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  • Writer's pictureChris Riesenberg

2022 Detroit SX - VERSUS CHALLENGE GAME

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

Take a traditional sports style "versus" approach to this weekend's racing action and liven up your watch party, group text, or forum rivalry. Play with your buddies, place wagers, and have fun!


Let's take a look at this week's AirWheeliesOnly Versus Challenge matchups. Below you will find a brief explanation why I picked each of these match ups and my predicitions. Feel free to comment on what matchups you look forward to, what matchups you would have created, or why on the of the matchups will be a landslide victory.



Then you watch him nearly go Charlie Manson on the entire field and think he'd do anything to get on top of that podium
Bounces off tuff blocks like they are a double D aftermarket top end he's motorboating at the local strip joint

Here are the 2022 Detroit Supercross AirWheeliesOnly.com Versus Challenge Matchups




450 Class


  1. Malcolm Stewart vs. Jason Anderson

  2. Justin Barcia vs. Dylan Ferrandis

  3. Dean Wilson vs. Justin Brayton vs. Shane McElrath

  4. Cade Clason vs. Ryan Breece vs. Justin Starling

  5. Cooper Webb vs. Eli Tomac


250 Class


  1. Jett Lawrence vs. The Field

  2. Pierce Brown vs. Jordan Smith

  3. Enzo Lopes vs. RJ Hampshire

  4. Does Kyle Chisholm finish Top 10?

  5. Does Stilez Robertson holeshot?


 

450 Class Chex Picks


Malcolm Stewart vs. Jason Anderson

The better question might be, does the knock down (literally), drag out battle rage on or has the beef been squashed... My guess is that on the surface, cooler heads have prevailed, as both riders realize they are hurting themselves. However, I don't for an instant think it's over and that one of them won't be lying on the ground again before the end of the season. With long lanes and a fair bit of 180 turns, opportunities will be plentiful this weekend, but if you see it in Detroit, it'll be late in a main event.


Malcolm is hungry for that first win. He's done everything except cross that finish line first and has shown that he has everything it takes to get it done, but putting all the pieces together in one night has been a challenge. When it happens, I think it'll come in a race that is super easy and he'll question why it didn't happen sooner. I don't see those cards falling his way in Detroit coming off the emotional rollercoaster of the past two weekends, but I do think it'll happen before the season ends.


I am picking Jason Anderson to not only win this battle with Malcolm, but the race in Detroit. More often than not I believe the 21 Kawasaki has been the best guy, but the points and results aren't showing that. Anderson has to rebound now, stop the Tomac momentum, and win to stay in the title fight. He's a scrapper and I think he'll be dealing fists to the competition Saturday night and raising his arm in victory.


Justin Barcia vs. Dylan Ferrandis

Could there be a more exciting duo on the track than these two? You have Justin Barcia pinging his rev limiter all the way around the track. He's nearly clipping the inside tuff blocks into every turn aiming to saw off front wheels, tib/fibs, and anyone or anything else that he can use for traction. While it looks like a recipe for disaster and he also isn't getting his once patented great starts, Barcia has been in the top 10 every main event this year and has three podiums. He's been good, but not great. He looks like he's having a good time and one would have to think at this stage of his career he should be happy with that, but then you watch him nearly go Charlie Manson on the entire field and think he'd do anything to get on top of that podium. My gut (and it's pretty sizable) says we don't see BamBam on another podium this year unless it is to scream at another rider for returning a takeout.


That leaves the modern-day Mike Larocco... well that couldn't be further from the truth except the fact that he's a terrible starter and outdoor national champion. While Larocco was a stiff bulldog, never really out of control; Ferrandis moves around the bike like he has fire ants in his drawers and bounces off tuff blocks like they are a DD aftermarket top end he's motorboating at the local strip joint. He's fast and fun to watch, but unless your stuck in the 90s; motorboating at the strip club isn't the way to win a championship. The long lanes and 180 berms on the Detroit track should make passing easier, so I see Ferrandis catching and passing Barcia at some point in the main... if his leg doesn't get chopped off on the way by.


Dean Wilson vs. Justin Brayton vs. Shane McElrath

Are we really living in a world where Dean Wilson is the consistent guy? I guess even Marty Davalos raced a season of 450s eventually, so everyone can grow up. Next thing you know, Jordan Smith will stop crashing. Anyways, back to Wilson... Long gone are the days of being fast qualifier and being a threat to win, but he's been extremely solid. He'll likely once again be 9-12, where he has been every race but one this year. That means it'll be up to the other guys to step up and move in front of him.


As riders get older, they don't lose the magic all together; but consistently delivering at a high level becomes tougher. Compound that with knowing that this is your final supercross season, and that sharp edge needed to be at the very top of your game gets worn off just a bit. Don't get me wrong, Justin Brayton is still one of the best in the world at Supercross. He's not the best he's ever been, but he's still very good. A "standard" SX track with two long stadium length rhythms where being consistent and smooth is just what the doctor ordered to get Brayton his best SX finish of the year. Look for the #10 in the top 7 come Saturday night and winning this matchup.


The 450 Class in Supercross is gnarly! Want proof? Shane McElrath was very close to graduating to the 450 class as a 250 SX Champion over Chase Sexton... yes, the guy who was looking to be a title contender this year a few weeks ago. A year of injury and switching bikes and teams a couple of times, and Shane was going from the lead to well outside the top 10 in 450 SX races. Nearly everyone has growing pains adapting to the premier class in SX though, and this is basically Shane's rookie year. I think he's finding where he belongs in the field, but I also have to think the 17 round grind for the first time has to be starting to wear him down a bit. I don't see any signs that point to McElrath landing in the top 10 Saturday night, but at least with Chiz moving to the 250 class he won't get beat by a privateer on a nearly stock Yamaha again.


