Apologies for Kickstart coming to you on a Tuesday, a long weekend of travel, a Monday loaded with a podcast session, video shoot, content creation, and other issues kept this from going up at the normal time, but I think it’s got enough information to make up for the delay. So let’s not waste any more time, here’s Kickstart from the 2019 East Rutherford Supercross…
JUSTIN BRAYTON COMEBACK
After a month on the sidelines with a sore knee, Justin Brayton was back on track in New Jersey and he logged a thirteenth place finish in the 450 Main Event, which is impressive considering the torn meniscus/damaged MCL that has kept him off of the bike. It’s important that the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts/Honda rider finish within the top-ten of the championship standings, a feat that’s feasible thanks to Justin Barcia and Chad Reed’s injury-induced absence. After Las Vegas, Brayton will go to the recently announced Hawaiian Supercross and then start his real knee recovery over the summer.
NO TEAM ORDERS
Clearly, there were no premeditated plans by teams to change the outcome of the event. Mitchell Oldenburg’s second-place finish took two critical points away from Justin Cooper, Martin Davalos didn’t move out of the way for Austin Forkner in the early laps, and Christian Craig didn’t race. As for the 450 class, Zach Osborne didn’t worry about being in front of Cooper Webb during the middle portion of the Main Event. After hearing so much speculation as to what teams would have up their sleeves with titles on the line, it was nice to see everything play out without outside influence.
PRAISE FOR DIRT WURX
Once again, the Dirt Wurx track crew did an excellent job at protecting the course from heavy rain during the week. In fact, the track was dusty during track walk and it took some extra time with the watering hoses to get it into race-ready conditions for the night show.
All eyes were on Austin Forkner in East Rutherford. With a chance at the championship, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team and rider did all that they could to keep him on the track for the last two rounds of the season. After weeks of therapy and a single day of riding, the decision was made to line up in East Rutherford. Mechanic Olly Stone applied a massive sheet of grip tape material to the left-side plastics to keep the leg locked in place, while the rider wrapped his knee for event more support under the Mobius braces and spent much of the day hooked up to a therapy machine of Doc G’s. His pace in practice and the Heat Race was noticeably slower, but he seemed much more comfortable and confident in the early laps of the Main Event until a hard landing jarred the leg. Surgery is necessary to repair the damage and it will sideline Forkner for the full duration of the upcoming Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
East Rutherford was a solid showing for Lorenzo Locurcio, as he clicked off clean laps in 250 Heat Race Two for a third-place finish and backed it up with a season-best ninth-place result in the 250 Main Event. This has been an eventful year for the South American, as he missed a portion of the season due to visa issues that prevented him from taking an MX2 ride in Europe, then returned to the L&H/Kissimmee Motorsports team for final rounds of the East Coast region.
2019 has been an up and down year for Mitchell Oldenburg. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider had to miss Atlanta due to a crash (down), became a father (up), missed the podium a few times (down), bounced back with a second-place result in New Jersey (up). During our Kickstart podcast with Wil Hahn on Monday, the Star Racing team manager said that he understands the position that Oldenburg is in, basically rebuilding himself after a number of injuries and misdiagnosed issues, but that the 66 should be better this summer.
You never forget the first win. Chase Sexton’s career hasn’t exactly been easy (remember the broken femur in his rookie race of 2017) but the GEICO Honda rider has improved tremendously in a short amount of time and is on the verge of winning his first pro title in just his second full year of Supercross. Sexton has routinely been one of the top riders in qualifying and the second-fastest rider to Forkner on the East Coast when the gate drops, but the two were very close at multiple times this season. It’s unfortunate that some may view Sexton’s success with an asterisk next to it, but you can’t win it if you’re not in it.
Did you watch the latest episode of the Red Bull Moto Spy video series? Ken Roczen and the Red Bull staff are doing all that they can to figure out what is ailing the Team Honda HRC rider, but per Roczen’s social media posts, they haven’t found a definitive cause to his lack of energy. Roczen has gone through a lot in the last three years and that his body is able to handle it all is a testament to his fitness. Here’s hoping they get something worked out soon, because a summer racing in the heat and humidity is on the horizon and we’d hate to see Roczen completely zapped by a health issue.
