Round 9 is all wrapped up after the circuit took a trip up to my home country of Canada! Toronto SX provided for a great night of racing and I got to witness it all in person. Being at the races really does provide you with such a respect for what these riders do. At first I thought the track was kind of mellow and might be follow the leader like many of the tracks so far this year, but as I walked the track during track walk, I really got a sense that it could provide for some great racing. We had a difficult rhythm section that only the top riders in both classes could jump 3-3-4-3 as well as some pretty big whoops that held up throughout the race. In the end, there were lots of passing spots and many different lines to take. However, that didn’t really matter much for the main event as Eli Tomac got a great start and led all 22 laps.
The series nows takes a weird detour into a half Supercross half outdoor track at the iconic Daytona Raceway. Here are my rankings for the 450 class.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Tomac was amazing once again. Yes he got some help with Dungey starting in 9th, but I have to believe that he would have won that race in almost any scenario. He just absolutely crushed that track. He was one of the only riders that could consistently jump the quad throughout the night. However, in the main the track was getting fairly rutted and soft and he opted to do it only a handful of times. It did not matter obviously as he won the race by 14 seconds over The Champ Ryan Dungey. He has all the confidence in the world right now and this is the best he has ever ridden in Supercross, but he still sits 24 points back of Dungey. He is of course in this battle, for if he wins all 8 remaining rounds, he will win the title. However, that will be a very, very challenging feat, if not impossible. Tomac will need Dungey to have some so called “off nights” where he finishes 3rd or 4th. Not only that, but when Dungey does win again, which he will folks, Tomac needs to finish 2nd. Once again, this will be very, very challenging. He will be the guy to beat in Daytona where he will be arguably even faster then he has been so far.
Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM)
I feel like Dungey’s ride in Toronto will be overshadowed by how Tomac annihilated the rest of the field. Dungey was 9th place after the first lap and he was even further back after the start, he was able to make some key passes early on and stay out of trouble. It was quite remarkable watching him rip his way through the pack all the way up to 2nd. I mean does this guy ever make a mistake or get caught with some misfortune??? If there ever was a race for Dungey to lose some points, that was it! No no no… that is not what Dungey does. He rides so smart and has SX down to a science it feels like. The last two races have had one rider get a great start and lead all 20 minutes and the other rider buried in 9th place. Will Tomac and Dungey start up front 1-2 for a change? We will see. Daytona is next weekend and Dungey is always a good rider no matter what type of track it is. Expect a win or 2nd in Daytona.
Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
To be honest, I never would have predicted that I would put Baggett in my top 3 for 450 rankings. I knew he was fast and all, but I just thought guys like Anderson, Seely and Musquin would be consistently better than him! I will admit that I underestimated him and his SX skill. He rode great again in Toronto and would have rode to another podium finish, but two small crashes limited him to a 5th. Still a great ride by Baggett, who also posted the 2nd fastest lap of the night. He is riding with newfound confidence and now we shift to Daytona. Baggett, who has always been a better rider outdoors, is now riding with podium speed indoors. Daytona, which is an outdoors style track… If you put the two together… I think you know what I’m getting at. Baggett could win Daytona SX!! I never thought they day would come were Baggett could win a 450 Supercross race, but this is the perfect scenario. He is riding great and now he gets to ride on a track that will be right in his wheelhouse and if Tomac gets a bad start and Baggett holeshots this thing… well folks, Blake Baggett wins a 450 Supercross. That’s my bold prediction for this week.
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
Obviously something was up with Musquin last weekend in Toronto and from what I have heard, he had a pretty bad flu over the week and was still recovering from it on Saturday. He started in 8th and went back to 13th for the night and we can write that result off because we saw this year that when he is 100% he can ride with the best and win races. With the way SX works and Ryan Dungey works, one bad race due to an illness can break your season. He now sits 39 points back of his teammate and is virtually out of the championship. I know he probably wasn’t really going for a championship this year as he just wanted to build and get some wins, but he was definitely in it and now the dream is over until next year. That has got to sting! The series moves on, so Musquin will try and rest up and be ready for one of the most gruelling tracks on the circuit: Daytona. If he’s healthy, I expect a top 5 performance.
Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Anderson also had a bad night in Toronto, but for him he can blame bad luck. He got an okay start, but got hit by another rider and broke a bunch of spokes on his front tire. He was only able to muster a 19th place ride after that. This year has been a year to forget for Anderson. He only has one podium, which was a 3rd, a DQ, a 10th, and a 19th due to a bike problem. That adds up to 5th place in points which really would be 6th if Roczen was still in the series. For most riders that would be great, but for a rider with the calibre of Anderson, who can win races and was supposed to be a title contender? Bad. His season is shot, so now he has to look at it from a race-to-race view and try and get some podiums and be up front battling for the win. In Daytona I am predicting a bounce back race and for Anderson to get a top 5.
Chad Reed (Monster Energy Yamaha)
Chad Reed has seemed to find the real Chad Reed somewhere between Minneapolis and Atlanta. He went from barely squeaking into the top 10 to now riding with top 5 speed the last two weekends. This last weekend in Toronto, he finished a good 4th place and was racing up on Tickle by the end for 3rd. One thing that I noticed while watching him in practice was how much more confident he was with the track and the bike. He was really pushing it all day and you could just tell that he was in it for a good night. All in all, Toronto was good for Reed; 2nd in Qualifying, 1st in his heat, and 4th in the main. Let us see if he can dazzle the fans in Daytona this Saturday.
Cole Seely (Honda HRC)
I feel like I am hard on Seely every week in these columns, but that is because I feel like he is the most underperformed rider so far this year. He is just so smooth and technical and I just think he should be up front every weekend. He could be a contender for this whole thing right?? In Toronto he once again got 6th place and was just a little off the pace of the guys in front of him. So how has Seely’s season been so far? It was brought to my attention last week that he has actually been very consistent this year. 6 out of the 9 races have been top 5s and that includes two podiums. Those 3 races that weren’t top 5s were the next closest thing with 6th. And guess what? He sits in 4th place in the points and now is only 4 back of Marv for 3rd! So maybe it hasn’t been that bad, but all I’m saying is that he can do so much more.
Broc Tickle (RCH Suzuki)
As with Baggett in Atlanta, it is always refreshing to see new faces up on the podium. I’ve written that Tickle is always the rider that gets a quiet 6th or 7th place ride and you don’t even notice him once. Well that really wasn’t the case last weekend in Toronto! He got off to a great start, which he has struggled with so far this year (14.8 is his average position after lap 1) and then he rode a great race and actually stayed in touch with Dungey after he fell back to 3rd. This all comes after almost being DQed earlier in the night after some incidents with Justin Barcia. He talked to us in a post race interview, how that fired him up for the rest of the night and maybe that is part of the reason he got this great result. The next step for Tickle would be to continue to get good starts and stay in the top 5.
Davi Millsaps (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
In Toronto, Millsaps finished 7th place after coming back from missing Atlanta. This is a good finish, but he probably would have liked to stay in the top 5 after getting a 4th place start. Millsaps is super consistent and has been in the top 10 every race that he has been at, but he has only had a season best race of 5th. I would have expected him to be up front a little bit more, but like often in his career, Millsaps is dealing with nagging injuries. I believe he has often been limited because of such injuries. Nonetheless, it is nice to see him out there and still putting in good finishes. I look for Millsaps to finish 7-10th in Daytona.
Dean Wilson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Ever since the 5th place ride, Wilson has struggled a bit. Toronto was good, not great by any means, but an 8th was good enough. When you look at the stats, the main thing Wilson is lacking is starts! Other than Tickle, Wilson has had the worst starts of all the consistent top 10 riders with an average position of 12.6 after the first lap. Eek, you cannot get much done with those type of starts. I don’t think anybody will argue against the fact that he has A LOT of speed and potential and now with this factory ride on Husqvarna he is putting in good results. If he can improve the starts he will be a top 6-7 rider every week.
Jeremy Martin (Honda HRC): Martin will try and turn around his 2017 season by jumping up on the 450s for Daytona SX. A top 10 finish would be a good result in this stacked field.
Justin Brayton (Smartop/Motoconcepts): Brayton has had two quiet top 10 finishes since coming back from injury. Don’t be surprised if he gets another in Daytona.
Picture from Dirt Rider Magazine