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  • Writer's pictureChris Riesenberg

2022 Arlington SX - Versus Challenge RECAP

Each week after the dust settles and all the bikes are loaded into their transport vehicles I take a look back at my Air Wheelies Only Versus Challenge Game answers and predictions to offer a unique post race breakdown.

Let's take a look at my picks for each matchup and see how I did. Below you'll find a breakdown of how I saw that action play out for these riders. Feel free to comment your "I told you so," or "You blew it," or even a "Nice job!" if you feel it necessary.

"I hate being wrong, but I am forever grateful to be completely wrong on this one. Fantasy sports make you say the wildest things."

Here are my 2022 Arlington Supercross Air Wheelies Only Versus Challenge Picks

450 Class

  1. Dean Wilson vs. Justin Brayton *CORRECT*

  2. Eli Tomac vs. Jason Anderson *INCORRECT*

  3. Brandon Hartranft vs. Vince Friese *CORRECT*

  4. Chase Sexton *CORRECT* vs. Ken Roczen

  5. Marvin Musquin *INCORRECT* vs. Cooper Webb

  6. Does Vince Friese lead a lap (LCQ does not count)? NO *CORRECT*

250 Class

  1. Austin Forkner *INCORRECT* vs. Cameron McAdoo

  2. RJ Hampshire *INCORRECT* vs. Pierce Brown

  3. Does Jett Lawrence win two or more of the Races at the Arlington Triple Crown? YES *INCORRECT*

  4. Nicoletti vs. Owen vs. Lopes *CORRECT*

  5. Kyle Peters *INCORRECT* vs. Jordan Smith


The CHEXplanation

Dean Wilson vs. Justin Brayton *CORRECT*

I think almost anyone who looked at the results from the previous two races and knows Brayton's history at Triple Crowns would have gotten this correct. Brayton got off to a great start in Main Event #1 and was a step better than Wilson all night. Dean Wilson rode right in the middle of the pack and won the tie-breaker with Vince Friese to take home his second top 10 finish on the season.

Eli Tomac vs. Jason Anderson *INCORRECT*

How could I even be bummed to have this one wrong? The racing between these two was epic. As predicted, Anderson's starts were indeed better and he was fabulous cutting down in the Texas soil. He was also extremely good and stable in the deteriorating whoops sections. The only thing neither Jason Anderson or myself saw was Malcolm Stewart cutting down early into the 2nd turn. It not only cost Anderson spots, but gifted Tomac who was recovering from a start well outside the top 10 an easy pass by both of them. Eventually the move would give Tomac the overall.

Brandon Hartranft vs. Vince Friese *CORRECT*

Vince Friese started the night in typical fashion with a holeshot in race #1; however, Musquin was able to sneak inside on him in the 2nd turn. Vince seemed to struggle to get going and was getting shuffled back more quickly than usual before he washed the front end out. From there, it was a completely different Vince Friese. He was charging forward through the pack and not getting his normal good starts. In races 2 and 3 he even came up and passed his teammate Justin Brayton. Friese is really good on the 450 this year and without the crash he has an easy top 10 overall on the night. Hartranft was invisible meaning he likely did what he's been doing all season... chugging along just outside the top 10 putting in strong laps and results.

Chase Sexton *CORRECT* vs. Ken Roczen

It was nice to see Sexton back after his big get off in Minneapolis, but he was without a doubt still feeling the effects. He was just a touch off the pace of the podium guys and eventually had a crash trying to avoid a tight turning Malcolm Stewart. A very respectable 4th on the night is just fine after the Minneapolis crash and he easily was the top rider in his truck in the 450 class.

That brings us to Ken Roczen who I'm told had another huge get off in the whoops. Then during race #3 Ken was rolling around the track with over 3 minutes left to go. I'm theorizing he was debating why he was still doing this, how much money he had in the bank, or how he can get out of his factory Honda contract. Things have went completely sideways for the 94 and big red, and it makes me wonder if we'll ever see him line up on that Honda again... or maybe professionally at all. The wheels have completely blown off the wagon.

Marvin Musquin *INCORRECT* vs. Cooper Webb

Marvin grabbed the lead in race #1 and looked to be making a run for it. He stalled the bike and began going backwards, looking down, and eventually ending up 11th. After another 11th in race #2, he found himself lodged in Roczen's rear wheel at the start of the third race and called it a night. Once again, Marvin showed some flashes, but the results won't show them.

On the other hand, this is the best I've seen Cooper Webb look all year. Yes, he was gifted a race #1 win when Anderson mowed down Stewart (and then Malcolm returned the favor as they were scrambling to their bikes!), but he was right in the mix when that happened. He came from nearly last in the third race to secure a podium finish as well, but what impressed me was he was good in both sets of whoops all night. Jumping and skimming. Plus, in race #1 we saw the late race Webb dig his claws in and run down Barcia to pass him on the white flag. The signs of life are showing.

