The 2017 SX season has gave us some amazing unpredictable races so far and my bet this type of racing will continue the whole year. After Anaheim 2, everybody was quick to say Dungey has got this championship, but a sudden shift happened at Phoenix (or Glendale) as Tomac went on to win in a demanding fashion with Reed and Dungey finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Here are my top ten 450 riders heading into Round 5 for Oakland Supercross!
Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM)
I still got to keep Dungey as the top guy on my list simply because he’s the man! I think we can all agree that Dungey had an off day at Phoenix. Qualifying speed was a bit off (which it has been for a few races so far), heat was okay and then unlike at Anaheim he couldn’t turn it around for the main event. He struggled with the triple before the quad all night and couldn’t get it dialled down like Tomac and Reed. The point is after all that he still managed to get on the podium with a 3rd and increased his points lead to 15. Lets face it, he is going to be really hard to beat over 17 rounds when he gets podiums on his off night. You can pretty much guarantee another podium this weekend at Oakland with a good chance of it being the top step.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Whaaaaattttt? How did Tomac go from struggling to get a 5th to winning by a substantial margin in one weekend? That was one of the most dominant performances that I’ve ever seen on a SX track! I mean he had about 17 seconds on lap 10! I’m sure we alllll saw that one coming right… What a turn around for Tomac and the team and what a unison sigh of relief that win must have brought to Monster Energy Kawasaki. After that great ride by Tomac, I find myself saying “wait a minute, lets not just hand this thing to Dunge.” If Tomac can start to reel in some wins, he will crawl his way back into this fight. Lets remember that he is only 20 pts back of Dungey and there are still 13 rounds of racing left. I think we will start to see Tomac near the front every weekend.
Cole Seely (Honda HRC)
Seely has been consistently good the past few races, the problem is that he hasn’t been consistently great. He is also only 20 pts back of Dungey through 4 rounds. Although I do see that number getting bigger and not smaller as he hasn’t quite had the lead pace yet. Is a championship possible for Seely in 2017, yes but not likely, however, I don’t see why he can’t get a win this year. He showed last week that he definitely wants it and we saw some more battle in him, as he wouldn’t just let Dungey by him. In order for him to get that win I think he would have to have the perfect scenario (holeshot with a few contenders buried in the pack. I expect another top 5 this week as he keeps the consistency going.
Chad Reed (Monster Energy Yamaha)
The 22 machine is back! After a rough start to his 2017 SX effort Reed found the podium again at Phoenix last Saturday. He did so by passing top riders like Seely and Dungey on his way to 2nd place. I think more than anything, the track really was suited well for Reed. It was hard packed, long long rhythms, and had big whoops and I think that is a big reason for his result on Saturday. Reed has often been a streaky rider late in his career. Once he finds the right bike settings and gets a good result, he tends to be hot for the next few weeks. It’s always good to see Reed on the podium and hopefully he can keep the momentum going into Oakland. I see Reed as a podium guy if he gets the start he needs, other wise look for him to be 4-8.
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
After three straight podiums the Frenchman took a big step back at Phoenix and was only able to manage a 9th. He lost a BIG 8 points to Dungey in the Championship fight. I’m not really sure what happened to Musquin out there, maybe he just had an off day and maybe that track with big whoops did not gel with him. 9th with a bad start is not awful and all the guys who were ahead of him are great riders, its just that Dungey got 3rd on a off day and if he wants to even have a chance at this thing late, he has got to do better than that. Expect a big bounce back weekend in Oakland and to see him at least in the top 5 when the checkers fly.
Cooper Webb (Monster Energy Yamaha)
Webb once again looked more comfortable on the bike and I think he is getting this 450 thing figured out. He said he was feeling the best this last weekend despite the 8th place finish. I got to imagine that those first few weeks really came as a giant wake up call to this former 250 Champion. It probably is safe to say that he will be safely in the top 10 every weekend as long there are no mishaps. By the way, him and Musquin were battling the whole race! For 8th and 9th… That goes to show how stacked this field is even with some key guys out with injuries.
Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Momentum is not on the side of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider. After bruising his arm badly and the DQ at Anaheim 2, he came back with no seat time during the week and finished a mere 10th. I’m sure things will get better for Anderson, but right now a championship is out of reach and he doesn’t seem very close to a podium at the moment. We know he has speed, so honestly Anderson should ONLY do starts. In a couple weeks time and with better starts he could really contend for wins and podiums.
Davi Millsaps (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
Millsaps is one of the 5 riders to finish in the top 10 every main so far. His results improved last week with his first top 5 of the season and was right on Seely by the end of the race and almost got 4th. It looks like he has had the time needed to heal up and get back to race pace. I’m really looking for Millsaps to continue his success and stay healthy. If he can remain healthy the whole year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to put his KTM on the podium by the time Vegas comes around.
Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
BB4 was your fastest qualifier last weekend at Phoenix. Yes that actually happened! Unfortunately Baggett only managed to get 7th, but that is still his best ride of the season. He’s been fast all year on the practice tracks and in the mains, but crashes have hindered his performance. Now that he is slowly improving and we are seeing fast qualifying times could he possibly transfer that speed into podiums? It’s a stacked field so that will be a tough feat.
Malcolm Stewart (Ride 365/Seven Suzuki)
In his second race of 2017, Mookie once again looked fast out there and ready to compete, however, once again he crashed in the main event and was only able to race back to a 14th. Although this time he had a little help from the veteran Davi Millsaps. Welcome to the big boy class Mookie! The reason I have Mookie on this list is because he gets fantastic starts and I believe that he will be able get a top 10 this weekend at Oakland.
Photo by Simon Cudby