“I got a bad start, but knew I had to work forward throughout the main event.”
What is there to say that hasn’t been said about Cooper Webb thus far this season? The young man from North Carolina has been a true gladiator on the brink of greatness, conquering a new frontier in the 450 division that hasn’t been seen in ages. What wonders can a speck of confidence do, huh? Backed by the boys of Factory Red Bull KTM, Webb seems to be involved in a recurring fairy tale, that can’t be paused; accumulating win after win, as the weeks continue to press on. He came into Dallas hoping to do the same, knowing that he had everything within his arsenal needed to get the job done. Feeling strong throughout practice, he was creative, yet efficient through out his specific combination of proportions. Watching Cooper, you could see he had a few things left up his sleeve, waiting to uncork them in the festivities to come. As the gate would fall for the heat race, Webb would be situated behind a few of his fellow front-runners; including that of Eli Tomac and Cole Seely. With the veteran Chad Reed slipping back, it was almost as if Webb decided to save a bit of energy for the main event; he would work his way into the final podium spot, barely breaking a sweat. It was now time for the big show, where Webb would be positioned in seventh; nearly out of the main view for fans within the stadium, nevertheless across television screens. But it was Webb, the “KTM Engine That Could” chugging along the tracks, as the laps would accumulate. Into the top five by lap seven, it was still Roczen and Musquin who were receiving the bulk of attention. Yet Webb was turning in noteworthy laptimes; and not just one, but in conformity of consistency, he would continue to chop away with his axe of a front fender. He was into third by lap thirteen, with his eyes fixated on the number twenty-five just ahead. He couldn’t take it anymore, and had to sweep away the idea of complacency; the second position would then be overtaken, looking exceptionally fast by the mechanic’s area section. He would then hone in on the red ninety-four, detecting a vast array of heat on the sensor. There were two pieces of real estate where he seemed to gain substantial time; the rhythm section before the whoop pad, and the actual section of whoops themselves. It was in the last few laps, which he began to “quad-out” of the prior lane; a feat that no one else was doing. And with the aforementioned whoop section beginning to be really chewed out, he eyed the final go-around to make the pass stick. Running the outside line, he would perform a skimming maneuver, to Roczen’s jumping antics. The gap would then close, and Webb would dart inside in the turn before the finish. Leaving him a mere tire length of room to stay on course, both riders would repel one another, fender to fender in a dash for the checkered. With the cameras out, everyone in attendance would hold their breath at the line to see who would cross first. And it was Webb! In a true photo finish, Webb would take victory by near milliseconds, crazed as he landed from the air!
“In the final turn, I couldn’t really get on the gas that hard; because I was super close to going off the track.”
If you’ve been around the sport of motocross for any time at all, than you most certainly have heard the name of Ken Roczen. A pure “Wonderboy” overseas throughout his amateur career, he would dabble in and out of the United States; contesting himself at selected nationals throughout the country. Doing well at the likes of the Winter Olympics and Loretta Lynn’s, the Red Bull-backed athlete knew that one day, he would like to make America his residency. And after multiple years with Suzuki and KTM, he’s done just that; riding red for 2019, and looking to take home the highly coveted Monster Energy Supercross Championship. Being one of the most consistent riders on the tour, has led Roczen to hold the red plate for the Arlington round; his number plate background and shroud graphics, looking synonymous with one another. And despite being frustrated with his lack of pure victory, he knows that at the end of the day, the consistent, top-tier finishes he’s presenting are ones that will have him hoisting the trophy at the finale. He would terrorize the track for practice, using every trick in the book to creep towards the touted pole position. Coming into the mechanics area for a brief bit, a few tweaks to the suspension settings, would have him soaring to new heights (literally and figuratively.) With an adequate source of propulsion now beneath him, he would be sent directly to the front, for heat number one. Never looking back, he could see a brief bit of Yellow in his peripheral view; and it was that of rising prospect, Justin Hill. But never one to bow down to fear, he wouldn’t tremble at the thought of anyone behind him. Going on to lead every single lap of this particular event, Roczen would through a subtle, stylish whip over the finish line, taking the win. Second early on to begin the main event, Eli Tomac looked to be on a path of destruction out front. However, the Honda of Roczen wasn’t letting Eli go that easy. Roughly four minutes would subside, and Ken would have enough; he saw an opportunity to pass the number three in the rollers after the finish line, and snuck around the inside when the door opened. Leaping through the following section, he would sprint, running from the crowd behind him as fast as possible. All looked to be well, clicking off scorching laps in pairs; until the number two of Cooper Webb would come into play, with just a few short laps to go. Roczen could feel him, and would try his best not to crumble to the pressure. But it was Webb, setting up a trap behind him. With Roczen hopping through the middle of the whoops on the last lap, Webb would blitz up the inside. Literally visor-to-visor beside one another, Webb would cut under as Roczen went high. The two would then nearly touch, in an all out sprint to the finish line. And just like that, truly by a knobby tread, Webb would win at the stripe. Roczen, devastated like you can imagine, was ready to leave this race behind and move on.
“It’s a good portion of points; but still, it isn’t fun to get beat like that.”
