While this article is called 5 Things We Learned from Houston, I noticed more than five, so I wrote seven. Seven is better than five anyways, and maybe if we write more someone will end up sponsoring this column (hint, hint).
When the track map was released earlier this week we noticed that the track crossed back over the start straight after the second rhythm section. It didn’t seem right at the time, but seeing as we’re keyboard warriors and not track designers it became little more than an afterthought.
Well, as always, we were right. I’m not sure if weed is legal in Texas yet, but someone must have been puffing on the Devil’s lettuce when they came up with this genius idea.
If I were a pro (note: I am a pro, just not on a dirtbike) and crashed off the start, I’d flop like a European futbol player and earn myself a fresh restart. Hell, I might even take a dive if I didn’t get the jump.
Lucky for everyone involved most of the start issues took place in the heats and not the main events, but we’re guessing you won’t see this type of layout in future rounds.
Heat Races for the Win
The heat races at H2 offered some noteworthy action. From Vince Friese crashing off the start, to then crashing even harder on the restart, to then winning the LCQ, he takes the cake for the most ridiculous path to the main. Props to him for keeping the eye on the prize and staying focused.
It was also cool seeing Alex Ray fist pump off the finish line after making the final transfer spot. Out of context it looked like he just won the title, but he was just genuinely stoked to make the cut. We have a soft place in our hearts for that kind of stuff.
Shout out to some first timers, as well, as both Jett Lawrence and 450 rookie, Chase Sexton, both took home their first heat races of their class career.
Lawrence Shines, Forkner Falters
It was Jett “Let the Big Dog Eat” Lawrence’s night to shine. Composed, dialed, in the zone, whatever you want to call it, The Donut Kid was relaxed and calculated. The scene was set as Lawrence and Austin Forkner got off the gate one and two, but it was Lawrence who showed the calmness of a champion while the more experienced Forkner faltered.
An early mistake in the whoops dropped Forkner from second to fourth and then an aggressive move on RJ Hampshire left them both on the ground a few laps later.
The pressure is mounting for Forkner as tension under the Kawi tent must be at an all-time high. As for Jett, the first one is always hard to get, and we expect to see a lot more of this moving forward.
Colt Nichols, Silently Impressive
Three, two…one? You see what I did there? Nichole placed third at H1 and second at H2. Will H3 be his first win of 2021? Currently second in points, Nichols has quietly positioned himself in a good spot to start the season.
Nichols has a past of letting little mistakes take him out of contention, but we’re betting our Pulp Fantasy money that he’s learned from the past and is ready to cement himself as a title hopeful.
Poor Chase Sexton
Legally we can’t play favorites, but damn we feel bad for Chase Sexton right now. After crashing his brains out in qualifying he rebounds to take his first 450 heat race win. Then he rips the holeshot in the main and was well on his way to clocking his first 450 overall. Then the sand section from hell claimed its umpteenth victim of the night and tossed Sexton over the bars into the next jump. We don’t have an official injury report, but he was seen leaving the track holding his wrist. We’ll follow up with more information as we learn it from the Vital message board. Until then, poor Chase Sexton.
Jason Anderson Struggles
We’re not sure if Anderson’s reinjuring of his arm at the end of outdoors is the cause, or if his program has dropped off since leaving Aldon Baker’s side, but the results speak for themselves. He’s not qualifying well (11th at H1, 12th at H2), he’s not getting good gate position from the heats (6th at H1, 6th at H2) and he’s not finishing well in the mains (15th at H1, 9th at H2).
Has Anderson’s time as a title contender come and gone or will this be a blip on the radar of an otherwise successful career? Time will tell, but the 450 field is getting deeper by the minute.