As if we needed any further evidence as to the mental nature of this sport and the racers who make it amazing, enter 2019’s Shane McElrath this past weekend at Budds Creek.
Let me get to this right off the top, Shane is an incredible talent. Solid racer and man in general, it’s no secret though that he and the KTM haven’t exactly been gellin’ during the outdoors. It’s also no secret that he’s headed to Star Yamaha for 2020 and I don’t for a moment think he’s been biding his time and holding anything back but there is no way in Haites that I would have put even $5 on him winning a Moto let alone going 1-1 for the first time in his career during this calendar race season!
It’s sooooo mental. The dude woke up late, rushed to the track, qualified poorly and subsequently flushed all of that out of his mind, pulled a couple starts and DUDE MANTAINED. It has to be one of the most bittersweet moments of Tyler Keef’s career and the TLD KTM team as a whole. This guy who they truly love and sat during SX to allow him to come back next year (ideally on THEIR team), just couldn’t come to grips with the bike and ultimately allowed his sights to wander, then found a receptive home for 2020 on Star Yamaha. It’s a shitty situation. TLD wants to make him happy, he wishes they could make him happy and he certainly doesn’t want to abandon ship but clearly Shane knows the bike is holding him back and he’s gotta make a move now. Imagining Shane on a blue bike next year feels like a slam dunk SX regional title.
In post race interviews, Shane was every bit as surprised and caught off guard as everyone else. Fans and racers alike. These guys live and die by the confidence or lack thereof and when a day like this sneaks up on one of them, it really doesn’t serve them in the positive manner they are used to when a win presents itself. Listening to Shane, he really didn’t understand how he did it. Perhaps this is just a Shane thing? I mean he’s such an open book, he doesn’t put on a front or mince words; he just tells it like he see’s it. Where others may use such an unpredicted performance to build that wall of confidence and posture for the opponents?
Whatever the case, Shane McElrath winning is an awesome development at such an unexpected moment. He’s on his way out, TLD has been reeling for months and unpredictability is the main ingredient for any healthy berries, even with only one round left to contest.