Although a native of the GP’s, there was no secret as to what Marvin Musquin aspired to be as a child. With Europe not having many Supercross race’s on that side of the pond, the rare brief glimpse he had of an event in this realm, would be that of the Bercy Supercross. Which he loved, but knew through media outlets, and VHS Tapes, that America was where the top stars of the sport would compete. Guys like David Bailey, Ricky Johnson, Jeremy McGrath, and Ricky Carmichael, all laid their claim to be the best in the world, on the continental soils of the United States. So one day, just one day, Musquin knew he would be there too. Fast-forward the tape player to February 16th, 2019, where Marvin Musquin awaited his heat race for the Dallas Supercross. An absolute star in the 450cc division, Musquin was one of the hottest names throughout the world, with nearly every fan in attendance knowing the true talent he possessed. He took a second to take it all in aboard his motorcycle, breathing in a large sum of air throughout his windpipes; and then the bike would come to life, with the KTM shooting out of the starting gate like a bad out of hell. But the jump wouldn’t be as he wished, with miscalculations putting him into ninth place to begin. Working his way into seventh, he didn’t want to have a repetitive heat race performance of old; where he was on the fringe of the LCQ. Therefore, although in unfamiliar territory, he would stay composed. Seventh as the final flag flew, he knew he wanted more as the main event crested the horizon. Somehow managing a third place start, he could be found chasing Ken Roczen early; with Eli Tomac just ahead. In dyer need to not let Tomac get away, the number three Kawasaki would begin to make mistakes. It would push Musquin into second, with only Ken Roczen standing in the way of a win. Scrubbing every single and double jump in sight, his millisecond-shaving efforts would be of reward, as the gap would close substantially. Literally, reeling in Roczen until lap eighteen; he would be greeted with familiar company at his back door. It was that of Cooper Webb, and despite all of the effort in the world, Webb would jump past on lap nineteen. Musquin, a bit distraught, knew he had to refocus for these final few go arounds; he would do so taking third, ready to capture that seemingly forbidden race win that awaited him.
Although winning in Glendale a few weeks back, Baggett has had a sea of ups and downs since his career best finish. With the backing of BTO and Butler Brothers Racing, Baggett feels as though he can repeat, and what better place to do it than Arlington? Coming into practice, he felt he could excel on this track, as although the dirt would become rutted, it had a bit of a West Coast feel to it, the way the surface could simply wash away. This is where throttle control and body position would be crucial, something that Baggett had grown up honing for years and years. He was launching everything in sight from the moment the referee cued him in practice; foregoing any sign of caution or hesitation. Pushing through the series of riders that scattered around, he found a few laps within the middle of the practice session, where he could truly lay down a few solid laptimes. And it would be of reward, sitting optimally inside heat number two. Fourth off the line, he knew he would have to contend with the likes of Eli Tomac and Cooper Webb; two staples at the front of the field. Having a slight hiccup around lap five, it was actually the veteran of Chad Reed who would make his way around; although for only a brief bit. Pushing forward, he would pass the Suzuki rider with only a few short laps to go. With Cole Seely taking the win, the final running order would be the aforementioned Honda rider, Eli Tomac, and Cooper Webb, with Baggett in fourth. The main event wasn’t long after, and Baggett felt prepared to put his best foot forward; hoping to rekindle the flame that was torched at Glendale. Fifth out of the gate, Tomac, Roczen, and Musquin were out front and looking to set sail. He meanwhile, would have to fight around the hardnosed Kawasaki of Savatgy. Neck and neck, sling-shotting across the start straightaway in perpendicular fashion, the two weren’t giving each other an inch, on their way to the halfway point. He would then move to fourth, still behind Savatgy, but receive an increase of position with Tomac falling to the ground. It was Cooper Webb though, that was on the true charge; overtaking Baggett about three-fourth’s of the way into the moto. Doing all he could, he would try to latch on to Baggett with an arm’s reach; but it was to no avail, and Baggett would be forced in one spot off the podium.
With top five finishes, come a plethora of incentives. Whether it’s a hefty amount of points, solid notoriety, or pay-scale upgrade, the chance to creep into this specific tier is something that few riders get to experience throughout their career. And although not as lucrative as a victory, it’s a benchmark that almost all in the field would accept when given an ultimatum. And that’s exactly what Joey Savatgy was hoping for when he rolled into AT&T Stadium, here in Arlington. He realized how many true contenders were still left in this series, and that top finishing positions, in regard to standing, are still in contention for a large majority of the riders. The synchronization of his bike with this specific layout was apparent from the get-go, with a flow as smooth as butter, the way he landed in the heart of these respective transitions. His sequence of both seat hopping and tapping of the rear brake, lead to head-turning laptimes, with his mechanic leaning onto the raceway and clapping his hands in positive reinforcement. It would translate into the heat race as well, where twenty-two of the fastest qualifies would compete for nine transfer spots. Neck and neck with Dean Wilson early on, they would be in a battle that would push them to the front of the field. As the shrouds of one another were seemingly glued together as one, a subtle nod would be given between the two militants. They would then both scrub the finish line double, and dash toward the following left sweeper. He would take the outside, hoping to generate enough momentum to soar into the opening rhythm lane. Clicking into a inconceivable fourth gear, he would triple as many times possible as he jumped perpendicularly across the start. Lighting a flame from his exhaust as he would torch the following bowl turns and whoop section, he would come across the line on the final lap in third. The main event was up next, and the field of 450’s were shifting in unison as they stampeded down the start straight. With the referee acting as a matador from the flagger stand, these riders were seeing nothing but fury as he waved the green rag into the wind. Hovering around the fourth place spot, time would tell if he could sustain a position like this; or be forced back in a negative manner. With Ken Roczen out front, he could faintly look out to his left as he soared over the finish line, seeing the leader on the opposite side of the stadium. Pushing the bike to the limit, he would feel a brief knocking at the door toward the latter end of the moto. But he would hold strong, securing fifth with a firm grip on the bars.
