Welcome to the Smith Optics Track Walk, where David Pingree will walk you through a lap of the Phoenix Supercross.
The Phoenix track has very specific traits every year. For one, it is made of river-bottom silt that seems like it will be soft and rutted but packs into asphalt by the time the main event comes around. It is also a very fast and sweeping track, as the layout usually follows the baselines around in broad, one-lined corners. This usually makes the start the most important part of the race, as passing is difficult.
1 -The layout for this weekend looks like it keeps with the standard Arizona theme. The start is wide and funnels into a left-hand turn. The speed coming in usually leads to some crashes on the outside - make sure your DVR is set. The first turn rolls right into a rhythm lane. Obviously, there will be variations here, and it will be interesting to see if riders go wide in the turn to set up for a bigger combo or just hug the inside and double in. At the end of that lane we get to the first “real” turn, which is still only a 90-degree left.
2 -The next lane contains a small rhythm section leading up to a triple. Most likely, the riders will double-triple to set up for the big triple. I can tell you for certain that what you don’t want to do is have your piston crack in half on the takeoff and subsequently break your bike in half. That never ends well - trust me. There’s a strange roller going into the turn that should throw riders out of their rhythm.
3 - And there’s another one coming out of the next turn that will force riders to check up again. If you have a slow bike, this roller is going to be your nemesis all night long because you’ll be accelerating toward the triple from a stop. Should have sprung for the big-bore kit, Skippy.
4 -After a tight 180-degree left, the riders will negotiate a step-on-step-on-step-off section. A mistake here will cost you major time. Those who can’t get from one table to the next will try to jump all the way over the first table and then launch from the second table into the turn. This is slower but less difficult.
5 - The following turn has a small double in the corner. Riders may be able to double around it, depending on the location of the Tuff Blox. The next rhythm looks like a standard double-triple-double section.
6 - A tight right sends riders into the first whoop section. It’s a short set, so hopefully, they’ll make them bigger than last week’s watered-down sets.
7 - A 90-degree left will send riders into a sand section. If there’s one thing that Arizona does have, it’s good sand. Last year the sand was deep and treacherous. Hopefully, it’s the same material again.
8 - Following another left, the riders head back through a short whoop section. Following those whoops is a 180-degree left that leads to the finish-line double. This turn should be a good passing spot as riders set up passes in the whoops. The double is standard-issue, and it is followed by another little double into the corner. The final left shoots riders back onto the start straight and into lap two.
9 - This race frequently has surprise winners, and because it’s difficult to pass, you may see unknown riders pull a start and hang out in front for much of the race. If the racing is anything like last week, the Phoenix fans are going to be pumped.