One doesn't normally think of a two-time defending Champion and the current points leader as prey but Ryan Dungey needs a win or two to fend off a quickly charging Eli Tomac in what's quickly turning the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross season into an entertaining game of cat and mouse.
And Round 10 on Saturday at Daytona doesn't bode well for the mouse.
Daytona is one of the most anticipated rounds of the year with a usually demanding track built on the grassy in-field of the famed Daytona 500 speedway. It's the birthplace of Supercross and the only venue that's hosted a round every year since its inception.
Tomac brings four wins in the last six rounds into Daytona where the track typically resembles a Motocross track - a Tomac strong point. It's here where Tomac got his lone win of the 2016 season. It's here Dungey only has one checkers in seven 450 class appearances.
Ryan Dungey (left) edged out Broc Tickle (right) for second last week by two seconds
But with a 24 point lead, Dungey needs only to hide out in second-place for the rest of the season and he'll take home the 2017 crown, making it a three-peat and four overall thus further cementing his place in Supercross history. Just as long as Tomac serves up one more setback.
Tomac struggled early in the season and a crash at Arlington dropped him to 15th place. But the wins? Pure domination. He won Toronto by 14 seconds over Dungey. And though Dungey only has two wins this season he's been off the podium once. And lucky for Tomac it was a fourth-place showing at Arlington. The ingredients look good for another 1-2 finish this weekend between Tomac and Dungey but let's not forget the rest.
Eli Tomac dominates when he wins
Marvin Musquin bounced back earlier this season after two off rounds with his first career win. He's now looking to right the ship after missing the podium the last two weeks including a disastrous 13th place finish in Toronto that dropped him to third-place, 15 points behind Tomac. Third-place produces a mixed bag thus far this season with Dungey and Musquin both standing to the right of center but also Cooper Webb, Jason Anderson, Cole Seely, Blake Baggett and last week, Broc Tickle celebrating a career high.
Speaking of Webb, the rookie won't get anywhere near the podium this week as news announced today that he'll miss what amounts to a fourth-straight round after a crash in Minneapolis resulted in a bruised shoulder where he sat out qualifying for the Main.
No, James Stewart won't be returning to racing at Daytona. At least that's what we've been told.
Zach Osborne goes for three-straight wins on Saturday in Daytona
In the 250SX East class, Zach Osborne is pulling away from the field after two-straight wins. He's the only rider with podiums in all three rounds for the East region and should have little problem maintaining his podium streak on Saturday.
Joey Savatgy is the other rider with a win coming to no surprise in the opening round at Minneapolis. What is a surprise is the last two rounds off the podium. Savatgy, a heavy contender for the 250 East title remains in second-place but 12 points back of Osborne and only six in front of Jordon Smith, who started the season in second place, but hasn't been on the podium since.
Adam Cianciarulo got on the podium last week for the first time this season and is tied in points with Smith. So far so good for Cianciarulo who arguably lost the 2014 East title and hasn't seen a full Supercross season all thanks to injury.
Christian Craig, also a contender this year, finally reached the podium last week in Toronto but probably too little too late after a bad opening round and a crash left him with a concussion and out of the Main in Atlanta. But, a healthy return means one more vying for a spot on the box which only serves to help shuffle the Top 3 deck. Alex Martin, tied in points with Craig, also entered the season as a potential contender but a crash in the opening round and a 15th in Toronto negates a great ride for second-place in Atlanta.
Our Podium Picks for Daytona:
- Eli Tomac
- Ryan Dungey
- Marvin Musuqin
- Zach Osborne
- Christian Craig
- Joey Savatgy
Check out the track map for Round 10:
Practice starts at 12 p.m. (EST) with opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. (EST) and the gates drop for the Nigh Show at 7:06 p.m. (EST) Saturday at the Daytona International Speedway. Buy tickets online or at the box office. Supercross Round 10 airs live on Fox Sports 2.
2017 Supercross Season Standings
- Ryan Dungey (196)
- Eli Tomac (172)
- Marvin Musquin (157)
- Cole Seely (153)
- Jason Anderson (123)
- Davi Millsaps (112)
- Chad Reed (101)
- Blake Baggett (99)
- Dean Wilson (97)
- Broc Tickle (96)
250SX East Class
- Zach Osborne (70)
- Joey Savatgy (58)
- Jordon Smith (52)
- Adam Cianciarulo (52)
- Colt Nichols (49)
- Kyle Peters (37)
- RJ Hampshire (36)
- Dylan Ferrandis (34)
- Luke Renzland (31)
- Alex Martin (29)
- Christian Craig (29)