Wow, Atlanta marked round 8 of 17, which means we are already halfway through the series! Supercross just goes by too quickly for us fans doesn’t it? Well, for Ryan Dungey, Atlanta was great as he extended his points lead by 9, for the rest of the field, besides probably Baggett, not so great. Here are my 450 rankings heading into Toronto, Canada!!
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
It must be so frustrating to be fighting for a championship against Ryan Dungey. Tomac rode great and there was no doubt that he was the fastest rider of the night, but a mid pack start cost him big. I mean he only lost 3 points as he worked his way up to second, but 3 points is huge against Dungey. He needs all the points he can get! Right now, I’m not sure anybody can match Tomac’s speed, but can he keep this up through the remaining 9 rounds? He needs to be pushing 500% every night in order to win these races. He cannot settle for seconds and thirds if he wants a chance at this title. That is were I am a little worried. I just don’t see Tomac running at this pace on these sketchy broken down tracks without making a big mistake. As for now, he just needs to take this one win at a time.
Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM)
We were all asking what is wrong with Dungey and what does he do? He goes out and grabs the holeshot and then just cruises to his 2nd victory of the year. Yeah I know Tomac was catching him quickly, but I honestly believe Dungey was managing his lead. He knew how much time was left and what he needed to do to win that race. Tomac wins if he gets the start, but he didn’t. Dungey did and Dungey won and Atlanta reminded us why Dungey is the two time defending champion. Now that we are halfway through the season and he has a whole race lead in terms of points. It is going to be super tough to beat him. Look for another good podium performance in Toronto.
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
Musquin fought hard in Arlington and Minneapolis to gain 9 points on Dungey and with his bad start in Atlanta, it was all gone as he lost all 9 of those points back. You cannot get consistently bad starts and win a SX championship. Gone are the times where the top riders could always rip their way through and finish at the top. Starts are more important than ever before in SX. Musquin has an average start of 6.3 and that is including his great start in Arlington! His teammate and competitor has an average start of 3.5. He has the speed to actually win this championship, but his starts have GOT TO improve if he wants to have a shot by the time Vegas comes rolling around.
Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Despite his 4th place performance, El Hombre looked wayyyy better then he has this whole year. He looked feisty and fast enough to win that race, BUT as we all know, starts… He was in 11th place after the first lap and well that is pretty much history when that happens. When one gets a bad start like that it is just time to grind away and try and pick off as many places as you can. So I think this may have been the first time we have seen Anderson have winning speed because if all the cards were the same expect Anderson pulled a start in the top 3, well you got to believe he would have at least challenged Dungey for the win. It was not to be and a 4th place is what he got in return, but I think this a good sign for all the Anderson fans as we may see a win coming soon.
Cole Seely (Honda HRC)
Yeah, Atlanta was not a good night for Honda’s Cole Seely. He started off decent enough in 6th place before making his way into a podium position at 3rd, but after that is when he started to fall backwards. Tomac got him, which is understandable as he was on fire, but Anderson and Musquin got him as well and they started outside the top 10! I am aware the he did fall down once, but it was just a little tip over and he was 20 seconds behind Musquin by the end of the race! Reed was right on him by the end as well who also had a crash. I am not sure what really happened to Seely, but one thing is for sure, he needs to be better if he ever wants to get a win this year. I do expect a bounce back performance in Toronto, so expect Seely to get back to the top 5 this weekend.
Cooper Webb (Monster Energy Yamaha)
The word is that Webb will be back this weekend in Toronto after missing Atlanta with a shoulder injury. However, at the time of this post, there has not been an official word on his return. If he does make it back this weekend, I see him as being a little off the pace because of the lack of riding these past two weeks and he will probably still have some lingering pain. I see a couple weeks off the podium and finishing 5th-7th before he gets back to where he was at when he got hurt. It is a shame that Webb did miss a few races, as rookie years are often just about staying healthy and learning. I do think more podiums are possible this year and maybe just maybe a win.
Chad Reed (Monster Energy Yamaha)
After three rough weekends where he was quite a bit off the pace and crashed many times, Reed looked to be more like the Chad Reed that we know and love. He was feeling it and looked strong all day. He even qualified 2nd overall! Reed is notoriously a slow qualifier, so when he puts down a fast lap like that, you just know that he is in for a good night. Unfortunately a crash exiting the whoops lingered his results to a 7th. I really do think he had podium speed last Saturday. On paper it is not good, but in reality he has got to be happy with his riding in Atlanta! I said last time he got a podium, that Reed often rides streaky and I expected him to back that up with multiple top 5s. As we all saw that just wasn’t the case so now I am a little hesitant to say he is going to be on it in Toronto, but who knows with Chad Reed, Who knows?
Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
Blake Baggett just scored his first podium on a real SX track! A fantastic ride by Baggett as he got off to a great start and was actually catching Dungey for the first few laps there and then at the end after Tomac got him, he stayed relatively close and was also gaining on Dungey. A lot of top riders were buried in the pack, but he still deserves that podium regardless. It was also refreshing to see a new face on the podium and at the press conference as he was just smiling from ear to ear. So many of these top riders are so serious and just don’t look like they are having fun so it was nice to see a rider that truly looks like they love their job. Now Baggett has been really fast all year, but could never put it together in the mains, as his best result was two 7th place finishes. The big question is can he repeat it? Considering Daytona is only 1 race away, I say yes. For regular SX tracks, I’m not so sure about that, however he definitely will be a dark horse in outdoors!
Dean Wilson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
The last two weeks have been so so for Wilson. He was 12th off the start, but made a few mistakes and went even further back. In the end he finished with an okay 10th place. He pointed out how he would have been pumped on a 10th just a few weekends earlier, but now since he has the factory ride and a 5th place he expects way more out of himself. The problem is, this class is still stacked and there will always be a number of riders who think they can be top guys and simply cannot. The good news is Wilson is young and has some time to get to the top in this 450 class. As for now, just keep getting solid top 10s and you would think he will get another contract for 2018.
Trey Canard (Red Bull KTM)
Canard has been playing catch up these past few rounds as he tries to get back to his level that he once had on Honda. At first I was sceptical about what we might see from Canard this year. I was thinking that this might be his last year as the injuries keep piling on, but I admit last week at Atlanta was the first week that I have seen Canard look flashy and aggressive and possibly ready to get back on top. Now don’t get me wrong, he wont be getting podiums any time soon, but I think it is possible that we will see podium results by the end of SX. HOWEVER, he needs to work on his starts, the reason why we didn’t see a podium all year last year, was his starts. This will be a tough battle back up to the top, but I think it may actually be possible. Look for a top 10 in Toronto.
Photo from Vital MX by Guy B