Last weekend resulted in a possible shift in momentum for the 250 SX West Region. McElrath lost his first race of the season, but still captured a 3rd place and kept the red plate for Phoenix SX. Hill showed he was on another level last Saturday and possibly is now the guy to beat. Here are the top 5 riders heading into Phoenix SX.
Justin Hill (Pro Circuit/Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Well, Hill had this one coming for him as he looked great in San Diego and was possibly the fastest rider that weekend and was definitely the fastest guy last weekend at Anaheim. Could this finally be the year that he puts it all together? The challenge will be that Plessinger and McElrath also look great this year. This is shaping up to be a great series between these three guys. I have Hill as the top man heading into Phoenix.
Shane McElrath (TLD/Red Bull KTM)
After 3 rounds Shane still has the red plate and I have yet to see a blemish in his performance. I mean I know he was a little off Hill’s pace last weekend, but he still managed a 3rd place and I do expect him to back up front battling at Phoenix. He has handled the pressure of the red plate very well considering he has never been in this situation before. I have him in my 2nd spot this week, but he could easily be first or third. That’s how close I see the top 3 right now. He carries a 6-point lead into Phoenix.
Aaron Plessinger (Star Racing Yamaha)
Plessinger continued to say that all he needed was a start and he could win these races. That turned out not to be true as he got a great start and was ahead of Hill, but still ended up losing to him by about 5 seconds. Honestly I thought he would win that race, but he just couldn’t keep up with Hill. Plessinger has always been a guy that has up and down lap times. He can be riding great through the pack and then when he gets a good start and the lead he might just not have that pace. Perhaps it’s better for Plessinger to start outside the top 5… Look for Plessinger to grab another podium this weekend.
Austin Forkner (Pro Circuit/Monster Energy Kawasaki)
It is just a matter of time for this kid to find his grove and start winning races. I did expect him to be a championship threat like most people and maybe all that pressure is why we have seen some struggles early on. Last weekend was a step in the right direction as he once again was racing to be up front and battling with the top riders like McElrath. The end result was a 4th and only a few seconds behind McElrath. I’m not sure if this weekend will be the weekend he puts it on the box, but don’t worry its coming.
Jeremy Martin (Geico Honda)
I know it might seem weird to have Martin on this list considering his best finish was a 6th place and last weekend he got a 10th, But I am playing the odds with this one. Martin obviously has great speed as we can see from his qualifying results and we can’t keep expecting him to get outside the top 5 right?!?! I don’t know… My bet is that Martin actually gets a decent start and finishes inside the top 5 at Phoenix.
Photo by Steve Cox