The Monster Energy Cup is a unique event. While you don’t have every top rider lined up there are certainly enough to get an idea of where you stand against your competition. And that can be a great litmus test for how well your testing and training is going. The TLD crew went to Vegas with Christian Craig on a 450 and their newest recruit, amateur rider Shane McElrath in the amateur all-stars division.

While much of the pre-race hype surrounded Adam Cianciarulo it was McElrath who emerged from turn one in front during the first of two motos. Behind him the very best amateur riders in the country were jockeying for position. Shane rode flawlessly, opening a small gap on Cooper Webb throughout the race, to win the opening moto and get a lot of people’s attention.

The second moto provided the carnage that everyone was afraid of when they saw the bizarre split start in Sam Boyd Stadium. As Shane was fighting for position he got knocked over the berm and into oncoming traffic from the other lane. Fortunately he didn’t hit anybody but his off-track excursion sent him over the bars and to the ground hard. He would remount and soldier out the moto but his chances of the overall win were gone. He would score fourth overall in the class. Still, the young rider proved that he is a force to be reckoned with and the Troy Lee Designs team clearly has a diamond in the rough.

Christian Craig had a difficult weekend in Las Vegas. His opening moto in the premier Cup class started with a trip into the tuff-blocks that would damage his shifter. He pulled into the mechanics area to fix it but the problem was too extensive. The second moto Christian rode well and scored eleventh against the world’s best. In the final moto he finished in twelfth position earning him sixteenth overall for the weekend. It wasn’t the breakout ride he hoped for but Craig is moving forward healthy and anxious for next year’s supercross season opener in the 250 class.

For the next two months the Troy Lee Designs/ Lucas Oil/ Honda team will be in full test mode as they ramp up for the 2013 season. Cole Seely, Jesse Nelson and Christian Craig will be the team riders in the west region 250 supercross series. You will probably catch most of them at the annual Day in the Dirt Grand Prix on Thanksgiving weekend. That event is just too much fun to miss.

Video by 



Dan Lamb is a 12+ year journalist and the owner of MotoXAddicts.