The final showdown between Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin commences on Saturday during Round 12 of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series at the Ironman National in Crawfordsville, IN.
Tomac brings the edge with a 20 point lead and Musquin enters the final round 10 points closer to the title than last year but five points further behind than last week. However, the real numbers lie in the point spread for the last four rounds. Tomac has out-dueled Musquin by 23 points including winning six of the last eight Motos compared to one win by Musquin.
In many respects the 450 class crown should already rest on Tomac's head but a bike malfunction at RedBud caused a 35 point swing that dropped Tomac from the lead for the first time all year. Musquin riding the Red Plate was short-lived though as Tomac got it right back the following round and since then has not finished a Moto out of the Top 3.
Eli Tomac has finished in the Top 3 for 20 of 22 Motos this season
Tomac can cruise to the Championship as he did last year and simply run in the Top 6, if he so chooses, or pin the throttle like he has all season, take the win in Moto 1 and if Musquin finishes third, Tomac gets a victory lap for Moto 2. Tomac has never won at Ironman nor has Musquin. Last year Jeffrey Herlings, the current points leader in the MXGP World Championship, dominated the field and two years ago Ken Roczen also swept in his Championship season. In 2015, Musquin was two points behind Jeremy Martin in the 250 class entering the final round at Ironman when his bike infamously died on Lap 1 in Moto 1 bringing an anticlimactic end to one of the greatest season-long Championship battles.
Marvin Musquin needs a strong ride at Ironman and some help to capture the 2018 MX Championship
Both Tomac, the defending Champion, and Musquin, a two-time MX2 class MXGP Champion, know the heartache of bike malfunctions and the joy of winning a Championship as well as Motos they most certainly wish they could have back. Don't expect either one to leave anything to chance.
Tomac and Musquin ride alone for the sport's most prestigious honor however three riders remain in contention for third-place and a spot on the Championship podium. Roczen who got his second Moto win of the season last week and missed out on his first overall since 2016 on the tie-breaker to Tomac has the lead and momentum. Roczen has eight Top 3 finishes in the last 10 Motos and more or less has fully rebounded from an injury in Supercross that limited his ability in the first half of the season. Justin Barcia follows in fourth nine points behind while Blake Baggett comes in fifth and a long shot to make up the 34 points needed to get past Roczen. Neither Barcia nor Baggett has won a Moto this year and unless the two can pull a rabbit out of their hats this weekend any tie with Roczen goes to Roczen.
Solid riding this weekend by Ken Roczen keeps him in third-place for the season
In the 250 class, Aaron Plessinger gets a victory round as he secured the Championship last week after grabbing the holeshot and checking out in Moto 1 but second and third place for the season have open slots, though Alex Martin just needs three points to secure his spot on the Championship podium in second. Martin has solid Top 10 rides since Moto 2 at Tennessee but has not finished in the Top 3 since Spring Creek and his Championship hopes started unwinding the following round at Washougal.
Rookie Justin Cooper has held on to third-place for much of the season but has lost his grip in recent weeks as Shane McElrath, who was once in ninth-place and now sits just 13 points back in fourth. Mathematically, Cooper has an outside shot at second for the season and would in fact take the tie-breaker over Martin based on his one Moto win this year but has a much bigger fight to hold on to third.
RJ Hampshire is in line to have a career best season finish
Also in the mix is RJ Hampshire, who grabbed his first career Moto win and overall last week that has put him just four points back of McElrath in fifth and 19 back of Cooper for third. A repeat performance on Saturday along with so-so rides from McElrath and Cooper give Hampshire the final spot on the 250 Championship podium. Chase Sexton, who finished a season best second overall last week, Austin Forkner and Dylan Ferrandis, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-place, respectively, all have long odds to reach third-place but certainly have legitimate hopes to reach the final five.
Our Podium Picks for Ironman:
- Ken Roczen
- Marvin Musquin
- Eli Tomac
- RJ Hampshire
- Mitchell Harrison
- Alex Martin
Check out the track map for Round 12:
A warm day, but not too hot expected on Saturday in Crawfordsville, IN and maybe a thunderstorm. MAVTV airs the first Motos live starting at 1 p.m. (EST) Saturday but the second Motos don't get air time until 3 p.m. (EST) on Sunday. Say, what? Yes, that means if Tomac or Musquin do not clinch the Championship after Moto 1 the premier 450 class Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship winning ride does not get broadcast live. That's just wrong.
2018 Motocross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (493)
- Marvin Musquin (473)
- Ken Roczen (403)
- Justin Barcia (394)
- Blake Baggett (370)
- Weston Peick (291)
- Phil Nicoletti (282)
- Benny Bloss (278)
- Kyle Cunningham (159)
- Cooper Webb (156)
- Aaron Plessinger (450)
- Alex Martin (366)
- Justin Cooper (318)
- Shane McElrath (305)
- RJ Hampshire (299)
- Chase Sexton (287)
- Austin Forkner (284)
- Dylan Ferrandis (281)
- Joey Savatgy (262)
- Jordon Smith (259)