After a much needed week off, the riders will head to Salt Lake City for round 15. It really wasn’t a week off as most riders spent their week testing for outdoors, but at least they had Saturday off. The points are all tied up with just 3 rounds remaining. We couldn’t ask for anything better! Here are my 450 rankings heading into Salt Lake.
- Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Eli Tomac has gone 1-2-1-1-1-1-1-2 in his past 8 races. That’s incredible! He has won 8 races now and that is 6 more than his co-leader Dungey. It really has been incredible watching Tomac on this run since round 4 at Phoenix. I thought Tomac would close the gap to Dungey a little bit, but I never considered that he would close it all the way to 0. He really has been fantastic this year and from what I’ve seen nobody has been able to match his pace since round 4 when he won. The one thing that I am interested to see is will Tomac change his mentality now that he himself his carrying the red plate? If we ever got to see a pressure packed situation, Seattle was it. He got an awful start and thought that Dungey was way in front of him and he rode absolutely incredible to work his way up and even though he went over the bars, he still finished in 2nd place. He now is not only the favourite to win this weekend, where he will have slight advantage due to him being used to the altitude, but he is now the favourite to actually win the 2017 SX Championship.
- Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM)
In Seattle Dungey got another bad start and actually crashed in the first turn. He was in dead last when he got up and worked his way up all the way to 4th place. It was definitely a great ride, but the story once again was a bad start from Dungey. This year has been puzzling to me. He hasn’t really shown his top notch speed since Roczen went out with injury. He has been consistent enough to keep himself in front, but he is just isn’t the same Dungey that we saw from last year. His starts have been really bad of late and when he finally looked to be good and was catching up to Tomac, he got involved in the Chad Reed nonsense. It is weird to say that it has been a bad year for a guy who is tied with the points with 3 rounds left, but it really has been a strange and bad year for Dungey. He is one of the greatest ever and I wish he could still find that fire and love to be out there, but it is looking like these will be the last Supercross races we ever see Dungey race. For the sake of the sport I hope I’m wrong. Anyways, it is do or die time now for Dungey. He can no longer sit back and hope on his consistency. At Salt Lake, he needs to go out and win somehow.
- Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
Musquin gathered his second win of the season in Seattle and if you are looking at his year as a whole he has been great. If he were to limit 4 of his bad races that were outside the top 5 then he would actually be right in the mix of things! He has shown us that he can win these races, but there is one issue that may hamper his results in these final 3 rounds. Red Bull KTM and Ryan Dungey. The fact is Musquin isn’t going for a title and his teammate is right in the middle of the title fight. I don’t see any evidence of team tactics as of yet, but we are now getting down to the final stretch and since Musquin has the ability to get in between Tomac and Dungey we are going to see once and for all if Musquin and Red Bull KTM try any team tactics. I personally think we won’t see much. I see Musquin riding Dungey easy if they are close, but I just don’t see Marv pulling over and letting Dungey by. In Salt Lake the answers to that question will probably be answered.
- Cooper Webb (Monster Energy Yamaha)
Webb’s rookie year could be better, but it also could be a lot worse. He unfortunately had to miss a few rounds in the middle, but he is back now and at the last race in Seattle he looked to be right back were he left off when he got hurt. If not for the crash that sent him back to 8th, he probably would have grabbed his second podium of the year. I also loved how he rode Eli high and passed him back. That type of grit and fearlessness is why Webb is so good. Other than Musquin, Webb is the guy that could definitely be a spoiler for this championship. He is the type of rider that doesn’t care if you’re going for a championship, he will ride you just as hard as anybody else (Hence the move on Tomac). While I don’t see Webb winning one of these races before the end of SX, I do see him getting at least one more podium and by as close as next year I see him winning races and being in championship contention.
- Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Many had Anderson winning races and in contention for the championship before the 2017 season began, but it just wasn’t his year. He has only finished on the podium 3 times and all were 3rd place finishes. He has been consistent though with 6 other 4th place finishes. Starts have been bad at a lot of races, but even at the races that he started up front he hasn’t really shined through like last year. He said at the Seattle press conference, that he wanted to get a win before the season is up. Well he has only 3 races left to accomplish that and with Dungey and Tomac going for the title, I just don’t see him getting that win. In Salt Lake I predict a finish in 4th-6th.
- Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
Baggett really has improved this year in SX and has gone from a 7th-12th place rider to a 3rd-7th pace rider. At times we have been talking about him along the likes of Dungey and Tomac. Thats how good he has been riding this year! The one issue is that his results rarely show his speed for the night. Crashes and bad starts have limited Baggett to only one podium and 4 top 5s. If he wants to be more consistent he has got to figure out how to calm down a bit out there. Regardless this has been a great SX season and a step in the right direction. I expect Baggett to be in contention for another top 5 at Salt Lake City.
- Davi Millsaps (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
This year actually marks one of Millsaps’s best SX seasons of late. We saw him come out swinging in 2013 and win 2 races and finish second in points behind the great Ryan Villopoto. Since then we haven’t seen that Millsaps again. He has dealt with a lot of injuries and of course he went through the fiasco at Monster Energy Kawasaki. Now he seems to have found a nice home on Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM. This year he has gotten 3 top 5s and only has two races outside the top 10. He had to miss one race with an injury, but that is pretty good considering how much time he has missed in the past with injuries. It is nice to see Millsaps get decent finishes and be in the mix every now and then, but it has me wondering if we will ever see 2013 Millsaps again? At Salt Lake SX I expect him to finish 6-10th.
- Broc Tickle (RCH Suzuki)
Broc Tickle does what a Broc Tickle does and a Broc Tickle does quiet unnoticed good top 10s. That is just his thing. He has always done it in the 450 class and even though we have seen some flashes of brilliance like the podium in Toronto and the top qualifier in Detroit, mainly he just quietly puts in a 6th or a 7th for the night. Honestly, that is great for him. He sits 8th in the points and he is such a solid rider that it has landed him a deal with RCH for many years now and he deserves it. He may want to be up there more often and racing with the likes of Anderson and Seely, but he has had a great Broc Tickle like year and expect the same in the last three rounds.
- Chad Reed (Monster Energy Yamaha)
The Aussie has had a rocky year to say the least. He came into the year expecting to win multiple races and be in contention to actually win the championship, but as we know that did not happen. He does have the one good ride at Phoenix that reminded us why we all love Reed, but then again he had that one stupid move in St. Louis that reminded us how stubborn he really is. So I guess we have seen some of the old Chad Reed this year, but its been far and few between. Despite all the drama that he was dealing with, he had a decent race in Seattle and was the only person not named Eli, that I saw tripling onto the table after the finish line. Even though he went into the mechanics area he still finished 9th. If you want to hear more about Reed’s drama and his race at Seattle, check out our interview with him here. I expect Reed to have a quiet finish to the season, with top 10s and maybe one race that sneaks into the top 5. At Salt Lake he needs to put the drama aside and just ride like he knows how to.
- Dean Wilson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Wilson has been mediocre at best this year. I don’t mean to be critical, but he hasn’t improved really at all and that is not good. We have seen riders that were at his pace such as Baggett and Tickle step it up, but we haven’t seen that from Wilson other than the one 5th place at Arlington. At the beginning of the year, I thought it would be awesome just to see him complete a whole season without injury, but now I’m re-thinking my position. He really should have stepped it up more by now and I think the main thing holding him back is his starts. His average starting position is 13th! Not much you can do from back there. At Salt Lake, unless we see a dramatic change in his starting ability, look for Wilson to finish 8th-12th.
Christian Craig (Honda HRC): Craig makes his 450 SX debut this weekend on the same bike that he will be riding for all of outdoors. I expect him to finish just outside the top 10.
Malcolm Stewart (Ride 365 Suzuki): Malcolm is on the verge of have having a breakout ride. He rides fantastic in the heat races and then just crashes out in the main. Could Salt Lake be the weekend his FINALLY puts it together?