Well that's a wrap on the supercross and motocross season here in the USA. Twenty-nine races indoors and out and, like always, a list of riders that either loved the year or absolutely cannot wait to see it go. Let's cover some of those guys now, yeah?
|DON'T STOP, WON'T STOP|
Jason Anderson: No matter how bad his 450MX season went (wrecked with an injury), you cannot take away him winning the 450SX title this past year. Was he the outright fastest dude indoors week in and week out? Probably not but he has got the title and all the haters can suck on that.
Aaron Plessinger: A double 250 champion, just like Zach Osborne last year. Plessinger really came into his own and found the ability to direct that talent (that's always been there) to dominate indoors and out. It is a breakthrough we have all been waiting for and he did it. Now onto the 450s for AP.
Eli Tomac: Yeah, he did not win the 450SX title and probably should have, but he did win the 450MX one so that is something. Going without a title would have been a disaster for him and Kawasaki, but he got one in the bank so 2018 is cool for him and everyone on the team.
Zach Osborne: Same as Tomac, where he got one out of two titles. Osborne really wanted to make SX/MX history and win four titles in two years in the 250 class, but an injury took him out early in the motocross series. Still, he backed up his amazing run last year with a title that he kind of walked to even though he arguably rode worse than last year.
Marvin Musquin: I mean, yeah he was shut out of titles but he won races indoors and out and was in both title fights. Musquin had a good year and I don't want to hear anything else.
Shane McElrath: Sugar Shane won races indoors like he has the last couple of years and now he's won motos and overalls in 250MX. He really emerged as "a guy" and could pull a "Plessinger" in 2019.
Justin Barcia: As detailed below, this guy was a real story in 2018. I mean, he was done as a factory rider until getting a shot at Yamaha as Davi Millsaps' fill-in. He came out at Anaheim 1 swinging and never let off the whole year. Not even an injury in supercross could dampen what a great year Barcia had. He was like Apple stock in the mid-90s.
|PLEASE, MAKE IT STOP|
Cooper Webb: Lots of expectations and dollars spent with Webb but, yet again, he got hurt in both series and missed time. When he was on the track he was, at times, very good but mostly just sort of there lurking outside the top five. Webb's getting a fresh start with Red Bull KTM.
Josh Grant: JG33 barely made it into any races due to injury and, in fact, he might be hanging up the boots if he cannot get his ankle better. Grant's been up and down in the past so do not count him out, but 2018 wasn't very good.
Justin Bogle: In the "this sport can be cruel" department is Justin Bogle, who won the 450MX overall at the second last race last year, signed a JGR Suzuki deal and looked to be on the rise. He crashed bad before the season started, came back during supercross and crashed some more. Finally he came back for a few outdoors, rode terribly and then had surgery. Less than twelve months ago, he was on cloud nine and now this.
Cole Seely: A serious injury suffered in Tampa caused Seely to miss the rest of the year and that's never good. He might not have made this list if he had got a win or some podiums indoors before the crash, but it was not really happening for him. Then the crash happened.
It was an amazing end of the season for Monster Energy Yamaha's Justin Barcia. He dominated Ironman MX in the mud for a 1-1 day and what a capper on a season where he was a fill-in rider (yes, he could not get a ride for 2018) going into Anaheim 1. An incredible resurgence for Bam-Bam and he has capped it off with being named to Team USA on his home turf next month. Pretty crazy where life can bring you, huh? In this interview after Ironman, he says he came close to hanging it up.
MX Vice: Congratulations. What a day. 1-1 on the day and got the overall win. Your comeback is complete at Yamaha. You didn't get third in the series. Is that important to you?
Justin Barcia: I wanted to, but I did all I could do today to make that happen and it didn't. So no, it's not a deal-breaker or anything. It would have been nice, but it is what it is. The 1-1 was definitely what I wanted. That was better than third overall in the championship to me.
I honestly felt like Unadilla might have been a 1-1 if you had kept it on line. You rode really great.
Yeah, we had a lot of good speed at Unadilla. Too many crashes though. That's what I told the boys this morning. I'm like, it's raining. We got to win today, because Unadilla I blew it.
The track in the first and second moto, was there much of a difference?
Yeah, big difference. I got in the main groove the second moto and it was actually fun to ride. First moto was kind of just all over the place and just squirrelling around, so the track came around pretty good from this morning to now.
Phil Nicoletti passed you in moto one. How mad were you?
Phil is difficult to pass too. I lost my goggles too, so that wasn't good. Luckily I got him in the rollers quick and made it easy. But yeah, Phil got me.
I don't know how much you knew of a gap you had on Roczen in that second moto, but a rough couple of last laps. What was going on?
I know. I just dumped it once and then I came down the hill right after and dumped it down again and was like, all right, chill.
Then went off the track!
I went off the track as well, so that one lap was disastrous. Could have lost it there. I don't know. I had such a good flow the whole moto. The second to last lap I was a disaster. Luckily I kind of got it together for the last lap.
You have always been a good mud rider. Obviously growing up in New York, that is a part of it, but what is it? Is it a little bit of a mental attitude too? You rev the bike and were very aggressive. Things that maybe would not work in the mud, but they do for you and they always have.
It is crazy. For some reason when I ride in the mud I don't rev it as much and I shift more, which is weird but it works in the mud. I don't know. This was the hardest race probably of the year condition-wise and then I go 1-1. I'm like, "Dude, there are easier tracks where I should have done that." Bike set-up is not as big in the mud. I felt like our setting today was good. It was something a little new. On the drier stuff I have been searching a lot to find a comfortable setting. In the off-season that is what we are going to work on, but today the setting is not as big of a deal in the mud.
How happy are you about winning this? A year ago you were at the Monster Cup on a Honda. You crash off the start. Millsaps gets hurt. You fill-in. Seriously, what a comeback story, and you grab a win. You have got to be absolutely stoked.
It's great. I cannot really ask for much better. Now I have a two-year deal with Yamaha. It is crazy. Going from no ride to never giving up and just trying my hardest and making the comeback. American dream, just living it.
What do you think you have learned in the time from the end of JGR and the end of the USGP to now? What do you think you have learned?
Definitely matured a lot mentally with just racing in general and the base thing never give up. I was close to calling it quits, because I was just so over it.
For reals? That close?
Yeah, I was over it. I did not want to race anymore after the GP. It was just miserable. But luckily I found a good woman by my side and she very mentally helped me get through that situation. Just never give up. That is the biggest thing. If I would have given up, I would not have been here today.
Nice work. 1-1. The dominant rider today and Plessinger, so it's Blu Cru. I'm still blocked on your Instagram. You just got to unblock me, but we are still okay?
We are really cool. We are best friends.
Let's not go that far.
We can go get ice cream after this. I need to go into those unblocks. I was really mad at you back in the day, but we're cool.
Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Monster Energy Media/Octopi