Brandon Hartranft has been a surprise of the 2019 season and his results have landed him on the radar of team managers in the 250 class. East Rutherford was the home race for the CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha rider (he grew up about an hour away from the stadium in Brick, New Jersey) and there was a full section of fans that cheered his fifth-place finish.
Anotha one. Cooper Webb has won seven of the sixteen races this season, an impressive number for a rider that had never won one 450 SX Main Event. Some expected the Red Bull KTM rider to cruise through the final part of the season, especially when it became clear that he had the upper hand in the title with limited races left, but Webb says he’s gone into every race with the mindset to win. In the post-race press conference, we asked Webb and Tomac if there’s a reason they’ve raced each other so cleanly this year, especially with the way a take-down pass could change the points. To their credit, both riders replied that they’d rather race with a sense of respect for the other and not have the title decided in a less than perfect manner.
Blake Baggett was in the mix during the 450 Main Event until a small crash set the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM rider back down the running order. This has been a breakout year for Baggett in Supercross and with the summer on the way, he's on our short list as a title contender for the National championship.
Joey Savatgy’s shoulder injury from Nashville is still an issue for the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider, even if it doesn’t seem that way. A crash into a net during the Heat Race at New Jersey rattled the injury and seemed to erase the progress from the time off, but Savatgy raced through the pain to an LCQ win and seventh place finish. Savatgy is seventh overall in the 450 championship and needs to score at least sixteen points this weekend to finish sixth in the final standings (Dean Wilson is sixth, but will miss Vegas). This is an impressive rookie season for Savatgy and yeah, he’s a hot commodity for 450 teams next year. Where he lands, however, is still uncertain to the public.
A 3D model of Weston Peick’s skull and the dozens of pieces of material that put it back together following his horrific Paris Supercross crash was on display at the JGR pit area. Seeing this is equally stomach turning and impressive due to the surgeries that were required to put all of the hardware in place. Peick has been a common sight at California tracks recently, but a return to racing is still a ways off.
J E T S, JETS JETS JETS! SHIFT MX whipped up a one-off kit for the GEICO Honda riders at East Rutherford, which paid homage to the NFL team that plays at MetLife Stadium. It’s a little different to see a gear brand bring traditional sports into moto especially because motocross never seems to penetrate the NFL or NBA, but like the Seattle Super Sonics setup Roczen wore a few weeks ago, this was a very popular kit.
A clutch a day. We know some of you never swap out the steels and fibers in your bike, but a quick clutch change is standard for many teams in the pit area between qualifying and racing. How quickly could you get it done?
The daytime opening ceremonies are different, but really, we like the change in lighting after months of pitch-black stadiums and lasers. Ken Roczen demonstrates…
Ronnie Stewart didn’t race in New Jersey due to lingering issues from the concussion he suffered in the Nashville crash, but there was still one section of the stadium in matching yellow shirts for the East Coast native. You know, this could be an idea that Feld Entertainment could copy for the full series. In MotoGP, you can purchase a ticket to sit in a section of seats with fans of the same rider and all wear the same colors. Think about a KTM orange or Kawasaki green block of seats. Pay a little extra, get a shirt of your favorite rider or team. You can send us a check for this idea, Feld...
On Sunday, Martin Davalos made a social media post that said New Jersey was his 100th 250 class Main Event and that Las Vegas could be his 101st and maybe last 250 race. Does this mean that Davalos has inked a 450 deal or is retirement imminent for the veteran racer? We’re going to reach out to him this week in an attempt to find out more…
In December of 2018, Kyle Cunningham had no idea if he was going to race at all in 2019. Now, he’s ninth overall in the 250 East Coast region and has made every Main Event so far. Cunningham is one of those guys you can always count on to be at the races and in the mix for a top-fifteen finish in either class, something very few can say.
Have you had a Health-Ade Kombucha yet? Cole Seely picked up a personal sponsor from the growing drink company for the 2019 season, and they even support the Swapmoto Live studio show on our site. Swap and Anton have become major fans of the drink since first having one under the Team Honda HRC rig earlier this year and it’s basically replaced any sort of sugary drink from their diets. Swap likes the Pink Lady Apple flavor while Anton prefers the Blood Orange/Carrot/Ginger blend. Look for them at a health food store or gas station near you.
New Jersey motocross legend Barry Carsten was on hand at the East Rutherford round, but for once, he was not racing. Instead, Carsten was helping out the track crew and aiding other course workers. Honestly, Carsten could probably have gotten around the track with little issue if someone gave him a bike.
