(Screenshot via Supercross Youtube)
It wasn't quite the mud-fest of last weekend, but the track at Snapdragon Stadium still was quite slippery. Riders weren't only slipping on the track, but also off of it, in this week's edition of power rankings.
Aaron Plessinger comfortably won the 450 main event, and now leads the 450SX Championship standings for the first time in his career. In the 250SX West Regional Class, there was no change at the top with Jordon Smith remaining in first place, despite not winning the main event. It was his teammate Nate Thrasher who took the chequered flag on Saturday night.
Enough about the race, it's time to get into where each rider landed. There were quite a few changes in this week's power rankings, with lots of familiar faces returning to the top five.
(Sam Donsig/Intermission Sports)
1. AARON PLESSINGER (↑4)
Aaron Plessinger was by far the best rider of the event at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, CA. Though the Red Bull KTM rider didn't have the strongest of qualifying sessions, finishing with the 13th fastest lap of the session, it didn't matter. The cowboy rode hard the rest of the night and didn't let a poor gate pick stop him. He had no issues in his heat race and led the entire way. Plessinger is comfortable in the mud, and it showed again on Saturday night.
Heading into the main event, he had a lot of confidence and it transferred over well. Plessinger didn't get the holeshot but was able to maintain his strong pace, keeping up with Barcia and Roczen for the first six minutes of the race. This helped him catch up to Barcia, pass him and then pass Roczen after he crashed out of the lead. This resulted in Plessinger taking the lead.
From there, he just rode his bike and focused on his own race. He didn't struggle much at all and was able to keep Cooper Webb behind, thanks in part to help from his teammate Chase Sexton. Plessinger is someone who has been riding quite strong to start the season, and I am excited to see what he will achieve this season.
2. COOPER WEBB (unranked)
Cooper Webb returns to the top five after a strong performance at Rd. 3 of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship. Webb didn't look the strongest in qualifying, but still managed to finish with the ninth fastest lap. He struggled in his heat race a bit and finished 22.5 seconds back from Plessinger but made up for it in the main event. Webb powered through the race and was challenging Plessinger for a good chunk of the beginning and a bit of the end of the race. In the end, it wasn't enough to get the win, but he still managed to pick up a large haul of points.
Ultimately, the points are what you have to look at as a positive and a reason why he is No. 2 on the list. In another night when there were treacherous conditions, Webb was able to finish in a high position and move up three places and into the top five in the overall supercross points standings. If he is able to keep up this consistency, I definitely believe he will circulate into championship talk in a few weeks.
3. JETT LAWRENCE (unranked)
The young 20-year-old phenom from Australia was able to withstand the mud this weekend in San Diego, CA. After having a scary moment on Friday, Lawrence bounced back well the next day. Although it wasn't his best qualifying session, ending the session with the sixth fastest lap. He battled through his heat race after a rough start and managed to finish third to book his ticket to the main event.
Lawrence showed a lot of resilience throughout the night, and he battle hard each time he was out on track. Specifically in main event, after he was in 13th place on the opening lap. He was able to quickly pick off riders and make his way into the top five. He was composed for most of the night, except up until the end of the race. Where he let his emotions get the better of him, and had a small moment post-race with Jason Anderson. Lawrence has since apologized to Jason Anderson via his Instagram story.
4. JUSTIN "BAM BAM" BARCIA (unranked)
The one, the only Justin "bam bam" Barcia finally put together a strong performance, and earned himself a spot in the power rankings for this week. The Troy Lee Designs Red Bull Gas Gas rider showed up this week when it mattered the most. Didn't have a great qualifying session, but had a strong heat race and main event. Finishing fourth in his heat race, and occupied the third podium spot in the main event.
Barcia was feeling much better this week, after being under the weather in San Francisco last weekend. Which showed in the main event, as Barcia had a great start and slotted into second place for the first third of the moto. He did get overtaken by Plessinger, but was able to still hold onto third place. I am hoping to see more of Justin Barcia in the top five.
5. JASON ANDERSON (unranked)
Jason Anderson's 2024 campaign has been a rollercoaster, after a strong podium finish at Anaheim to finishing 12th in San Francisco. He has been up and down to start the season, and this weekend was another high point. The 30-year-old had a great performance in qualifying, putting in the fourth fastest lap. Nonetheless, he struggled at the start of his heat race but made a momentous comeback to clinch a spot in the main event.
