10 Things   to Watch For at Seattle

10 Things to Watch For at Seattle

April 15, 2011 3:15pm
10. Wild, Wild, West: The West Lites returns with Josh Hansen holding a small lead of just three points over his teammate Broc Tickle, and Eli Tomac just nine points further back in third. But all three are coming off of injuries—Hansen broke his hand, Tickle his collarbone, and Tomac knocked himself out in a practice crash. In other words, this is a race just to get back to the track as much as a race on the track.

9. The Weather: Sorry Seattle fans, but we have to bring this up—especially after the forecast starting last Saturday called for eight-straight days of rain. But the Pacific Northwest faithful said the weather never stays the same for long up there, and indeed, now the forecast shows a few clouds, sun, and no rain on Saturday. If the track is in reasonable condition today, it will be okay tomorrow. Well, except for the ruts.

Hansen and the rest of the West Lites class returns this weekend.
Photo: Simon Cudby

8. Ruts: Seattle fans will also tell you that it doesn’t actually rain for this race every year—and indeed, the mud-race record at the open air Qwest Field is only about 50/50. However, even in a dry year, the track is still treacherous. Last year’s event featured all the aspects of a mudder except for the actual mud, with deep ruts snagging bikes and bringing out the very best in technical skills. Tickle and Kevin Windham thrived in these conditions. For anyone to do that this year, they’ll have to get into a different mindset, because a super-rutted Seattle track is unlike anything we’ve seen so far this year.

7. Must Wins for Stewart: This may be the first time in SX history that a rider ranked fourth in the series with three rounds remaining still has a decent shot at the championship. Stewart is down 16, but with the way the points have swung dramatically every weekend this year, 16 isn’t as big of a gap as it normally is. But Stewart has to do his part and win, win, win over the next three races. In some years, that wouldn’t seem like a tough request for Bubba. But this year? Who knows?

6. Can Ryan Morais Win? Three riders may be battling for the title, but spoilers are in the mix looking for race wins. Ken Roczen won’t be back on the tour until next weekend (he’s splitting time between Europe and the U.S.) but Cole Seely already has a win this season and could easily go get another one on Saturday night. Martin Davalos is always fast. And what about the class veteran, Ryan Morias? He started the year off injured and didn’t have his A game in January. He’s rested and ready for this one. Career win number 1?

Stewart is in a must-win situation.
Photo: Garth Milan

5. Reed in Turn One: Chad Reed must love the dirt in Seattle, because he’s gone down for a good look at it too many times throughout his career. First-turn crashes here in ’05, ’07 and ’09 effectively or mathematically eliminated him from title contention. If San Diego is the magic land for Reed, Seattle is the opposite. But he needs to pull through more than ever this time.

4. Week Off: --There is a week off after Seattle. This is normally seen as a much-needed reset, but the intensity of this title chase will surely make for a stressful weekend off, anyway. And outdoor testing needs to get done, which only makes things more nerve-wracking considering what happened to Trey Canard this week. After 15 straight races of “there’s always next week” to pick up spirits on a bad night, it won’t be the same after this one.

3. The Canard (or lack thereof) Factory: So Trey Canard is out—huge bummer for him, his team, his family and his fans. Hopefully we’ll see him back outdoors, but he’s no longer a factor in supercross. Or is he? Canard possessed the ability to get in the mix and steal points from anyone. Now that he’s not there, someone is going to benefit and someone is going to gain.

Tough break for Canard this week, who will be there to take advantage?
Photo: Garth Milan

2. The Drive: Ryan Dungey was a ridiculous 38 points down on the lead after Anaheim 2. He’s marched all the way back to just five down with three to go. Although he’s not saying it, it sure seems like Dungey has hatched a calculated plan to finish consistently while everyone else races for the moment and takes risks to win it all. And if that is his plan, he could make up more points this weekend. And he still won’t tell us if that’s his plan.

1. The Homeboy: Ryan Villopoto is always going to get a boost at his home race. And it worked when he won his first SX Class race in 2009. But this season, he’s going for the title and leading the series by a slim margin. Qwest Field is architecturally engineered to be the loudest open-air stadium in the NFL. RV needs a win, and if he gets it in front of the home fans, they will (figuratively) blow the roof off of the place.