Clearly there is no crowned champion after Saturday night! Eli is looking like the rider we saw winning outdoor nationals a couple years ago. But, before we get ahead of ourselves let's not forget this is a 17 race series (Dungey, SX reporters, podcasts, and fans reminded me of this last week). As dominant as Eli has shown the past two weeks, year after year Dungey seems to find the speed when it matters most. Other than 2016, Dungey is typically a slow starter and finds his groove as the series heads east. However, Eli rode amazing in Oakland while Dungey struggled with the treacherous conditions. Had this been the last round of the series with the title hanging in the balance, I bet we would have seen a more aggressive Dungey. Eli looks flat out amazing on certain days, unfortunately watching him charge through the pack or win by massive margins doesn't matter when it comes to point standings. Eli only gained 3 points in Oakland. Anyone beating a guy who finishes 2nd or 3rd on his bad days in a series is impressive. Eli still has a tough road ahead but so did Carmichael in 2001 when he dethroned McGrath. Time will tell, remember no crown here, no crown!
Cooper Webb is becoming more comfortable each week. Whatever Yamaha did to their bikes at A2 has proved to show a big difference for both Webb and Reed, even though Webb denied making the same changes as Chad in the postrace press conference. I was not surprised by Reed’s performance as he struggles on tracks with inconsistent dirt. Look for him to be out front in the domed stadiums where the dirt is more predictable.
In the 250 class Justin Hill is destined to take the title. He is riding smooth and a misplaced 2x4 under his rear wheel and an illness didn’t stop him in Oakland. Plus Hill is refreshing as he lets his personality shine on the podium unlike second place finisher in Oakland, Martin Davalos. While everyone is talking about Martin’s social media skills (or lack of), I take more of an issue with his podium interviews. If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all! No emotion simply a flat cliché followed by a shameless sponsor plug delivered in his monotone voice. I commend him for having the talent to win 24 heat races, but damn! How about he answers the questions asked with genuine personality. I know some people close to him that say he is an intelligent and funny guy, but based on his interviews I don't see it. In an era of social media we know more about our heroes than ever before and can accept their mistakes if they are honest. His talent on a dirt bike is undeniable, I will keep enjoying his riding while fast forwarding his interviews.
Shane Mcelrath faced some serious adversity, after tangling with Jimmy Decotis in the heat race in what I call a “racing incident.” Mcelrath landed on the footpeg of Decotis and those are razor sharp! Looked like the peg came close to slicing his armpit which could have been horrible, with a main artery in the armpit things could have gone bad. Mcelrath recovered for the second week in a row by winning the LCQ and fighting hard for a gritty third place finish. This result keeps him in championship contention. Dallas will be crucial for Mcelrath, heading into the break he desperately needs to stop the momentum Hill has established.
Don't forget Dallas is another early race so make sure the DVR is set if you are out riding. The series is developing some interesting plots. Can Eli maintain his domination? Will Dungey find his flow? Who will be the next first time winner? Will the Rocky Mountain team ever get Forrest Butler a podium? Can Hill make it 4 in a row before the break? Stay tuned….