250 (West) Main
Despite a crash in the heat race, Joey Savatgy (Monster Energy Kawasaki) still managed to grab the holeshot and execute a perfect start. But Shane McElrath (TLD Red Bull KTM) and Aaron Plessinger (Monster Energy Yamaha) were hot on his heels. Both riders put in superb passes on Savatgy which left the Kawasaki rider stunned, he would later crash and manage just fourth on the night despite his promising start, and he would also drop two places in the championship standings – from first to third. Plessinger was looking extremely strong and, once embroiled in a fight with McElrath he made it clear that he was out to win whatever it took. The Yamaha rider crossed the line with a decent lead and celebrated by dancing and doing ‘the worm’ before jubilantly taking to the top step of the podium. McElrath and Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) completed the top three. Plessinger takes the title lead to Oakland (CA) next weekend.
Tomac’s rage against the system
Last year Eli Tomac’s season was undone at the sixth round at Arlington when a crash in the main damaged his Kawasaki and he was forced to limp home in 15th place. Tomac would win an impressive nine times over the season but he couldn’t quite catch Ryan Dungey (who won just three races) for the title, ending up an agonising five points short. 2018 looks like it could be more of the same; one crash and one DNS means that despite winning 50% of the races so far he’s 36 points adrift and in a lowly 10th place in the standings. Using the AMA scoring system if he wins every race from here on while championship leader Jason Anderson places second or third he’s still got at least 10 races and probably more to make up his deficit. That’s because SX is scored 26, 23, 21, 18 etc. That’s not much of a points bonus for being top dog. Compare this to FIA Formula 1 where the points scale goes 25,18, 15, 12 etc. Using the FIA system Tomac could be up and leading within four races. In fact using the FIA points system Tomac would have been champion in 2017. Some world championships run worst-score discard systems, too. So the question is: does the AMA points system promote exciting racing and does it adequately reward the best riders? Or, does the system keep the riders safer, by rewarding consistency? Is one sytem better than the other? Does it matter – after all you play to the rules?
You win your championship on your worst days
A good old racing proverb that one. So Jason Anderson probably won’t be losing any sleep over his fourth place in Glendale. It cost him four points on his lead (to Barcia) and he lost just two points to Roczen, but fourth is okay as off-days go. Anderson is showing he has the strength and skill to minimize his losses when he muffs a start. He does come back. No reason to get rattled…
Roczen’s steady improvement
Roczen in 2018 is like no Roczen we know. But actually that makes him all the more dangerous. He’s there just 12 points behind Ando, and he’s collecting the points and now he’s at last got a foot on the podium and a chance to thank all his sponsors (like you do). Maybe the taste of champagne to Roczen is like the smell of blood to a shark. But really, we’re all just waiting for him to do his firecracker stuff.