Round 11 is all wrapped up from Indianapolis and we are now heading to Detroit Rock City for round 12. We only have 6 rounds left; wow this year has gone by so quickly. Well, Ryan Dungey has a 12-point head start on the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider of Eli Tomac who has all the momentum and confidence right now. Game on! Here are my 450 rankings heading into Detroit SX.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Tomac has now won 6 of his last 8 and 3 in a row! Not only that, but he has pulled within 12 points of Ryan Dungey with only 6 rounds left. It’s hard to say who is going to win this title, but for the moment, Tomac is the fastest guy and if I might slightly be leaning towards Tomac to actually win this championship. I would argue that Tomac has been the fastest rider at every race since round 4 when he got his first win. There are a few weekends we will never know like in Arlington when he got 15th due to a bike malfunction and there also have been a few weekends that Musquin has looked to have his speed, but just hasn’t got the starts, but no matter what Tomac has been unbelievably dominant. This championship looks like it might go right down to the wire in Vegas and hopefully this might put a stop to FELD wanting to implement the Chase Format in 2018. Lets watch to see if Tomac can continue the streak in Detroit this weekend.
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
Musquin was ill for two weekends and it was evident with finishes outside the top 10, but he came back swinging in Indianapolis and finished in 2nd place. Musquin will definitely be the rider that could damper either Tomac or Dungey’s chances at winning this championship. Now considering he is on Red Bull KTM, who are trying to win another title with Dungey, this could get dicey. It would be easy for Decoster to be like “hey Marv want to help us out a little?” But I really don’t see him doing that, especially since we still have 6 rounds left. Musquin wants to win these races just as much as everybody else and I don’t see him pulling over for Dungey either. Maybe, just maybe, if it comes down to Vegas and the difference between Dungey winning the tile and losing would be beating Marv for 2nd, then there might be some team tactics, but I don’t even see that happening to be honest. Anyways, Musquin is looking real good and I expect him to be battling for wins from here on out.
Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM)
Well, here we go again. Everybody was asking what is wrong with Dungey and then he goes out and wins Atlanta and then has 2 great come from behind rides in Toronto and Daytona and it shut us all up. However, something strange happened again last weekend in Indianapolis, Dungey faded at the end. I mean he looked great in the main; he was pushing Eli and even caught up to him for a few laps mid way through, but then with about 5 minutes left he dropped and he dropped badly. Musquin was able to pass him and this left Dungey in 3rd place. By the way this was eerily similar to Minneapolis. So this leaves me to ask again is something wrong with Ryan Dungey? I think even more telling then his riding is his podium comments and press conference answers. He stated on the podium that this was only a motorcycle race and there is more in life than this. Which seems odd from a guy who is right in it to win a 4th championship. Then in the press conference he cracked open and stated how he hated the sport for 4 years when he was behind Villopoto. What this tells me is that he is ready to hang up the boots when 2017 is over. Whatever might be affecting him, if anything, he still needs to sharpen up if he wants to beat Tomac in this championship.
Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
Of all the riders that could mix it up with the top 3, Baggett is that rider. Wow saying that still surprises me! Another great ride in Indianapolis where he got the holeshot and got to taste what it’s like to lead one of these races before slipping back and actually crashing. It didn’t matter much as he still salvaged a 4th place, which I would bet he would have gotten even if he didn’t crash. We have seen him make those small mistakes a few times this year, but I think if Baggett gets more comfortable out front he will start to limit those mistakes and then maybe he can mix it up with Dungey and company on a regular! I look for him finishing in the top 5 this week in Detroit.
Cole Seely (Honda HRC)
Seely had a decent quiet ride at 5th place last weekend. Seely has been maybe the most consistent rider out there this year, which I’m sure he would have been pumped on at the beginning of the year, but the problem is that he has been consistently in 5th or 6th! Seriously he has finished 5th or 6th in 8 of the 11 rounds so far. For the past 5 rounds he hasn’t seen any other position. I still want to hold on to that believe that if he can rip a start he could pull off a win, but it seems less likely every week. Look for Seely to finish 5th or 6th in Detroit.
Jason Anderson (Rockstar energy Husqvarna)
Anderson’s year has not been stellar by any means. He had another off night and finished in 9th place. To me he just didn’t look like the regular Anderson all night. However, other then a few weekends he has looked super super fast and I got to believe that if he could get top 5 starts then he would be in contention for podiums, but Anderson just does not get starts. I’m starting to believe that maybe he just isn’t capable of starts??? If he isn’t just drilling starts every single week then they are nuts. Anyways, Anderson will probably start in 10th or 11th and then make his way back up to 6th or 5th in Detroit.
Cooper Webb (Monster Energy Yamaha)
Webb will be making his return this Saturday after missing 5 rounds due to a shoulder injury. It will definitely be nice to see another rider out there mixing it up and honestly I think Webb will be mixing it up with the top guys. He was looking fantastic before he got hurt; he had gotten a podium and was in another good position to get 2nd or 3rd before he had bike problems. Those were his last two races and from what I’ve heard and seen he has been riding a lot still, but just felt he wasn’t quite ready to race. Now he is and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a top 5 in Detroit. After a few races I expect him to be back on the podium.
Chad Reed (Monster Energy Yamaha)
Last week, I boldly claimed that Reed was back and would be feeling it every week out, but I must have jinxed him because he once again had a so so night in Indianapolis. He started good in 5th place and that is what he needs, but then he quickly got passed by Seely and Millsaps and would stay in 7th for the rest of the night. So I guess I’ll stop predicting with Reed. In Detroit things could go great and we see Reed battling for a podium or we could see Reed struggling to get past 7th or 8th.
Davi Millsaps (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
Millsaps actually has been super good this year. He has finished from 5-9 in 9 of the 10 races so far that he has raced in. I think he has found a good spot for him and if he stays healthy and continues these good rides maybe he could sneak a couple finishes in the top 5. I have him 9th on my rankings because I expect all of the guys in front of him to be better than him and beat him at Detroit, but given how this sport is, there will be a couple riders who get bad starts or crash and I don’t see Millsaps making those mistakes. Thus, he will probably finish from 6-8 this Saturday at Detroit.
Broc Tickle (RCH Suzuki)
After the podium in Toronto, I expected Tickle to have a new found confidence and we would see solid finishes for a few weeks, but in Daytona he got a bad start and just couldn’t get it going. He finished in 14th. This week he looked wayyyy better, he still started outside the top 10 (Tickle has the second worst starting position of the top 20 riders), but he rode great to come to 8th place and was even all over Reed for 7th by the end. I think he would be happy with an 8th a few weekends ago, but after you get a podium, I’m sure that is all he wants form here on out. IF he can get a decent top 10 start, he could sneak into the top 6 guys or so, but it’s more likely we will see him 14th or 15th after lap one and well that just makes a top 10 way harder.
Justin Barcia (JGR Suzuki): Barcia seems to be feeling more comfortable every week as he has finished solid in the last 3 races with 9-11-10 results.
Josh Grant (Monster Energy Kawasaki): Go back and watch some of Grant’s whips and scrubs in the semi and main. He was feeling it! For whatever reason he only finished 13th, but has 4 top 10s this year.
Dean Wilson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna): Wilson has looked not the greatest the past few weeks. Let’s see if he can rebound and get back in that top 10.
Photo from Transworld MX