Does it get much better than that? The 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series wrapped up its time in central Texas with the 2021 Arlington Three Supercross, and as anticipated, the twelfth race of the season had championship implications for riders at all levels. Cooper Webb bounced back from a poor Heat Race and snatched the Main Event win away from Roczen, the last example of the Red Bull KTM rider’s ability to adapt when under pressure, while Roczen’s riding early pace and technical lines showed that the Team Honda HRC rider is giving it everything he has.
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Justin Cooper reclaimed control of the 250 West Coast region with a dominant ride in the Main Event, a timely result that puts him just two points ahead of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Cameron McAdoo and three-points ahead of Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence as they go on break.
What caught our eye at the track?
Staging area. No, it never gets old seeing mechanics wheel their race-prepped bikes to the starting line for each session.
A new Showa shock reservoir design and Vibram grip tape are two things on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki KX250s that stick out to us this year. The suspension piece is an A-Kit part from PC, with a design that looks a little bit like Showa's BFRC shock. The grip tape is actually mass-produced and sold by Vibram, and the Italian company sells sets that are pre-cut to fit most modern four-stroke dirt bikes.
Seth Hammaker has been a rookie standout this season. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider came into the year with very little hype due in part to rough rides at public tracks, but he's figured out how to get around the track and through the whoops, something he said was his biggest issue in the offseason. We're curious to see how he will do during the Nationals.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki has a hot blade in their arsenal, too. The team hand-cut the knobs of the rear tires to alter the flex characteristics and improve the grip on the hard-packed clay at Arlington Three. Dunlop doesn't have an issue with this; the tire company told us that the teams are free to do what they want with the rubber once it's in their possession.
Need to straighten out a tweaked front-end? Put the Mongrel Boots to work.
Stilez Robertson tweaked his ankle during Tuesday's race, spent the Wednesday-Friday doing what he could to heal up, and put in a few laps on Saturday, but the injury was too much to overcome. The extended break is coming at a perfect time for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider, and if he can get back to full strength, the last few races of the West Coast region could be even more competitive.
Finish line style with Jalek Swoll. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has been quick and consistent in his sophomore season, and after another fourth-place finish in the 250 Main Event, he is tied for fourth in the championship standings.
Justin Bogle was one of the first guys to find out how brutal the big rhythm lanes were when a hard case in the Free Practice session sent the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM rider over the bars. JB spent some time with the medics, was sent to a local hospital for a bruised lung-chest and sore shoulder, and is hanging back in Oklahoma City this week to see his doctors.
Count the Monster Energy logos.
A concussion at A1 sidelined Marvin Musquin for A2, but the Red Bull KTM rider was determined to get back on track as soon as possible. He put in a mid-week practice moto at the Masterpool family property, passed the medical protocol, and looked fine during Saturday's race. A mistake in the sand caused another rider to land on Musquin, which hurt his arm, limited his grip, and forced him to DNF the Main Event. Fortunately, Musquin's injury doesn't seem serious.
Martin Davalos had a hard spill through the whoops during the afternoon practice, a crash that shredded his jersey and back. We assumed the session was over for Davalos when he sat down on the Tuff Block, but surprisingly, he remounted the bike and put in a few more laps. Respect.
Justin Brayton's crash on Tuesday left the Muc-Off Honda rider with a hand injury, so the team put Mitchell Oldenburg back on the big bike for Saturday's race. Freckle was able to get in a shakedown moto on the CRF450R during the week (he lives within an hour of the stadium) and put in a solid 14th place finish in the Main Event. Check back soon for some helpful riding tips from Oldenburg.
SlayCo. Axell Hodges debuted his new gear line during a Monster Energy FMX demo session in the FanFest, and it's something that should be part of his web store soon. Axell's popularity is unquestionable (there were lots of brands interested in signing him during the free agency period), and high-quality gear is easier to source than ever, so this could be a wise move by the family.
Hunter Lawrence's Team Honda HRC CRF250R was complete with the red plates at Arlington Three, and yeah, the all-red ride was an eye-catcher.
We might have to do a feature on the 9800 one day. OGIO's roller bag has long been the standard for moto luggage, and we've hauled them to the track, pulled them all over the world, and stuffed them with week's worth of clothes for these SX extended stays. The company's latest lineup features a few technical updates (straps/handles/ID cardholder) and styles that stand out at the baggage carousel.
Shane McElrath's CRF450R sat idle at Arlington after back spasms struck the MCR rider on his flight to the race and hampered him for the entire stay in Texas. McElrath will try to get the problem sorted out during the break and intends to return for the Atlanta rounds. In other news, it sounds like the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts/Honda team hasn't committed to racing the Nationals any further, which is something that McElrath, Tickle, and Bloss all have to keep in mind during these final SX rounds.
Pierce Brown's bike was parked for the week due to a thumb injury that required surgery, something the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider is expected to recover from quickly. Brown's time on the track has been limited, but a podium finish and big efforts have made it apparent why KTM-GASGAS have supported him through the last few years.
Ty Masterpool is getting the swing of things in Supercross. The first race was a little rough, which was to be expected for a rider with limited experience, but he's made three of the five Main Events and was amid a pack of decorated 250 Class veterans on his way to a seventh-place result in the Arlington Three LCQ.
It's been exciting to watch two of the top riders in this era fight for position on the track lately. Here's to more head-to-head and for a few more years in their respective careers.
The Mars exploration project Perseverance was the theme of Marvin Musquin's latest custom-painted helmet.
French artist OCD was responsible for the Red Bull commissioned Airoh, a mix of galaxies, glitter, and a graphic of the project's rover.
