Last weekends race in Oakland was a pure spectacle of a race. It had everything you would want in a race. There were 3 different leaders who all looked like they could win, there was a first time podium finisher of the season, there were take outs, there were mistakes and crashes on those gnarly ruts. I’m still digesting all that went down. Here are my top 10 rankings heading into round 6 at San Diego.
- Jason Anderson
Okay, I have to start off firstly with that pass on Musquin because it is the main topic of talk this week. Personally I think the pass is way too hyped up. Yes, it was an aggressive pass on Musquin, but I just see it as racing… Obviously ideally you do not want to take out the other rider because that puts you at risk of crashing as well, but IT WASN’T dirty, IT WASN’T dangerous! I mean have we really gotten that soft? I simply see it as Anderson riding through the pack and then he found an opportunity after the whoops to make the pass. When you are racing and making split second decisions sometimes you miscalculate a tad! That is honestly all I see from that pass. He was going for an aggressive pass to push Musquin wide and ultimately make it stick. If he hadn’t made that move right then and there he may have lost a few extra seconds behind Musquin and it may have cost him the win. Honestly also who cares if they are training buddies and kind of teammates??? Why should Anderson race nicer to his buddy if it costs him a win? If this move were high speed a more dangerous I’d be writing a different tune, but that wasn’t the case. Anderson is going for a championship and should only be focused on what he can do to win each and every race. Well anyways, Anderson is flying right now and should be the guy to beat each and every week from here on out.
- Ken Roczen
Roczen is going to be shaking his head all week after that one. He was gifted the win when his teammate Seely fell, but he just kept making mistake after mistake. Eventually Anderson caught him and they had a beautiful battle on the last few laps before Roczen ultimately made the most crucial mistake on the last lap and gave it to Anderson. Everyone was making mistakes on that track, but it still has got to sting quite a bit. You can just tell after that race that Roczen is tired of getting just podiums and now wants to get to that top step sooner rather than later. To be honest, he needs to star winning races soon as Anderson is slowly pulling away with this thing. There are still lots of time left look for Roczen to be Anderson’s biggest competitor for the championship.
- Eli Tomac
Tomac needed to ride a mistake free championship after the mishap at the opening round and well it all came apart in just round 5. He crashed early on in that race and it resulted in him getting 13th on the night. The championship is now over for Tomac and now he can just focus on racking up some wins. It was kind of depressing to see Tomac in that race actually. It was like the moment he touched the dirt he gave up as he could probably see the championship dying right in front of him. He either didn’t care and just putted around or he just fell apart mentally and rode unbelievably tight. I mean with a small crash in the corner like that he should be able to get up immediately and salvage a pretty good result. Instead he got up slowly and cruised around in 20th until eventually finishing up 13th… His teammate Grant crashed twice and was in dead last and finished in 10th. I was not happy with Tomac after that race, but you cannot deny that he is still a threat to win many races this year, hence why he sits 3rd in my rankings.
- Justin Barcia
Barcia looked super fast all day and I thought that this may be the night that he finally gets that win, but it all came crashing down with a poor 11th place start. Great ride by him to come to 5th and we are now just waiting for him to get that holeshot and win one of these. Unfortunately he falls to 17 back on Anderson, but he is without a doubt still very much in this title hunt. I think Barcia probably has one of the coolest riding styles out there. He always looks so fast and ready to make passes and win. Having this new resurgent Barcia is great for the sport and this series. Expect Barcia to have another top 5 finish in San Diego and maybe even a win. (You will notice that I did not talk about the pass on Tomac, I refuse to even discuss any notion of that being to aggressive or dirty. Great pass).
- Marvin Musquin
Now we come to the other side of the Anderson debacle and that is Marvin Musquin. He says that he is upset and it will be his turn next week. This statement was taken right after the race when any rider is fired up. I believe that once it comes to San Diego it will be as if that pass never even happened. Musquin usually doesn’t ride aggressive so why should he start now? I think it is safe to say that his shoulder is pretty much back to normal so now, when are we going to the Musquin back up front and winning? I think he definitely has the capability to be winning as soon as next week, but currently it feels like Anderson, Roczen and Barcia are just feeling it so much right now and it is going to be hard for Musquin to get that momentum back on his side. As for the championship it is basically over, but he can still battle hard the rest of the year and you just never know.
- Cole Seely
This year is turning out to be a great year all around as we have had multiple riders up front battling for wins. Oakland made it the second race this year that Seely should have won (Anaheim 2 being the other). Just like Roczen that crash has got to sting mentally, but he has been very good this year and that should give him tons of confidence. I expect Seely to get a win before the year is up the question is just when? It could be this weekend in San Diego, but until he shows that he can close it out, I’d expect another finish hovering around 5th.
- Blake Baggett
I’d like to believe that Baggett read me being harsh on him in these columns and than that fired him off at Oakland. Seriously though, Baggett turned it around last weekend as he was gaining on both Roczen and Anderson and it looked like he could maybe even get his first win, but lapper trouble cost him that chance (oh Friese). He said that he wants to prove that he can win indoors just like he did last year outdoors. It is going to be tough with this top-heavy competition, but with more good starts it could very well happen. For now, we have to put him at the bottom of this group of riders that could win just because he hasn’t come close yet.
- Cooper Webb
Webb looked the best he has all year and considering he looked great last year in rutty conditions like Oakland and Seattle that does not come as surprise. From the interviews I have heard, it seems like he is mainly just needing his confidence back that he can in fact ride up front with the top guys of the class. I cannot think of any other reason why he isn’t up front to be honest. He had so much hype coming into the 450 class and it just hasn’t happened yet which is disappointing, but he still has loads of time in his career to figure this out.
- Weston Peick
Peick could not keep the consistent streak going all year unfortunately as he crashed his way back to a 12th place. It still has been a great year for him as he sits tied for 5th in points, but we knew he was bound to have one of these races right? I would say that he rebounds with another solid race near the top 5, but look at these top riders in front of him! It is getting hard to place him near that top 5 even though I know he is definitely capable of it. I think a top 10 finish is more realistically than a top 5 at this point.
- Josh Grant
Grant makes his way into my top 10 rankings based off of how dang fast he looked on that beat up track. He was flying for about the first 3 laps and even passed Tomac, but the track reach up and grabbed hold tight. He rebounded nicely from dead last to get 10th. I think he would have had his best finish of the year if he did not crash, but we live and we learn. I cannot put him any higher up on this list, but he definitely deserves to make the cut. I expect another top 10 in San Diego.