After a week off (for most guys) the riders picked right back up with round two of the twelve round battle that is known as the AMA National Motocross Outdoor series. From Sacramento, California to Wortham, Texas I was there to cover the race and report on everything that went down. With the temperatures reaching the low 100's and the humidity somewhere around 874%, let's just say I drank a ton of water, stayed in the shade, wore a cowboy hat and a bandana. Then I sung "Every Rose has a Thorn" with my hat out for some change.
I don't think the Freestone track would make anyone's favorites list but the promoter there, Tony Miller, does the best he can with what he's got. Which is a flat field in the middle of Texas (well to be fair, there is a slight grade.) Tony brings in sand, tills up the dirt, adds some obstacles here and there and like I said, it's a decent track. The heat is another formidable obstacle as well and the racers have to make sure they don't blow themselves up too soon.
When Ryan Dungey went 10-6 last race at Hangtown, a lot of people wondered what was up, if it was actually Ryan on the bike or if he had his brother Blake out there racing to get an early jump on his pro career. Well, I think that Dungey put everyone's worries to rest as he dominated the Freestone National with 1-1 finishes and put on a riding clinic. It was a great ride, he got good starts and was right there to take advantage of a Mike Alessi fall in the second moto to ease any worries that all of us had about his Hangtown ride.
I was talking to his mechanic Goose (Iceman wasn't around in case you're wondering)and he told me that after Ryan won the sx title, there were a lot of sponsor commitments that RD had to do and there was some definite lack of testing going into the opening round.They made some big gains in the off week with the chassis and Dungey was much happier going into Texas. And it showed.
So now we know that Ryan Dungey is ok and he's going to be there all the way to the end, he jumped into second in the points as well with the Freestone ride.
Chad Reed told me after the race that he didn't bring his best and wasn't "feeling it" this weekend. I have to say there are a lot of riders that would love to not be "feeling it" and go 2-3 at a national. Reed gated poorly in the first moto and took a couple laps to get going but once he did, man it was fun to watch. There was a wall before the sand roller section and it was causing pretty much everyone to have to stop and roll over it. Reedy would hit a bump before it and sail over the top of the wall, clearing it by inches. It had the potential for disaster should his rear wheel clip the top of the wall. It was very impressive and reminiscent of his High Point leap last year. Reed was almost a second faster in this section of the track and used it to pretty much blow by a bunch of riders during the first moto. He worked his way up to second by the end. Second moto out, he rode pretty strong but was unable to clear the wall anymore because the track was so rough.
He finished 3rd in the second moto but got passed by a privateer so I think that's what he meant when he said he wasn't feeling it. He's still leading the series and looking as strong as ever to defend his title.
Kyle Regal has had a bit of a rough year. After bursting on the scene last year on a privateer Honda, Regal was picked up near the end of the season by the Valli Yamaha guys. Going into the 2010 season, he really wanted to race 450's but the team (and maybe Yamaha) wanted him on a 250. He still entered the first 450 supercrosses without the team really knowing it and the downward spiral between Kyle and the team started. I thought a 7th place at the opening round of the 250 east was pretty good but apparently Regal did not.
The problems between the team and Regal (and his step-dad) got bigger and bigger to point where he was suspended for a race and then he ultimately asked for his release and there was no problem with Valli granting that. It simply didn't work out and that would be a polite way of saying it. I'm not going to get into the details but I've heard a bunch from both sides and lemme put it this way, don't look for any Christmas cards to be exchanged between the two sides.
So enough of that, Regal skipped the rest of supercross and hit the road as a privateer once again. And once again, he was on a Honda. Texas-based aftermarket company Merge Racing stepped in to help him out (Jim Lewis at Merge was actually doing his suspension at Valli) and Regal went to Hangtown to prove everyone wrong. A 19-9 score in California was good and bad and none of us really knew whether the moves Kyle made would pay off or not.