Moving around the country can be rather taxing on a rider. With only a few short days at home, if any, many riders have to be able to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances of this vastly wide tour. Moving from the Pacific Ocean, to our most northern state of Minnesota, and now to one of the largest landmasses on the continental U.S., many in the industry just seemingly want a chance to relax. And Cole Seely understands that; realizing that his ability to capitalize on the weak points of others is critical in his quest to strong finishes. He felt able, willing, and prepared, to tackle the flight, lack of sleep, and a little bit of altered nutrition as he waited inside the likes of multiple airports and planes. He knew, deep within his warrior-like mentality, that the ability to stay positive and endure, would relish into solid positioning once all was said and done this weekend. And his episode of practice was much of the same, where despite hoards of yellow flags being thrown his way, and circuits of sprinting halted in disruption; he managed to persevere, never letting the negativity deter him. And it was noticed by both team owners and fans, as they took part in applauding him as he exited the raceway. Conveyed into the heat race portion of the night show, he had to dodge the rear tire of Chad Reed on multiple occasions. A mere bumping of the tread, the two would go back and forth for a series of laps. Enough to vault away from Eli Tomac behind. Soaring over the “SX” triple that would run parallel with the start, he would absolutely haul into the next 180 degree turn with his fender pointed straight toward the apex. Launching off the next single, he felt the force of the 450 want to rare the front end as he would head toward the start straight. First at the flag, he was now ready for the main event, full of excitement and confidence. The field was a clash of bars for the first few laps of the main, a cluster of twenty battalions armed and ready going for the jugular. Filled to the brim with antifreeze, he had all in his arsenal to cool off his momentum; but it was of no need, he was a freight train at the tail end of the lead pack. Scrubbing the series of small doubles that were adjacent to the starting line, he hit the four consecutive gaps flicking the chassis to the left and right. And as previously stated, he would break the competition around, riders such as Justin Barcia; tallying up sixth overall.
With talks of “The Wall” being presented across all streams of United States media, many in the series were curious to see just how the discussion would impact the town of Arlington. Being a staple in the Lonestar state, you had a variety of opinions on to what should be done. But Justin Barcia hoped to create a wall of his own; a barricade that stopped any of the opposing competition from getting around. With a strategy of both offensive effort, and a rather wide motorcycle, he felt he could obtain any position on the leaderboard; holding the rest of the field at bay, if he observed the right tactics. Pushing the pace throughout practice, his pace down the start straightaway was impeccable; launching as far as possible off the small single. Taking aim at the finish line, he would zoom in with the scope of his vision, with the checkered flag acting as a heat sensor. A pinpointed mark through the crosshairs, he would locate his point of longitude and latitude; the destination would be found, crossing the final stripe with an exceptional time. It would provide him with a plethora of confidence for the heat race, letting him hold the throttle on just a bit longer than usual as he skated around the opening left-hander. As the field would almost “see-saw” through the opening rhythm lanes, he would emerge around the tenth place mark. Keeping his integrity at the forefront of his charging ability, there wasn’t anyway he would let Tyler Bowers around without a fight. Seemingly toe to toe with their footpegs as they rounded the turn after the finish line, a screeching of teeth would be seen as sparks would fly. It was then, that Barcia would absolutely cleaned out and over the berm, by none other than Tyler Bowers. Looking to break his shifter in the process, Barcia was forced to DNF. Bowers would then be subsequently disqualified, and Barcia winning the LCQ later on. The main event would be underway shortly thereafter and the pack would begin to break into specific pockets. Although a great jump off the line, Barcia would be forced to the outskirts of the raceway, and placed in the back portion of the field. He would be conjoined with Justin Brayton for quite some time. The two would tackle the track together, watching the leaders just beyond the horizon. Tripling through the offset rhythm lane just before the whoops, his outside line seemed to flourish, as the pack behind him would begin to dwindle away. He would locate the timer above the finish line, knowing just how long he had until the clock would “strike twelve.” It would rally him to keep moving forward, despite the presence of Dean Wilson. Seventh as the final flag would wave, he would be eager for the next round to come.
