San Diego brought great racing for the 250 West class. We saw 3 different leaders that all looked like they could win the race at one point. In the end it came down to a two-lap fury and Mcelrath won again! We also got to witness a different outcome because of the new timed format. Here are my top 5 riders as the series shifts back to Anaheim.
Aaron Plessinger (Star Racing Yamaha)
I still keep Plessinger as my guy to beat for this championship. He didn’t win last weekend, but he came from the back and was right on Hill and McElrath at the end of the race. If this guy gets the holeshot this weekend I don’t foresee anybody beating him. He also seemed confident in his podium speech that if he got the start he would be gone. The bad news is that he is now working from behind as he sits 8 points behind McElrath. Plessinger has got to start winning soon, like this weekend, or it might just be too late.
Shane McElrath (TLD/Red Bull KTM)
Well McElrath just showed everybody that A1 wasn’t a fluke. He is the real deal and now takes an 8-point lead into round 3. Last weekend showed that he was able to win despite not getting the holeshot. He only led for the last two laps, but that is all you need in this sport. The negative from last weekend was that Plessinger and Hill were faster and were catching up a lot near the end. This could just be because he was battling with Davalos, or maybe they were simply better on the track. However, in the end it doesn’t matter because he still won and will take the momentum into round 3 at Anaheim. I see Shane getting another podium but not the win this weekend.
Justin Hill (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki)
Hill was arguably the fastest rider on a 250 last weekend. Because of the start he was forced to work his way up to the front and was even all over McElrath at the end, but he just ran short of time. His time is coming and after last weekend’s race I believe he will be up front every weekend now. Championship wise, he is still in it with being 12 points down, but needs to start reeling in the W’s. Look for at least a podium again this weekend in Anaheim.
Martin Davalos (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Marty had that race! He went from winning to off the podium in a lap and a half. That must be a tough pill to swallow for the veteran. There were no excuses there; he just couldn’t get it done. He was riding great and it looked like he had it wrapped up, but these things happen. Heading into round 3, he has got to just move on and try and ride like he did for most of that race. Also 12 points down and unfortunately I don’t see him having the winning consistency to make up that gap. Although, I do believe that he will be up near the front battling again this weekend.
Austin Forkner (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki)
So many of us fans had Forkner as a real championship threat heading into 2017, but right now he sits 21 points down and it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. He rebounded with a solid 5th place finish last weekend and surprisingly was racing hard against the points leader McElrath! I think Mitch Payton has got to be happy as to where this kid stands right now. He certainly doesn’t seem intimidated. Like the outdoors, I expect him to build as the series goes on and I’m still counting on him to win races by the time the series is over.
Photo from Racer X Online by Rich Shepherd