Cade Clason vs. Ryan Breece vs. Justin Starling

The battle of the best privateers not named Kyle Chisholm is a good one. Each of these guys has qualified for 6 main events and they sit 4 points apart in 23-25 in the SX standings currently. While they seem so evenly matched, they are each very unique.


Clason may have the least amount of raw talent, but he's been at the 450 Supercross game the longest. That experience really propels him when the pressure of a last transfer in the heat race or an LCQ appearance shows its ugly face. Ryan Breece is likely the grittiest and most determined of the three. His paycheck also most likely fluctuates the most based on his performance, so it adds some race fuel onto an already explosive fire. He mixes that with some solid bike skills and has proven he can battle with the best in the world each weekend. And then there is Justin Starling, one of the most technically sounds riders on the track. The more challenging the conditions, the better Starling will likely do. I feel like he has the highest ceiling in the group, but he's still young in the 450 class.


Cade Clason is the only one not running his own team/program. With the drive from Daytona up to snowy Detroit happening this week, my guess is that Breece and Starling didn't have a very stable week and might not have even gotten to practice. Having a home base program is a big benefit when you get past the halfway point of the season, and I think that is what will put Clason over the top in this battle.


Cooper Webb vs. Eli Tomac

Cooper Webb has been on the podium the last 3 races in a row and Tomac has won the last 2 races. Tomac looks to have taken control of this championship as he sits 18 markers in front of Jason Anderson and 33 in front of Webb. In my opinion, this is the most in control of a title indoors Tomac has ever been; and that is what worries me. At some point, Tomac will want to back it down and be smart; and I'm not sure he knows how to do that without becoming a 6th place rider. He's so good when he's locked in, but it's hard to do that when you have a comfy points lead.


Webb hasn't won a race this year and has to be laser focused and determined to get one under his belt. If his late race charges are any indication, giving up isn't in his vocabulary; so that would mean he still believes he has a shot at this title as he sits 33 points out of the lead. He's also improved his starts as of late, so I think Cooper Webb will be really hard to beat at Detroit for anyone. I don't see Tomac catching and passing Webb at a standard SX with the up-tick in Coop's riding, so I give this matchup to Cooper Webb.


 

250 Class Chex Picks


Jett Lawrence vs. The Field

As much as I'd like to see McAdoo grab this win and keep the points battle rolling, I'm worried about the knee he injured in Daytona. If it was against anyone else on a 250 in Supercross right now (including Christian Craig), I'd give him a good shot; but Jett is clearly the best guy in the field right now. Perhaps McAdoo's knee is no big deal, and in that case, I'd take him super seriously as a threat to win. As far as the rest of the field, the only other guys that aren't already hurt and on the sidelines and have the speed to win keep cartwheeling like they want to be on the sidelines. Luckily for big red who just lost Roczen for the immediate future, their media darling in the 250 class is absolutely legit and will likely knock down another win.


Pierce Brown vs. Jordan Smith

Are we choosing most crashes, most spectacular crash, or best finish? Well this game is about the best finish, so it'll definitely come down to the rider with the least crashes... or at least the guy who doesn't have the bigger, more spectacular one. Flip a coin on this one, but I'll go with Brown to only crash once while Smith may push the front end 3 turns in a row and not surprise me.


Enzo Lopes vs. RJ Hampshire

RJ Hampshire could very easily be lumped into the group above, but I wanted an excuse to talk about Enzo Lopes again. He wasn't the hyped amateur kid; he was just very good and chasing the factory kids around event after event. He also wasn't on a factory bike, but he was racing against factory bikes. Jordan Bailey, Joey Crown, or Mitchell Falk ring a bell? Perhaps it was more the bike than the rider at all those amateur races. Perhaps the factories should've saved their money and invested in the guy sitting 4th in the 250 SX standings right now and improving each and every race. Cheers to you Enzo!


But I do think RJ has to keep it upright or limit it to a small tip-over eventually, so I see him due for a podium in Detroit. I'll stick with a bet on Lopes for the long game at the end of the series though!


Does Kyle Chisholm finish Top 10? YES

When Chiz dropped down to a 250 in 2018 for the MotoConcepts team he was consistently a 8-11 place guy in a pretty loaded 250 West field. While he did have off season preparation on the 250, it was before MCR was getting any factory support. They were on production suspension revalved by Race Tech, not the Factory Showa support the team has now. There is no argument he's going onto the best bike in the class with Star Yamaha. Also, Chiz has already been on the Yamaha chassis which he keeps very close to stock on the 450. It has been a handful of years, but he also has a very good relationship from working closely with Enzo who handles the Star Yamaha 250 team's suspension. What I'm saying is, the bike is going to be awesome, and adapting shouldn't be that huge of a deal for Chisholm chassis-wise. Of course, getting used to riding a 250 again and racing with the kids might take some adaptation; but how far off a 450 is the grunt of a Star Yamaha 250? A much thinner field than the last time he was in the 250 class tells me Chiz goes straight into the top 10 his first race on the bike. Sorry kids, you're about to find out what it's like to race a guy who knows where you want to go 3 turns before you even know it.


Does Stilez Robertson holeshot? NO

One thing is for sure, the Rockstar Husky guys have figured out their starts. Stilez has been looking like Vince Friese jumping out front, but even RJ has been nailing down some solid ones in the 250 East. So why am I picking no? Simply because Jett Lawrence also has his starts figured out, and I look for Detroit to be gate to checkers, pure domination from the 18.




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