With EFI technology taking the place of carbureted two strokes, there isn’t much on the face of the earth that these 450 machines can’t adapt to. Whether it’s frigid cold, blazing hot, or a mild mannered moisture mess in the middle, the chassis and intricate engines of these motorcycles are simply a “Swiss Army Knife” of sorts. Therefore, coming into this regulated-temperature stadium of Dallas, Dean Wilson felt confident that the bike below him would hold together in an amazing manner. Toying with a combination of both rear and front sprockets throughout practice, you could tell as though his bike was extremely fast throughout qualification. Letting the front wheel hover a mere inch or so above racing surfaces down the start straight, his center of mass would edge toward the rear of the gripper seat; letting the back tire feast on pure Texas soil beneath. And with every piece of grabbing traction, another millisecond would be trimmed; resulting in an excellent position to start from, as the heat race gate would rise. Pushing both bike and body to the limit, he would take in a breath of fresh air over the finish line on the first lap, hoisted in fourth position. It was a brief moment of clarity, as he felt the calm before the storm; almost sensing that Brayton was on his doorstep. In true warrior-like fashion, he wouldn’t shy away from the rumble that was about to occur. He drew a “line in the clay” so to speak, and forced Justin into uncomfortable situations. Running the high line before whoops, you could tell that his momentum was just a bike-length or so stronger than his opponents, as the rider behind would have a slight checking of the throttle. And after consecutive rounds of doing this, was enough for him to pull away ever so slightly; he would then walk away with fourth place. Looking to pounce on the prey of riders that surrounded him as the main event would begin, he would seemingly have rim grease as war paint beneath his eyes. A steel-horsed cowboy looking to go into the smoke guns blazing, he would hover around thirteenth place in the early going. The rear end of the machine was wanting to slide out, especially when began to choose the inside grooves of the corners. And the turns were deceiving, having an inside hook to begin; yet forcing the riders out into the open, with nothing but pavement beneath. This is where the clutch would be feathered, and a difference of a few stabs would push him little by little away from Aaron Plessinger. Letting the opponents behind become frustrated with the sight of his jersey lettering, he would take the checkered flag in a solid eighth place.
When looking at this massive piece of architecture from above, you’re quick to realize that there are few stadiums in the world, like the one found in Arlington, Texas. A golden relic of sorts, from the true square footage of the coliseum, to the intricacies of the bells and whistles inside, it’s no wonder that the sheer magnitude grants heaps of marvel from all around. Aaron Plessinger would feel it too, walking into the stadium for track walk, taking a breath to truly grasp the building around him. Gazing at the panoramic view as he spun, he knew there were few bigger stages than this; and it was in that moment, right there, where he decided to place his best effort forward. Relaying his happiness with the bike as he blitzed pass the mechanic’s area, he was confident enough in his triple clamp set-up that he would acknowledge his crew chief with a thumbs up. A true blur as he topped speeds of forty and even fifty miles an hour, there was no shortage of courage underneath the brim of his visor. Keeping the 450 underneath him in a sound and efficient manner, there was no doubt as to who was in control of the illustrious machine. Pleased with what he had displayed, he would make his way out of the stadium and back to the semi. Heating the tires a bit on the pad below him, he would slowly but surely stab the clutch; letting the bike jerk toward the gate in a subtle motion. It was letting the tread melt into the rubber below, creating a sticking effect that would hopefully propel him out of the gate. It would work, but a few mistakes shortly thereafter would push him to fourteenth place. Looking to move forward despite the chaos that was around him, his zig-zagging antics were rather efficient. Whether arcing or simply flying towards the shortest point around the turn, he would keep the locomotive moving beneath him as dashed around the track. Hitting the white flag in sixth, there was no way he was letting an effort like this slip out of his grasp; and he would take the last stripe, in sixth place. As the fireworks would go off for the main event, it was his 450 below that appeared to mimic that of rocket ship. With sound waves echoing off these cylindrical walls around him, the machine below would scream of rabid savagery. Looking to move forward as the race would continue on, he found himself in a bit of a joust with Justin Hill. Slashing each other with their front fenders acting as bayonets, there was no holding back as they would surge for the finish line. Attempting to blitz the whoop section on the last lap, he would try to ride the main groove as much as possible; limiting the median access of Justin Brayton to the best of his ability. It would work, capturing a single digit finish of ninth place, once all was said and done.
As the series heads to the Deep South, many in the crowd of the 450 class are hoping for a little “Texas Spice” to be thrown into their arsenal. Wishing for a little bit of a pick me-up so to speak, Justin Brayton has felt the good aura ever since he’s departed for the Lonestar state. Walking into the stadium, he was filled with positive emotion and cheerful morale, seeing the track being sculpted to his delight. Strapping up both boots and helmet for practice, he would fire his machine to life, and gently roll on the throttle as his tread glided across the asphalt. Revving his throttle among the start straightaway, he would await the referee’s signal, indicating a notion of “all systems go.” He would take a lap or two to get a tad bit of rhythm, and then it was as though a flip was switched. The aggression, oozing out from his airbox and exhaust ports, was being sprayed to both competition and crowd alike. He was truly gelling with the machine, acting as a harmonious unit the way he could fling the chassis around. Hovering near the series leaders, he would watch their every move, inscribing notes into specific lobes of his brain; and eager for the heat races to commence. Darting out of the hole to begin, he would shift in repetitive fashion as he sprinted down the lane; keeping Aaron Plessinger close, it was an all out effort to keep both wheels on the respective right side up. The track, although early in the evening, was beginning to decay a tad bit; and really showing it’s native composition, as the surface would slicken and become blue-grooved. Registering within his raging mentality, it would indicate that he would need to back off the throttle; using his bodyweight more as a counterbalance, to fight the lack of traction underneath. And the strategy would work, taking fifth at the end of the race. The main event would then be underway where he could be found residing near the twelfth place spot to begin. Noticing the leaders beginning to etch away, he knew he couldn’t become frustrated, otherwise Chad Reed behind him would inch further and further forward. He noticed the halfway point, indicated by the crossing of flags waving from the referee’s booth. He knew he would then have to step up, maxing out his heart rate, and fight the feel of lactic acid. It would work, as every corner he rounded, would be a bit of deterrent in the mind of Reed behind. Coming across the checkered flag, he would be satisfied with a tenth overall.
