2019 has been one of the most exciting seasons in a long time, for a lot of reasons. Not only has there been some incredible racing and intense battles, there’s also been some breakout stars and controversy, too. There are still eight rounds left, but now’s a good time to regroup, reflect, and relive some of the most memorable moments of this year.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

450SX Rookies: Where Are They Now?

One of the biggest storylines going into 2019 was the four 250 riders – Aaron Plessinger, Joey Savatgy, Justin Hill, and Zach Osborne – making the jump to the 450 class. Each rider made the leap with a factory sponsor, but not each rider has lived up to the hype. Let’s check in with these 450SX rookies to see how their season has gone so far.

Aaron Plessinger

Monster Energy Factory Yamaha rider Aaron Plessinger was hot off his 250SX West Championship when he made the jump to the 450 class. That championship was a battle between Plessinger and other 250 rider Adam Cianciarulo, but Plessinger edged out the win with two points to spare. In other words, Plessinger was use to the heat and was ready to jump into the fire. At the season opener in Anaheim, he came out flying and earned a 6th place finish. After that though, he started fading into the background and back of the top 10. His worst finish of the season so far is a 19th place, but his average finish is a 9.44, so not exactly top-contender standings. That being said, his finish at Atlanta finally saw him cracking the top 5, and more top-5 finishes were expected until he crashed out of Daytona. According to Plessinger and other reports , he’s out with a broken heal, and there is no timetable for a return. It’s hard to see Plessinger out after his season-best finish, but we’re likely to see him on the top in many seasons to come.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Joey Savatgy

Joey Savatgy first broke into the Supercross scene in 2013. He’s raced both the East and West Coast as a 250, and has been in the top 4 every year but his first. His best career finish was runner-up to winner Cooper Webb in 2016, so there were high hopes for Savatgy coming into 2019. Experienced, competitive, and on one of the most successful Supercross team, Monster Energy Kawasaki, Savatgy was a shoo-in for the top 5. Still, his season got off to a rough start. After a 16th place finish at the season opener in Anaheim, a DNS at round two in Glendale, and a DNF at round four in Oakland, it seemed the rookie was struggling to find his groove. Now, however, it’s a different story. Savatgy has also had three top-5 finishes in East Coast standard rounds and one top-5 finish in a Triple Crown East Coast race, so if he keeps up the momentum, he may be able to move up the points and the ranks before the end of the season. He’s currently 9th in points standings, and just three points away from 8th place. If he keeps up the pace, he could take a podium before the end of the season.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Justin Hill

Supercross has been an up-and-down ride for Justin Hill. He started racing as a 250 in 2013 and has raced both coasts, but his results have varied, Hill placing between 12th and 1st in his 5 years of 250SX racing. The 1st place win came in 2017, making him a favorite going into 2018 where he finished in 6th for his Coast. He then moved up to 450s with JGR Suzuki, and has yet to make any waves. His average finish for the season is 12.13 and his best finish of the whole season was 7th place at Daytona. We know Hill has it in him, but he needs to pick up the pace if he’s wants to move up the points standings and still have a Factory contract next year.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Zach Osborne

Zach Osborne will be the first to tell you that this season is not going the way he wanted it to. The week of the season opener, Osborne injured his collarbone and was taken out for surgery. He was then supposed to line up at Minneapolis, but held off for another week to debut at Arlington. That debut was looking promising, too, as Osborne qualified in 4th. He looked fast going into the main, too, but one small mistake in the whoops cost him the whole night. He went over a turn and the tough-blocks, earning a DNF for the night. The Triple Crown in Detroit went a little better with Osborne finishing in 10th, but a DNF at the next round in Atlanta was not encouraging. Luckily, it was just a mechanical issue, so Osborne was ready to make a showing at Daytona where he took 6th – his best finish of the season so far. In a recent conversation with Swap Moto Live , Osborne explained that it’s just a matter of time before he gets the speed and performance down. He said he’s feeling better every week, so hopefully his results will start reflecting that soon.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Season Studs

As Anaheim 1 approached and the first few rounds of the season were underway, it was clear how stacked the field really was. Everyone was better, faster, and competing for the championship title. The points are still close now, but a few riders have started to rise to the top and distance themselves from the competition.

Cooper Webb

The biggest surprise of 2019 has been Cooper Webb. Whether he’s the Super Cooper, you’re part of the Coop Troop, or you’re riding that Webb Wagon, you’re not wrong. Webb is the breakout star of the season, and his explosive success has come out of nowhere for most of us. When Webb started racing Supercross as a 250 in 2014, he made quick work of the West class. Taking back-to-back championship titles in 2015 and 2016 earned him a top-5 spot in the 450 class, but he never rose to the occasion. In 2017, his best finish of the season was a 3rd place, but Webb was not much of a top-contender considering his average finish of the year was 10.08. It was a similar story for 2018, and then Webb got dropped by the Monster Energy Factory Yamaha team. It seemed like it could’ve been the end for Webb or that he wouldn’t ever be able to replicate his 250 success in the 450 class. But then Webb got signed by Red Bull KTM. With a new trainer and a new bike, Webb started to get better, faster, and stronger – and it seemed to go unnoticed until he came out swinging in 2019. Already, Webb has won five races – the most anyone has won this season – and has a growing points lead over Tomac in second place. Nothing’s in the bag yet, but with an average finish of 3.20, five main event wins, and a fierce determination to win, Webb could ride this wave all the way to a 450SX championship. Hard work pays off and, hey, he did say payback would be something or other, right, Bowers?


