The 450SX class continues to be incredibly stacked, with some of the most intense racing of the year found in the Oakland heat races. The big surprise in the first heat was Mike Alessi charging out to his usual fantastic start, but then challenging for the lead, even passing James Stewart at one point before settling back to 6th. What is it about Alessi that has him able to run the pace of the top guys, and then often falling back later in the race? In our opinion, it's not a fitness issue—Mike is a known hard trainer—but more of a speed/pacing thing. Alessi clearly gives it 100% straight out of the gate. The problem, it would seem, is that he has nothing left to give, whereas many of his competitors are able to find just a hair more speed than Mike later in the race. Now, we're in no way saying that Mike is slow—not at all—but it may be that his 100% speed is congruent with everyone else's 98% speed, and he's just unable to find another internal gear at times when those he's racing against are upshifting to their full speeds. Either way, Alessi looked great in Oakland, even if he didn't bag a top five in the heat.