“I had an option; I could either smooth out and recover, or become flustered and ride over my head.”
Poised with excellence since his inception as a motocross racer, Austin Forkner really began to make substantial waves throughout the mid-point of his amateur career. Quickly being snatched up by the likes of Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, Forkner was touted as the “chosen one” by many in his age bracket. He would continue the notion of winning, racking up numerous titles until his pro debut; where his tradition of excellence would carry on, leading to the bright lights of AMA Supercross. Being a contender throughout years past, although young in age, he was expected to be a series leader prior to the initial gate drop in Minneapolis. And man oh man has he delivered, displaying exquisite racing etiquette for both rounds. Although a spectacular crash throughout qualifying would leave many in the stands upon their feet; wondering if Forkner would walk away as his frame skidded across the pavement. Jumping outside of the barriers throughout the latter portion of a rhythm section, he could be found slammed into the ground; brushing the dirt off of his shoulders. That horrific episode would quickly be deleted throughout his memory bank, and the heat race would then commence. He found himself in an immediate dual with rival Jordon Smith; where the two would be nearly linked atop the leaderboard. Stalking the KTM for what seemed like an eternity, the pressure would reach a boiling point on lap five. This is when Forkner would overtake the KTM and push forward, as he rolled through this deceivingly slick dirt. Keeping the front wheel light in the bend after the finish line; you could seem him manual these rollers with a hint of hesitation, just to make sure the tread would set on the right side up. Yet he was doing it with blistering speed; strong enough to secure the win, and anxiously await the main event. And it was though a green, “Hulk”-like figure would emerge from beneath the helmet shell, of the number twenty-four rider. Getting out front, avoiding chaos as the rest of the pack slid across one another, he would begin to nail his lines with excellent marksman ship. Letting the chassis dance in a solidified line throughout the deteriorating whoops, he would then crest the roller before the mechanics area with a mere flick and throttle jab. With the likes of Sexton behind, he felt the lead grow with the mistake of the Honda rider behind. He would then glance behind, seeing that Cooper had now made his way into the runner-up ride. But it was of no worry, as Forkner maintain the red plate by capturing victory, hoping to keep the momentum going for the rest of the series.
“I felt good all day; I truly believe I’m in a good spot, letting the race come to me.”
A hidden gem in the realm of prospects for the 2019 season, Justin Cooper has exceeded expectations of many thus far. And it’s not only with his results, as lavish and extravagant as they are, but his riding style. The number thirty-two hasn’t seemed overwhelmed or flustered in any degree, choosing to remain calm despite the chaos that’s chosen to engulf the field around him. It’s a big sigh of reassurance to the guys at Yamaha, as they’ve seen the effort and charisma he’s displayed on the proving grounds of the practice track; they’ve just hoped and prayed for it to come to fruition when it matters. And there was no better proof than that, than here at the Arlington round of Supercross. Perfectly sound with his shifting points, he was one of the quietest throughout the episodes of practice. Never over-revving, missing shifts, or panicking with the throttle over the large amount of airtime, he would continue to post strong laps in consecutive fashion. With applause from his team from behind the mechanics area barrier, he knew he would be sitting pretty as the heat race rolled into the foreground. Second off the line, he saw a mirror image of himself just in front, to begin this round of racing. It was that of Mitchell Oldenburg, and he looked to attack the number sixty-six, as quickly as possible. Reliving the days of practicing in Southern California, Cooper would hound his teammate just in front, looking for multiple ways around. But Oldenburg was rather stingy with the lead, holding on to victory with a white-knuckled grip. Doing a bit of calculation in his head, Cooper knew that the second place he carried was well enough to walk away with; and that’s exactly what he did, heading back to the truck to equip for the main event. Fourth off the line, there were many of the usual players within his immediate surrounding to begin; but he knew he would have to endure, sure of someone else cracking before he. And just like that, the competition would begin to fall, as he would click off mistake-free laps within the top five. First it was Sexton, stalling out, and letting Justin make his way around. Continuing to motor on, Jordon Smith would then crash in the final moments, fishtailing through the whoop section. Who was then left you ask? None other than Cooper, riding a comfortable pace throughout the race’s entirety, and taking yet another podium finish for the season.
“Austin was riding really well tonight; I’ve got to get out in front of him and make it happen.”
