T-Dog’s Takes: 250 Championship Conundrum, Who Are You Taking?

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! BTW: Have you seen the all-new YZ450F? OH. MY. GOODNESS. I can’t wait to test that bad boy.

Well, the past two weekends have taken an unexpected turn for Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence. I certainly didn’t expect him to crash out of the second moto at RedBud, nor did I expect a DNF in the first moto at Southwick. That’s why we race 22 motos, right? In this sport you have to expect the unexpected and that’s never been more true than in 2023.

The 250 championship fight is now wide open. We have five riders within 22 points of the current points leader, Haiden Deegan. Add in the wild cards of Levi Kitchen (36 down) and Tom Vialle (39 points down), who can win on any given weekend, and we have ourselves an exciting finish to the 250 championship! Each rider has a different story on how they got here and they are all at different points in their career. None of these riders have won this championship before. It’s a big deal for all of them. 

Haiden Deegan took over the points lead at Southwick after he set himself up at RedBud with his first overall victory. The 17-year-old rookie is riding like a veteran and has made tremendous gains throughout the season. Although Southwick didn’t go the best for him, he still salvaged points and he will continue his rise in the final half of the season.

Hunter Lawrence is still my favorite for this title. Dan Truman reported that Hunter’s ribs have been an issue, but I still think that he will be able to get the job done. He’s been the best 250 rider all outdoor season. Despite the problems the last two weeks, I say that those were flukes and he’s going to be the 250 MX Champion.

RJ Hampshire has definitely ridden like himself this year. He gives it his all every lap out on the track and that’s why he’s only 13 points down in the standings. If he can reset and start getting some holeshots, then he can start getting a bunch of moto wins in the home stretch. Most of the time RJ’s problems happen when he’s coming through the pack and some of the crashes that he has aren’t always his fault. 

Jo Shimoda is only 20 points down and it’s cool to see him find his stride lately. A moto win at Southwick was a great step in the right direction and he will head into Millville expecting more of the same. 

Justin Cooper sat out both motos at High Point due to his throat swelling up after a crash in practice. This guy basically swallowed his handlebars, yet he’s still only 22 points out of this. For Cooper, it’s win this title or bust, but as he said on the PulpMX Show on Monday, he’s not going to “hang around” on this championship. I’m impressed that he forfeited potentially 50 points at a round and is still in this! HE would be your red plate holder right now had that not happened. 

Last but not least, I say that Levi Kitchen is a wildcard for this championship. He won a moto at RedBud and has the speed to win any given moto. He’s been consistent throughout the season and he has the skill to put it on the box every moto. It’s going to be tough to jump five riders in the standings and make up 36 points, but you never know what the chef is cooking!

Who is your pick for the title? I went to moto Twitter and put a poll up that you can still vote on. Hunter Lawrence has a commanding lead on the poll right now, but as we’ve seen, things change. 

Main image: Honda

Written by Troy Dog

Faster than Slaw Dog. Editor-in-Chief

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