Last weekend was one of the strangest premier class mains that I have ever seen. I mean we saw so many strange crashes and mechanicals. People were practically using the mechanics area as if it were part of the track. The result of all this craziness was 8 out of the top 10 riders getting their season best result that night. That is pretty remarkable considering we were in round 6. Now the series heads back to Minneapolis for the first race since 2013. Here are my top 10 rankings heading into round 7.
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
I struggled with picking the top 3 riders this week as Tomac seems to be the fastest, but crashed and lost a lot of points, Dungey is the points leader by 18 and Musquin won the last race in convincingly fashion. I ended up picking Musquin for the number 1 spot heading into Minneapolis. He finally captured his first career 450 win last week in Arlington and he looked great while doing it. This was bound to happen eventually and now that he has the monkey off his back I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him get a few more this year. He has been riding great at every track so far this year except for Phoenix, which you can largely attribute to the giant whoops. Well this weekend the whoops had an opposite effect as they helped propel Musquin to the win. When the whoops get beat down and all choppy like they did, Musquin can masterfully jump his way through them. If we see more whoops like that in future races, keep an eye out for Musquin. The series heads east now and that also means softer dirt and this is yet another plus for Musquin. Watch out for the Frenchman as he only sits 18 pts back of his teammate Dungey.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Any momentum that Tomac had is all gone after that crash in Arlington. The word is that his front brake malfunctioned before the crash. Either way he lost 12 valuable point to the man Dungey and before the crash he was in a good position to podium and at least pick off some more points from Dungey. It will be interesting to see if Tomac can bounce back and act like nothing happened last week. Now that he lost all those points he will need to stay in touch with Dungey as another low result will cost him the championship. There definitely was nothing shown last week that would make you think he is not the fastest guy still. So with that in mind if he can keep it on two wheels he should still be up front battling.
Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM)
I don’t want to ask the question “what is wrong with Dungey?” because even though he got his season worst 4th place, he still increased his points lead. Like honestly this guy is magic. He has clearly been a little bit off these past weeks, but yet he has increased his points lead at every race. It is quite remarkable actually. So what is wrong with Dungey? Yeah I know I said I don’t want to ask that question, but the fact is this isn’t the Dungey that we remember from 2016. I think Dungey wants to win every race and these past weeks have probably been killing him a little bit, but Dungey also knows what needs to be done to be a champion and guess what, he is on his way to winning this title. The rumours are running that he is struggling with the bike set-up at the moment so possibly he can figure that out soon and he will be back dominating. Maybe going back to his hometown race will bring back the Dungey we all know. Dungey may not be at his best at the moment, however he is still being super consistent and slowly inching away from the field and if he keeps doing that until he gets back to that top level, he will win this championship.
Cooper Webb (Monster Energy Yamaha)
Arlington was just a big bag of bad luck for Cooper Webb. He was riding super well and then got the holeshot! But… a red flag caused a re-start. Well he got another good start in the restart and was keeping it close with Marv! But… he got a flat tire and had to pull in to the mechanics. I would bet that Webb would have finished 2nd in that race if it weren’t for his flat tire. Well he has got to just move on and try again in Minneapolis. He is riding great right now, so I think he can be battling up front for podiums every week if he keeps this up. At this point he just needs to take this week-by-week and try to improve and that has been what he is doing so I would say that this rookie season is going pretty well for Webb.
Cole Seely (Honda HRC)
Cole Seely had his best finish of the season last week at Arlington with capturing a 2nd. He wants to win and last weekend he got closer to that goal. If he rides like he did last weekend I don’t see why he can’t sneak a win in soon. Unfortunatley for Seely I see the top 4 guys as faster at the moment and so he would need to get the holeshot and have some guys buried in order for him to take the win. He is actually only 22 pts back from Ryan Dungey! I was definitely surprised when I saw that and while I don’t think Seely can make a run for this championship, at the moment he is very much in it. Look for another top 5 at Minneapolis.
Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
A nice podium for Anderson as he once again got an okay start! I mean it wasn’t great as he was still in 6th place after the first lap, but it was in improvement from what we have seen him do. Now we just need to see some more flashes of speed from Anderson and then maybe we can start talking about possible race wins. To me it seems that he is slowly improving and this was his best finish of the year and so I guess he should just take the result and see what happens next week. Honestly, the first podium at round 6 is a little disappointing in my opinion, but we know he can be wicked fast so I won’t say this season has been bad yet as there is still lots of time to turn this around. If he can continue with good starts, I think he fits anywhere from 4-6 this weekend at Minneapolis.
Davi Millsaps (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
You might think that Millsaps had an off night by just looking at his 8th place result, but that was not the case at all. He crashed and bent up his bike in the first corner and was wayyyy behind in dead last. On a track that was causing everyone problems, he was able to ride his race and slice his way up to 8th. If you haven’t already seen the Go Pro video watch it here. When I saw him in 21st on lap 4 I was sure that his top 10 streak was coming to an end, but he stayed strong and definitely impressed me. He has had a good season so far and I don’t see any reason for him not to battle in the top 5 with these other guys.
Dean Wilson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Wow Deano improved his best result by 5 positions! He went from just sneaking a top 10 last week to holding off Dungey for over 10 laps before finally getting passed and finishing 5th. I was definitely pumped to see him where he belongs. So far so good for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna and Dean Wilson. They will just keep getting better and better each and every week. By the end of the year, could we even possibly see a podium? As of now that may be stretching a bit, because I would certainly say guys like Webb, Tomac and Millsaps are faster and just had bad luck at Arlington. However, for sure be expecting Deano to finish in the top 10 every week.
Chad Reed (Monster Energy Yamaha)
Hmm… this is definitely a head scratcher. Reed had mechanicals and could not finish the race, but before that he was looking at an 8-10th place finish. I honestly thought we were going to see some momentum and confidence after his 2nd at Phoenix, but for whatever reason, he is not riding to his full potential once again. I could see him finishing multiple races like this with just a few races where he shines through like in Phoenix. I think starts are the most important to a rider like Reed. He just doesn’t have the capability to come through the pack and pass 5 or 6 all time riders like he used to. Maybe this weekend if he gets the start we will see race the front pace again, but as of now he cannot be happy with these results.
Justin Bogle (RCH Suzuki)
Bogle makes my top 10 list for the first time this season as he finally showed some good speed and what he is capable of. He gathered a season high 9th place finish at Arlington, but that finish came with a crash when he was riding in 5th at lap 8. It seems he may have got a little help from El Hombre and so we may have another rider not pleased with Anderson. He was still able to manage his first top 10 and we saw a heat race win along with great starts all night. A rider like Bogle will easily knock off top 10s when getting his great starts he can. In Minneapolis I expect him to back up this performance with another top 10.
Photo from Motocross News