10 Things to Watch: Utah National

10 Things To Watch: Utah National

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By Aaron Hansel, Chase Stallo, and Jason Weigandt

This is It

This weekend presents Ryan Dungey with his final chance at overtaking Ken Roczen for the prestigious 450 National Championship. With 20 points separating the two it’s a slim chance, and Dungey is going to need something drastic to happen to his teammate—it’s highly unlikely that Roczen will finish outside the top five all by himself in both motos. If Dungey wins the battle this weekend, Roczen will likely still win the war. -Aaron Hansel 

The Surge

Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard is ending the season strong, taking second-moto wins the last two weeks. Canard’s pointed to a major suspension change and getting more comfortable on the bike as factors, and you can tell even from talking to him that he’s in a better place mentally, too. Still missing, though, is an overall win. Does he finally seal the deal this weekend? – Jason Weigandt 

Can Dungey make a run at Roczen? Photo: Simon Cudby
Can Dungey make a run at Roczen? Photo: Simon Cudby

Eyebrows Officially Raised

At the performance of Joey Savatgy. The Rockstar Energy Racing KTM rider was injured at the start of the season, but he’s really been turning it up at the last few rounds. He even had a career best in the mud last week, when he went 4-3 for second overall. That is professional grade, right there, and he’s not going to be backing down in Utah. Make Versace Savatgy one of your fantasy picks—he’s going to have another good ride this weekend. -Hansel

Second Place Struggle

There’s an interesting dynamic associated with the runner-up spot in the championship. It’s probably the last thing that Blake Baggett and Cooper Webb want to be fighting over—they want championships—but at the same time, giving up the spot without a fierce fight is the last thing that either one will do. And with only two points between them, the spot is definitely up for grabs. Who will have it at the end of the day? -Hansel

Eli Tomac

After watching Eli Tomac claim his first 450 motocross win by destroying everyone at Spring Creek, it was easy to think that more wins would be along shortly. That hasn’t been the case, and six gate drops later Tomac is still looking for another moto and overall win. The good news for GEICO Honda is that Tomac is very fast on the infield track at Miller Motorsports Park—he went 1-1 at the venue last year to wrap up the 250 National Championship. Will he close out the season with another win? –Hansel

Cooper Webb will try and chase Blake Baggett down for second in Utah. Photo: Simon Cudby
Cooper Webb will try and chase Blake Baggett down for second in Utah. Photo: Simon Cudby

Battle for Tenth

While the 450 championship battle may (yes, we know it’s not over) have washed away in Indiana, there is still a lot to be determined at the season finale in Utah. Since taking over Justin Barcia’s spot at Team Honda Muscle Milk at RedBud, Fredrik Noren has averaged 21.1 points a round, allowing him to pull within 1 point of Chad Reed for tenth. Reed has averaged just 13.3 points over the same span.  While their level of excitement over the position (hint: Reed probably does not care) differs, it’s still something to keep an eye on. In the 250 Class, the battle for tenth will be decided between Dean Wilson and Alex Martin (tied at 204 points), with Joey Savatgy still in the mix at 10 points back. There’s one last chance to lay it on the line. Who leaves with tenth in points? – Chase Stallo

Another Mudder?

It took a little over three years to get another mudder (Southwick  2011), but there is a probability—50 percent to be exact, as of today—we could see two in a matter of weeks. Conditions threw a wrench in the championship race a week ago; will it play a factor again? – Stallo

Playing Favorites

Soggy conditions played to the favor of Ryan Sipes last week. After stepping away from motocross to focus on GNCC Racing at the beginning of this year, Sipes returned at High Point, signed with Rockstar Energy Racing KTM a few weeks later and will finish out the Pro Motocross season before returning to GNCC. Sipes, who had no top tens prior Indiana, took full advantage and captured his first career 450 podium (also his first two top ten moto finishes of the year). “You take that track we ran on Saturday and compare it to the Snowshoe GNCC and this is like a walk in the park,” he told Racer X this week. If conditions do play a factor, will Sipes see the podium for the second straight week? – Stallo

Canadian Champion Colton Facciotti returns to the US this weekend.  Photo: James Lissimore
Canadian Champion Colton Facciotti returns to the US this weekend.  Photo: James Lissimore

O Canada

Last week, at the season finale of the Canadian Motocross Championship, Colton Facciotti claimed his fourth MX1 title over Americans Mike Alessi, Kyle Chisholm, Josh Hill, and Bobby Kiniry. This week Americans will seek their revenge on the Canadian hero when Facciotti races the season finale at Utah with Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda in place of Malcolm Stewart. Facciotti first raced in the States in 2006—Lites supercross and motocross.  Since then he’s raced the occasional round, and was last seen at Pala in 2011, where he finished fourteenth overall. How will the Canadian champ do south of his border? – Stallo

Fresh Faces

Throwing out last week’s race, this will be the second time (first for Nick Gaines) that rookies RJ Hampshire, Luke Renzland, Chris Alldredge and Gaines will race in good conditions (we hope!). Gaines and Alldredge excelled in hazardous conditions in Indiana, but will it carry over to Utah? Will Hampshire and Renzland bounce back from disappointing weekends? - Stallo 

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