Oakland: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 2

Dive in to see who Grant picked for the three sides of Oakland.

Oakland: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

250 Class

The Good: Justin Hill | 3rd Place

It's weird to think that Justin Hill, the defending champion in the 250 West class, just claimed his first podium of the year at round five of the series. Heading into the season I figured that he'd take a bit to adjust to the new bike, but I also thought that even if he wasn't completely comfortable he'd be inside the top five all season long. No question, right? He is the defending champ, after all. From listening to his Oakland post-race interviews, though, it seems like he came into the season thinking that he was prepared, but then realized he was a bit under-prepared with bike setup. He tried something different with the bike at Houston and we all saw how that worked out, so he went back to a "more general" setup but continued to struggle at Anaheim 2. Glendale was a bit better, but at that point it was pretty clear that even if he was starting to feel better on the bike...his starts were another huge obstacle he'd have to overcome. Then he went out and got an okay start at Oakland, worked his way through to field, got into a battle for second, and crossed the finish line in third place. So, I guess it was just a work in progress throughout the first half of the championship. Now he seems to be more comfortable on the bike, and maybe he has finally figured out the starts well enough to contend for wins later in the Main Events. If he is able to rip a holeshot sometime soon, we may see a yellow bike at the top of the podium for the first time in quite a while.

The Good Bonus: Aaron Plessinger | 1st Place

Aaron Plessinger was absolutely drained at the end of the Main Event. He was so tired he didn't even want to stand after he got off the bike, and he still seemed a bit out of it during his post-race interview. But, man, what a ride! This dude was sick earlier in the week and still had some chest and head issues by race day, and he still went out and charged his way to the win. He could have just settled in for a third or fourth and looked forward to being healthy next week, but he decided to make a champion-level decision and maximize his points despite feeling like doo-doo. He wants this championship bad.

The Bad: Adam Cianciarulo | 7th Place

Adam didn't do any post-race interviews, and he hasn't posted on any social media since the race, so I think it's safe to say that he is still p-i-s-s-e-d about Saturday night. And I can't really blame him. He's had the speed, and at times he's had the starts, but little crashes or mental mistakes have held him back tremendously this season. He knows he could very well be the points leader right now had those little things not happened, and that has to have built up in his mind little by little–culminating in a big, steaming pot of frustration. It sucks, but on the bright side, his seventh is a lot more impressive than it looks on paper. Sure, it's not good for his championship hopes and, like I said, it probably hasn't helped where he is mentally, but he was way back in 19th after getting hung up in the first corner and then going down with two other riders, and he still charged up to seventh by the end of the race. So I guess it was about as impressive as a disappointing ride can be? Is that a thing?

The Ugly: Shane McElrath | 15th Place

Bad start, plus a hard crash, equals not a great result for Shane McElrath. He looked good during the heat race, but that only goes so far when a bad start and a crash get compounded together during the race that matters. Now he's the one that has to put on an absolute charge back to the points lead, because as of right now he's 19 points down from Aaron Plessinger. Not good.

The Ugly Bonus: Bradley Taft | DNQ

I jinxed another one, dang it. I hyped up Bradley some last week and was really hoping to see him continue to progress this week, and then he didn't even make the Main Event. Sorry about that, Bradley. Maybe now that you're the Ugly you'll go back to doing well next week.


450 Class

The Good: Blake Baggett | 3rd Place

It seems like a decent start is all Blake Baggett really needed to get up onto the podium for the first time this season. I think that the more technical, rutted track also played into his favor, but regardless it's nice to see him back where he belongs. This is also a great result for his team, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM, as it's been a rather rough go of it for the them after having such great results across the board last season. If Blake continues to get semi-decent starts, I wouldn't be surprised to see him grab at least a couple more podiums throughout the rest of the season. Also, fun fact, Blake is the seventh different rider to podium this season in the 450 class.

The Good Bonus: The Racing Action

That was the most intense Main Event I've watched in quite a while. There was literally something crazy happening every few seconds: Barcia's block pass on Tomac, Anderson taking out Musquin, Baggett working his way to third, Peick almost going down for the fourteenth time, Anderson's catching Roczen, Bowers attempting to fly like a bird mid-race, Tomac getting lapped, and then there's a battle for the lead! There were no calm moments during this race. It was pure, raw intensity (with a dash of insanity) all the way until the end. And the best part is that we still have 12 more races left this season...

The Bad: Eli Tomac | 13th Place

Eli Tomac going down (with maybe a little help from Barcia...though I think it was a clean pass) and taking a while to get up once again sparked a furious debate about why Eli takes his time getting up from crashes. We've seen it again and again. And, unsurprisingly, I have no idea. Maybe he has to take a mental (and maybe body) check before he can continue after going down, or maybe he would rather wait until the track is completely clear before trying to rejoin the race. It's anyone's guess, but I don't necessarily think that if he had gotten up super quickly that he would have come back to finish very far inside the top ten. He had struggled with the track all day, and while he was fast in his heat race, he still didn't look to be 100% on it. I used to think that he excelled quite a bit on more rutted Supercross tracks, but he has struggled the last few times he has raced on them, so maybe they aren't his forte. What I do know, though, is that he is now miles away from the points lead, and I think it's about time to mark him off of the list of title contenders. Sure, someone could get hurt and he could still go on another win streak, but with Anderson and everyone else riding so well and consistently, I don't see it happening. At this point, it's more about making sure he scores some wins, but makes it to outdoors healthy–at least in my opinion.

The Ugly: Tyler Bowers | 21st Place

Holy guacamole, that was a major crash by Tyler Bowers! When I realized what was actually happening (him flying through the air), I couldn't help but think back to Zach Bell's nasty crash a few years ago. Luckily, this one didn't turn out too badly, and he seemed to be okay after the race despite having a black eye and some bruising. But still, crashes like this one are scary to watch in real time. I'm glad he wasn't seriously injured.


Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

2 comments
  • SidewayzMike

    2/7/2018 3:06 PM

    good for Hill, was so tired of hearing people tell me the Suzuki was too slow to win. Good job for Bowers until the crash. He was manhandling the ruts all day, fastest Kawi rider on track all day. Are you all readY for the Baggett social media shit'talkin take over? I'm sure he already started.., did anyone make a fan page for marvins shoulder yet... Get that shoulder an agent, it might be about to get more press than marvins knee last summer

  • OfficialSRC51 Media

    2/6/2018 9:57 AM

    Tomac is all offense. Zero defense. I see it as he thinks he's so much better than the field that no one should catch him.
    When the push him around a bit he goes down. Like a sack of potatoes. Same with Marvin (the falling down part).

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