No Ryan Dungey.
No Ken Roczen.
A blazing fast and frustrated Eli Tomac.
So good luck to the rest of the 450 class this season in Motocross.
Yes, the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series starts on Saturday at Hangtown just outside Sacramento, CA with two stars out of competition and a third ready to pick up where he left off two years ago before a devastating crashed ended a possible undefeated year.
Dungey's retirement from the sport this week after winning his third-consecutive Supercross Championship two weeks ago is not only a downer for fans but weakens the competition even further for Tomac, who based on his nine mostly runaway wins in Supercross, probably had little opposition anyway.
Two years ago Tomac devastated the field in the first five Motos until a horrific crash in Moto 2 at Thunder Valley ended a dream season and opened the door for Dungey. After fumbling around the first three rounds in Supercross this year Tomac found the magic touch along with the checkers. He tied Dungey in points, carried the Red Plate for the penultimate round and then crashed giving Dungey the lead heading into the final round. And we all know what happened there. If not, click here.
Tomac is far and away the title favorite for the Nationals but not so fast some say because you just never know. Besides, Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson, Blake Baggett and Cole Seely have title aspirations and the ability to get it done. Here's a rundown of who to watch and what they bring to the track.
Eli Tomac #3
A clear favorite and someone who could run away with the 2017 Motocross Championship. The last time he raced Hangtown, Tomac crossed the checkers 20 seconds ahead of Dungey in Moto 1 and an astonishing 90 seconds in Moto 2, one of the largest margins of victories in the track's history. His assault continued through Round 3 until a crash ended his reign.
Tomac struggled at times last year but finally figured it out this year and nearly won his first Supercross Championship. If his momentum continues from Indoors to Outdoors he'll wrap up this title real early.
2016 Finish: 2nd
Marvin Musquin #25
Now the #1 guy at KTM with his teammate Dungey retired, Musquin lost a 250 outdoor title in the last round two years ago with much thanks to an engine failure. He finished third in his 450 debut last year. He doesn't have a win or overall in the premier class yet and if he can get out front and hold a charging Tomac at bay, expect podiums and more this year.
2016 Finish: 3rd
Jason Anderson #21
A training partner to Anderson and Dungey, Anderson started well last year, suffered elevation sickness at Thunder Valley and then broke his collarbone in practice a week later. His injury was many in a string of bad luck for title contenders last year including Dungey and Blake Baggett. If Anderson can remain healthy he'll mix it up and could help derail any thoughts of an undefeated season for Tomac.
Anderson also brings serious momentum from Supercross with four straight podiums to end the year including the victory in Las Vegas.
2016 Finish: 14th
Blake Baggett #4
Blake Baggett traded in his Suzuki for KTM this year
Baggett broke his collarbone in Round 1 last year ending any chance to improve on his fourth-place showing in 2015. He finished every round this season in Supercross finishing sixth, just a point behind teammate Davi Millsaps. Baggett has yet to win a Moto or overall in the premier class but finished runner-up to Jeremy Martin in 2014 for the 250s that included five Moto wins. Speaking of Millsaps, he's out after having surgery on both wrists.
2016 Finish: 22nd
Cole Seely #14
Seely had a career best start to Supercross but a shot at third-place ended after injuring an adductor muscle. He re-injured it in New Jersey and sat out the final round. If it's a nagging concern he won't put up much fight but if he can enter healthy he's a contender for sure.
2016 Finish: 13th
Trey Canard #41
Trey Canard rides Orange this year on a KTM
The Chad Pennington of Motocross, Canard can compete when healthy but he's rarely healthy. He left Supercross early with a virus then crashed while practicing for Outdoors weeks ago. No word on whether he's ready for Round 1 or lining up at all this year.
2016 Finish: 18th
Cooper Webb #2
Cooper Webb won't get to defend his #1 plate in the 250 class this year
The reigning 250 class Motocross Champion had a disappointing 450 rookie year in Supercross thanks to injury. He grabbed a podium in Oakland but a crash resulting in a deeply bruised shoulder at Minneapolis ended a promising start. He excels at Motocross, won last year's title with a bum wrist and could surprise everyone if he's ready to go.
2016 Finish: 1st in 250 Class
Josh Grant #33
Grant brings a lift in confidence from Supercross thanks to a third-place result in Las Vegas, his first podium in five years. Last year in Motocross, he started strong but injury derailed him and for 2015 he posted respectable results for the last half of the season after a return from injury.
