Welcome to 5 Things We Learned, a maybe, we don’t know yet, but probably, column we will run after every Monster Energy Supercross taking a look at something, you guessed it, we learned. Yes, that was quite a first sentence.
Anyway, this could be from a certain gear we like to a standout ride to the favorite beer we drank during the race. Ya never know what you’re going to get.
Since it’s the opener and there is a lot to talk about, we’ll stick to racing this time.
Justin Barcia did it. I seriously can’t believe it. He won his fourth season opener in a row and it was super impressive.
[I have been informed that last week’s Anaheim 1 opening win was indeed a fake video created by those crafty folks at Red Bull. Dammit. Got me. So, this was only a three-peat for Bam.]
Let’s call a spade a spade: Barcia had a ton of pressure on him coming into Houston. He was debuting with a new team on a bike that was making its debut in Monster Energy Supercross, he’d won the previous two openers, everyone was talking about how he could contend for a title this year, and oh yeah, that video certainly put a bullseye on his back.
How did Barcia respond: He went out and won his heat race, took the holeshot in the main and held off a furious charge from Ken Roczen for 28 laps to win the opener for a third straight year. IMPRESSIVE. We’ve seen this from Barcia before, so Houston 2 will be a big race to see if he can maintain the momentum.
TOMAC STRUGGLES AGAIN
As I so correctly predicted in Slawdictions last week, Eli Tomac did not in fact make the podium in Houston. Tomac is typically a slow starter, so using that knowledge, I figured he would get around fifth. What I, nor anyone, expected was for him to get 13th.
This was not the performance anyone expected from the defending champion. Look, Eli will be fine! But, with such a quick turnaround, and probably zero testing between, he’ll need to figure something out in a HURRY!
CRAIG DOES IT
Like it or not, Christian Craig has always had the: dude is super-fast, crazy talented, but always seems to crash moniker around him. It sucks because Christian is such a nice dude, but that was the stigma.
When Craig signed with Star Racing this off-season, there was certainty a different tune being sung from the test tracks. We all know the Yamaha 250 is the best bike in the class, but hey, you could put Slaw on that damn thing and I ain’t winning nothing, so you still have to have the talent.
My point is: rumors from the test tracks this off-season were about how good Craig looked. How confident he was on the blue bike. And, wow, did he look impressive at the opener, winning by five seconds over pre-season favorite Austin Forkner.
Then he delivered a podium speech that nearly had Slaw tearing up. It was that good.
SNEAKY GOOD RIDES
My list of sneaky good rides that most people won’t talk about in NO particular order. And, no, I don’t consider a podium a sneaky good ride. Sorry, Colt. Ya too damn good, kid.
Jo Shimoda – 4th: Yeah, Hampshire and Jett crashed late, but still, a nice ride for the 2020 Rookie of the Year in his debut for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki.
Max Vohland – 9th: I was stunned when I learned that Max was riding the East Coast. I figured they would give him more time and put him on the West. Well, apparently, he was ready as he looked good in his heat and finished ninth in the main. Solid debut for the 12-year-old. (Kidding, he’s 17.)
Adam Cianciarulo – 4th: Solid ride for AC, but super quiet. Like, I don’t remember seeing him once. I was also six Claws deep, so maybe that had something to do with it. Anyway, great start to the year for the title contender.
Malcolm Stewart – 5th: For all the praise the Yamaha 250 gets, the Yamaha 450 gets… well the opposite. With Star Racing taking over the 450 program, many were intrigued to see if they could improve the bike. If the first round was any indicator, they are off to a good start. Malcolm finished a solid fifth and Aaron Plessinger looked really good all day and took eighth and Dylan Ferrandis took seventh in his debut.
Justin Brayton – 6th: You just can’t stop JB. Dude is in like his 30th season and delivered a solid sixth at the opener. Insane.
Like Tomac, I did not expect this from the 2018 champion. He was running inside the top ten late then fell back to 15th. No idea what happened, but it will be important for him to turn it around by Houston 2 if he wants to contend for a title.