Well, this weekend in Texas Regal rode amazing to 6-2 scores and 3rd overall on the day. Let's take a look at his bike, his support and the outside things and compare them to his peers. It's pretty much the equivalent of comparing Bill Gates to myself. There is no comparison. In the second moto, he caught and passed Mike Alessi, Andrew Short, Brett Metcalfe and Chad Reed. So he basically caught and passed 26 million dollars on Saturday. Great ride!
I know he's gotten bikes and parts from Honda and look for him to go big-time with a team in 2011. The thing is, and I don't know Kyle or his step-dad, there are people on the Valli team that are well connected in the industry and with everything that went down, the Regal team doesn't have a great reputation in the pits. Teams don't want riders and crew overstepping their boundaries. Again, I don't know what went down in the whole deal and I'm not judging, I'm just saying what the talk in the pits is. I asked for an interview of Kyle but was told that they didn’t like some things that I have written so looks like I’m out.
Christophe Pourcel wasn't happy about his Hangtown ride despite him getting second place (and tying for the overall) and he intended to show everyone this weekend in Texas exactly how it's going to be the rest of the summer. The Frenchman loves to feign ignorance at training, riding, caring about life but you don't win the amount of races that he has by acting like an emo kid going to a Cure concert. He pulled up alongside Hangtown winner and new wonder-kid Eli Tomac in the first moto, looked over at him a few times as if to say "Faisons la course petit garcon" which is the time-honored phrase of "Let us race little boy" but Tomac wanted no part of it. He was content to finish second in the heat and battle another day.
So with that Pourcel jetted out to a ten-second lead and the win. In the second moto Pourcel was way back on the start (outside the top fifteen) and worked his way up from the back to end up fifth and get the overall win. Thanks to an enormous mistake by his teammate that is.
That teammate, Dean Wilson, had a great ride in the first moto to end up 3rd and then the second time out he passed a few riders and took off into the lead. It was an incredible ride and at one point, Dean-o had a seventeen second lead. His 3-1 was going to be good enough for his first ever career win but then some goofy stuff happened. With the heat no doubt affecting him late in the race, Dean started losing time to his teammate in second Tyla Rattray. Like a whole bunch of time. Then on the last lap, Rattray got by Wilson for the moto win but Dean was still going to win the overall. But then, inexplicably Dean slowed before the finish and Broc Tickle got him for second in the moto. This was the final knife in the heart for Dean and he lost the OA to Pourcel.
It was a collapse of massive proportions and Dean snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. After the race Dean explained that he let Rattray because he thought he was a lapper and wanted to help him out but I'm not sure if I buy this theory. I think he just went loopy from the heat and his brain was melting (for more on this syndrome, look at Brittney Spears during the shaved head era). Wilson's mistake will go down with Grant Langston crashing while doing a one-hander on the last lap and losing his first career win. And somehow, like GL, I think Wilson will collect a few more wins along the way before all is said and done.
Of course we all know Wilson is a Canadian and the best finish of all-time for a Canuck is Ross Pederson getting 3rd at Hangtown in 1987 in the 250 class. Wilson was on his way to beating that record until fate (and a melted brain) got to him. He's now tied with The Rollerball for best overall finish by a Canadian at a national.
Let's take a look at the results from both classes shall we?
1 377 Christophe Pourcel Groveland Kawasaki KX 250F 1 5 41
2 28 Tyla Rattray Wildomar, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 6 1 40- Great ride for Rattray. He didn't exactly set the world on fire at Hangtown (especially for a guy that sat out SX, is a former World Champ and was getting ready for the outdoors) but he rebounded strong with a great ride in the second moto and quietly, he's got two moto wins in the last eight motos stretching back to last year.
3 108 Dean Wilson Menifee Kawasaki KX 250F 3 3 40
4 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI Yamaha YZ 250F 8 2 35- Tickle was strong all day and I was surprised he was 8th in the first moto because whenever I saw him, he looked to be hauling ass.