Anderson had a much better performance in the main, and was able to stay composed for the entirety of the moto. He didn't look uncomfortable or like he was struggling at any point. Anderson's problem has always been consistency, and if he can maintain this level of competiveness and speed, he will be fighting for podiums week in and week out. I don't know if I see that happening, I think his season will continue to be a rollercoaster ride.
Now that we've gone through the 450SX class, it's time to talk about the 250SX West Regional class. Which has been an interesting championship battle, and it continued on Saturday night.
(Sam Donsig/Intermission Sports)
1. NATE THRASHER (unranked)
Nate Thrasher takes the top spot in the 250SX power rankings after being outside of the top five for the first two weeks of the season. Despite the fact that he qualified 12th, Thrasher was able to put together a solid performance in his heat race. Finishing fourth and clinching himself a spot in the main event. Thrasher improved a lot throughout the night and was patient will all his overtakes, and it paid off in the main event.
He sat in sixth after the opening lap of the main event, and over the course of the next 10 laps he made his way through the top five into the podium places. After Marchbanks got held up with a lapped rider, Thrasher used that to his advantage and took first place. Yes, he only led four laps so why is No. 1 over Smith or Marchbanks. Well it's because he was smart in his decision making to be able to put himself into the best position to succeed.
2. JORDON SMITH (↓1)
Jordon Smith was really close to maintaining the No. 1 spot for this week's power rankings. In spite of that, Thrasher created a strong case for himself after slicing his way through the field in the main event. Nonetheless, Smith still had an amazing weekend himself. He finished with the fastest lap in qualifying, and finished second in his heat race. Smith was looking confident and poised heading into the main event.
He got a decent start in the main, sitting in third after lap one. He battled hard throughout the moto to maintain his positioning, and was able to get back third place from RJ Hampshire in the closing laps. Smith looked comfortable on the bike from start to finish of the weekend. He didn't lose focus at all, and that helped him maintain his lead in the 250SX West Regional standings.
3. GARRETT MARCHBANKS (—)
Garrett Marchbanks was so close to sweet victory, but in the end he let a lapped rider get in his way. Something that he will not let happen again, regardless he still finished with a solid haul of points. Marchbanks like Thrasher didn't have a good qualifying session, only setting the 11th fastest lap. Regardless, it didn't affect his performance in his heat race. After the opening lap, Marchbanks overtook RJ Hampshire for the lead and didn't look back.
This propelled him into a great gate pick choice for the main event, and a great result too. Yes he didn't get the win, but he still managed the race for 80 per cent, and finished second on the podium. A lot of positives can be taken away from this weekend for Marchbanks including his heat win and strong performance in the main event. I am looking forward to see how he performs next weekend at Anaheim II.
4. JO SHIMODA (Unranked)
Jo Shimoda is starting this season like most, with inconsistent performances and is hurting his chances at a title. Discounting his poor performance in San Francisco last weekend, two fourth place finishes for Shimoda is good but could be better. This weekend he looked like himself more, and was a lot better in the mud this week. He was much more composed and didn't try to force anything, which paid off in the end for the Team Honda HRC rider.
Shimoda like many riders didn't get the best start in the main event, but was able to climb his way into a strong points finish. He took his time and patiently overtook multiple riders over the course of the 16 laps. Heading into the Anaheim II, Shimoda has to keep this confidence and patience and it will serve him well the rest of the season.
5. LEVI KITCHEN (↓3)
Levi Kitchen remains in the top five, but slips three positions after a less than ideal weekend at Snapdragon Stadium. He didn't have a clean qualifying session, or main event. Kitchen dominated his heat racing, leading from start to finish. His luck changed in the main event.
Kitchen still was able to finish inside the top five for the main event, and there are a lot of takeaways for him. One is being patient in the mud, and not trying to do too much all in one lap. Now during the main event, he was in second for the first third of the race after taking a spill and tumbling down the order to eighth. Kitchen was able to rebound well, and slowly carved his way back up into fifth place. Nevertheless, it could have been a podium finish for Kitchen and hence why he earns the fifth and final spot in my power rankings for the 250SX West Regional class.
From Jett Lawrence blitzing through the whoops, to Aaron Plessinger's post race interview. There was a lot of action on and off the track, which resulted in a great night for the fans and everyone watching at home. Stay tuned for motorsports-related content later this week. I will look ahead to Anaheim II, as supercross makes it's second scheduled stop to Angel Stadium.
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