10 Things to Watch: Las Vegas

10 Things To Watch: Las Vegas

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By Aaron Hansel, Jason Thomas, Chase Stallo

East Meets West
Since the 250SX classes are separated into two separate regions, the riders in the West don't race against the ones in the East, which often leads to some serious bench racing about which region has the faster riders. Luckily, there's the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout, which takes place in Vegas after the conclusion of the regional points-paying races. Want to see how Wil Hahn, Marvin Musquin and Blake Wharton stack up against Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac and Cole Seely? Or perhaps you just can't wait to see the highly anticipated Dakota Tedder vs. AJ Catanzaro brawl? Fortunately, you won't have to wait long, as all these battles are sure to play out tomorrow night when the gate drops on the East/West Shootout. – Aaron Hansel

Red Bull KTM vs. GEICO Honda
With the 450SX championship locked up a week early by Ryan Villopoto, all eyes will be focused on the two titles that are still up for grabs. In the Eastern Regional 250SX series, it's down to GEICO's Wil Hahn and Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin, with Hahn holding a 5-point advantage. Out West, thanks to a crazy night in Salt Lake City, we have a similar situation, with KTM's Ken Roczen leading GEICO rider Eli Tomac by five points. If Hahn and Roczen finish in front of Musquin and Tomac respectively, they'll be victorious. If Tomac or Musquin win, they'll need their rivals to finish third or worse. No matter how things shake out, there's bound to be some intensity in regional races in Vegas. – Aaron Hansel

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Can Millsaps hold off Dungey for second?
Simon Cudby photo

Collision Course
The last time Rockstar Energy Racing's Blake Wharton and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki replacement rider and three-time Arenacross Champ Tyler Bowers were on the track together things didn't go well for Bowers. An unwillingness to let off in a corner combined with a hard, aggressive pass from Wharton left the AX specialist on the ground and unhappy. After the race, Bowers said that the move made him hungrier than ever, and that he wasn't going to be so nice in the next race. Enough time has passed since the incident for tempers to cool, but it doesn't take a very big spark to reignite these kinds of fires, especially when the adrenaline is flowing. What will happen if the two find themselves once again battling for position this weekend in Vegas? – Aaron Hansel

Battle Within a Battle
Now that the championship has been decided, the focus shifts to the race for second between Ryan Dungey and Davi Millsaps. Millsaps has a 3-point lead over the former champion from Minnesota, leaving endless possibilities for how it will turn out. If Dungey wins the race, he will clinch second regardless, even if they end in a series tie. He would have the race win total edge and thus win the tiebreaker. Most of the points differentials are only of the two points variety, however, so Dungey may need some help if he doesn’t win the race outright. For Millsaps, all he needs to do is stay ahead of the #5 to lock down his second straight runner-up series finish. In any case, it does add another wrinkle to an always exciting series finale. – Jason Thomas

Oops, Whoops
After struggling badly last week in Salt Lake City’s whoop section, Eli Tomac is looking to bounce back this weekend in Sin City. The reasons for his struggles have been discussed this week with most claiming poor bike setup, being overly nervous or a mixture of both. Las Vegas is notorious for difficult whoops so one must assume the GEICO Honda team has spent more than a few hours preparing for a shootout at Sam Boyd. At a 5-point deficit, Eli surely feels the need to win and put himself in the best spot possible. All eyes will be on the #1 come Saturday. – Jason Thomas

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The battle for 8-10th out West is winner take all.
Simon Cudby photo

Moneyball
Four riders in the 450SX class are vying for two paying spots in the points fund. Twentieth place in series points pays $8600, which might not change anyone’s life, but is still a significant amount of money. The points gap between Friese, Blose and LaMay is 7, and with Friese opting to ride the 250 class this week, it opens the door for pandemonium for that cash. Jimmy Albertson was hoping to come back earlier than planned from a wrist injury hoping to cash in, but will not be making the trip, while LaMay has been on fire as of late in a late season push for the top 20. In a race with drama in both classes, it is just another of the easily overlooked storylines that will play out Saturday night. – Jason Thomas

Davalos Feeling the Vegas Heat
For much of Martin Davalos’ career, he has been lethal in the heat races. Speed has never been an issue for the fastest rider ever from Ecuador, but main events have presented more of a challenge. Most would agree that he should have a few career main event wins given his talent and equipment. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t happened. With the 250 West main event being similar to a typical heat race this weekend, can he use this change to snag his first win? It would be a huge lift for the struggling Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team and might break the mental barrier he seems to be carrying. I personally wouldn’t be shocked and with the two championship contenders more concerned with points, it’s a great opportunity to steal a win in the desert. – Jason Thomas

Windham Swan Song
Kevin Windham has always shined in Las Vegas. While sometimes his result didn’t tell the tale, he is well known to be on top of his game on the slippery adobe of Nevada. I am sure Vegas holds a soft spot in his heart and with uncertainty about his involvement next year, it will be interesting to see what he has in store for opening ceremonies. He has been wowing the crowds all season with his creativity and sheer skill but I would assume he will want to make it one to remember. With plenty of time to plan, the sky is the limit for what the #14 will pull off. – Jason Thomas

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Will Anderson play spoiler in Vegas?
Simon Cudby photo

Repeated Success
It took two and a half years longer than many expected, but Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson finally fulfilled the hype many projected on him coming out of the amateur ranks with his maiden 250SX win last weekend. Many times, all a rider needs is that one win to give them the confidence to believe they can succeed and suddenly the Ws begin to pile up—see Wil Hahn and Marvin Musquin. With title implications splattered all of the West Region, Anderson may be a wildcard to steal valuable points away from either Roczen or Tomac. – Chase Stallo

Tenth on The Line
By now the 250SX West and East title bouts have been discussed, analyzed, and dissected from every angle. Flying underneath the headlines are the battles for 8-10th out West. Currently Christian Craig, Tyla Rattray, and rookie Joey Savatgy all hold 87 points to their credit with Craig owning the tiebreaker thanks to his fifth last weekend. This is a winner-take-all scenario. Will one of the veterans take control, or will it be the surprising rookie? – Chase Stallo

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