Keeping up with the run of Crown Jewel Nationals were on, Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, might as well be the best all-around race track on the schedule. Everything you're looking for on a Motocross track, you'll probably find pretty quickly. Sand? Check. Elevation change? Check. No shortage of line choices? Check. Wouldnt be shocked at all if Millville ends up getting the next United States-hosted Motocross Des Nations, but that's another topic for another time.
This year's 250 Class has been turned upside down multiple times in recent weeks, and now rookie Haiden Deegan of Star Yamaha entered the weekend with the red plate. No American-based rookie has been in this spot since Eli Tomac did so in 2010, but that was one round in. Deegan, however, has true title aspirations seeing as we're beyond the midway point. It helps that Hunter Lawrence has seen 50 points go up in smoke these last two weeks, and literally so at Southwick via an engine failure. That has also allowed guys such as Jo Shimoda, Justin Cooper, and R.J. Hampshire sneakily get back into this Championship chase with 10 Motos to go starting on Saturday. Wouldnt bet on things being par for the course from here on out with that being said.
Also a week ago, Jett Lawrence, perhaps in the best outing of his career, advanced to 12-0 in the sands of Southwick, Massachusetts. Everything is firing on all cylinders, and outside of Chase Sexton, and two Moto's worth of Ken Roczen, no one has been able to touch him all season. 10 more Motos is all that stands between him and becoming the third rider ever to achieve a perfect Premier Class Motocross season.
Silly Season Report
Silly season may as well be a year-round affair, but just yesterday, Michael Lindsay over at Vital MX put together an early look at how 2024 is shaping up. A ton of big stuff beyond the well know items at this point (Sexton to KTM, Webb to Star Yamaha, Shimoda to Honda HRC, etc.), specifically a lot of shuffling in the 250 class. Won't spoil the whole thing (check it out right here, some potentially massive news regarding Eli Tomac as well), but here were the few tidbits that jumped out to me.
- ClubMX Yamaha has an offer to switch to KTM, with some perks including "a dealership and WP service center on the facilities' property, factory engines, and more."
- H.E.P Suzuki is another team that could switch manufacturers. Kawasaki would be "the most likely avenue."
- Triumph's Factory Team could potentially be sponsored by Monster Energy, and Bobby Hewitt is likely bringing in some names he's very familiar with from his days at Rockstar Husqvarna.
Daytime Program/Injury Notes:
- Star Yamaha's Daxton Bennick made it known coming into the weekend that he may not finish both Motos to ensure he does not hit/pass the amateur status points threshold (spoiler; that was a lie)
- 250 Fastest Qualifier: No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (2:03.392) (He, along with Seth Hammaker and Justin Cooper, were the only riders to run laps faster than 2:05. Tom Vialle was .020 away from joining them).
- 450 Fastest Qualifier: No. 18 Jett Lawrence (1:59.716) (Jett's fastest time in Q1 was over four seconds faster than anyone else).
250 Class Recap
1st - No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (Honda HRC) (1-2)
Guess someone showed/told Hunter that once he lost the red plate last year he never got it back, because he was a different animal on Saturday. This was by the widest possible margin, the best he had looked in a Moto 1 all year, disintegrating a half-dozen-second lead that Jo Shimoda had built up after Lawrence had a so-so start. Shimoda put up a good fight, but that Moto was only going to end one way. Now for the bad news, after he coughed up the Moto 2 win, he was visibly shaken up going back to the cooldown area and was heard talking about his ribs. Even now that he has the points lead again, that's a massive headline going into Washougal.
2nd - No. 32 Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) (4-1)
We talked last week about Cooper leaving meat on the bone, but this week he got some good karma via that Lawrence wreck. In doing so, he got on the right side of a six-point swing because of it. 20 points out still, but a lot can happen in eight Motos, especially with how this 250 class has shaken down all season long.
3rd - No. 30 Jo Shimoda (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki (2-3)
It was looking so good for the Jo Shimoda Agenda™ after an absolute monster start in Moto 1. No one was even close to him in the early goings, and even when Hunter Lawrence evaporated the gap, Shimoda fought like hell to hold him off, even if he couldn't sustain it all the way. Still, this was another strong outing for Shimoda, which is exactly what he needs to be doing after all the inconsistency early in the season.
7th - No. 238 Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) (5-8)
Feels crazy to say this considering his age and the fact that he's still a rookie, but this was the first time Deegan didn't answer the bell in 2023. His first Moto was good, not great, ending up fifth after starting in p2, but he was not good off the gate drop in Moto 2 and didn't make the inroads he needed to. Now, Deegan is 13 points back of Lawrence after coming into the weekend up five. His new spot in the points isn't a sure thing now either. Deegan is only seven up on Justin Cooper and R.J. Hampshire now, and just eight points up on Shimoda.
9th - No. 55 Austin Forkner (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki) (11-9)
Didn't hear much out of Forkner on Saturday, but all things considered, an 11-9 after spending six months of racing action is very good. His starts left some to be desired, but it's a process for Forkner right now. Even then, if he can pick things up just a tad from here on out, he's currently on pace to make it into the 250 SMX Playoffs as a top 20 seed.
