The third consecutive round of the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross series at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City brought some tricky conditions along with it, testing the competitors throughout the day with an unpredictable and challenging track. There was some heavy weather in the twenty-four hour period leading up to race day and the precipitation continued throughout the morning of practice. Dirt Wurx did a good job to preserve the condition of the rhythm sections with lots of strategically placed tarp, but there was only so much they could do to prevent the moisture from having an effect on the track. The track turned out to be incredibly technical as there were lots of harsh transitions between jumps as well as the whoops section. Only a handful of riders even jumped the only supercross triple on the track which was placed directly out of a ninety-degree corner, serving as the most notable distinction that the conditions were far from normal. Nonetheless, the adverse state of the track produced some exciting and close racing and proved to be an equalizer of sorts, mixing up the results at the end of the night.
The same LS2 contingent that competed in the first two 450SX rounds at Salt Lake City were in attendance for the thirteenth round of the season, but due to the situation with the weather, they were only given one practice session. Kyle Chisholm led the way with the 21st fastest time, clocking a 1:06.132 second lap time while Josh Greco finished in 33rd position, recording a personal best lap of 1:14.913. Bubba Pauli finished in 35th position with a 1:16.263 second lap time and Scotty Wennerstrom was a few positions further back in 38th position, putting down a 1:17.336 lap time.
Wennerstrom was the first to the gate in 450SX Heat 1, but the track was already raced by the 250 class and things began to break down rather quickly due to the moisture in the dirt. The track became more and more challenging as the night went on and the metal starting grate made things even more challenging. Wennerstrom spun up on the gate and didn’t put himself in an optimal position on the start, crossing the finish line in 17th position on the first flying lap and that’s exactly where finished eight laps later. In the second 450SX Heat, Chisholm put himself in contention for a transfer spot with a start just outside the top ten while Pauli and Greco circulated a few positions further back around the cusp of the top fifteen. Neither of them was able to make the necessary forward progress as Chisholm finished in 14th position with Pauli and Greco in 17th and 18th, sending them to the gate fo the LCQ. When the gate dropped for the Last Chance Qualifier, Chisholm put himself in an optimal position as he quickly claimed 2nd place and stayed out of the midpack carnage. Pauli, Wennerstrom, and Greco couldn’t say the same for themselves as they were buried outside of the top ten on the opening lap, facing a monumental task to finish in a transfer position. Chisholm rode a clean and consistent race at the front of the field and capitalized off a late-race mistake from the leader in order to take over the lead and put himself in the top spot at the checkered flag. Pauli fought his way up to 10th position while Wennerstrom and Greco finished 15th and 16th, respectively.
Pauli commented “A mud race in Salt Lake City is much different than any other mud race we have encountered before. The jump transitions were really harsh and abrupt while the base was rock hard. I did not get into any sort of groove all day which showed in my overall result, missing the main event by six positions.”
“This round was a mud fest in our qualifier. I went out and qualified 33rd in the Heat and LCQ just spun off the wet grates and splashed instantly off the starts. Starting from the back in the LCQ and working up to 16th with technical track conditions, it was a much slower pace than normal just to survive the race without going down,” said Greco.
Wennerstrom commented “Looking forward to some different conditions, I was ready to improve my results in a wet, sticky Salt Lake track! Smooth riding with minimal mistakes helped me make passes and move up in the LCQ. The rutted conditions allowed for more passing options throughout the day which I was pumped to be able to take advantage of. Ready for the quick turnaround and get back to racing this Wednesday which might have the best conditions of the whole Salt Lake tour!”
Chisholm laid down a solid performance in the 450SX Main Event after taking the win in the LCQ, starting on the verge of the top fifteen as the gate dropped on the final race of the evening. He battled hard with his competitors as well as the challenging track conditions throughout the treacherous twenty-minute race, fighting hard against the everchanging ruts and jump faces until the checkered flag. Chisholm bounced around, chopping and changing positions throughout the middle of the race, eventually finishing in 18th position at the checkered flag.
Chisholm commented “Round 3 here in Salt Lake was a challenging one for me. My dad has been having some pain in his kidneys and has had a history with kidney stones and he couldn’t make it out for the race. So with the help of my truck driver and Bobby (Chad Saultz’s mechanic), I got through the day but it was pretty tough mentally and physically. With only one 10 minute qualifying practice, I had to learn the track quickly. In the heat race, I just was not riding my best. I struggled to get into the flow and be comfortable so I had to do the LCQ. I was a bit bummed after the heat race but I regrouped mentally and went out and turned it around with a win in the LCQ which was fun. In the main, I rode well and battled with Friese and my friend Broc Tickle just outside of the top 15. It wasn’t the best result on paper but I was happy with overcoming the challenges of the day and being without my normal mechanic. I’m looking forward to race once again in a couple of days.”
Monster Energy Supercross returns to action in a few short days as the riders prepare for another quick turn around, kicking off the fourteenth round of the season on Wednesday, June 10th.