It was the Monster Energy AMA Supecross season’s worst first-turn pile up at the inaugural 250SX race at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., with over half the field ricocheting off each other and going down.
Happily, no one was injured and only three riders were unable to continue the race, which made for some new faces up near the front and some good racing for the next 14-and-a-half laps. Let’s see who was on the Upside and Downside in Santa Clara.
2015 Santa Clara 250SX Commentary, Upside
Cooper Webb – Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha: Although he had already wrapped up the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship in Houston last weekend, Webb’s been gaining momentum like a freight train and nothing was going to stop him from taking another win – not even getting caught up in the first turn pile up. He was back up on his bike quick enough to be in 9th place by the end of the first lap, so it was inevitable to everyone that he was going all the way to the front; the question was just how quickly he would get there. Webb had it wrapped up on Lap 9 on his YZ250F.
Justin Hill – Red Bull KTM: Despite being included in the first turn mess which left Hill in 12th at the end of the first lap, he methodically moved through the field and brought his 250 SX-F to a season’s best second-place finish. Never counting himself out, Hill posted a picture of his bike upside down in the turn on Instagram, saying “Didn’t assume I would end up on the box at this moment. But I sure acted like I was gonna.” Hill finishes the season 4th overall just one point back of Zach Osborne.
Alex Martin – CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha: Martin was fast enough off the gate to avoid getting caught in the pile up, tucking into 2nd behind Kawasaki-mounted Josh Hansen on the first lap. Martin was quickly passed by Scott Plessinger, but rode solid laps through to the end of the race, getting on the podium for the second time this season with a 3rd place result. Tweeting a picture of his podium result, Martin said: “Crazy night here in Santa Clara! Very happy to keep it on two wheels tonight and come away with my 2nd podium of the year!”
Shane McElrath – Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull KTM: Though finishing 5th on the heels of consecutive podiums might seem like a Downside weekend, McElrath managed to move into the runner-up position behind Webb in the season’s overall standings after Saturday night’s race. “It was a crazy main event for sure,” said McElrath. “After having a good heat race, it was disappointing to go down in the first turn. Once I got up, I really tried to focus on putting in good laps and picking off riders. It was pretty chaotic, but I think a fifth was okay considering the start.”
Jackson Richardson – XPR Motorsports Honda: Also getting off to a swift start and avoiding the tumbling riders behind him, privateer Richardson rode his CRF250R to a season’s best finish. Having not even cracked the top ten in previous rounds, Richardson’s first single digit result — a 6th place finish — was a great way to end his season.
Four Guys – Taking 250SX points for the first time this season, thanks to the first turn pile up, were Austin Ullrich, Morgan Burger, Cody Church, and Kevin Weisbruch, finishing 24th, 26th, 29th, and 31st, respectively.
2015 Santa Clara 250SX Commentary, Downside
Chris Alldredge – Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki: Alldredge was right in the thick of things coming into the first turn, but got squeezed off and went down while trying (unsuccessfully) not to plow into Zach Osborne in front of him. Chaos ensued, and Alldredge’s crash knocked him out of the race. The rookie has shown bursts of speed during a tough first season, and has finished twice in the Top Ten, but not this time.
Zach Osborne – Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing: It was a tough ending to a tough season for Osborne, who had one podium at Anaheim 1, and Top 10 finishes at all the other rounds…except Santa Clara. Said a frustrated Osborne, “I pulled a great start in the main but then got plowed from behind. There wasn’t much I could do. It pretty much destroyed my bike, and I got pretty banged up myself. I ended up third in the championship, but it’s a little disheartening. It’s been one of those years where it seems like I’m doing all the right things, but the pieces just aren’t coming together. It’s tough to swallow, for sure.”
Aaron Plessinger – Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha: Early on it looked like Plessinger might win his first 250SX race, thanks to being in front of the scrambling riders who were down in the first turn. Plessinger led the race for three laps early on, but made a mistake and returned the lead to Hansen. Plessinger fell again several laps later, dropping a few more positions, eventually finishing seventh.
Posting on Instagram later that night, Plessinger is focusing on the upcoming East/West shoot-out: “Feels good to lead a race, doesn’t feel to good to let it slip through my hands.. Ohh well it’s the way she goes, two weeks till Vegas and I’m gonna put in the work and do the best I can.”
Josh Hansen – Team 100/Motorsport.com/Monster Energy Kawasaki: Hansen got off to a great start, pulling the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot Award and thus avoiding the carnage about to happen behind him, and looked positioned to take his first podium of the season, if not a win. Hansen enjoyed the lead for a third of the race, even briefly retaking the lead from newly crowned Western Regional 250SX Champion Webb after being overtaken on Lap 9. Frustratingly, Hansen would eventually pull off the track when his KX250F had a mechanical problem.
2015 Western Regional 250SX Class Results, Santa Clara, Calif.:
1. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha
2. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., KTM
3. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha
4. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Honda
5. Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM
6. Jackson Richardson, Wildomar, Calif., Honda
7. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha
8. Matt Bisceglia, Weatherford, Texas, Honda
9. Tommy Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda
10. Scott Champion, Wildomar, Calif., Yamaha
2015 Western Regional 250SX Class Season Standings:
1. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha, 186
2. Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM, 124
3. Zach Osborne, Chesterfield, S.C., Husqvarna, 117
4. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., KTM, 116
5. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha, 113
6. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha, 111
7. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Honda, 107
8. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., KTM, 106
9. Tyler Bowers, Corona, Calif., Kawasaki, 105
10. Josh Hansen, Elbert, Colo., Kawasaki, 91