5 38 Trey Canard Shawnee, OK Honda CRF250R 4 7 32- Trey heated up in the second moto and had to be treated by the medics immediately after the moto.
6 243 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Honda CRF250R 2 11 32- The Kid hit the wall in the second moto but that's ok, he'll be back strong nex t week. He told me that he's readjusted his goals to be top three every weekend.
7 49 William Hahn Decatur, TX Honda CRF250R 9 6 27- Wilbur rode great in the second moto. On the Pulpmx show on Monday, Ping stated that Hahn has some great offers for next year and most likely won't be back on the TLD team.
8 12 Jake Weimer Rupert, ID Kawasaki KX 250F 5 12 25
9 48 Max Anstie Hemet, CA Yamaha YZ250F 15 4 24- Great for the Star team to have Tickle and Anstie in the top five in the second moto. Not to be mistaken for Pro Circuit, they're coming around.
10 17 Justin Barcia Ochlocknee, GA Honda CRF250R 10 8 24
11 577 Martin Davalos Cairo, GA Yamaha YZ250F 13 9 20
12 19 Tommy Searle Murrieta KTM 250 SXF 12 13 17
13 21 Blake Wharton Aubrey, TX Honda CRF250R 7 34 14
14 31 Matthew Lemoine Collinsville, TX Suzuki RM Z250 14 15 13
15 175 Phillip Nicoletti Bethal, NY KTM 250 SXF 16 14 12
16 200 Cole Seely Newbury Park, CA Honda CRF250R 11 19 12- Seely was out front in the first moto for a while before dropping back. He's been resigned to TLD for 2011 by the way.
17 66 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA Suzuki RM Z250 34 10 11- You're not going to read it anywhere but Bagget was on fire in the first moto. He passed all the way up to third before his bike broke. A great ride and there are already teams that are very interested in Blake.
18 185 Killy Rusk Aztec, NM KTM 250 SX-F 19 16 7
19 126 Hunter Hewitt Pilot Point, TX Suzuki RM Z250 17 18 7
20 92 Michael Willard Newark, OH Honda CRF250R 38 17 4
21 834 Hunter Clements Weston, MO Honda CRF250R 18 21 3
22 87 Les Smith York, SC Honda CRF250R 37 20 1
23 211 Tevin Tapia Federal Way, WA KTM 250 SXF 20 30 1
24 85 Scott Champion Sun City, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 22 22 0
25 505 Sean Lipanovich Tallahassee, FL Honda CRF450R 24 24 0
26 613 James DeCotis Peabody, MA Honda CRF250R 21 28 0
27 133 Myles Martin Tedder Surfside, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 23 29 0
28 991 Branden Miller Fisherville, TN Kawasaki KX 250F 29 25 0
29 798 Billy Ainsworth Columbia, CT Kawasaki KX 250F 28 26 0
30 166 Dakota Tedder Surfside, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 30 27 0
31 521 Kyle Gills Wiggins, MS Kawasaki KX 250F 26 31 0
32 928 Bobby Garrison Hesperia, CA Husqvarna 250FX 25 33 0- He should get some points just for being on a Husky.
33 370 Drew Yenerich New Lenox, IL Yamaha YZ 250F 27 32 0
34 63 Sean Borkenhagen Huntington Beach, CA KTM 250 SXF 39 23 0
35 341 Nico Izzi Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ250F 32 36 0
36 36 Darryn Durham Butler, PA Honda CRF250R 31 38 0
37 585 Travis Baker Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ 250F 33 37 0- Separated his shoulder in the first moto.
38 61 Vince Friese Murrieta, CA Honda CRF250R 36 35 0- Big crash for Vince in the first moto over the finish line tabletop.
39 50 Alex Martin Millville, MN Honda CRF250R 35 39 0
40 116 Ryan Morais Murrieta, CA Suzuki RMZ250 40 40 0- Well it didn't last long. Morais broke his thumb in practice and once again, he can't stay healthy for the outdoors. Heal up Mo!
