Vurbmoto.com's senior analysts dissect the hardest hitting questions in the industry.
Some fans are in an uproar over Blake Baggett taking the number 4. What are your thoughts on this? Does it make sense to retire a number for good in motocross?
Brent Stallo (The Jordan # of Motocross) - Ahh, the great number debate. Every year they are released and every year there is just as much confusion as to how the numbers were chosen. I will admit, the current system is somewhat more confusing than the old system but it's not rocket science. Instead of writing my own rendition of how it works I decided to take a few quotes from an article Steve Matthes posted on Racerxonline.com last year. Read below:
"There are two types of numbers--career ones and earned ones. If you score inside the top ten in combined points (a total of points scored in the 450 SX class, and 450 and 250 MX) at the end of the year, you earn a career number."
"Score inside the top 10 once, and you can choose any number between 10 and 99 and that’s it, you can run that for as long as you are an active racer. Anyone outside of the top ten has to run the numbers that correspond with their rankings at seasons end. Of course Sherlock, you can’t run a number that is already chosen by a top ten finisher so you just skip to the next one."
Sure there are some stipulations to the rule, which Matthes covered in his article. If you'd like you can click here to read more.
Now onto the real question, should Baggett have taken the number 4? Well, according to the rule book there is no reason why he shouldn't have. I personally think it's a ballsy move but who am I? Who knows, maybe it wil cast some sort of magic spell on him and propel him into some sort of Carmichael like trance? One thing is for sure, if I were Baggett I would have called RC personally and asked his permission. Taking the number 4 is kind of like asking your buddies x girlfriend on a date. It's ok as long as you make sure your buddy is cool with it first.
Troy Bendgen (Reds made the playoffs?) - It doesn't make sense to retire a number in motocross. The numbering system is confusing as is and now we'd have to subtract a number from existence? Ricky Carmichael was the best outdoor rider ever but we shouldn't have to retire his number for good. If the number goes out of circulation then the AMA or MX Sports will need to retire the number 2 as well. Jeremy was the greatest indoor rider but he didn't get his number retired for 5 years. I say good for Blake, he earned an awesome career number. I'm sure even RC is excited to see it back in action. The coolest part of this new number is that Blake will still be in the 250 class next year. Unless it's the number 1 plate you don't see any single digit guys in that class. Unless your name is Ivan Tedesco.
David Bulmer (Oh England, how I missed you) - If you market the 250 class as the development class (which judging by the Lites, and 8 round championship, they do) then I don't think anyone in that class should be able to pick a top 10 number. I don't blame Blake for taking it and I don't think the number should be retired either, but the current system is a mess and needs a complete overhaul. Not that I'm the one to suggest anything better, but I don't think anyone can list all the different rules, bylaws, sub-points and asterisks involved in the numbering process and that just isn't right.
Justin Hill has been signed to Pro Circuit. Would you have chosen someone else? If so, who?
Brent Stallo (Will Baseball EVER End?) - This is a catch 22 in my opinion. On one hand I think Hill was the best choice at the time. However, I'm pretty sure he wasn't the team's first choice. Pro Circuit offers a lot of things but a huge salary isn't exactly one of them. They have arguably the best bikes on the line but when other teams are coming off the hip with big signing bonuses and even bigger incentives it's tough to compete, especially when a lot more teams are putting competitive bikes on the track. I think Justin will do fine, however, I don't think he will have the immediate impact that other Pro Circuit's rookies have had in the past. On the other hand I've seen Mitch prove everyone wrong 100 times in the past, so don't ever count him out.
Troy Bendgen (Reds are finally great!?) - The last time that Pro Circuit signed a rookie it was Dean Wilson back in 2010 and that worked out really well. Justin is a hard worker that has been in the shadows for the majority of his amateur career. Before he injured himself this year he was the only guy to consistently hang with the speed of Jeremy Martin and Jessy Nelson. Hill was on fire at the Spring nationals. Given the facts I believe Mitch made the right choice on this call. If I were to add a different rider I wouldn't push Justin off the team, it would be Martin Davalos losing the ride. I'd then sign Jimmy Decotis cuz he throws big whippah tails.
David Bulmer (So when's my next trip...) - I think Justin Hill is as good a choice as any. I watched him beat Nelson and Martin at Millcreek so that automatically puts him above 95% of the A class, however the injuries do leave a big question mark over his reliability. I don't think Pro Circuit had too many other options though, and while he is fast, I don't see him challenging the big guns of the class straight away, and I don't see him making the impact that Zach Bell or even Nelson had when they turned pro. He's the best of the available bunch, but that bunch isn't the same quality as we've seen in the past.
At this point in his career does James Stewart have anything to prove? Will he ever win another championship?
Brent Stallo (Muddy Creek Next Weekend) - If James Stewart stopped racing today he would remain one of the most highly celebrated riders in the history of the sport. For lack of better words, he's one bad dude. However, the fact remains that he isn't retiring today. In my opinion anyone who lines up on the gate has something to prove and for James Stewart that something is winning another championship. Every rider has a different set of goals. For some it's to consistently finish inside the top 10 or maybe just to make the night show at a supercross, but for James Stewart that goal is to win a championship. The same goes for Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto, Chad Reed and the rest of the big players out there. These are professionals we're talking about. If they want to race for fun they will hang up their boots and start trying to qualify for Loretta's with RC. But until that day comes they all have something to prove, maybe not to the fans or to the record books, but to themselves.
Troy Bendgen (2-2 Don't blow it..they blew it) - Ahhh...the James Stewart saga we meet again. No, James shouldn't have anything to prove to anybody. It doesn't matter who boos him the loudest, he's still putting his life on the line every time he lines up to the gate. That goes for all riders in general. The fact is JS7 has made himself a legend and a living out of riding a dirtbike his entire life. This is/was the thing that made him most happy. It doesn't matter if he wins another championship because he has already established himself as one of the greatest to ever race a dirt bike. If he can get these crashes figured out he will and can win a championship. Next years 450 class is even more stacked than last years, so we will have wait and see how this story unfolds.
David Bulmer (Next month? Sold.) - Having put my eggs in the James Stewart basket at the beginning of 2012 and being sorely disappointed, I will no longer bet on the fastest man on the planet. I don't think he will win another championship in his career but then I also don't think he needs to. Of course some of his fans and his detractors will say he should have won more, and maybe they are right, but does he still have stuff to prove? No. He's won everything, gone unbeaten, destroyed fields of talented riders and excited thousands of fans. My personal opinion is he needs to go the opposite route and just start having fun again (racing Loretta's is fun?). Ride a RM250, pit out of a Tundra, wear all-pink gear, scrub, whip and turn-down at every possible opportunity and forget all about the results. You never know, one year of "having fun" and maybe he'll get his mojo back....