A Yamaha rider years and years ago, the crew at Geico Honda saw something in the Illinois native; something strong enough, to sign him and groom the prospect throughout the pinnacle of his amateur career. Sexton has delivered, despite being hit with the injury bug on numerous occasions. Finally, with what seemed to be a solid off season, he would come into the 2019 250cc East Coast Supercross series, ready to unleash his true potential on the crowd around him. He looked to continue to climb after his showing in Minneapolis last weekend, hoping to gel with this deceiving red clay of Arlington. Taking a few laps to scan the course throughout practice, the comfort meter would begin to climb with each passing lap; demolishing any little bit of anxiousness he had prior to the starting of the engine. Sticking to the script, he would continue to pound out laps in consecutive fashion; and it was enough to fill the shell of his helmet with confidence, when lining up for his heat race sector of competition. Fifth on the first lap, the field would make quick work of Marshal Weltin, putting Sexton into fourth in the circuits to follow. Just on the rear fender of Alex Martin in front, Sexton would bury his head and twist the throttle; ducking the roost, but still keeping his momentum going as the laps would come to an end. Although a brief sprint, Sexton would beg for more rounds in the process; finishing fourth, he needed little rest, to be prepared for the main event. In a strong position to begin, the Honda rider looked rather strong when working his way up to second position. With everyone in attendance taking notice, he seemed to be gaining in marginal fashion, on the likes of the leader Austin Forkner. Holding second until lap eleven, a stalling of the bike on the anthill, would allow Smith to get around. Sexton would then make another mistake, crashing to the ground! Forced to hop on the bike just around the mechanics area, he would riders begin to whiz by his goggle view. This time, Justin Cooper would work his way by, pushing the Honda to third. He would reside here, happy with the podium, but bummed about what could have been. Sexton would be excited to get back to training for the week, hoping to improve on his mistakes by the time next Saturday rolled around.
Although you can’t knock his effort, Jordon Smith is “that” rider in the 250 class, that leave you on the edge of his seat. It’s a real treat for fans, as they know they’ll see the North Carolina riders best effort, each and every weekend. However, for family, friends, and sponsors, they know he can be a mere second away from biting the dust. It’s an attitude that the number twenty-eight has lived by since the beginning of his motorcycle career, living and dying by the sword. There have been many times, where he’s chosen the outcome of a DNF, rather than taking a second place straight up. And the idea is two-fold, as although it may have cost him wins and trophies in the past, it’s benefitted him with guaranteed contracts, and a career to make a living out of. So as you could foreshadow, he would bring the same type of riding style to the likes of Arlington, Texas, here at AT&T Stadium. Nearly spinning out on multiple occasions throughout the practice sessions, the way he was obliterating these bowl turns was absolutely phenomenal. After he had passed through a particular section, dirt could be found some fifty feet from where it originally laid; all because the velocity his back wheel was generating. This episode would be a recurring theme throughout the festivities to come, with Smith getting out to a great start in his heat race. Neck and neck with Austin Forkner, Smith would hold the lead for nearly five laps; but in an honest assessment, it was both riders making slight mistakes behind the bars of their machines. They were truly on the mere edge of losing it all, but somehow Forkner would work his way around. Taking second, he looked to thrive in the main event shortly to come. Fifth in the opening laps, he knew getting around the likes of Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton would be of no easy task. But he would do so, with Sexton making mistakes, and a constant effort being pressed in an ascending manner. All seemed to be well, looking to take the silver medal; until a crash in the whoops in the final laps, had him extremely discombobulated. He would remount, flustered, but able to salvage. Fourth at the line, the grit in his teeth would be coupled with an absolutely fury of frustration. Smith would be ready to go for broke for the following week.
Seemingly brought up in every broadcast, there’s no secret to Martin Davalos’ age in regards to the class he competes in. A veteran of the sport in all facets, he’s seen and done it all as far as experience goes. However, there’s a reason that he continues to be signed year after year; based off the true talent and capability he possesses. Hailing from Ecuador, Davalos was a rather strong commodity coming out of the amateur ranks, poised to make a run with his backing from Millsaps Training Facility. Armed with speed, and linked in with the right crowd, Davalos began his career aboard brands such as Yamaha, KTM, and Honda for a brief extent. But it’s as though in his latter years, that he’s kept the attention of Mitch Payton. Penciled in as a title threat each and every season, Davalos’ hopes last week were a bit overshadowed with crashes and misfortunate. Therefore he looked to Arlington to rebound. Portraying a solid effort throughout practice, he wanted to get as best of a gatepick as possible for the heat race; where he would begin in third, just behind the likes of Austin Forkner and Jordon Smith. With the two heavy hitters out front, he would do his best to follow the patterns that they would draw just ahead. Staying tight, right inside the pocket of third, he would finish on the final step of the podium. He would then begin the main in seventh, looking to move forward rather quickly. Pushing the perfectly tuned Kawasaki to the brink of explosion, he was trying to squeeze every ounce of power he could out of the machine, as he launched into the fast opening rhythm lane. Ducking to the inside, and scrubbing the abrupt single immediately, he felt a top five finish would be within his grasp. And after getting around the likes of Kyle Peters, his aspirations would become a reality. The laps would begin to click off, but with this particular class, there wasn’t anyway he could catch his breath. It was almost as if he were in a constant fight for a lowered heart rate, truly reminding himself to breathe as he hit these ludicrous rhythm lanes. It was an all out sprint to the finish, as he knew the pressure that Mitchell Oldenburg could provide was serious. Gaining a rather large lump sum of points, Davalos would finish fifth, hoping to move forward as the series rolled on.
