We’ve got another day race this weekend and this will also be the first weekend this year the race will not air on TV live so be sure to check back here to get the most up to date action. Eli Tomac has won two in a row and really seems to have found his groove. With his second win of the year last weekend, Tomac has tightened up the points to 17 behind Ryan Dungey. Justin Hill has won three in a row and as the new series points leader, he will be running the red plate tonight for the first time. Phil Nicoletti suffered an ankle injury yesterday during press day, and will not be racing tonight. For an up to date list of who’s in and who’s out for the weekend, check out our our weekly injury report.
We’re out of California and back in a dome stadium so the track didn’t have to be covered this week. That means the Dirt Wurx crew didn’t have to put in too much overtime to get this one ready. It’s supposed to be 86 degrees here in Texas today, so hopefully they don’t open the roof on AT&T Stadium during the day, as this tacky red clay could turn into dry red dust.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, except for the whoops this weekend. There are two back to back sets, but pretty small and high speed. The start is interesting, it is a left hander and then they cut across four lanes of the track and into the middle of one of the rhythms. The first turn also doesn't have a true corner. What will be used as a berm is actually the backside of the first jump in the first rhythm lane. The second rhythm lane is very long and the only place guys that will likely have varying lines. The track is looking pretty simple and pretty one lined tonight so don’t expect riders to be able to make up too much time or come through the pack the way that Tomac did with his triple-quad line last week in Oakland. With everyone doing the same rhythms, it makes it hard to pass and makes the start even more critical than normal.
I spoke to Texas' own Blake Wharton during track walk and he gave me a little local insider knowledge. The rodeo and the supercross race are usually within a few weeks of each other. Wharton said that the dirt is typically better if the supercross race falls after the rodeo on the calendar. Reason being is when the rodeo is in town they mix in some soils and whatever it is, the dirt quality is a little better. I can only assume the rodeo dirt quality is a littler higher priority than the supercross dirt quality here in Texas. The bad news about this insider info is the rodeo is next weekend. Not to worry though, the Dirt Wurx crew is on hand as always and the dirt still looks pretty good to me.
Qualifying - Session One
Justin Hill is riding with a lot of confidence right now. He jumped up front early and stayed there. He was also the only rider in the session to drop into the 47 second lap times. Jeremy Martin is back after suffering a head injury that forced him to sit out the last two rounds from his practice crash in Glendale, AZ. He took his time to find his groove in this practice. Martin started out slow and built through the session, eventually finishing second behind Hill.
Nothing too crazy happened in the first timed 450 session. Tomac and Marvin Musquin traded places on the top of the leader board during the session. Tomac is riding with a lot of confidence after winning the last two. He finished out the session on top and during his Race Day Live interview he said, “I'm having fun and feeling the flow.” These smaller whoops really play to Musquin's strengths as he likes to jump through versus blitzing. When the track started to break down many more riders starting jumping instead of blitzing the first set of whoops. Expect to see that in the night show throughout the pack.
Qualifying - Session One
Justin Hill took was your fastest qualifier again and when asked about how the track is breaking down he said, “The hard stuff is coming up from the bottom and the whoops were getting weird." In the first timed practice session, some riders were jumping the first set of whoops and nearly everyone was blitzing the second set. It was the inverse in this practice session with riders blitzing the first set and jumping through the second. The second set of whoops also have a deep rut that runs down the middle as the main line. The rut got pretty deep and I was watching it closely to see if anyone would get sideways from a front or rear tire hopping out of the line. Luckily no one did and they will likely fix the whoops again in the next track maintenance session.
Nick Schmidt went down early in the second set whoops and it took him about a lap to get up and and off the track. I didn’t see him crash so I’m not sure if he fell victim to what I was predicting earlier, but he seems to be ok. The leader board was busy this session with a handful of riders battling for best lap times. Cole Seely lead early before Musquin put in a heater and stayed on top until the end. Other riders that were mixing it up on the board were Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac, Dean Wilson, Blake Baggett. Every time I looked at the board it was completely different from the last, it was a fun practice to watch. One number I didn’t see on the board was the 5. Dungey isn’t always the best qualifier, but he is feeling under the weather this weekend and it may be affecting his riding. Maybe he’s conserving energy for later, we’ll have to see.
250SX Heat One
Shane McElrath took the holeshot and lead from start to finish. Jeremy Martin made his way into second by the second corner and that’s where he stayed for the rest of the race. McElrath and Martin pulled away early on, but Aaron Plessinger made a charge from mid-pack. Plessinger was close to catching Martin, but with three riders going down on the landing of the triple in three different instances, the lights of the triple were flashing most of the race and it didn’t help. There are some slick spots on the track and I think the extra wheel spin out of the corner before the triple caused those guys to have problems on the landing.
250SX Heat Two
Forkner was impressive in this one. He got another holeshot and lead most of the heat. Hill followed closely for most of the race but wasn't able to make a move. With two laps to go Forkner’s front wheel bounced going into the corner between the whoops and Hill put on a clean block pass. Forkner didn’t give up though and made a charge. On the last lap lappers played a factor and slowed Hill. This allowed Forkner to get really close and the last lap was intense. Hill bobbled in the second to last corner and Forkner squared him up, “sending it” into the triple-double and even though Forkner had a good drive, he was setup on the outside of the last corner which allowed Hill to inch him over the finish. Pro Circuit Team Owner Mitch Payton must be happy with that one.
450SX Heat One
Baggett almost had the holeshot, but Vince Freise pushed him wide. Dungey took advantage passed both of them and took it from there. Baggett stayed close for most of the race until being caught by Musquin, who came through the pack on mission. Musquin made a Freise-like pass on Freise in the corner after the first step-on-step-off. Towards the end of the race three riders went down in one instance on the landing of that same triple and they all went down hard. Unfortunately, Colton Aeck went down so hard that he had to be removed from the track on a backboard with the assistance of the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit. Hopefully he’ll be alright.
