After a long break, the 250 west series kicked back off in Seattle and then they had another week off before heading to Salt Lake City for round 8 of their series. Justin Hill has a demanding points lead and just has to ride mistake free and he will win this championship, but it will still be a battle this weekend for the race win. Here are my top five 250 West rankings heading into Salt Lake City.
1. Aaron Plessinger (Star Racing Yamaha)
Heading into this year I predicted a two man battle between Plessinger and Forkner. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong as Hill and McElrath have been the guys this year. Plessinger finally got his first win of the season in Seattle and while it may be surprising that it took him so long it was not at all surprising that he dominated that race. He looooves the soft chewed up conditions that Seattle offered that night. The fans were losing their minds every time he would jump that 3-3-3 after the start. I’ll be honest, I was losing my mind as well. Now Plessinger may be a ways back of Hill for the title, but if anything happens to Hill over the next two rounds, Plessinger will be the 250 West Champion. He may not have the best shot of winning the title, but he is my favourite to win this weekend at Salt lake.
2. Justin Hill (Pro Circuit Kawasaki)
Hill said in my interview with him that he was playing it safe at Seattle and he probably could have pushed harder and jumped some sections differently, but he knows what position he is in for the championship. I do believe him as I feel like he could have found another level, but I don’t see anybody beating Plessinger on that track. He still has an 18 point lead and with only 2 rounds left he pretty much has this thing in the bag so this weekend at Salt lake, were conditions could once again be bad, expect him to take it down once again. He just doesn’t want to risk anything bad happening and why should he? I’m not saying that he is just going to cruise around, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see the full potential of Justin Hill this Saturday.
3. Mitchell Oldenburg (TLD/Red Bull KTM)
Oldenburg ranks 3rd on my list this week, but with the way he rode in Seattle, he could have very well ended up 2nd. He started in 7th place and just battled hard to work his way up to his first ever podium finish. Not only did he get 3rd, but he was right on Hill at the end and it makes me wonder that if they ran the regular 15 minute main plus one lap instead of the shortened 12 minute main, maybe Oldenburg would have gotten second. Right now his stock is juts going up and up and honestly I think by next year he will be in contention for wins. At Salt Lake I look for Oldenburg to back up his performance with another podium.
4. Austin Forkner (Pro Circuit/Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Forkner unfortunately had to sit out Seattle due to a practice crash earlier that week, but now he will get back in the mix of things in Salt Lake City. When looking at Forkner’s rookie year so far, he has been pretty darn good, but I just expected more from him. Like I said I was expecting Forkner to capture multiple wins and be right in the fight for the championship. Maybe that wasn’t a fair assumption as many of the greats of the sport don’t come in and win their first SX season, but I was all aboard the hype train! Well it still has been pretty good as he does have 2 podiums and we have seen some flashes of brilliance. At Salt Lake I expect Forkner to get a top 5 and be right in the thick of things all night.
5. Jimmy Decotis (Geico Honda)
Oh man, Decotis was oh so close to getting that elusive first podium. He was in the 3rd position late in the race, before battling it out with Oldenburg and eventually losing the spot. Oldenburg gapped him pretty quickly and I imagine Decotis’s crash was a result of his broken heart. In the end he finished 5th place on the night. If Decotis can get a good start and ride his heart out he may just may still get that podium before the end of the year. With all the bad luck that Geico Honda has faced this year, Decotis has actually been the best rider for the team! Who would have thought that in December? Most likely look for Decotis to finish up in 5th-6th this Saturday.
Martin Davalos (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna): Davalos is not he verge of pointing out go the 250 class. This will be a very interesting storyline at Salt Lake City.
Photo from Vital MX