. Don't go straight to the harshest level of punishment for something that was most likely an accident. It genuinely doesn't make sense, and frankly it's not right. 

I had similar feelings when this happened to James Stewart and then Cade Clason. It'll be interesting to see how Broc's appeal process goes and what the final decision is. But judging by the previous cases I just mentioned, I don't have a good feeling about this. 

250 Class

The Good: Jeremy Martin | 1st Overall

"Stick that in your pipe and smoke it." Best line of the press conference right there, spoken by Mr. Jeremy himself. He has made it clear a few times now that he is not stoked with how most people don't see him as a good Supercross rider. Well, if we're judging by his last handful of races, I understand why he hasn't been too pumped with that line of thinking. He has been fantastic recently, with two second-place finishes, and two wins in the past four races. He clearly has the speed and skill to win in Supercross, and my goodness, his riding style has been flat-out fun to watch lately. The dude can throw his Honda around, that's for sure. It's also the perfect time of the year for him to have a ton of momentum, because outdoors are right around the corner. If he's able to keep his current level of riding up through the last couple rounds of the season and then have a solid couple of weeks of prep before Hangtown, we could be in for a great season of motocross. This is the most Jeremy Martin has looked like Jeremy Martin since he won his last championship, and that was in 2015.

The Bad: Delayed Broadcast

I get it, baseball is more popular than Supercross. It generates more revenue for Fox Sports. There's no doubt about that, but damnit, putting Supercross on tape delay for two hours gets a huge, red "NOT GOOD" stamp from me. I mean, it feels like Supercross would probably get put on tape delay for the bowling world championships. It's crazy to me that this sport is so much smaller than other sports that, at least to me, are nowhere near as exciting to watch. Bleh, frustrating. 

And yes, I'm fully aware that there was a time where Supercross and motocross were not televised. We aren't living in that time anymore. I'm also aware that Supercross will continued to get bumped to any time another sport has a game going on at the same time (aka it's not going to change), but that doesn't make it any less irritating. 

The Ugly: Austin Forkner | 10th Overall

Austin Forkner hit all three points that a rider can hit in a season, but he did it in one night of racing. He got the holeshot in the first Main Event, was in full control the entire time, and won fairly easily. The second Main Event saw him crash multiple times, but he charged every time he got back up (before hitting the dirt again), and was able to salvage a 10th. Then the third Main Event ended with him crashing hard and breaking his collarbone, ending his run at the 250 East Coast title. That is a textbook negative slope line graph right there. In all seriousness, this year is going to go down in history as one of the most injury-riddled seasons in Supercross history. Goodness gracious, it's truly jaw-dropping. 

Who will Mitch give a bike to now that both of his riders are done for the season? We should find out fairly soon.

The Undecided: Triple Crown Format

I'm on the fence about the new format. On one hand, fans get to watch more Main Events that are way more intense than the normal format. I imagine it also helps with viewership as there are no heats/LCQs for people to skip out on watching. But, on the other hand, we have seen some bad injures come out of these Triple Crown races. It's one thing to ask these guys to go out there and hang it out for one Main Event, but to ask them to do it three times without making any big mistakes is a huge ask. This is a dangerous sport, and if you throw 22 guys out there three times in one night and ask them to go all out every time, injuries are going to happen. So, I really don't know. I think that we should have the format, but maybe limit it to one race a year? I could see it as being a special mid-season event or something similar. One thing I am certain about: We do not need more than three of these next year. 

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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