There aren’t too many guys in the list of the 250 field, who are more familiar with this soil than that of Mitchell Oldenburg. Although born in Minnesota, he and family overtook the notorious Oak Hill Raceway many years ago, holding races and national championships at the facility. And as the facility had been groomed, day after day, so did Mitchell’s talent; coming from a top ten competitor in the amateur ranks, to an elite racer vying for titles in his latter years. It’s transcended into success on the professional level, being signed by teams for numerous years consecutively. He’s earned a ride with Yamaha’s factory level team, and coming into Arlington, with family and friends at his side, he hoped to show out under the world’s brightest of lights. He would put a stamp on his efforts throughout practice, scrubbing the “SX” triple with a footpeg dragging up the face, his shirttail blowing in the wind as he soared tens of feet above the stadium floor. The zone he was in seemed to be unstoppable, penetrating the top ten with his laptimes; leaving nothing but confidence, to unleash on the competition around. The heat race that would follow, would arguably be one of the best performances of his career. Getting out front early, he was absolutely on rails as he pinned the Yamaha YZ250f around this red Texas clay. Keeping the bike moving in all facets, he could see a hint of blue behind, but his focus wouldn’t be deterred. It was Justin Cooper, and he knew that if he could prevail on the practice track; that he could do it here. And it was as though the law of visualization and attraction spoke, where he would wait patiently for the checkered flag to come out. It would then occur, the black and white flag waving in his honor, as he crossed the finish line, victory in hand. He would then hope to repeat his performance for the main event, beginning the race in sixth place. Controversy would then ensue, as he and Alex Martin would come to a tipping point in one of the left-hand one-eighty’s. Martin, running high, seemed to be rocking the rim of the bowl turn, when Oldenburg would make an aggressive pass in the process. Martin, now flipping over his bars and laying on the ground, would look up in disgust to Oldenburg; with Mitchell never hesitating, and moving forward. Continuing to show his pure determination, it was then he and Davalos battling with each other until the bitter end. Putting himself into sixth position in the final laps, his Yamaha team would be happy with the effort he displayed.
If you had the opportunity to race or even watch the former number 110 of Kyle Peters compete throughout the amateur level, you understand that he’s known for two things. Spectacular starting ability, and outright speed. Whether it was from the smallest of minicycles, aboard a KTM machine, or throughout the course of his pro-am career on the Honda, Peters would also be the betting favorite to crank out a particular holeshot, on any given weekend. And signed on the premise of his sprinting attention, the boys at JGR Suzuki hoped that he could draw some eyeballs to the team throughout 250 East Coast Supercross Season. Peters was one of the first to the track for practice, establishing his presence in the front early. Hitting every roller and mogul with a fury of intensity, he would leap throughout every particular section with ease; but his true ground would be made up in a few of these bowl turns. In particular, the way he rolled the throttle on throughout the “meat” of the finish line right-hander, was truly exceptional. There was no period of braking, where as his lapse of the throttle would be interrupted with a feathering of the clutch only; to then shoot through the small bumps, and over the finish line jump. Nodding his head to his mechanic as he exited the raceway, his “mojo” so to speak, couldn’t have felt any better going into the night show. Sixth off the line, he would try his best to mimic that of Austin Forkner, whom he could see in the distance. Choosing the outside of the two-laned rhythm section, his effort of stepping on and stepping off these particular tabletop’s were noteworthy; using the rebound of both shock and fork to propel him over the following gaps. With Josh Osby on his tail, the Suzuki rider left a trail that couldn’t be scented by the opposition; doing his best to flee to the checkered. He would do so, coming across the stripe in fifth place behind Blake Wharton. And as you may have guessed, he was up in the front yet again for the main event; this time directly with Austin Forkner, vying for the lead. Having glimpses of the frontier, he would settle in behind the Kawasaki for the first lap, doing everything he could to stay with the Missouri native. But he had other guys to then contend with, including that of Chase Sexton and Jordon Smith. Although pushing to the best of his ability, each lap, another battle would ensue, making sure he had to earn his keep to have a strong showing. Doing his best to stay attached to Mitchell Oldenburg, Peters would come across the stripe seventh; and pleased with how much effort he had shown.
