Who Do I Think Will Win the Horizon Award?
Notice that this column now has a sponsor? That’s right! Troy Dog joined the Blu Cru and you should too! I have one in my garage right now and I can’t wait to go shred it! Thank you to Yamaha for believing in my ELITE columns on this dirt bike website enough to sponsor me. What a dream come true!
It’s the most magical time of the year. It’s time for Loretta Lynn’s and at the end of this week we will have a new Nicky Hayden AMA Horizon Award winner! As you should know, this award is given to the Pro Sport racer who stands out the most at the Ranch. This award is a cool deal because it shines the light on who has the brightest future in Monster Energy Supercross, Pro Motocross, and beyond.
I was checking out the list of past winners of this award and it’s pretty cool to see the legends who have come through Loretta’s. The staying power of these athletes today has been pretty great as 11 out of the past 13 winners are still racing professionally today at the top of the sport. I can’t believe that Dean Wilson won the award in 2009 because it seems like it was just yesterday. He’s been a pro for 13 years now!
So, who is going to win it this season? I don’t like to count anyone out, but I make the BIG bucks here at Vurb, so I have to call it like I see it. Prove me wrong Pro Sport riders. This award is really only going to come down to two riders though: Team Green Kawasaki’s Ryder Difrancesco and HRC Honda’s Chance Hymas.
Ryder D and Hymas were longtime Team Green teammates, but Hymas signed with HRC Honda after his incredible showings in the Pro Sport classes at Loretta’s last Summer. Hymas finished second overall in both classes to Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Levi Kitchen, who won a moto and finished third overall at Thunder Valley this Summer. Kitchen was really coming into his own before he was injured in a practice crash after Southwick where he finished 2nd in the second moto.
Hymas doesn’t have all of the Loretta Lynn’s accolades that Ryder D has accomplished, however he has been very consistent over the years. Hymas won his first and only (so far) LL title in 2020 in the Schoolboy 2 class. He’s played bridesmaid to a Ryder D championship three times and has seven overall podiums at the Ranch.
Ryder D on the other hand is one of the most accomplished amatuer riders in Loretta’s history. If I remember correctly he is the youngest person ever to win a title at Loretta’s Ranch. He has eight titles in total and those are all on mini bikes. He had to sit out 2021 due to injury, so he has never ridden a big bike at Loretta’s, yet. He also has four overall podiums in classes through the years where he did not win the title.
With all of this being said, I’ve been watching this battle shape up from afar, and I believe that Chance Hymas will be the Horizon Award winner for 2022. Hymas is coming on strong late here in his amatuer career ala Ryan Villopoto on Mike Alessi. He’s got a factory Honda (those have been dialed this Summer), he’s working with Jake Weimer as a coach, and he’s been healthy. Hymas has all the pieces in play to turn that #2 into a #1 in both Pro Sport classes. I don’t think he will run away from Difrancesco and the other Pro Sport riders. I do believe that it is going to be a tough fight like always for these coveted championships. With that being said, I’m not going to sit here and tell you who I think will have the longest or successful pro career…yet. I need to see Hymas race as a pro and Difrancesco needs more than a couple of gate drops as well.
Who do you think will win the Nicky Hayden AMA Horizon Award at the end of this week?