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Ken Roczen

Ken Roczen has been the comeback story of Supercross…twice. After his terrifying crash at Anaheim 2 in 2017 and his unfortunate collision with Cooper Webb in 2018, Roczen has had two of his seasons end abruptly. Both times he’s come back, everyone has wondered: is he really the same? Can he win again? This year, fingers were crossed that Roczen would be able to make it out of California unscathed, let alone to the East Coast. We wanted to see Roczen win, but we were also ready to accept that it may be slow going for the HRC Honda rider. Admittedly, Roczen hasn’t won yet, but he’s still had an impressive season so far. He’s been in the top 5 in nine out of 10 rounds, been on the podium five out of the 10 races, and has the second best average finish of the year (3.70). He’s also fourth in points, sitting just two points behind Tomac and Musquin in 2nd and 3rd, and 21 points behind Webb in 1st. It’s enough to show us that setbacks do not define you and that determination is a dang admirable trait.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Blake Baggett

Blake Baggett has been quietly working his way up the pack in races and up the ranks in points. The Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM rider started making waves in 2018 with his three back-to-back-to-back supercross podiums and fourth place overall finish. He’s been a consistent rider from the start, but now he’s getting consistently better. Baggett earned his first 450SX win at Glendale this year and has been on two other podiums. He’s also had a top-5 finish in every East Coast round minus his DNF in Minneapolis (though he was running in 4th place before the accident), and is now 5th in points standings. Baggett has the speed in him, and, especially after his impressive charge at Daytona, we’re likely to see him on the podium again before the season is through.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Season Duds

Where some rise, others fall. This year, there have been a few riders that have struggled getting their season in check.

Jason Anderson

Not to kick a dead horse but, as far as title defenses go, Anderson’s wasn’t starting out the most stellar. Granted, Anderson only raced three rounds this season, but out of those five gate drops, his average finish was an 8.33. It seemed like a far cry from where Anderson was the previous season. El Hombre’s win in 2018 was earned – there’s no questioning that – but it was unique. A lot of things happened that season that didn’t happen for him in 2019. Tomac actually finished the first few races of the season, Roczen was back, and some other 450 riders that weren’t competition in 2018 had seriously stepped up their game for 2019. Add the new 450 riders to the mix and it was some steep competition for Anderson. Maybe he would’ve hit his stride farther into the season, maybe it would’ve been a struggle all 17 rounds. It would’ve been interesting to see how things would’ve played out had Anderson not crashed, but we’ll just have to wait and see when he returns next year…without the #1 plate.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Dud or Stud?

We don’t really know what to do with this one…

Eli Tomac

In many ways, Eli Tomac is a stud this year. But, coming off his momentum in 2018, a lot of people were expecting more from the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider. 2019 has been Tomac’s best start to a season, kicking it all off with a podium at Anaheim 1. So far, he’s taken the podium five times this year, three of those being first place wins. Other than that though, his finishes have been inconsistent. He’s missed the podium by one spot a few times, and finished out of the top 5 three times. Tomac usually gets bad starts, but now he’s not usually recovering from them like he has in seasons past. Either Tomac is slowing down, or everyone else is getting faster because events like Daytona in 2018 when Tomac climbed from 22nd to 2nd seem to be far behind us. In fact, Tomac even fell from a 1st place lead to a 12th place finish at Arlington this year, making everyone wonder if they can count on the fast Tomac of old to return.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Impactful Injuries

There were several riders that go injured before the start of the season – J. Martin, Weston Peick, Benny Bloss – but let’s take a look at quick look at the riders that got injured in the thick of it and changed up the game because of it.

Jason Anderson (again)

We’ve discussed his disappointing title defense, but now let’s go into more detail about why it ended. While practicing for Oakland, Anderson went down in a gnarly crash that gave him a broken arm, lacerated kidney, and fractured rib. He got surgery shortly after the news broke, and is still recovering with hopes of returning for this year’s motocross season.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Malcom Stewart

2019 was Malcom Stewart’s first year on the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts/Honda team, and he seemed to be thriving with the new coach and bike. At Anaheim 1, Stewart qualified in 3rd, placed 2nd in his heat race, and started second in the main. He ended the night with a 7th place finish, something no one expected from Stewart. It was clear that he was fast, competitive, and determined on the track, but unclear how he would stack up in the future rounds. Unfortunately, we never got to find out. In the second round of the season, Stewart lost control in the whoops and the bike wheelied, kicking him forward and over the handlebars.

The race was quickly red-flagged as Stewart was taken off the track and to a hospital where he had to get surgery for a broken femur. He’s been out of the competition ever since, but hopes to be back in action for Supercross next year.