Being a veteran of the 250 division, all eyes have been placed upon that of Alex Martin, in regards to high standing for the 2019 East Coast Supercross Series. He’s toyed with the idea of a championship before, accumulating wins and podiums alike, throughout motocross and Supercross respectively. With a work ethic like no other, and roots of training intertwined throughout the core of his DNA, Martin came into Minneapolis last week ready to leave a lasting impression. And although a strong performance, he knew he wanted more, as the series headed south through the heart of the country; i.e. Arlington, Texas. With his slight stature throwing the RMZ250F around like a rag doll, he could be found maneuvering the bike in an utterly aggressive manner throughout practice. Trying both inside and outside lines, he wanted every line on the track to be tested at least once; as no element of surprise would be casted his way, come time for the racing festivities. Fourth off the line to begin, he knew he would have to deal with the likes of Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton, if he wanted to hail victory once all was said and done. But it was actually his fellow Minnesota born comrade, Mitchell Oldenburg, out front and walking his way to a win. He, meanwhile, would have to deal with a young-gun by the name of Justin Cooper. And with all of his revving and riveting antics behind the Yamaha pilot, he couldn’t seem to break the number thirty-two. He would go onto finish third, but ready to improve for the main event. Storming out of the hole, you could see him shift gears with authority, using his entire bodyweight to lift the shifter down the start straight. Dogging the 250f to it’s fullest degree, his rev’s could be heard echoing off the stadium walls, panic revs galore. It was all in an effort to the front, as he lingered near the inside of the top ten. When all of the sudden, going high in one of the one-eighty degree bowl turns, he would be plowed into by none other than Mitchell Oldenburg! Remounting, he would work his way to the front to the best of his ability, after brushing off his jersey and readjusting his clutch lever. Navigating through traffic without the use of blinkers or caution signals, he was doing it all in hopes of tallying up as many points possible. And despite the blindside that occurred early in the moto, he would finish in the eight place spot; full of rage, and ready to unleash for the next round.
Looking through the roster sheet, there’s a chance you may overlook a certain number forty-five while scanning the list. With factory riders and former standouts stacked to the brim at this round of competition, it was easy to marvel at some of the larger names on the sheet. However, Brandon Hartranft has been etching his way into the ranks of the top ten for multiple years now, hammering his name into the grid with the Yamaha beneath him. He was rather eye catching throughout practice, the way he was railing the turn after the finish line; despite the gradual rollers that littered the bend. Choosing to stay upright on the balls of his feet with a little bit of bend in his knees; seemed to pay off, in comparison to merely riding the seat with his inside leg out. Making sure to limit his mistakes, he would turn consecutive laps in a blazing fashion; putting him in a solid slot for the heat race. Pushing the pace early as the green flag would wave from the scorer’s tower, he would linger around the latter half of the top ten to begin. With the midst of his tier running in the fifty-three second range, he knew he would have to ante up in order to sit at the table of talent in which he yearned for. Nipping at the heels of Anthony Rodriguez, the two Yamaha militants were on nearly bumping tread in a few corners; but Hartranft’s control would allow the number sixty-five to stay ahead, rather than lunging and crashing into the floor below. With Josh Cartwright just behind, he knew he couldn’t subside with his efforts of the throttle before the checkered flag; therefore he would rail the last right-handed turn with dyer intent, soaring over the finish line shortly thereafter in eighth place. Fifteenth to begin the main event, he was eager to get this larger than life experience going, as the field skated around the floor of AT&T stadium. Absolutely launching off the small, table-top like jump that coincided with the starting berm, he would triple all throughout the following rhythm section with absolutely no hesitation. Ever so steadily, he would move through the field, weaving his way past riders he knew he could overtake. Beginning to hop through the whoops, his efforts of wheel tapping would reap dividends by the time the last few laps had come into play. Keeping Kyle Cunningham at bay, the field in front would be nothing but factory riders. Hartranft would be stoked with a ninth place finish.
Being a Texas native himself, Willow Park’s own Kyle Cunningham, came into Arlington looking to damage in front of his home crowd. Knowing these parts like the back of his hand, he felt comfortable the moment he laid eyes on the track for practice. This soil, the same composition of that in his back yard as a youngster, had to be ridden in a peculiar fashion. Although look rather lush and picturesque on top, one must be delicate with the throttle as the laps would continue to accumulate. As the base would be ultra-slick, creating a recipe for disaster for some that tried to overbear it. In practice, you could see him riding the layout in a truly dialed in fashion; one of the first to hit the triple combination in the opening rhythm lane. Absolutely terrorizing the floor beneath him, you could see pellets flying from his rear tread, as he sprayed the top of these bowl turns with his rear tire. Nearly grabbing a tuff-block cover in the process, he was inches away from disaster on occasion; nevertheless, he would come across the line pleased with his effort. The gate would then crash into the earth for his heat race, and he looked to get into a transfer position as quickly as possible. Although eleventh on lap one, he looked to bully his way into single digit placing; before a mistake would push him all the way back to fifteenth. And with other rounds this year, he may have well been able to do so; but this Arlington round was rather stacked, as a plethora of rookies and elder competition decided to throw their name in the hat for main event contention. Working all the way up to tenth, he would be one spot short at the stripe. He wasn’t messing around in the LCQ though, where a solid start would find him in the lead rather early. Running laptimes in the fifty-two second range, all he had to do was remain upright and the transfer spot was his; consider it done, and Kyle would take victory. Dashing through the field on the opening lap of the main event, a seventeenth was something in which he would have to fight from. Every lap, he would pluck away at the lead, moving around riders like John Short and Lorenzo Locurcio. The track, beginning to be a bit rutty, would play into Cunningham’s favor, as Anthony Rodriguez behind him couldn’t jockey his way around. Cunningham, tenth on the final go around, would solidify his position; turning the rather lackluster evening, into a solid night of main event competition.