Minneapolis hosts Round 7 of the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross season on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium as the series returns to Minnesota for the first time in four years and marks the start of the 250SX East class.
It's a hometown race for 450 class points leader and two-time defending Champion Ryan Dungey, who despite not winning the prior three rounds, managed to extend his points lead after every one which is now 18 over Marvin Musquin. Dungey finished fourth last week in Arlington, his first time off the podium this year. He finished off the podium just once all last year, but by all accounts played it safe during that Round 16 when he clinched the 2016 title with a fourth-place finish in East Rutherford.
Contrary to the idle talk about Dungey thus far having an off-year, somewhat thanks to posting only one win so far, at Round 3 when Ken Roczen's season ended, Dungey's 129 points is the second highest career total after six rounds. He only had one win after six rounds in 2015 before winning seven of the next 11 and the Championship. Last year he had 144 points heading into Round 7. He's got the lead, five straight podiums to start the season and a lead continuing to grow. Surely he listens to Semisonic's "This Will Be My Year" before every round.
Ryan Dungey carries the points lead into his hometown for Supercross Round 7 on Saturday in Minneapolis
So, with the likely large fan base in attendance and the chance to make history at the brand new home of the Minnesota Vikings, anticipate Dungey somewhere near the middle of the podium after the race. Dungey squeaked out a win the last time he enjoyed hometown fare in 2013 when he took Round 14 less than a second over Ryan Villopoto.
None of this means he lacks in competition. Marvin Musquin got his first career 450 class win last week and Eli Tomac ripped off two solid wins prior to that ending any thoughts that Dungey's road to three straight Championships and four overall was on cruise control. Musquin led all 26 laps at Arlington and had little trouble beating Cole Seely by more than five seconds. Seely and Jason Anderson, who followed in third, both recorded season best finishes.
Expect Cole Seely to fight for a spot on the podium this weekend
Tomac meanwhile endured a crash and settled for 15th, a season worst finish, which dropped him from his brief tenure in second-place for points to fourth, giving the runner-up spot back to Musquin as Seely moved from fourth into third just four points behind Musquin. Tomac wasn't the only one feeling a punch to the gut in points, either. Chad Reed's bike wanted the night off and sent him to the pits early along with an 18th place finish. Rookie Cooper Webb suffered a flat tire dropping him from a possible second-place to 14th, tying a season worst finish. But Dean Wilson who entered the year as a privateer got a factory ride just two rounds ago and posted a career-high fifth-place in Texas. Go figure.
Expect an electric atmosphere and if the previous five rounds prove right, anything can happen.
With an amalgamation of riders stepping on the podium in the 450 class during the past few rounds, the 250SX East class is a blank slate as Saturday commences its season. Throw out the educated guesses because who saw Shane McElrath and Justin Hill taking all the wins thus far in the West class?
It's a seemingly new crop of riders too. Malcolm Stewart who won the East last year is now in the 450 class. Aaron Plessinger, Jeremy Martin, Martin Davalos and Tyler Bowers who rounded out the Top 5 all battle in the West class this year. That leaves Joey Savatgy, Christian Craig, Zach Osborne and Colt Nichols who rounded out the Top 5 in the West last year as potent contenders for the East.
Joey Savatgy is a favorite to win the opening round of the 250SX East class on Saturday in Minneapolis
Savatgy lost the West by one point in 2016 to Cooper Webb, while Craig posted a five-straight podium streak including his first Supercross win and Osborne also had five stops on the box. Craig has some roots in Minnesota as that's where his wife is from and he worked construction while briefly retired from racing. So he might benefit from some hometown vibes.
Expect many eyes on Savatgy, who held the red plate a few rounds in Supercross last year and led the 250 class in Motocross for a bit, and undoubtedly brings an unmatched hunger for a title that he was so close to in 2016. Keep tabs on Alex Martin who switches classes with brother Jeremy (finishing 10th in the West last year) and brings unprecedented confidence after a strong second-place finish for the 250 Motocross class in 2016. Supercross doesn't seem to fit the Martins however, so it should be interesting to see what Alex brings to the track.
Our podium picks for Minneapolis:
- Ryan Dungey
- Cole Seely
- Eli Tomac
- Christian Craig
- Joey Savatgy
- Alex Martin
Check out the track map for Round 7:
Supercross Round 7 not only brings a return to Minnesota but an actual "night show" on Saturday as practice and qualifying start at 12 p.m. (CST) with opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. (CST) and the gates drop for the Main Event at 7:30 p.m. (CST).
2017 Supercross Season Standings
- Ryan Dungey (129)
- Marvin Musquin (111)
- Cole Seely (107)
- Eli Tomac (100)
- Jason Anderson (85)
- Davi Millsaps (83)
- Cooper Webb (71)
- Chad Reed (64)
- Dean Wilson (64)
- Broc Tickle (55)