Too close for comfort heading into Seattle


4/7/2017



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The two great warriors are locked in an epic battle that has been developing for quite a while really, but which has also had the momentum very much swinging one way. Eli Tomac has gained 25 points over the last 8 rounds by winning, winning, winning. Defending champ Dungey has not been responding like he needs to, and he hasn't gotten any help from his KTM teammate Marvin Musquin either, who himself has had his best 450SX season ever.

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All of this plays out for Round 14 at a location that the series hasn't visited in a few years, and in a weather situation we haven't seen yet this year. Folks, this just might be a mudfest, and that almost always shakes everything up particularly when the guy on a roll isn't much of a mudder. In this case, that guy is. In fact, even if it doesn't become a full-on mud race, it will most certainly be a soft, rutted and quite variable surface and that too has typically played into the hands of Tomac.

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There's no question Tomac shines in the conditions expected in Seattle. When combined with the ridiculous momentum he's built over the past 10 rounds, the cards are stacked in his favor. Four points spread means that if Tomac can pull off a W this weekend, Dungey will need to finish at least as good as 2nd in order to maintain the points lead. At that point there'd be a single point between the two heading into the Easter break. 

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Let's not forget that Dungey is no slouch in a mud race, or on a heavily-rutted track, or even both. He's a multi-time outdoor motocross champ not to mention AMA Supercross champ, and those titles don't come without being great in all conditions. Dungey could pull off a win just as well as Tomac and, of course, mud is the great equalizer so there could be a real shake-up in the points this weekend depending on who gets in between the two titans. This is going to be a race to remember, no doubt about it.

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There's of course some talk after last weekend's results that Marvin Musquin received team orders to back off Dungey and "let" him finish ahead. In other words, take a dive for the champ to help with his points situation. Despite all involved parties adamantly denying the claim, the fans will believe what they want but one thing that's not being mentioned is how banged up Musquin was after his practice crash earlier in the day. Marvin found himself quite safely in a podium spot with Anderson falling behind him with each lap, and Dungey making a run for Tomac. An equally viable explanation is that Musquin backed off a bit simply because he could, and in doing so take it easier on his banged up body.

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Of course no good card game is much fun without a wild card thrown in, and in St. Louis Chad Reed was that card. After escalating bad blood between he and Dungey, AMA and FIM race directors determined that he'd purposely impeded the progress of Dungey during the main event, repeatedly ignoring the blue "lapped rider" flags, for several laps. Due to this rules infraction, Reed was penalized 5 championship points and $5,000 (which will be donated to the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit. We shall see if this penalty will cool the bad attitude between the two this weekend. 

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In the 250SX East Region, it was once again Jordon Smith narrowly pulling off a win over points leader Joey Savatgy. With the West Region resuming this weekend, Smith can head home and begin outdoor testing with a full head of steam leading into the final two East rounds beginning in a few weeks (in New Jersey). The title chase has tightened up with Savatgy maintaining only a six point advantage with two rounds remaining.

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Speaking of the 250SX West region, let's look at a few favorites. Certainly TLD/KTM's Shane McElrath is one of them, and with his North Carolina heritage he's sure no stranger to mud and wet riding conditions. But this is the Pacific Northwest, and if we're talking strong contenders and the PNW, we must first discus....

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...this guy: Justin Hill. An Oregoner born and raised, Hill will be "super-pumped" to say the least to enjoy racing so close to his hometown fans and he certainly will be ready for any rough, rutted, muddy conditions that the Seattle surface can throw at him. This goes without mentioning, of course, that Hill enjoys a relatively massive 21 point lead over Aaron Plessinger and is really under no pressure to come out and actually get a win.

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This guy is though - Aaron Plessinger. More so by his own personal goals than any hope of winning the title, Plessinger is way past the point of being hungry for a win, his persona craves one. A master of all things muddy, nasty, rutted and unpredictable, Ohio's Plessinger is absolutely going to be the guy to bet on for a win in Seattle's tough conditions.

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There's just as much to discuss about who's NOT going to be in Seattle as who will be. That's an unfortunate side of this brutal sport, and two key 250 riders will not be lining up this weekend. First is the rider above, Austin Forkner, who was both getting the ball rolling on podium finishes and is also a great bet on rough, rutted and muddy tracks. Forkner received a fairly minor injury during practice this week and opted out. Joining him on the injured reserve is Jeremy Martin for the same reasons. Martin would have been coming off a nearly miraculous 2nd place at the Daytona Supercross in the 450SX class.

That about does it for the summary for Round 14. Be sure to check out the epic action right here on AMASupercross.com for live timing and scoring, plus of course results. Also look into our Facebook page AMA Supercross Championship and Instagram feed @amasupercross for photo updates from the weekend. This weekend will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 10PM EDT, 7 PDT.


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