2016 Finish: 21st
The 2016 Motocross season featured the following riders out of contention because of injury: Ryan Dungey, Jason Anderson, Justin Bogle, Trey Canard, Dean Wilson, Josh Grant, Blake Baggett, Justin Brayton, Broc Tickle, Weston Peick and Christophe Pourcel.
If the injuries mount this year it could be a long season for the fans or a totally unexpected victor when the checkers fly at Ironman in August.
250 Class 2017 Motocross Preview
On the other hand, the 250MX Class boasts so many title contenders just throw the dice and take your chances. It's a total toss-up and any one of the following has a legitimate chance at the 2017 250 Championship.
Jeremy Martin #6
Jeremy Martin finished second in a one-off in the 450SX class at Daytona this year
The two-time defending Champion wants one more before closing his career in the class and moving on to the 450s. He was foiled for three straight last year after getting tangled with Cooper Webb and Joey Savatgy at Washougal which ended his season early. He didn't fare well in Supercross (he never does) but he's had a lot of time off to get ready for a title run. He could run away with it but don't count on it, because...
2016 Finish: 6th
Justin Hill #46
Hill killed it in Supercross taking the 250SX West Championship a round early and then took a needless second in the final round against a bunch of talented East contenders. Last year in Outdoors was injury riddled but if he's healthy he'll give Martin some fits.
2016 Finish: 17th
Alex Martin #26
Brother to Jeremy, Alex also had a rough Supercross season but finished second to Webb last year in Outdoors and looked strong that year with a few hiccups. The Martin Brothers could go 1-2 this season and who lands where is anyone's guess.
2016 Finish: 2nd
Zach Osborne #16
Osborne brings MAJOR momentum into the Nationals after a historic come-from-behind final round effort to clinch the 250SX East title. His training under Aldon Baker clearly works and he's got Moto wins under his belt. He finished seventh last year and if not for a handful of rough outings could have reached the Top 5.
2016 Finish: 7th
Joey Savatgy #17
Savatgy is always in the title hunt and somehow throws it away in the waning rounds. He had the 2017 Supercross East title in his grip on the last lap, lost it by one point last year and started the 2016 Motocross season with a sweep. Restaurant curses aside, Savatgy has lots to prove but he doesn't. He can win but sealing the deal proves elusive. Perhaps that helps light a fire to blow-out the competition this year.
2016 Finish: 3rd
The much-hyped rookie is no longer a rookie and after a fourth-place showing last year, a title run this year is hardly a far-fetched scenario. His first year in Supercross didn't go well thanks to an injury but his second year in Outdoors should confirm the rumors. He's the real deal. Unless a sophomore slump hits and knocks him back to earth.
2016 Finish: 4th
Adam Cianciarulo #36
This oft-injured rider broke through this year, narrowly missed the 250SX East title but grabbed two wins including a resounding victory in Las Vegas. He's healthy and if he stays on two-wheels he'll grab podiums, wins and maybe a crown.
2016 Finish: 8th
Jordan Smith #44
Smith held the 250SX East Championship for a few laps in Las Vegas then he crashed. And crashed again, the second time knocking him out of the race along with the title fight. He was banged up but walked away and time will tell if he's got lingering issues. Two weeks isn't a lot of time. Smith took second in Moto 1 last year and that's pretty much all he wrote home about.
2016 Finish: 16th
Shane McElrath #38
McElrath finished second in the 250SX West class and opened the season with two wins and finished the year with three. Last year's Motocross season proved futile as he floundered to start, grabbed second in Moto 2 at Tennessee and was out of the series a few rounds later. He had a full year in 2015 finishing ninth. Supercross seems to be his forte as he finished second in the West for 2015.
2016 Finish: 14th
Aaron Plessinger #23
Plessinger finished third in the West for Supercross just a point behind McElrath and who could forget his final round win for the 2015 Motocross season? He also won the final Moto last year. With the experience under his belt and a successful Supercross year he'll play a role in this year's 250 Championship run.
2016 Finish: 5th
Expect a balmy 94 degrees to start the 2017 Motocross season! Gates drop at 1 p.m. on Saturday for the 49th Annual Hangtown Motocross Classic in Rancho Cordova, CA. Buy tickets online or at the track.
Written By: AndrewT