Coming out of Arlington and beginning the long east coast swing, the 2017 AMA Supercross Championship heads to Minneapolis, Minnesota for Round 7 this weekend. After another extraordinarily eventful race last Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the 450SX points race has tightened up.
In the 250SX West Region, the points leader has broken away, and this weekend the 250SX East riders hit the track for the first time this season in the series' debut event at a brand new venue. Hold on to your seats!
The most notable event in Arlington would have to be Marvin Musquin's first-ever 450SX class main event victory. The Frenchman took the holeshot during the restart of the Main Event and rode a perfect race to finish with a large gap over Cole Seely.
It was a long time coming for Musquin, as he's spend the last couple of years chasing his teammate Ryan Dungey. Minneapolis may be a key weekend for Marvin, as he'll have a chance to prove that the win was no fluke after many other top riders had an unfortunate weekend in Arlington.
One of those unfortunate riders was Cooper Webb. Not only did he have the lead in the first 450SX main event start (which was red-flagged on lap two), he was in great position in the second start - before falling victim to a flat tire. Flat tires in Supercross are exceedingly rare, and the fact that his teammate Chad Reed also suffered the same fate makes it even more bizarre. Webb was able to salvage a few points after a rear wheel change pit-stop, but he's no doubt exceptionally hungry for another podium in Minneapolis this weekend.
Another unlucky rider was Eli Tomac, who had been having a rough go of it all afternoon. Coming off of consecutive wins in the previous two rounds, it was all Eli could do just to get into the Main Event in Texas - an eleventh spot in his heat race and qualifying out of the semi race is probably not what he had hoped for. After a mediocre start around seventh, Tomac was on the move to the front when washed the front end of his bike out in a hard right hand corner. The result was a mangled front brake which was quickly removed by his mechanic and spelled the end of his charge to the front. Tomac salvaged six points, giving up twelve to points leader Ryan Dungey in the process. He's now 29 points down in fourth.
Team HRC Honda's Cole Seely, on the other hand, had his best ride and result of the season with a strong and steady 2nd place in the main. Fast all day and also right at the front in the first 450 start, Seely seemed to be on rails in Texas. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him on the podium or even take a race win throughout the rest of the season.
Defending champion Ryan Dungey had his worst result of the season with a fourth place. It is a rare event when the multi-time champ doesn't make the podium. Dungey salvaged a terrible start and battled factory Husqvarna's new recruit Dean Wilson for several laps before working his way around into fourth place. Knowing full well that his primary title threat Tomac was facing troubles probably played into Dungey's level of patience while battling through the pack. At the same time it allowed his teammate, Musquin, to gain seven points on him and move into second place of the standings. Minneapolis is Dungey's home town race, so he will have some extra motivation to make a real statement this weekend, and his record there speaks for itself.
The Texas drama began in the 250SX West main event, which ultimately fell to points leader Justin Hill. Now with four wins in a row, Hill is certainly going to rest easier as the West region takes a long six week break and the East region begins its swing in Minneapolis. Hill, while running a strong 2nd over teammate Austin Forkner, took advantage of a mechanical issue with leader Shane McElrath's KTM to move into the lead with just a few minutes left in the race. Hill's points lead opened up to 21 points over 2nd place Aaron Plessinger.
Previous 250Sx West points leader Shane McElrath dropped to 3rd, who's now 25 points down in 3rd. McElrath, who started the season with two wins in a row and a commanding points lead was in the process of making a real statement in Texas before disaster struck. Suddenly slowing down, it wasn't clear just exactly what the problem was with McElrath's orange machine, but it was clear that he wasn't comfortable enough to pull off a run for the win. It was a heart-breaking moment for the North Carolinian, as he pulled into the pits to see if there was anything his mechanics could do. He left Arlington with one point, and essentially saw his title hopes go out the window.
But for the East Regional 250SX riders, they're all starting from ground zero. Starting with a fresh slate this Saturday night is a list of riders that itself will spells out just how stacked the class is:
There are at with at least five title contenders on the list -- Cianciarulo, Savatgy, Craig, Osborne and Martin. Just a step behind are all of the others, with a real wildcard in the form of Star Racing Yamaha's French import Dylan Ferrandis, who's likely to surprise everyone with his sheer speed. It will definitely be a great weekend of racing in both classes!
This weekend the series heads to the incredible new U.S. Bank Stadium facility in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. The weather is expected to be unseasonably warm and sunny for the area, so the SoCal-based riders might feel just as at home as the regular east-coasters.
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