#38 Shane McElrath (Troy Lee Designs KTM):
Wow… did anyone pick McElrath to win the much-antipicated season opener at Anaheim? This came as a complete shock to me. McElrath has always shown bursts of speed here and there, but has failed to capture any significant media attention over the years.
Prior to A1, McElrath has been on and off the podium in supercross, obtaining a few second and third place finishes within the past couple of years. In fact, McElrath even finished second in the 250SX West Championship back in 2015. How can it be that McElrath was never deemed a title favorite entering the 2017 season then? Simply put, he never stood out in terms of pure speed, and drama on the track elsewhere always took the spotlight away from him (for instance, break-out efforts by Jessy Nelson, Cooper Webb, and Tyler Bowers took up much of the media’s attention in the 2015 season, even though McElrath finished substantially better in the standings than both Bowers and Nelson did that season).
With his finish at A1, the tide has shifted for McElrath. A1 is arguably the most anticipated race of the year, and McElrath’s utter dominance at the race has rapidly turned all spotlights onto him. He didn’t get lucky either, for title-favorite Aaron Plessinger was already up to 3rd place by the 2nd lap. Instead of Plessinger closing in on him as many would have thought, McElrath maintained a consistent 2-3 second lead the entire race. Earlier in the night, McElrath also passed Jeremy Martin for a heat race win in a very dominant fashion as well. McElrath mentioned that this is his first year entering a season completely healthy, so 2017 has brought a new McElrath indeed. The question is: can he handle the spotlight?
Overall, McElrath’s unexpected dominant performance at A1 was extremely impressive, thus making him the Most Impressive 250 Rider at Anaheim 1. Stay tuned this weekend to see if he can repeat these results at round 2 in San Diego, and check back weekly to see our thoughts on all of the racing action, including next week’s most impressive rider.
Photo from Racer X Online