Who is next?
It's a legitimate question and we're not referencing the next champion. The 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series just lost another podium contender in Jason Anderson, who is out after breaking his collarbone in practice this week.
His teammate and defending Champion Ryan Dungey is sidelined for the season after crashing at Thunder Valley and fracturing a vertebra. Trey Canard crashed in practice prior to High Point last week and is nursing his back for a while. Blake Baggett broke his collarbone in Round 1 and might line-up Saturday for Round 5 at Muddy Creek in Tennessee. It's the same tune for James Stewart who dislocated his shoulder at Hangtown and might get behind the gates on Saturday. But even if Baggett and Stewart return, neither rider has a reasonable shot at the Championship.
It probably makes no difference though to Ken Roczen unless he's been watching a marathon of Final Destination movies. None of the aforementioned came anywhere close this year to the 2014 Motocross Champion who has won seven of eight Motos so far this season (forks stabbed him in the back for the non-win). Forty-one points behind him is Eli Tomac who seems to be in one step backwards, two steps forward mode. He's closing, and now with Dungey gone, he's Roczen's biggest threat to the title but he's got to win a Moto first.
Eli Tomac needs some wins if he's to rein in Ken Roczen
Anderson looked poised to fight for podiums every week and perhaps get into the Top 3 for points especially after his second-place overall at High Point but his absence now opens up a spot for Marvin Musquin to work his way into contention. The rookie grabbed his first 450 class podium last week (tying Anderson in points) including a second-place Moto 1. He's more adept for the tracks on the East Coast, plus like Supercross, he said it took him a while to start firing on all cylinders so he might be already there for the Outdoor season.
Ken Roczen was already starting to run away with the 2016 Motocross season before injuries took out some of the contenders
Cole Seely had an OK week at High Point which followed a solid outing at Thunder Valley so a good ride on Saturday gets him past the idle Dungey into third-place in the standings. His three-point lead over Anderson is no longer vulnerable, but Musquin is right on his tail just 12 points back.
Regardless, Roczen is on cruise control and as long as he's not next he'll likely wrap up his second Motocross title pretty early.
In the 250 class, it's the dirt bikes taking a dive rather than the riders. Jeremy Martin sat just three points back from Joey Savatgy entering High Point, grabbed the points lead after finishing second in Moto 1 but a mechanical failure in Moto 2 left him with a DNF and dropped him to third, 24 points from first. Same thing happened to his brother Alex but his bike conked out in Moto 1. Silly Yamahas. Smoking out is for Millennials.
Jeremy Martin's bike coughed and sputtered to a stop at High Point
Both brothers had a shot not only at the podium but the overall, instead Savatgy got the victory after a (4-1) day taking the tie-breaker over Zach Osborne who got his first Moto win of his career. More importantly, Savatgy now has a 20 point lead over Cooper Webb.
Other than Round 2 when Savatgy had a really off day which saw his 15 point lead after Round 1 evaporate, he's been nearly untouchable. If not for two crashes he might be riding a four Moto win streak. His biggest threat so far is Alex Martin who, three times now, caught Savatgy but couldn't make the pass and settled for second.
Alex Martin (top) has yet to figure out a way around Joey Savatgy
Our podium picks were a bit off for High Point. It's pretty easy to put Ken Roczen at the center of the box, which we did, but Eli Tomac didn't follow nor did Cole Seely. In the 250 class, Webb and Savatgy made the podium but we picked Webb in first, Savatgy second and Jeremy Martin third.
So, who steps on the podium for Tennessee? We'll make our guess, leave us yours:
- Ken Roczen
- Marvin Musquin
- Eli Tomac
- Alex Martin
- Joey Savatgy
- Cooper Webb
The Tennessee National is Saturday at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, TN. Buy tickets online or at the track. Expect hot and muggy temperatures but no rain. Check out the track map:
2016 Motocross Season Standings
450 Class Standings
- Ken Roczen (193)
- Eli Tomac (152)
- Ryan Dungey (131)
- Cole Seely (116)
- Jason Anderson (113)
- Marvin Musquin (104)
- Trey Canard (97)
- Justin Barcia (92)
- Josh Grant (88)
- Christophe Pourcel (76)
250 Class Standings
- Joey Savatgy (166)
- Cooper Webb (146)
- Jeremy Martin (142)
- Alex Martin (136)
- Zach Osborne (121)
- Aaron Plessinger (116)
- Austin Forkner (109)
- RJ Hampshire (79)
- Adam Cianciarulo (72)
- Mitchell Oldenburg (70)