1 5 Ryan Dungey Belle Plaine, MN Suzuki RMZ 450 1 1 50
2 1 Chad Reed Australia Suzuki RMZ 450 2 3 42
3 41 Kyle Regal Kemp, TX Honda CRF450R 6 2 37
4 24 Brett Metcalfe Lake Elsinore, CA Honda CRF450R 7 4 32- How about Metty with 2 holies and a strong second moto ride. He faded a bit in the first moto which made me think about how he suffered from heat stroke a couple of years ago but full credit to Metty for staying strong in the second moto while there was a full battle going on behind him.
5 33 Josh Grant Riverside, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 5 10 27- Josh has now had two great first motos (this week he came from outside the top 20 to fifth) and two poopy second motos (two 10th places). Don't worry though, soon I think he's going to catch fire.
6 10 Thomas Hahn Decatur, TX Suzuki RMZ450 4 12 27- T-Hahn rode awesome in the first moto.
7 800 Mike Alessi Victorville, CA KTM 350SXF 12 5 25- Weird day for Mikey. First moto he just couldn't do anything and stayed outside the top ten but yet looked to be trying as hard as ever to move forward. Afterwards, it was discovered that he wasn't very happy with his suspension so some changes were made and then he moved into the lead early in the second race. He gapped the guys a little bit and looked to be prime to go 12-1 on the day but uncharacteristically dumped it in a turn.
8 101 Ben Townley Corona, CA Honda CRF450R 3 16 25
9 55 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL Yamaha YZ 450F 9 9 24
10 26 Michael Byrne Park City, UT Yamaha YZ450F 8 11 23- Byrner almost pulled the holeshot in the first moto and rode up front for a while. Baby steps I suppose.
11 32 Kyle Cunningham Fort Worth, TX Yamaha YZ450F 13 8 21
12 27 Nicholas Wey DeWitt, MI Kawasaki KX450F 11 13 18- Wey hasn't pulled it together yet in the first four motos of the season.
13 29 Andrew Short Smithville, TX Honda CRF450R 39 6 15
14 35 Matthew Goerke Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ450F 38 7 14
15 209 Heath Harrison Silverhill, AL Kawasaki KX 450F 15 14 13- I have no clue who Heath(cliff) is but great ride for the guy.
16 18 David Millsaps Murrieta, CA Honda CRF450R 10 19 13- Millsaps had an odd first moto where he blazed through the pack from outside the top ten and then moved into fifth. Then he got hot and dropped back to tenth by the end. Second moto he was pretty far back when he had a fork seal go and he lost his front brake.
17 771 Terren ODell Siloam Springs, AR Yamaha YZ 450F 19 15 8
18 57 Jarred Browne Nuevo, CA Kawasaki KX450F 14 38 7
19 46 Ryan Sipes Flaherty, KY Yamaha YZ 450F 16 23 5- Sipes struggled all day after a great first round.
20 122 Daniel Reardon Menifee Yamaha YZ450F 31 17 4
21 43 Steven Clarke Cairo, GA Suzuki RM Z250 17 33 4
22 69 Adam Chatfield banning, CA Kawasaki KX 450F 33 18 3
23 157 Sean Hackley Jr. Ovilla, TX Kawasaki KX 450F 18 32
24 712 Matt Moss Temecula, CA Suzuki RMZ450 34 20 1- Well, he got a point this weekend but I can honestly say I never saw him all day.
