Swizcorner "Settle Down, Felicia"

Herlings shines and American fans reel.

Lead Photo: ROOGS
I can’t think of a more awkward way to wrap up the American National Motocross Series than by watching one of the most controversial European MXGP stars in recent years come over and lay wood to the field.
Seriously, even if you haven’t been an avid follower of the USGP series, you know the name Jeffrey Herlings. Whether it was his early years in the MX2 class when he was arrogant, unfiltered and most frustratingly— delivered on his claims; or his lengthy stay in the MX2 class where the rules were actually changed to allow him to stay in the class, continuing his dominance… you KNOW Jeffery Herlings.
Due to an injury early in the year, the MXGP title is out of reach for Herlings for 2017 and with the USGP in Florida coming up this weekend, it was a perfect consumption of events to allow the opportunity for Herlings to enter the final round of the US National Series at Ironman MX in Indiana.
Let me say right off the top, Herlings was laying down a blistering pace from the beginning of the day. His smooth flow and relentless attack of the track was a breath of fresh air. I think relating Herlings to JS7 in his hay-day is actually a pretty apt comparison. He was riding like he had something to prove, just like JS7 did when he was a fresh sight on the circuit. He didn’t care about consistency or the most repeatable “fast-line” that he could hit throughout the day; he was simply in full attack mode, moving around and using the entire track surface to maintain pace and layeth the smacketh down.
It actually brings to light a frustration of mine listening to a handful of the most elite riders in American racing, that’s not to say I don’t understand it, I do but when I hear riders say they are “focusing on hitting their marks”, it drives me nuts. I get it, consistency wins titles but as fans, we want to see balls out speed and creative use of the track surface, that’s what creates super-fans and excites us as a fanbase. Just look at Stew. The guy hasn’t raced in essentially two years and yet still, everyone wants to know what he is doing and when he is coming back. It’s that same kind of approach of throwing caution to the wind and bombastically circulating the track in whichever line presents itself as the quickest through a section on a given lap. 
We appreciate that commitment to speed being placed above caution and control.

Yet as good as Herlings was, for all the American’s left reeling in the wake of the Herlings 1-1 performance, I don’t really get their nervous response. Eli Tomac has shown to be a shell of himself when the title is on the line and even as he has retained the red plate over the last stretch of this series, he really has been erratic and even as he was on the brink of securing the 450 MX title, he lost sight of the grand plan and went down when he decided to take on Herlings in a battle of the ego’s. Eli was not the same guy he was at the two USGP’s of 2016 and we have yet to see which Eli shows up this weekend at the USGP.

Next there was Marvin. Marvin was pushing full tilt and had the overall in his sights until he thought about that fact with two laps to go and then he went all rodeo bull and pitched it off the side of the track with one of the longest crash sequences in recent memory.
After Marvin, our 3rd best US National Series regular was Blake Baggett. You know, the guy who has been riding injured since Red Bud? The guy who is going in for surgery on his thumb now that the season has concluded. Cole Seely went 4-4 for 4th and while I love Cole for carrying the American flag at this years MXdN, Cole has always been regarded as a Supercross specialist. He’s certainly put in the effort to improve in Motocross and it is apparent that he wants to be a well rounded racer.
As I said, Jeffrey rode incredibly well and it was a beautiful approach, one which I certainly appreciated because it is so rarely seen these days in American Motocross. His approach to race craft, line selection and aggression were far more impressive to me than the result over the American-field he conquered.