Cross country trip complete and the final three rounds of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series commences on Saturday at the Unadilla National in New Berlin, NY.
Riders received a bit of respite thanks to a weekend off between rounds as the end of July took the dirt bike caravan from Minnesota to Washington on consecutive Saturdays before the 3,000 mile trek for Round 10 in New York. The leaders in each class enjoy their largest points gap of the season and a newly crowned Champion isn't out of the question for this weekend.
In the 450 class, Eli Tomac carries a 32 point lead over the ailing Blake Baggett. As injuries mount the once four-man chase for the title is barely two with Baggett nursing a thumb injury, Jason Anderson no longer in contention thanks to midweek crashes on his dirt bike followed by one on his road bike that kept him sidelined, and Marvin Musquin pulling the Supercross version of Tomac by stringing off late season wins while Tomac pulls the Supercross version of the now-retired Ryan Dungey by managing his lead.
Can Marvin Musquin keep his win streak going at Unadilla?
Musquin's recent tear giving him four straight Moto wins feels a bit too little too late with a current 54 point deficit from the top. Musquin's torn meniscus no longer poses a problem but the damage inflicted in Rounds 4 and 5 certainly crippled his Championship hopes. He tallied just 34 points during that time while Tomac grabbed 81 on his way to turning his season around and taking back first place after some rough outings dropped him from the top spot where he started the season.
Last time out at Washougal, Tomac (2-2) and Musquin (1-1) banged tires and that seemed enough for Tomac who appeared to dial it back a bit while Musquin mopped the track for his second straight sweep. Musquin keeps a solid hold on third place in the standings, is within reach of second, but needs help to make it a final round battle for the title. He took second on the tiebreaker at Unadilla last year over Tomac so he brings solid history and should continue his hot streak on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Baggett (7-4) hasn't won a Moto or overall since High Point and while he rode well at Southwick, taking second overall on the injured thumb he incurred just a week prior, he hasn't reached the podium since and finished three of the last four Motos in fourth-place or lower taking fifth overall at Washougal. It's of little solace but consistency keeps him in the hunt as he and Dean Wilson remain the only 450 riders with no finishes lower than 10th place all season.
Blake Baggett has fallen off the Championship radar a bit thanks to a thumb injury
Speaking of Wilson (5-6), his podium streak ended at Washougal but he finished sixth overall and has a solid grasp on fourth in the standings with an improving Cole Seely (3-5) rising in fifth who finished a season high third in Moto 1 at Washougal for fourth overall. Both could factor in the final three rounds but neither have much 450 class success or experience at Unadilla. And don't count out Martin Davalos (4-3) to run in the Top 5. He stepped on the podium for the first time as a 450 class rider at Washougal and has placed fourth or higher in four of the last five Motos.
Zach Osborne could raise the 250 Class Championship trophy this weekend
In the 250 class, Zach Osborne might walk away a Champion on Saturday if he nets 26 more points than Jeremy Martin which he did at the opening round so it's not out of the question. The 250 crown seems mostly a not if but when for Osborne unlike his 2017 Supercross 250 East Championship which he won in epic proportions on the last lap of the final round.
Martin's quest for a third 250 class Championship felt doomed from the season's start when he encountered a bike failure in the first Moto at Hangtown. He bounced back however, got some wins, but never really put on much of a charge. In fact, if not for his brother Alex enduring a practice crash that kept him from lining up at Washougal, he'd be in third with Alex still in the hunt for the championship. Instead, the lost Motos dropped Alex to third and 81 points from first when he was now a mere 43 points out just two rounds ago. No word yet on whether he'll finish the season.
Joey Savatgy (17) and RJ Hampshire (31) battled up front the last time out
Meanwhile, Joey Savatgy, considered a title contender before the season, has also poured it on in a too little too late scenario with two straight overalls and two of the last four Moto wins. It's put him in fourth-place but he's almost mathematically out of the Championship hunt so his best hope is for the final podium which is within reach especially if Alex skips another round. Regardless, expect him in the mix at Unadilla and the final two rounds along with any rider below because...
Points wise, Washougal pulled a straight flush with a three-way tie for second and a two-way tie for third as Osborne (4-3), Dylan Ferrandis (3-4) and Adam Cianciarulo (2-5) finished together a point behind Savatgy (7-1), while RJ Hampshire (6-2) and Aaron Plessinger (1-9) took fifth and six, respectively, just two points behind the winner. Moto 2 placement rules as Cianciarulo, Hampshire and Plessinger were bumped from the podium.
Our Podium Picks for Unadilla:
- Marvin Musquin
- Eli Tomac
- Cole Seely
- Aaron Plessinger
- Zach Osborne
- Joey Savatgy
Check out the track map for Round 10:
Gates for Moto 1 drop at 1 p.m. (EST) on Saturday at Unadilla. Buy tickets online or at the track. MAVTV airs Moto 1 for both classes live, and on tape-delay NBC Sports Network broadcasts Moto 2 for both classes starting at 7:30 p.m. (EST).
2017 Motocross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (373)
- Blake Baggett (341)
- Marvin Musquin (319)
- Dean Wilson (269)
- Cole Seely (228)
- Jason Anderson (216)
- Justin Bogle (212)
- Martin Davalos (208)
- Weston Peick (197)
- Cooper Webb (177)
- Zach Osborne (377)
- Jeremy Martin (303)
- Alex Martin (296)
- Joey Savatgy (281)
- Dylan Ferrandis (264)
- Aaron Plessinger (256)
- Adam Cianciarulo (254)
- Colt Nichols (213)
- Mitchell Harrison (212)
- Shane McElrath (192)
Written By: AndrewT