And just like always, Vince Friese is on the move late in the season. The SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts/Honda team's bonus program emphasizes top-15 finishes, so with multiple riders sidelined and Friese steadily scoring points in Main Events, he's on pace to meet the goal in 2021.
Stankdog and Daniel Blair had a quick Arenacross reunion before 250 Heat Race One.
Gared Steinke's bike is equipped with suspension pieces by MX-Tech, an Illinois shop with their own take on forks and shocks.
Okay, we're convinced: Cameron McAdoo is going to keep it on two-wheels. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider told us on the way out of the stadium on Saturday night that he's reigned in the "loose" style, that he's accepting of Tuesday's penalty, and that he expects a clean and close battle to the end with Justin Cooper and Hunter Lawrence.
Justin Cooper got his starts back at Arlington Three, something he pinned to a change in bike setup, something he has recently changed again, and limited practice in the offseason. His holeshots proved to be a deciding factor in the night's results.
You have to give it to Enzo Lopes. The Phoenix Racing Honda rider's crash at Houston One was a bad thing because it left him with a shoulder injury, but a "good thing" because it happened before he put in a competitive lap, and he was clear to join the opposite region. Saturday was Lopes' second race of the season, and he finished the 250 Main Event in 17th place.
Championship contenders for the 250 Class in 2022?
Barcia trying to reel in a wild bike and a Suzuki getting the early jump. Somethings never change.
Four of the best whoop riders in '21 SX. Sorry that we didn't get Malcolm and AP in action over the rollers.
Even though it didn't pay points, the 450 Heat Race Two will go down as a big moment in the 450 SX championship. Cooper Webb got the holeshot while Ken Roczen dropped in right behind, waited for the opportunity to make a move, and rode off to the win.
We asked Webb what happened during the short sprint, especially on a track that didn't suit him, and he explained that it was a setup error and his own riding was to blame. "It was a little bit of a combination of everything. We tried a bike change that obviously didn't work well, but it was just a bad heat, for sure. Ken was riding really well and was all over me and when he got around me, he pulled away. Then I ended up going down and stuff. I just went back and regrouped. It's easy to let things slip away and let that ruin your whole night, so I was proud of myself for being able to rebound and figure things out. I watched a lot of film and kind of see where I was losing a lot of time. That rhythm section changed throughout the day, so being able to see what changed and what those guys were doing and what was the fastest way through them was good. I was able to adjust."
Shoutout to Michael Hicks for making the 250 Main Event in his third attempt. Hicks is an STL local and won the Hoosier Tires Arenacross championship this past winter. Fonzy, send him some gear.
450 LCQ Action
We asked Cooper if clearing the big rhythm lane was on his mind during the Main Event's opening lap, as he was the only guy to do it, but surprisingly he said it wasn't a big deal. "I got the holeshot in both the heat and the main and I did that line on both first laps," he explained. "I hit it every lap in practice, so I had it down pretty good. I definitely didn't think of it like that, it was just the normal fast line through there, and I had the clear air to do that. That jump was really big, though."
Jarrett Frye had a moment in the 250 Main Event. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider made a mistake in the first rhythm lane, overshoot or cased a jump, smacked his face into the crossbar, and scrambled to regain control over the next obstacle. Somehow he rode it out.
Coty Schock had a rough go in the Main Event. A run-in with Hammaker in the early laps put the FXR/Chaparral/Honda rider on the deck and he did everything he could to avoid getting run over by oncoming traffic, remounted, and pushed back to a 14th place finish.
Just another moto at CLUB MX.
Justin Cooper's win came at a good time. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider missed out on some points during recent Main Events, but podium finishes amid the chaos of the 250 Class kept him in the mix, and he's now up by two in the championship.
Hammaker-Schock's 250 Main Event collision left the Pro Circuit rider's muffler cracked and bent, something he said hampered the bike's performance but that he managed for the rest of the race to finish in third place.
Hell of a life.
Somehow, these two always find each other on the starting line. Even when one has a better or worse gate pick or the ruts on the other side of the gate are hammered, the title rivals tend to line up side by side in the 450 Main Event. We asked them if it was part of a strategy or something else during Monday's special media session, and both stated that it's partly a coincidence. "If I'm second gate pick and he's tenth, in my eyes, it's more of a coincidence if we end up side by side. You have to look at which has somewhat of the smoothest rut. Sometimes I look at what gives me the best position on the starting gate, but I'm usually just judging the rut. Sometimes it ends up next to him, sometimes not," noted Roczen.
"Like Ken said, the angle and the rut is what we look at and probably what we all look like. If he wins a heat and I win a heat, we are probably taking the two preferred lines," continued Webb. "This weekend, I was 10th, so there weren't many good options, and I went to the one that had the best rut of the gates that were left. I think getting a clean rut out of the gate is most important. We usually know what position on the gate the starts are coming from and I think we all kind of gravitate to those areas."
Chase Sexton's faceplant in the sand was brutal. The Team Honda HRC rider's second hard shot to the grill in a month, it left him with a bloody mouth and face and unable to complete the Main Event.
450 Main Event battles.
Another good look, Roger.
GASGAS Barcia is wild to watch. The new bike/gear/helmet/goggle setup is a big departure from what we'd come to know of the 51.
Rock hard. AirTrix's work on Ken Roczen's Fox V3 is a big departure from the racing stripes and cartoons so common in custom paint.
Eli Tomac's recent comments in the post-race press conferences have been excellent. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider has been upfront about his results, the racing strategy, the level of the 450 Class, and even what he'd like to see in track designs. Yes, only a few of you will care, but his remarks after Arlington Two and Three say a lot about how rider's approach things.
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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