A Matthes Report: Oakland

A collection of thoughts from Steve Matthes

· 4 minutes read

Last race of the western swing of the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross series takes place in San Diego this weekend, folks, and it seems like there may be some serious weather moving into the coastal city. If it pours on everyone, it will just be another wrench thrown into a series that has seen the defending champ get off to a tough start then exit with injury.

The winningest rider from the last two years has yet to grab a W. The star-crossed superstar can't seem to close the deal and get a W. The rider that honestly claimed that this is a "rebuilding year" grabbed his first two career wins and leads the points and so on and so on. Why not have a complete mudder and even more wacky results, right? Here are some random thoughts on a random Thursday.

Cooper Webb is now suddenly considered a title contender in 450SX (ConwayMX)

– I mean, why can't Cooper Webb just win this 450SX title? Yes, this is surprising, but what about his pedigree of being an amateur champion, winning everything in the 250 class and now being in his third year of 450 class racing? It all fits in terms of what you want to have on the résumé of a 450SX champion. Webb did not look like it in his first two years on the Yamaha 450F, yes, but he DID get podiums indoors and out. It is not like he was absolutely terrible; he just got hurt a bunch and could never get it going. This is pretty surprising but, for me, it is easy to wrap my head around Webb winning this thing.

– Eli Tomac, as we all know, has yet to win a race this year but in talking to the Kawasaki guys, it seems that one of the reasons why he is not quite there yet is the new bike. There are not too many parts that are the same from 2018 and, as always with new models, it takes some time to figure it out. The Honda guys told me it took them two years after the release of the 2009 CRF450R to fully learn the bike through data acquisition. Eli Tomac also had an off-season injury to his back that he had to deal with that kept him off the bike. We may not see it this weekend, because of the mud, but the Kawasaki team is confident they have had a bit of a breakthrough with the motorcycle.

– Boy, Kenny Roczen has to be wondering what is going on with him right now! Maybe he crossed a black cat or broke a mirror. We saw him lead SX races late last year and have the win snatched away. Roczen led Glendale with a nice lead when the red flag came out and tightened everything up, then he got taken down by [Jason] Anderson in a pass for the lead.

At Anaheim 2 he led the first race until two turns to go and Cooper Webb passed him. Roczen has made a remarkable comeback from injury here and has won an outdoor round, but that indoor win has escaped him. Kenny is also dealing with his trainer and brother-in-law, Blake Savage, being perhaps-permanently paralyzed after a training crash whilst they were riding together.  Lots to deal with if you are Kenny Roczen right now.

Ken Roczen has had a consistent start. It just isn't quite what he wants (ConwayMX)

– Through all of this sits Marvin Musquin who might be peaking at the right time. Musquin missed a month of training with a knee injury and started Anaheim 1 just okay, but he has slowly gotten better here going 7-5-2-2. Musquin is looking better out there in qualifying practice and his improvement, combined with the mysterious starts that Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen have had, has some predicting Musquin is in a perfect spot to get his first 450 title.

– I fully expect privateer hero Dean Wilson to be under the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing awning next week in Minneapolis. I thought it would also work for this weekend, but I guess not. I know Dean has got his own personal sponsors that he has dug up to help him out, but he is not going to take this sprinter van across America. With Jason Anderson out for six to eight weeks (although now that is four to six), I look for Wilson to be in the semi-truck next week.

When I asked him about after the race in Oakland, he was playing it pretty political and down the middle. "I have got to talk to sponsors that are with me right now and try to figure it out. That is my first priority. Obviously, Rockstar Energy is still supporting me and, to me, sliding in there would be quite easy, but I just want to go through my sponsors that have been supporting me. The privateer deal is awesome and everything has been going well.

"I really like it, but a lot of people only see me on the weekends. They do not see during the week. My dad is grinding his ass off every day. It is a lot of stress for the old bugger. He tries hard and he enjoys it but, at the same time, it is a lot of work for him. We are on the west coast. These are the easy rounds. The east coast will be tough, so I have got to talk to my sponsors. Obviously they want me on the team. It is what it is. It is all good."

Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: ConwayMX

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