Round 10 at Daytona speedway has come and gone and despite the poor track (in my opinion), the 450 main event was still relatively exciting and provided us fans with a good race.
So the track was awful. It only had one or two sections that actually separated the riders and the whole track was one-lined, follow the leader. We need to make better tracks! The track had silly S-turns that were inside inside and was so so tight everywhere else. Actually, a lot of tracks have been designed poorly this year. For a few races a year why don’t we re-use old track designs from over 5 years ago that worked really well? A good throwback track every now and then would be fun for the fans and riders. Anyways that is my rant of the week. Here are my 450 Rankings heading into Indianapolis.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Tomac has now one 5 of the last 7 starts. He has been pretty much unstoppable since round 4 at Phoenix; however, he still sits 17 points back of Dungey who has only won 2 races. We all know the key to championships in SX is consistency, but Tomac is feeling the effects of this first hand. If only he had cleaned up those opening 3 rounds, because if he had gotten top 5s this points race would look completely different. If Tomac had scored a 5th in those first 3 rounds and a 5th in Arlington when he had bike troubles he would have gained an extra 14 points; thus resulting in only a 3 point lead by Ryan Dungey. In Daytona he rode outstanding once again and gained 7 big points on Dungey. We now have 7 rounds remaining and if Tomac can keep this up, it is going to really really close by the time Vegas comes around.
Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM)
Dungey’s ride in Daytona will probably be undermined by Tomac’s dominance and Martin’s great second place debut, but wow, what a ride it was and what an effort by the 3-time champion! He was 17th after the first lap and found a way to pass on a tight track that was very hard to pass on. In the end we saw him make a very impressive run at Seely for 4th and he was able to seal the deal and limit his losses on the night. Championships are won with rides like that and that is exactly why Dungey has won 3 championships and is leading his 4th. Dungey is such a smart rider and there was one particular moment in the heat race when Musquin made an aggressive dive down to cut off Dungey and take 2nd place. Many riders would have either not reacted in time or tried to go around the rider to hold the position and thus often resulting in crashes. Dungey did the exact opposite though! He saw Musquin and instantly braked hard and was able to stay out of trouble. It is those little moments that make Dungey that consistent machine that seems to never make mistakes. He still sits 17 points up on Tomac and will take the lead in the second half of the season.
Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
Now if Dungey’s ride was undermined by Tomac’s win and Martins second place debut, Baggett’s ride was undermined by all of the above. He started in dead last and worked his way up to 7th on the tight track. Yes. He started in 22nd place… Pretty incredible if you ask me! Baggett has always been fast, but he has now found a way to put it all together for some great rides. Honestly, with the way he has been riding I don’t see why he can’t become not just a podium contender, but also a race winner! At Indianapolis Baggett would be my pick for 3rd if he can get a decent start.
Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Anderson had a way better weekend at Daytona then many of his past weekends. He qualified quickest in one of the sessions and able to muster a good podium finish. It is surprising that Anderson has only two 3rd place finishes so far this year. Let’s take a look at how this year stacks up to his 2016 season. When comparing the first 10 rounds, it is actually surprising to see that Anderson has the same amount of podiums this year as he did last year. The only difference was that he got that victory at Anaheim 1. Now he only missed the top five 2 times in the first 10 rounds and this year he has only missed it 3 times and one of those times was because of his DQ. So when you take in the fact that he missed a round, this year is pretty much the same results as last year. In 7 of the 9 races he rode in Anderson got 4th or 3rd. Expect the same this weekend in Indianapolis.
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
Musquin has been battling with a fever the last two weeks, but he says that he is better now and will be able to put in a full week of training, which he hasn’t been able to for the past two weeks. This is most likely the main reason we have seen the 13-15 performances. Musquin looked to be on a roll, but now this may have hampered his momentum. He is now out of it for the points and has fallen back to 4th in the standings. The only thing left to do now is race hard for wins! He has shown that he can win races and run with the top guys like Dungey and Tomac. I expect a bounce back top 5 in Indianapolis and more podiums to come once he gets back into the flow of things.
Chad Reed (Monster Energy Yamaha)
Reed once again looked feisty and ready to podium during the main, but another crash left him back in 6th place. I think it is safe to say that Reed is back at it and will be a steady top 5 threat of the remainder of the season, but if he wants to podium and contend for wins he needs to improve his starts. I think starts are more important for Reed than anybody above him on this list. If he gets a bad or mid packed start, he either stays put or it seems that he crashes trying to work his way up quickly. I don’t think the question is can Reed win a race again. I think the real question is can Reed fix his starts so he is up front in positions to win on a regular basis again. I don’t see why his starts are magically fixed in one week and thus I will predict Reed to finish 4th-7th in Indianapolis.
Cole Seely (Honda HRC)
I have placed Seely 7th on my list even though he sits 3rd place in the points. The reason I do this is because I see all 6 guys in front of him as having a better chance of finishing in the top 3. Seely just hasn’t been flashy of late and I am sure he is starting to get frustrated with his results as he wants to win these races. Since Arlington when he was the runner up he has gone 5-6-6-5. That just isn’t going to cut it if he wants to ever be a title threat. Nonetheless, he sits 3rd in points and if anything happens to the first two guys he is all of a sudden the runner up guy. He also hasn’t finished worst than 6th all season and so even though he sits 7th on my rankings, I do see him finishing in the top 6th again because of some mishap of another rider.
Davi Millsaps (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
Millsaps finished a disappointing 12th place at Daytona, but I believe he crashed somewhere along the way as he was dropped a few positions in one lap. If you take away this result and the race he missed, he has finished in the top 10 at every race and now he sits in a solid 6th place in the standings. Injuries have not been kind to Millsaps, but I think he has probably mastered riding with injuries. It seems every year he has a list of injuries that he is dealing with, but yet you would not know with the way Millsaps rides. In Indianapolis I expect Millsaps to get back in the top 10.
Broc Tickle (RCH Suzuki)
Tickle went from finishing 3rd to a 14th just a week later. Now this may be seem strange at first glance and one would think that he crashed, but that just isn’t the case here. In the last 3 weeks Tickle finished 14-3-14 and the reason for this discrepancy is because Tickle has been getting absolutely awful starts all year except for one race. Toronto when he got 3rd. He is a great rider and he can get top 10s easily and can pull off top 5s on a consistent basis. I really believe that, but his average starting position is 14.8! Of the top 20 guys in points only Jake Weimer has a worst starting stat. RCH has a great rider in Tickle and he showed us what he is capable of if he can get that start. Let’s see if he dial the starts down and get back up front like in Toronto.
Dean Wilson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Wilson has also been dealing with bad starts all year and on a track that was hard to pass on and didn’t separate riders much, a start was obviously what he needed. He was back in 18th place after lap 1… It is crazy how your whole race can be screwed up after 10 feet out of the gate. I would go so far to say that the start is the most important aspect of Supercross now. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing I don’t know, but everyone has to race the same race so Wilson needs to get better starts if he wants to be a top ten guy every week.
Justin Brayton (Smartop/Motoconcepts): Brayton has 3 straight top 10s after coming back from concussion. He will try and continue that streak in Indianapolis.
Josh Grant (Monster Energy Kawasaki): Grant has not been his usual flashy self this year, but has 4 top 10s and sits 11th in points.
Photo from MXA