All tied up and just three to go.
Eli Tomac rides the Red Plate on Saturday for Round 15 of the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross series which returns to Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah for the first time since 2013. It's also the first time Tomac has led the field on the indoor side of things for his 450 class career though he is tied in points with two-time defending Champion Ryan Dungey, who also keeps the Red Plate.
But, Tomac wins the tiebreaker thanks to having eight wins to Dungey's two this season. Tomac also owns the tiebreaker for the remainder of the season so if the two end the year in a dead heat Tomac wins his first premier class Supercross Championship.
Ryan Dungey keeps #1 but shares the Red Plate with Eli Tomac
And, looking at the last few months it's unlikely the closest Championship race in recent memory ends in a tiebreaker as Tomac appears unstoppable even when he gets a bad start and crashes all in the same race as he did in Seattle. On the surface those self-imposed obstacles were exactly what Dungey needed to take back control of the series but he got caught in a first turn tussle the same evening, had trouble starting his bike and fell to the back of the pack.
Both riders delivered near magical performances as Tomac started 10th, overcame a gnarly crash and finished second while Dungey put on a clinic to finish fourth and might have secured a podium spot if not for a shortened race time because of deteriorating track conditions. But extra time could have given Tomac the win as he closed to less than five seconds of Marvin Musquin who led all 20 laps and got his second career victory.
Dungey has 11 podiums and yet to finish below fourth-place this season while Tomac has 10 podiums and won six of the last eight rounds. Dungey enjoys success in Salt Lake City as he finished third the last time out, first in 2012, 3rd in 2011 and fourth in 2010 - winning the Championship that year as a rookie. Eli Tomac has not raced here in the 450 class but finished sixth in 2013, first in 2012 - winning the Lites West crown that year - and second in 2011.
Marvin Musquin needs another win and some help if he's to make a legitimate run at the Championship
As it stands, with only 75 points remaining the entire field is out of Championship contention except for Dungey, Tomac and Musquin, who is 42 points from the lead and needs le miracle to ride away the Champion. At any rate, it's likely these three already form the Championship podium, final placement TBD.
Cole Seely sat out Seattle after injuring an already aggravated adductor muscle in practice and an MRI last week confirmed a sprain and partial adductor muscle tear. No word on his return but his chances of lining up at the gate Saturday look slim. Despite not racing in Seattle, he held on to fourth-place in the standings, but jeopardized his chance of catching Musquin and is just three points in front of Jason Anderson who finished third in Seattle.
Speaking of Anderson, it's possible he catches Musquin to end the season in third-place, but unlikely. His best chance is continuing the solid riding like the last two rounds in fourth- and third-place, respectively, and settling for a fourth-place season finish. A pretty good outcome considering the setback resulting from his Round 3 disqualification. Anderson has three podiums this year but nothing higher than third-place.
Elsewhere, Christian Craig, currently sixth in the 250SX East class with one podium, gets a one-off in the 450 class since he's filling in for the injured Ken Roczen this summer in Motocross for HRC Honda. The only experience he brings competing on a 450 in Supercross is the 2012 and 2015 Monster Cup. Cooper Webb appears closer to form after a shoulder injury in Minneapolis left him out of that round and the following four. He qualified second in Seattle and settled for eighth.
Justin Hill can clinch the 250SX West title this weekend in Salt Lake City
In the 250SX West class, just 50 points remain and it is possible Justin Hill takes the Championship on Saturday. Hill has four wins on the season and six straight podiums (second-place or better) and an 18 point lead over Aaron Plessinger who got his first season win and fifth podium last time out. Mitchell Oldenburg rounded out the podium in Seattle with a career-high third-place.
Plessinger finished fourth in Phoenix and sixth in Oakland so continuing solid rides like the last two rounds ensures a final round title fight. Hill needs to add seven points to claim the Championship so another finish fourth-place for Plessinger combined with another Hill win makes Las Vegas a fun run.
Aaron Plessinger needs to keep winning if he's to catch Justin Hill
Shane McElrath, who started the season with two wins but remained in contention as Hill began his tear, suffered a mechanical failure and DNF at Arlington which dropped him to third. In Seattle, he endured a bruising injury after running into a fallen Chris Alldredge during qualifying but returned for a fifth-place finish. Mathematically, he's still in the hunt but is now a long shot. Martin Davalos is in fourth-place just six points back (McElrath owns tiebreaker) from a coveted spot on the Championship podium.
A sunny but cold forecast for Saturday.
Our Podium Picks for Salt Lake City:
- Eli Tomac
- Ryan Dungey
- Marvin Musquin
250SX West Class
- Aaron Plessinger
- Justin Hill
- Shane McElrath
Check out the track map for Round 15:
Practice and qualifying starts at 1 p.m. (MST) and gates drop for the Main Event at 7:30 p.m. (MST) at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT. Buy tickets online or at the box office. Fox Sports 2 provides television coverage.
2017 Supercross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (294)
- Ryan Dungey (294)
- Marvin Musquin (252)
- Cole Seely (211)
- Jason Anderson (208)
- Blake Baggett (177)
- Davi Millsaps (176)
- Broc Tickle (158)
- Dean Wilson (147)
- Chad Reed (143)
- Justin Hill (160)
- Aaron Plessinger (142)
- Shane McElrath (129)
- Martin Davalos (124)
- James Decotis (106)
- Austin Forkner (90)
- Dan Reardon (82)
- Kyle Chisholm (73)
- Cole Martinez (64)
- Jeremy Martin (55)
Written By: AndrewT