25 196 Tyler Wharton Aubrey, TX Honda CRF450R 20 34 1
26 247 Teddy Parks II Princeton, TX Kawasaki KX 450F 22 21 0
27 717 Alexander Ivanytin Moscow Yamaha YZ 450F 24 24 0
28 313 Derek Rogers Ellijay, GA Yamaha YZ 450F 23 26 0
29 290 Brandon Haas St. Charles, MN Yamaha YZ 250 25 25 0
30 134 Travis Sewell Westville, IN Yamaha YZ 450F 29 22 0
31 88 Ricky Renner Lakeland, FL KTM 450 SX-F 21 31 0
32 862 Ozzy Barbaree White Hall, AR Suzuki RMZ 450 28 27 0
33 71 Kyle Summers Discovery Bay, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 27 28 0
34 184 Dennis Stapleton Capitola, CA Honda CRF450R 26 29 0
35 42 Ben Evans Boise, ID Kawasaki KX 450F 32 30 0
36 232 Justin Berry Edmond, OK Kawasaki KX 450F 30 36 0
37 501 Scotty Wennerstrom Tyler, TX Suzuki RMZ 450 35 35 0
38 201 Cameron Rodriguez Apple Valley, CA Honda CRF450R 36 37 0
39 276 Johnny Jelderda Murrieta, CA Honda CRF450R 37 40 0
40 40 Jake Moss Temecula, CA Suzuki RMZ450 40 39 0
Team Honda did not have a good day. As stated above Davi Millsaps had a fork seal go out in the second moto but before the first moto, Andrew Short was unable to line up due to a mechanical problem on his CRF450. The bike was washed after practice and started up but then when it was time to go up for the motos, the bike would not fire. The Honda staff changed everything electrical on the bike, they would get spark and then when it wouldn't start again, they had no spark. Eventually they figured it out but by then the gate had dropped and Andrew Short would go DNS.
Team manager Erik Kehoe told me that had never happened to him in his career as well as Dan Betley said that was a first for him. I'm sure the words "What in the hell happened????" were in Japanese in the subject line in Kehoe's inbox on Sunday morning. I've been there when an OEM suffers a catastrophic failure of a part and the Monday (in this case Tuesday) morning meetings are not fun.
While watching the first moto in the tower, up came Andrew and his wife Jackie to watch the motos. Not surprisingly, Shorty wasn't upset with it or anything and took the attitude that the Honda guys all work their asses off and sometimes, poop happens. Anyways, we were watching Reedy come through the pack and Jacki correctly predicted that Reed would get to second despite Andrew saying no.
Then I was predicting good things for Regal on Twitter before the race and Short was a little pessimistic on his chances. Then in the second moto, Shorty was moving towards the front when he started melting from the heat and struggling to maintain his third place and a guy named Kyle Regal passed him. He said at this point he started thinking about me and my prediction and how he wasn't going to hear the end of it.
I spoke with Reed before the press conference and he mentioned that at Hangtown his bike worked great but that he's been having some problem with the rear end of his bike in sandier conditions at his house and this week, those problems resurfaced. He said that they'll figure it out soon and that the Dunlop tires (long a source of discontent with Chad) are coming around and he's much, much happier with them nowadays.
I have a theory that when you're racing in heat like this, it really doesn't matter if you're the fittest guy ever or not. If you're suceptable to heat, then that's all there is too it. Guys like Eli Tomac, Trey Canard and Andrew Short (who didn't even race the first moto) all struggled with the temperatures and none of them would ever be considered to not be hard workers.
Speaking of Canard, none other than Tim Ferry was in the house this weekend to work with Canard. Canard reached out to him because his practice bike mechanic (Mark Russel) is Timmy's old guy and I guess, like me, Mark sold him on the greatness of Ferry. So anyways, Red Dog is still healing from his heel injury and came out to help Trey with lines, riding technique and really, just how to be a champion.
So I'm not really sure what they deal is between the two of them, I think they're just feeling each other out and dating right now. Y'know, seeing if it works out or not before they jump into bed together and officially become a couple. Imagine if Ferry keeps coming out to the races? That would be awesome.
We all know that I didn't get a press pass for the GP last week but I'm happy that not only did I get a press pass this weekend but walking from my car to the media tent, MX Sports' security officer Big John saw me, stopped his Rhino and gave me a lift to the tent. Quite a bit of difference!
Thanks for reading this crappy little column, I appreciate it and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat more about this race. In case over 4000 words wasn't enough for you