Oakland was another interesting and exciting race with much
to discuss - which is becoming common this season. For the second weekend in a
row, Eli Tomac stamped his dominance on the field, this time coming from behind
to catch and pass some of the elites in the sport's premier class. While many
had claimed that Tomac had been under-performing since his move to Kawasaki
last season, it seems as though he has found his mojo the last few rounds. All
aboard the Tomac bandwagon! If Eli can pull off another win this weekend in
Arlington for Round 6, that bandwagon is going to be have a lot of momentum as
the series heads to the east.
Of course, we can't forget about the defending champ who's
looking for his third straight 450 SX title, Ryan Dungey. While he did get
beaten "straight-up" in Oakland, you can bet that Dungey and his crew
are analyzing every possible aspect of the race, the bike, the weather, Tomac,
and everything in between. One doesn't become a multi-time champion by chance.
He knows what he's doing, so it seems unlikely we'll see anymore run-away wins
by the number three. The time has come now for Dungey to fight hard to the
final lap and see if he can find a chink in the Tomac armor. Seventeen points
separate the two heading into Round 6 in Arlington this weekend.
Landing on the 450SX podium, super-rookie Cooper Webb was
definitely on his A-Game in Oakland. Pushing the edge all night for top
positions and even winning his heat race, Webb is slowly proving himself as a
top contender. He put a pass on Tomac that had them both shaking their heads in
amazement, though Tomac eventually passed him back. It was a new Webb and
there's very safe betting going on that this weekend he'll be even hungrier,
and looking to come out with a possible "w" to go with his awesome
Speaking of potential for podium positions - Davi Millsaps
is looking superb lately. With his second heat race win of the season in
Oakland, Millsaps has shown he has the speed necessary to beat the best, but
he's lacking starts. Here's to hoping he's worked on starts this past week, as
he's clearly got the rest of his game down pat.
Alternatively, there's Marvin Musquin who's been in a bit of
a slump. Caught up in a few crashes and suffering from mediocre starts, Musquin
just hasn't been able to move back up to the front like he had earlier in the
season. Marvin has all of the tools to be a title contender, but he can't
afford finishes like that of Oakland and Glendale, where he came in ninth. With
a caliber of rider such as Dungey and Tomac, those two finishes alone could
very-well spell the end of his title hopes.
Dean Wilson's is also worth mentioning as he scored himself
a premier ride on the Rockstar/Husqvarna team a quarter of the way in to the
season. Previously under his own tent on a Yamaha, Wilson's future was quite
uncertain as the series headed east. Thankfully, the team picked up the former
champ and offered him the slot previously filled by Christophe Pourcel (who's
opted out of AMA Supercross and will head to Canada for their MX Nationals this
summer). This must be a huge boost in confidence and simple peace-of-mind for
Wilson who, after just a couple of rides on his new Husky, earned his best ride
of the season with a 10th in Oakland.
To say that Justin Hill is on a roll would be a massive
understatement. With three wins in a row, the kid from the Pacific Northwest
now has a single point lead over Shane McElrath as the series heads into
Arlington. He's usually the fastest 250SX rider on the track at any given point
and has been topping the qualifying practice during the day as well. Momentum
is key in this sport, and Hill is all about momentum right now.
Just one point behind Hill, Shane McElrath will come into
Arlington a bit behind the 8-ball. After qualifying from the LCQ for the second
weekend in a row, Shane has to be wondering what the heck is going on after
such an outstanding start to the season. The fact of the matter is: Justin Hill
is what's going on. Hill is on fire and it's up to McElrath to squelch that
burn before the West region heads into their long break after Arlington. Bottom
line: McElrath needs to win this Saturday night.
Several top riders have a lot to lose and just as much to
gain as Round 6 comes from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas this weekend.
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