Chris Blose has been incredibly impressive in 2019, thanks to his split time between the 250 West Coast region with Gas Monkey Energy/AJE Motorsports and then as a privateer in the 450 class on the East Coast. The BWR team has shuttled Blose’s bike around the East Coast, but he works out of a rental car on the weekend. Check back for more with Blose later this week…
It’s good to have Fredrik Noren on the track in the 250 class. The Swedish rider has never been known for his Supercross skills, but thanks to a deal with the Phoenix Racing Honda team, he was able to improve on the small-bore bike during the Kicker Arenacross series. Now that the AX season is over, Noren has qualified for three 250 East Coast Main Events and posted 13-14-13 finishes.
The most expensive parade lap jacket ever? Chase Marquier’s The North Face x Supreme coat was a limited collab piece from two clothing titans and currently is selling on StockX for over three thousand dollars. We know some of you think that the expensive clothes worn by young riders is a waste of money, but if you know the game, each piece is more like an investment that can be bought and sold like a high-end watch.
John Short might be the only rider in the 250 class with a stock exhaust system. The Texan has become a common name in the 250 East Coast Main Events this year, as he’s made five of the eight races run so far and finished 15-16-12-13-16, which has him fourteenth overall.
One thing we like about Ken Roczen is that he’s there to support friends Chase Sexton and Adam Cianciarulo. Even when the 450 feature is in the gate, the Team Honda HRC rider always seems to sneak over to the 250 class podium and spend a few moments with the guys as they celebrate the success. Roczen was one of the first people to Sexton’s side after the GEICO Honda rider’s first career 250 win.
It was nice to see Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton share a few words on the podium after the race. Despite their status as title rivals, the two seem to share a much lighter relationship than say, Forkner to Sexton. It’s very rare in any sport to see front-runners be friendly to their competition, but it’s actually common in our world.
While most mechanics stayed behind the gate at the start, Justin Shantie made it a point to get to the side of the track so he could watch how Joey Savatgy got off the line. The rider and wrench have been together for a few years and we can think of few combinations in the pit area as close as they are.
At Seattle, Josh Grant told us he figured it would take him a few weeks to get back into the flow of Supercross. JG33 was right, because an eighth-place finish at New Jersey was his best result so far. Grant goes about racing much different than some of the competition in that he doesn't try to squeeze every lap or gym session in during the week. Instead, he does what he feels his body can manage without losing an edge or getting worn down.
Eli Tomac’s demeanor after the race spoke volumes about where he’s at mentally. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider went down twice in the same spot during the 450 Main Event but battled back to a third-place finish by being the fastest rider on the track (he was the only rider in the 51-second range during the Main Event). On the podium and in the press conference, Tomac laughed at the mistakes and said it won’t get to him. That is for sure the confidence of a rider that knows he is really the fastest person in the field.
Zach Osborne has been trending up over the last few rounds. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has gotten over the shoulder injury and first 450 race mistakes to be one of the fastest riders in the field during qualifying, Heat Races, and Main Events. New Jersey was a breakthrough for the veteran racer-450 rookie, as he led laps ahead of Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac until a mistake sent him back to second place. We asked Osborne if he’s finally back to his preseason pace and he said while he feels great, there’s still some work to do before he’s at full-speed. If that’s the case, it could add an entirely new dynamic to the outdoors and 2020 season.
When all is said and done, Marvin Musquin will have a hall of fame career. The Red Bull KTM rider has been one of the front runners of the sport in SX and MX, in Europe and the US, and has put his name on the win sheet an impressive number of times. The 2019 title is out of reach now, but at many points this season, Musquin was the fastest rider on the track. Due to the preseason knee injury, we will always have to wonder what could have been. Also, this is a contract year for Musquin, but all signs we see point to him staying with KTM. Musquin has set his entire life up to be a part of the team and works incredibly well with the European brand and trainer Aldon Baker. At 30 years old, it would be a surprise to see him part ways and spend at least one season learning a new bike, new team, new training program, etc…
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… We’re not going to go to New Jersey and make a Kickstart without some sort of Wu-Tang/Raekwon reference.