Top Storylines

This season has had some pretty impressive riders, and some even more impressive rides. Check it out below.

Duped by Coop

Remember when we said that Ken Roczen has yet to win a main event this year? Well, he can owe that partially to Cooper Webb and his insane last minute passes. Not once, but twice Webb has passed Roczen at the end of the final lap of the race. One pass was in the final corner, one pass was all the way up to the finish line. Fun fact: the latter was the closest finish in Supercross history with a .02 second difference between Webb and Roczen. Check out the passes in these highlight videos:

CR22 Strikes Again!

Chad Reed is the oldest rider in the 450 class, and the one that’s been going the longest. Reed’s racing career began in Australia in 1998, and he started racing Supercross in the United States in 2002. A two-time supercross champion, Reed is an indelible legend. Now, whether you think it’s time for the ol’ CR22 to retire (or it was time five years ago…) or not, there’s no denying that it was a shock when Reed took the podium at the Detroit Triple Crown this year. Reed hasn’t been on the podium since the third round of 2016, and many thought that, especially after his privateer effort last year, Reed’s time on the top was through. But now, with a Factory Suzuki ride, Reed has started stepping it up again, earning two top-5 finishes (including that podium) and getting better finishes than he did last year. We’re not saying he’s regular competition for the podium again, but he’s shown us that it’s definitely possible. We also hear that he’s after a certain record held by Justin Brayton, so we’re likely to see more of him in the years to come.


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Controversy

Some of the biggest stories of the year have been the most controversial and sparked some serious debate.

#limegate

The drama that unfolded after the mudder at San Diego was probably the biggest story of the season. If not the biggest, then definitely the most compelling. It ended with various riders developing burns and rashes, but started with a practice that’s been accepted for years. The crew that builds and maintains the supercross tracks have been using lime as a drying agent for as long as most riders can remember. The lime works to take moisture out of the soil to keep the track sturdy and as compact as possible. There’s a trick though – the lime needs time to set in the dirt. As the rain poured down in San Diego, there wasn’t enough time for the lime to set, not to mention there was too much water for it to work. The track was covered in puddles, and the lime that usually worked in the dirt was just laying on top of the puddles, waiting to douse the riders. And doused the riders were, not realizing they were effected until after the checkered flag. The days following the Saturday night race, riders took to social media to share not only their injuries, but also their bikes’:

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RIP. 😔

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FELD and AMA quickly released their own statements regarding the incident, and worked with each rider at the event individually to assess damages and needs. In the end, riders who were afflicted were offered $5,000 from FELD to help cover expenses. The organization also suspended the use of lime in all future races and are working to find a new drying agent. Many view this as an appropriate response to the incident, while others believe that the riders were complaining more than anything else and will be sorry when there isn’t lime at the next mudder – only time will tell.

CBD Censor

It all started with t-shirt schlepping Privateer Dean Wilson. After getting dropped from the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory team, Wilson decided to pit it out in a sprinter van and take on Supercross as a Privateer. He worked diligently to find sponsors he cared about, one of the most interesting and unexpected ones being Ignite CBD. The company produces THC-free CBD products, of which Wilson uses and supports. Before the first main event, however, NBC notified Wilson that he would have to tape over the logo on his bike. In other words, Wilson would not be allowed to lead those 14 laps at Anaheim 1 with the Ignite logo on display, and this sparked a large debate between NBC, Ignite, and all of the viewers. Enter Chad Reed with his CBD sponsorship a few weeks later and the network had a full-on controversy on their hands. Don’t get us wrong – we see why. Many riders have attested to the usefulness and healing powers of CBD, but other riders haven’t because it’s not even legal in their home states. It’s a mess for the network to navigate, which is most likely what prompted their notorious response to all CBD sponsors – no entry to Supercross. This gave way to taped-over stickers and censored labels on helmets, but also (maybe) gave the CBD industry more spotlight than it would’ve gotten before…


Photo Credit: Kardy Photo

Bowers vs. BamBam

Bowers and Barcia have got beef. After the incident in Las Vegas in 2018 (it ended with a broken leg for Bowers), it’s been hard to tell if the two are bitter rivals, or if the media is just framing them to be. Either way, there was another incident between the two at Arlington this year. During their heat race, Bowers went for a pass in a corner, railing right into Barcia. It ended with Bowers on the ground and Barcia off the track in a pretty spectacular walk across the tough blocks. Both got sent to the LCQ because of it, but Bowers was disqualified for the night before he could line up. The jury is out as to whether this was intentional, revenge, or just aggressive riding, but the general consensus is that Bowers shouldn’t have been DQ’d. He believes that too, and even made a compelling point in this Instagram video:

Until Next Time…

You may be thinking – all of this, in just ten rounds? It has been a crazy ride so far, but don’t worry – it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. We can’t wait to see how it ends, but we’ll enjoy every second of racing on the way!

Comment

Tell Us What You Think

What’s been your favorite thing to watch this season? Did we miss anything big? Is it time for Chad Reed to retire already? Let us know in the comments below!

Best in Show: Our Favorite Pics from 2019

Photo Credit for All Gallery Images: Kardy Photo