250 Class Millville Top 10
1st No. 96 Hunter Lawrnece (1-2)
2nd No. 32 Justin Cooper (4-1)
3rd No. 30 Jo Shimoda (2-3)
4th No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (3-6)
5th No. 43 Levi Kitchen (7-4)
6th No. 128 Tom Vialle (6-5)
7th No. 238 Haiden Deegan (5-8)
8th No. 34 Max Vohland (10-7)
9th No. 55 Austin Forkner (11-9)
10th No. 38 Jalek Swoll (8-14)
250 Class Points After Millville
1st No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (260 Points) (New Points Leader)
2nd No. 238 Haiden Deegan (247 Points)
3rd No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (240 Points)
4th No. 30 Jo Shimoda (240) Points)
4th No. 32 Justin Cooper (239 Points)
6th No. 43 Levi Kitchen (214 Points)
7th No. 128 Tom Vialle (210 Points)
8th No. 34 Max Vohland (190 Points)
9th No. 75 Ryder DiFrancesco (137 Points)
10th No. 38 Jalek Swoll (130 Points)
450 Class Recap
1st - No. 18 Jett Lawrence (Honda HRC) (1-1)
For only the second time this season, Jett wasn't the best rider in the 450 class. In such rounds he is also batting 1.000, so does it even matter at this point? Starts don't even seem to matter anymore, either. Sure, Sexton gave him a get-out-of-jail-free card in Moto 2, but Lawrence has now pulled off an FFL (First to Finish Line for non-PulpMX degenerates) between both Motos today and at Southwick, despite securing zero holeshots. Have to call it like I see it; Lawrence was nothing short of phenomenal once again. How he held off Sexton in that first Moto, I have no idea.
Another thing to watch out for is an early clinching scenario for Lawrence, should he gain an additional 19 points on Dylan Ferrandis by the end of Unadilla in about a month, he will officially clinch the Championship a full two rounds early. So if Lawrence goes 1-1-1-1 and Ferandis 3-3-3-3, that'll be enough. Also, we've reached the point where there is now a way to bet on Motocross (at one book, not fully national just yet, send it in responsibly) while taking Jett out of the equation. Do with that information what you will.
2nd - No. 23 Chase Sexton (Honda HRC) (2-2)
If Sexton is to take anything away from this weekend, it's that Jett Lawrence is beatable. We saw a glimpse into that at High Point with Ken Roczen, but the 23 was giving the 18 some serious heat in that opening Moto. The problem is he only bested him for about 20 seconds of real-time, and three tip-overs, a slip-up, and a brutal hold-up from a lapper did him in mightily. I would be shocked if he doesn't win a Moto next week at Washougal if he unloads off the truck like he did today. Remember, Sexton went 2-1 there a year ago, having an epic duel with Eli Tomac to get that Overall win.
3rd - No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) (5-3)
Ferrandis might as well have been R.J. Hampshire in disguise because just about everywhere he went, something was always happening. He saw a ton of Jason Anderson and Aaron Plessinger in this one, and their separate battles were one of the highlights of this entire weekend. Kind of sucks that he still has nothing to show for this season outside of some podiums, but I have to imagine there's some bonus for finishing second in this Championship coming his way soon.
10th - No. 21 Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki) (3-DNF)
Another 10th overall for El Hombre, but not all finishes are created equal. Had he not gotten tangled up with Max Miller in Moto 2, he probably would have ended up on the podium. Just looking at his Moto 1 lap times and the falloff, or lack thereof, of said lap times in crunch time, it's not much of a stretch. Still very impressed with that third in Moto 1. Anderson was comfortably the best guy on track that wasn't on a factory Honda bike.
450 Class Millville Top 10
1st No. 18 Jett Lawrence (1-1)
2nd No. 23 Chase Sexton (2-2)
3rd No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (5-3)
4th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (4-4)
5th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (7-5)
6th No. 81 Ty Masterpool (8-6)
7th No. 36 Garrett Marchbanks (6-8)
8th No. 78 Grant Harlan (9-7)
9th No. 47 Freddie Noren (10-9)
10th No. 21 Jason Anderson (3-DNF)
450 Class Points After Millville
1st No. 18 Jett Lawrence (350 Points)
2nd No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (269 Points)
3rd No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (246 Points)
4th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (206 Points)
5th No. 23 Chase Sexton (174 Points)
6th No. 81 Ty Masterpool (162 Points)
5th No. 2 Cooper Webb (147 Points) (Done for the remainder of Motocross)
8th No. 47 Freddie Noren (147 Points)
9th No. 36 Garrett Marchbanks (146 Points)
10th No. 78 Grant Harlan (116 Points)
Millville PulpMX Industry Idiots Fantasy Team
450 Class: Chase Sexton (All-Star, +1), Grant Harlan (+3), Shane McElrath (+7), Izaih Clark (+18)
250 Class: Justin Cooper (All-Star, +2), Seth Hammaker (-1), Preston Kilroy (+11), Josh Varize (+16)
FFL: Jett Lawrence (Successful) and Justin Cooper (Unsuccessful)
Points Total: 360 (Travis Marx will pay for his crimes)
Next Up: Washougal (Washougal, Washington)
Main Image via Honda HRC