Honda doesn’t offer an in-house accessories catalog that’s as big as KTM-Husqvarna or Yamaha, but there are some parts out there for purchase. The TiLube Honda by Buddy Brooks team has a mix of goods from HRC on their CRF250R race bikes, including this clamp set. If you want to make your bike as close to factory as it can get, harass your local Honda deal to get you the part numbers from HRC.
We had a quick word with Chad Reed on Saturday morning in New Jersey and it doesn’t sound like CR22 will be on the line this coming weekend in Las Vegas. Reed hasn’t been cleared to get back on a motorcycle yet, so it would be a big ask for him to get the go-ahead and then jump into Supercross with only a few days of practice. As for the talk that Seattle could have been Reed’s last race, we don’t see someone as motivated as Chad going away from the sport on the medical mule like that and believe he will be on the starting line somehow in 2020, if not for longer after that.
s your toolbox this organized? You don’t have to lie to us…
A port for a computer to plug into the data acquisition hardware on the Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450 is hidden under the right-side frame spar.
Fox Racing decided that East Rutherford needed to be their unofficial launch for the new V3 helmet and we got up close with them in the GEICO Honda rig. As far as appearance goes, this is a major shift for Fox from the prior V3 and the new lid looks a lot like their MTB helmet. It seems like the front part of the shell is actually a separate piece from the rear, which is unique for a moto helmet. Fox has retained use of their magnetic visor system on the new helmet and there are dozens of vents for air to flow through. One interesting thing to note is that two different painters did the GEICO Honda schemes: CMS Art Worx for Sexton, apdesigns for Craig.
A look inside Roczen’s helmet revealed that yes, Fox has made use of their “Fluid Inside” safety feature for the new V3. Fluid Inside is an inner liner “which mimics your body’s natural cerebral spinal fluid to manage both linear and rotational impact energy.” We should learn all about the helmet in the next few days.
A low-cost factory mechanic trick you can use. A number of teams safety-wire their spokes together, that way if one breaks, it does not drop down and catch on the brake or imped the rotation of the wheel. This going to keep you on the track for the full duration of a race with a busted wheel, but it’s something that could keep you safe enough to get back to the pits.
Alex Martin is really embracing the Troll nickname, evident in the little cartoon on his side panels and the sticker that Lee McCollum gave us on track walk. On Friday night, Martin and the Feld crew paid a visit to “Trolls: The Experience” show in New York City. We’ll have a write-up about that on site later this week.
Because a custom helmet will always have a spot in Kickstart.
Getting that Lit Kit nomination in, Chase?
Thanks for the prime placement, ARay. Suck it, Matthes.
After missing most of the season with a thumb injury, Christian Craig decided that he could use the last two rounds of the 250 East Coast SX region as a chance to prep for the summer ahead. Unfortunately, Craig had a tumble in the final qualifying session and decided it wasn't worth risking the entire summer for one race and he pulled out of the night's race and Las Vegas. Craig will be on the GEICO Honda CRF250R all summer and has spent the last few weeks riding with the team around California.
Cole Seely is in a good place right now. The Team Honda HRC rider has overcome his injury from last year and is back to his top-ten speed in the 450 class (a ninth-place finish at East Rutherford helps him bounce back from a nineteenth at Denver). It’s widely known that Seely is in a contract year (he signed a one-year extension with Honda that will carry him through 2019) and a lot of people are speculating what will happen to Seely and that factory spot. It would be a strange deal to see him leave a team and motorcycle he’s become so accustomed to, especially at this point in his career, but he doesn’t seem to be stressed about the situation and is making the most of every week at the track.
After manhandling a 30-year-old KX500 at Glen Helen, Supercross on a modern KX450 is probably easy. We caught Tyler Bowers as he stretched out a jump combination during qualifying. Was it faster? We don’t know. Was it cool looking? Of course.
Justin Bogle is back to his true form. It took the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM rider a few rounds to get over some health issues and set up the 450 SX-F, but the last few weeks have been impressive for the former 250 East Coast SX champion. Bogle won the 450 Heat Race and was primed for another top-five finish in the Main Event (he told us that a podium felt possible) until a broken component inside the fork caused him to crash. After a few laps on the busted bike, Bogle pulled off instead of risking injury. Right now Bogle is confirmed for the first three rounds of the Nationals, but if things start off well, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish out the summer with the Butler Brothers squad or get swooped up by another team.
Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.
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