Monster Energy Supercross returns to Seattle for the first time in three years on Saturday at CenturyLink Field and Round 14 couldn't be better scheduled for fans in the Pacific Northwest.
A tightening 450 class points battle, a five race win streak for Eli Tomac, a victory drought for the two-time defending Champion Ryan Dungey and a former Champion turned lapper possibly throwing a wrench into the 2017 title fight.
It's one of the closest 450 class battles in years as four points separate Tomac from Dungey who arguably holds his thin lead by a thread. Nearly every week for the last seven rounds Tomac eats into what was once a fourth-place 29 point deficit. He's passed Cole Seely and Marvin Musquin and now has a 45 point cushion over Musquin who looks destined for third at the end of the year.
Lots of fist pumps for Eli Tomac this year
Dungey meanwhile can't buy a win, his last coming in Round 8 at Atlanta. He's since gone 2-4-3-3-2, (a 23 point loss to Tomac's wins) the latest second-place finish in St. Louis coming perhaps as a result of Chad Reed purposely staying in the main race line preventing Dungey from passing and catching Tomac. The squabbling between the two started two weeks ago in Detroit when Reed hit the dirt at the first turn and blamed Dungey then continued in the Main Event at Round 13 after some pointed words from Dungey who called Reed "immature" following a contentious Heat race.
Dungey, who qualified first and grabbed the holeshot in St. Louis, was visibly upset after the race, coming in nearly seven seconds behind Tomac and was motioning towards Reed who quickly left the track. Dungey said this in the post-race news conference:
"I don't know where it's coming from, I guess I don't know what I did wrong... I'm not going to come in here and push the guy around or anything, I'm (going to) race him clean... Like, the heat race, we were going through the whoops side by side, he sees me, and tries to come over and take my front wheel out... Then I try to make the pass on him and he tries to blow you off the track... That guy's been around a long time and that much experience, you'd think he would understand what it's like to be in the position that I am. But he has no respect for us and what we're doing, what we're trying to do. I have a lot of respect for the guy, still do, but tonight was a low blow."
Ryan Dungey (right) rolls the throttle after finally getting past Chad Reed (left) in St. Louis
Feel free to study the film and look at the lap times. Little agreement exists on whether Dungey could have reigned in Tomac had Reed not moored Dungey for three laps after letting Tomac quickly pass. What isn't in question is the stunt, for which Reed received a $5,000 fine and the loss of five points, prevented a showdown between the two title contenders. Dungey, who Tomac passed on the first lap, has not led any laps since Round 8.
Reed, an aging veteran who last won a Supercross Championship in 2008 and hasn't won a race in two years, has one podium this year along with five single-digit point gain rounds. He finished in 16th place in St. Louis. The five point penalty eliminates a tie with Dean Wilson and puts Reed in 10th place for the year. He's not anywhere near competing for the title and unless something happens to Dungey and Tomac, neither is anyone else.
Speaking of Seely, he finished in sixth last week rebounding from a season worst 10th place in Detroit. He's placed in the Top 6 in every round this year except one and continues a career-best year through 13 rounds with 211 points.
Elsewhere with less drama, Jason Anderson took fourth in St. Louis and enters Seattle in fifth-place 23 points behind Seely and Josh Grant had a season-best fifth-place result which puts him six points out from entering the Top 10. Rookie Cooper Webb continues to struggle after returning from a shoulder injury finishing in 14th place which follows a 13th place in Detroit.
Justin Hill (left) should have lots of fans in Seattle as he tries to win his fifth straight
Seattle marks the return of the 250SX West class where Oregon native Justin Hill holds a commanding 21 point lead over Aaron Plessinger and enters his home round with a four race win streak. Shane McElrath, who opened the year with two straight wins and was just a point behind Hill after Round 5 in Oakland, endured a mechanical issue in Arlington giving him a DNF and dropping him to third 25 points behind the lead. Aaron Plessinger is in second and looking for his first win of the season. He took third last time out while Austin Forkner had a career best second-place.
The last time Seattle hosted Supercross Ryan Villopoto won and James Stewart took second with Dungey third. It was the round that upended Stewart's career as he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and subsequently suspended for 16 months. The positive drug test and suspension negated his second-place result thus giving Dungey the runner-up spot with Tomac taking third. Dungey has never won in Seattle for the 450 class but took the win in 2009 on his way to the West Lites title.
Forecast calls for showers on Saturday so it might get messy and not just because of all the mud-slinging.
Our Podium Picks for Seattle:
- Ryan Dungey
- Jason Anderson
- Cole Seely
Yes, we're predicting a hiccup round for Tomac (like he did in Arlington) but if Dungey doesn't figure it out in Seattle we'll give Tomac the final three wins and the Championship.
250SX West class
- Justin Hill
- Shane McElrath
- Aaron Plessinger
Check out the track map for Round 14:
Practice for Round 14 starts at 12:30 p.m. (PST) with opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. (PST) and the Main Event at 7 p.m. (PST) at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA. Buy tickets online or at the box office. Fox Sports 1 provides live television coverage.
2017 Supercross Season Standings
- Ryan Dungey (276)
- Eli Tomac (272
- Marvin Musquin (227)
- Cole Seely (211)
- Jason Anderson (188)
- Blake Baggett (163)
- Davi Millsaps (160)
- Broc Tickle (143)
- Dean Wilson (136)
- Chad Reed (131)
250SX West Class
- Justin Hill (138)
- Aaron Plessinger (117)
- Shane McElrath (113)
- Martin Davalos (106)
- James Decotis (91)
- Austin Forkner (90)
- Dan Reardon (72)
- Kyle Chosholm (60)
- Jeremy Martin (55)
- Phillip Nicoletti (54)