Does Vince Friese lead a lap (LCQ does not count)? NO *CORRECT*

Isn't it amazing that it's a surprise to only see Vince get 1 of 3 holeshots? And Marvin nabbed that lead so quickly in the first race, leading a lap never was much of a possibility after that.

Austin Forkner *INCORRECT* vs. Cameron McAdoo

It was potentially a career changing night for Austin Forkner in Arlington. Not to be dramatic, but he finally reached the top of the podium again in race #1 after clawing his way back from so many injuries and a terrible summer of nationals in 2021. He set himself up nicely for a battle going into race #3 where it looked like at worst he'd leave with a podium. Unfortunately, Forkner didn't get through the pack quickly; perhaps as a result of trying to be smarter and not make the big mistakes that have sidelined him. The result was Jett Lawrence caught him after falling in the first turn, made a bonsai pass around the outside of him after the whoops, clipped a tuff block on the finish face, and cleaned out Forkner's front wheel mid-air causing him to slam shoulder first into the hard Texas soil.

Instead of fighting for a championship and getting bumped to the 450 class in 2022, Forkner very well could be side-lined once again and forced to try and rebuild and prove himself in the 250 class another season. Not to be overly dramatic, but it gets harder and harder to come back from these set-backs. Teams may begin to label you as fragile and you only have so many years in your prime. At the same point, perhaps another year of 250 Class eligibility isn't so bad with the potential of Craig, Nichols, Cooper, and Jeremy Martin all moving out of the class looking to snag 450 spots.

As for McAdoo... SOLID. That has clearly been the goal and he's executing. The reward is he leaves with a red plate and a tie in the points heading into Daytona. I still can't believe McAdoo is winning races and a title contender after watching him ripping around on clapped out Suzuki's at the tail end of the top 10 at Loretta's not that long ago. Hard work pays off folks.

RJ Hampshire *INCORRECT* vs. Pierce Brown

I think it is now safe to say that Pierce Brown is the younger version of RJ Hampshire. Lightning fast and if they could ever figure out their mistakes and stay on two wheels they would be title contenders. I said in my preview to this matchup: "It really will come down to which rider crashes less most likely."

RJ Hampshire: 3-20-20 (crashed out in race #2)

Pierce Brown: 15-19-2

While everyone saw RJ's fall from the sky, which was definitely a racing incident; it's also one you don't see many of his competitors have happen to them very often. I have to think he was rushing things a bit. Sounds like a hit to the head for RJ and he's had some big ones in the past, so let's hope he is able to bounce back well and rejoin the series when he's ready.

Pierce Brown has been fast as his 2nd in the last race shows, but he has to stay off the ground. Also, you can clearly see Pierce turning his bike at an angle when the 30 second board goes up on the far outside gates. He lined himself up to miss the rut infront of the gate (they were incredibly deep and blown out in Arlington) which allowed him to get a really good start from the far outside. This is against the AMA rules and they have a guy down there making you line up straight before each gate drop if you're crooked. Though, I don't know if there is actually a penalty for getting caught doing it... never know with the AMA!

Does Jett Lawrence win two or more of the Races at the Arlington Triple Crown? YES *INCORRECT*

Ahhh! Jett definitely had the speed to get it done. A little hard on the throttle hand on lap one a couple of times and Hunter's brother found himself coming from last through the pack. I bet he's not 100% after his get-off, and going into Daytona sore can't be fun!

Nicoletti vs. Owen vs. Lopes *CORRECT*

The ClubMX boys are on it! Nicoletti nearly got wrestled to the ground by Hampshire mid-air on the over-under bridge and then later in the evening pushed the front end and went face first into it. With all that, he STILL was able to manage a 9th. Enzo Lopes has been my surprise these first two races as he backed up his great Minneapolis performance. He currently is 5th in the points standings!

Probably feeling left out after the early success from his teammates, Jace Owen ripped a killer start in the third race and ran up front the whole time logging a 4th. He needed a few more spots in the first two in order to get a top 10 overall, but that 4th had to feel good.

Kyle Peters *INCORRECT* vs. Jordan Smith

I hate being wrong, but I am forever grateful to be completely wrong on this one. Fantasy sports make you say the wildest things. While Kyle Peters did what he always does and consistently ran inside the top 10 amongst the highly touted and paid factory kids, Jordan Smith put together three complete races inside the top 10. Anyone want double or nothing at Daytona?


Clearly I am far from an expert at my own game and it's a good thing I leave the real reporting to the real journalists. Looks like I better keep perfecting my airwheelies.

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