Expect a sandy start to the second half of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship season as the series heads to Massachusetts on Saturday for Round 7 at Southwick.
The Wick, as it's also called, returned to the Outdoor schedule last year after a two year absence much to the delight of fans as the track offers an entirely different approach and technique than any of the tracks in the series thanks to the sandy base. Love it or hate it riders must figure out their setup a bit on the fly and hope it sticks.
Eli Tomac certainly likes it here. He beat Ken Roczen last year straight up for his only sweep of that season, beat Roczen four years ago in the 250 class and finished second on the tie-breaker in 2012 to Blake Baggett. Not only does he ride well in the sand but Tomac is riding well in general.
After losing the Red Plate after Round 2 and fumbling a few more rounds thereafter, all momentum swings in his favor thanks to a dominating ride at RedBud last week where he won both Motos giving him three straight Moto wins and four of the last five. Perhaps the real Tomac has stood up as he limped along in third-place in the Championship standings just two rounds ago while the surging Baggett took center stage.
The Tomac everyone expected, the one that dominated Hangtown and disappeared shortly after, can add to his now 13 point lead and begin nailing the door shut on the 2017 Championship with another dominating performance at Southwick. That's if Baggett fails to rebound from a minor get-off in Moto 2 at RedBud which dropped him from battling with Jason Anderson for second-place to by himself in last. He managed to climb back to 10th for fourth overall but the damage included a 17 point swing.
Blake Baggett lost the Red Plate last week but still in the thick of the Championship hunt
Baggett ate a bit of roost after some tough talk a few weeks ago but outside that 10th-place his stat line since Moto 2 at Glen Helen looks pretty darn good: 2-3-1-1-2-3-3-2. So he loses the Red Plate, drops off the podium and has a guy with a five straight podium streak right on his rear fender in third-place. Yes, Anderson continues to look for the elusive overall victory but has two Moto wins this year, lost the overall in Tennessee on the tiebreaker and now fully immersed in the Championship hunt just 12 points behind Baggett and 25 from first.
And don't forget Marvin Musquin. He looked no worse for the wear after a torn meniscus helped drop him from first after Round 3 to now fourth in the standings but he got back on the podium at RedBud with a third overall and it sounds like the knee issue is wrapped up. All things remaining the same, anticipate a four-rider race to the finish, unless fifth-place Justin Bogle unearths some Thunder Valley Moto 1 magic or Dean Wilson bumps up his scores.
Can Jason Anderson continue his podium streak at Southwick?
Speaking of Wilson, can you say consistency? He's placed no higher than fourth but no lower than 10th and - get this - he's the only rider, other than Baggett, to not log a single-digit point gain Moto this season. He's tied in points with Bogle and could very well wrap up a career best Top 5 finish. Check out this stat line since Glen Helen: 6-7-9-7-9-7-8-7-8-8. It's a 7.6 average, now consider the opening round score of 10th and fourth, he still averages seventh! He's like Ryan Dungey just without the podiums.
Zach Osborne (right) and Jeremy Martin (left) probably keep it close on Saturday at Southwick
The 250 class presents a bit different story as Zach Osborne cruised to his third overall of the year at RedBud and enters Southwick with a 38 point edge over Alex Martin and seven more over two-time Champion Jeremy Martin. Osborne and Alex Martin represent the only 250 class riders without a single-digit point gain in a Moto.
Osborne, the reigning 250 East Class Supercross Champion, looks well on his way to adding another title to the mantle. Though Osborne didn't perform too well at Southwick last year, finishing seventh overall, he's mostly lights out this year with his worst outing occurring at Thunder Valley where he took home a virus-affected fifth-overall.
Southwick should work in The Martin Brothers favor, as Jeremy finished second overall last year with a Moto win and Alex took fourth overall, though the two can't seem to stop the self-inflicted damage. Jeremy dominated Moto 1 last week then fell in the first turn of Moto 2 while leading. Alex led for 10 laps of Moto 2, fell, lost the lead and overall for the day, instead settled on second overall. It's been a bit up and down for both Martins but that opening round mechanical failure surely haunts Jeremy as he seemingly takes one step forward and two steps backwards in his quest for a third 250 Class title.
Aaron Plessinger needs wins to get back into the 250 Championship fight
Aaron Plessinger followed his first Moto win and overall of the season at Tennessee with a mediocre sixth overall in Michigan which included an 11th place in Moto 2. RedBud seriously damaged his Championship hopes as he trails Osborne by 64 and needs some great rides for the rest of the year and a bit of help. He finished fifth last year at Southwick which actually represented one of his better 2016 performances.
Our Podium Picks for Southwick:
- Eli Tomac
- Justin Barcia
- Jason Anderson
- Jeremy Martin
- Zach Osborne
- Aaron Plessinger
Check out the track map for Round 7:
Forecast calls for rain and thunderstorms Saturday morning. Gates drops for Moto 1 at 1 p.m. (EST) with live coverage on MAVTV for both classes. NBC covers Moto 2 for the 450 class live at 3:30 p.m. (EST) and NBC Sports broadcasts a tape-delayed Moto 2 for the 250 class at 12:30 a.m. (EST) on Sunday. Buy tickets online or at the track.
2017 Motocross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (241)
- Blake Baggett (228)
- Jason Anderson (216)
- Marvin Musquin (201)
- Justin Bogle (163)
- Dean Wilson (163)
- Broc Tickle (146)
- Weston Peick (137)
- Josh Grant (133)
- Cole Seely (132)
- Zach Osborne (254)
- Alex Martin (216)
- Jeremy Martin (209)
- Aaron Plessinger (190)
- Austin Forkner (184)
- Adam Ciacianrulo (168)
- Joey Savatgy (165)
- Dylan Ferrandis (152)
- Mitchell Harrison (147)
- Colt Nichols (144)