The great equalizer ... or maybe not


4/12/2018

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They typically call mud "the great equalizer" in the sports of Supercross and motocross, but last weekend in Seattle it proved to be anything but. The same riders who were more-or-less predicted to win if it were dry were still able to pull off wins in the extreme muck that the riders faced Saturday night. Eli Tomac took his sixth of the season, while Aaron Plessinger put an exclamation point on his points lead in the west with another win added to his tally.

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But, of course, the real story in Seattle was the weather and the track conditions it created. The weather leading up to the race even meant wet dirt for building the track. The regular and steady rain persisted for the following week and on race day. Adding to the mucky conditions was the fact that, this year, the track builders chose a much more clay-based soil that held the water more than the dirt used in prior years. The previous soil featured a much more granular, non-clay component. The change, unfortunately, led to a very difficult, sticky, slippery surface that spelled the end for many an engine.

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Clutches were burning up left and right, even in the shortened heat races for riders. Adam Cianciarulo (above) was forced to race the LCQ (which he won) after destroying his clutch. Jason Anderson, who eventually ended up second in the 450 main, had to have his engine replaced after the heat, while nearly every other bike in the pit area was leaned over getting the clutch plates freshened up.

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When it's muddy enough that the opening ceremonies are dramatically altered, such as they were in Seattle, you know it's muddy. Instead of the riders heading out riding wheelies to accompany the fireworks and participating in long interviews on the start straight, the Seattle fans had to settle for quick intros and interviews of the riders on the podium—no wheelies or heel-clickers or any other unnecessary time on the track.

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Aaron Plessinger, son of multi-time GNCC champ Scott Plessinger, has himself won an XC2 Pro Lites win in the AMA GNCC series, having competed several seasons in the process. This means that not only was he brought up racing in the Ohio mud as a youngster, but he and his dad traveled the eastern half of the country for years looking for even more mud. Hence, it was no surprise to his fellow competitors or any fans of the sport that are aware of this fact when Plessinger ran away uncontested for the win. 

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Jason Anderson chose to approach the situation by riding the track like it was dry, which resulted in mixed results. Leading both the heat and main temporarily, Anderson ended up in the mud more than a few times. In the process, he did enough damage to his engine to necessitate a swap. The proof is in the results though, and despite having to work his way back toward the front after his mistakes, Anderson ended up a solid second in the main event and extended his points lead over Marvin Musquin heading into Minneapolis.

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Musquin rode well and relatively safely in Seattle, but in the process again lost points to Anderson. Now 37 points down with four rounds remaining, it's going to take a few minor miracles or major disasters on Anderson's part for Marvin to have a shot at the title. Whether or not he has enough fight or speed in him to make a hard push for wins the rest of this season, or he cuts his losses at this point and just aims to get into the outdoor motocross injury-free remains to be seen. 

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Eli Tomac has nothing to lose for the rest of this supercross season, and really, everything to gain—in the form of win bonuses and gathering up as much of this purse money as can. Quietly, though, he's also edging up in the points race to a more respectable (thus far) third place, 31 behind Musquin. While the title is probably impossible, for Tomac to end up second would be absolutely huge, considering how far down he was earlier in the season. 

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Full props must be given to AMA Supercross 250SX class runner-up Chase Sexton. Staying on two wheels during the main event and keeping the bike in one piece was of primary importance, and in those conditions for a young rookie to accomplish that is truly impressive. Sexton's entire season has, in fact, been quite impressive as he's become a main stay on the podium in 250 West and is currently fifth in points.

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With that, the 250SX West region checks out for a couple of weekends and reconvenes in Salt Lake City for Round 16. This weekend, the East gets back on the track in downtown Minneapolis for its sixth round. Things look good for points leader Zach Osborne, but he's coming in with only 7 points over Austin Forkner and just 10 ahead of Jordon Smith. In other words, Minneapolis is the home stretch for a title fight that is sure to please. Check out the action right here with Live Timing and Scoring, plus on our Facebook page and Instagram account (@amasupercross) for photos throughout the day and night.


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