450SX Heat two
This was a stacked heat race with lots of action everywhere. On the first lap, Eli Tomac doubled the triple and then singled the third. Tomac jumped into the inside of the corner and came down onto the back of Cooper Webb’s bike and went down. Near the end of the race Jason Anderson was close behind Malcolm Stewart when Stewart had a bizarre solo crash. Stewart caught his front wheel going into the corner and as he made the 180 degree turn he went over the bars. While this was all happening Anderson was right there, got pushed off balance, and whisky throttled his bike over the top of the berm. His bike looped out and almost launched into the next rhythm lane. Trey Canard made his return to racing this weekend and was charging through the pack. Canard was about to make a move on Millsaps for third when Webb made a move on him in the same way Musquin got Baggett in the first heat. Webb squared up the corner after the straight and launched by Canard to take the final transfer spot.
Meanwhile up front, Mike Alessi grabbed another in his line of holeshots and led most of the way, but late in the race Justin Bogle snuck by to get the win.
The sun has made its way into the stadium through the front glass windows and is currently in the stands. It’s moving slowly onto the track though and may play a factor in the upcoming races, specifically the start, the corner between the whoops and the second set of whoops as they will be facing directly into the sun. Chris Alldredge with the LCQ win. This will be Alldredge’s first trip to the main this year, congrats.
450SX Semi One
Chad Reed with the start and the win. During Reed’s post-race interview he said it was dangerous out there because of the sun. He even joked asking the fans to stand up and block the sun for the riders. Since then, that sun pocket has faded and a new one is starting. It will be interesting to see how that affects the main events.
450SX Semi Two
Tomac with a huge holeshot. He rode solid and all by himself. In last week's post-race press conference, Tomac talked about how he was actually glad to go to the semi to get the extra track time. This may be bad news for the rest of the field again. Jake Weimer crashed and will be going to the LCQ.
Weimer took the lead early with Nick Schmidt and Jimmy Albertson behind. On lap two Albertson made the move into second and then in the following corner Schmidt washed his front end and knocked himself out of the main.
McElrath was looking great early in the main. He took the holeshot and started stretching out a lead. On the opening lap not everyone jumped the triple, which slowed Martin Davalos up and he faced the landing hard. The hard hit looked like it slowed him down for the rest of the race and he finished in a quiet 7th. It was McElrath, Hill, Forkner, and Jimmy Decotis in the top four with about a six second lead ahead of the rest of the field in the early laps. McElrath was pulling on Hill and stretched his lead to about five seconds until suddenly, the former series' points lead had bike problems. McElrath pulled off the track along the long rhythm and around the triple. Hill was in the right place at the right time and was able to take advantage of McElrath’s misfortune and found himself in the lead. Meanwhile McElrath got back on the track, rolled some jumps, exited the track again at the finish and then headed over then the mechanic’s area. There was some shoulder shrugging with the team manager and his mechanic and then McElrath went back on the track, most likely just to salvage points. He was back on the track, but his bike was still in the same condition. After basically rolling the entire track, his night was over.
Meanwhile, Plessinger who started in about 12th , had been charging the whole race and caught the back of Jimmy Decotis who for the second week in a row was riding in a solid forth. With about five minutes left to go Plessinger passed Decotis in the corner between the whoops and settled for third. With McElrath out, Forkner was now in second and it seemed like it fired him up. Forkner charged after Hill and it was a battle for the lead. On the last two laps Forkner pushed hard and the crowd was into it. Lappers played a big factor tonight and it allowed Forkner to get right on the rear wheel of Hill. It wasn't enough though and Hill took his fourth win in a row. McElrath would end up finishing last, which pushed him back to third in the points standing behind Plessinger and gave Hill a 25-point advantage in the points standings.
I have two words for this main event: absolute carnage! The main started with a red flag due to Justin Brayton going down in the first turn. Going back to the morning report, the first turn was weird this weekend. It was more of a left, a straight, and then a hard sharp left into a rhythm without a real berm instead of just a regular left hand turn. Webb had the best jump off the gate and had the clear lead, but Brayton tried diving inside to cross the chalk line first and it cost him when he went down. With the whole first turn chaos, it’s not clear what exactly happened, but when the dust settled Brayton was still down. Webb led the first lap, but they red flagged the race and sent everyone back to the gate.
When the race restarted Bogle and Musquin got out front early and it was Musquin, Bogle, Webb, Seely, Canard. On the second lap Webb passed Bogle before the triple and set his sights on Musquin. Dungey and Tomac were both buried in the pack, but Tomac made quick work and was in fifth by the third lap. Trying to get to the front quickly, Dungey and Reed collided on the landing of the second step-on-step-off and Reed shot off the side of the track. Neither of them went down and Reed was able to quickly regroup.
With about 15 minutes to go Canard washed his front end off the landing of the triple where everyone was going inside in the following corner. It was a big shiny pad and super slick. His bike flipped on top of him and it did not look like it felt good. This is about the point where the race everything seemed to start happening all over the place.
Webb was riding great until he started slowing down. Seely caught Cooper very fast and then just pulled away. At first it looked like Webb rode way too hard in the opening laps and just completely tanked as his body language just looked defeated. But then it kept getting worse, as he started casing jumps and then stopped tripling anything. Webb pulled into the mechanic’s area and sure enough it was a flat tire. They would change it and Webb went back out to salvage 14th.
Tomac kept coming. It took three or four laps for him to pass Bogle and then just like Canard, Tomac slammed hard into the corner after washing his front end on the landing of the triple. You could tell something was wrong with Tomac’s bike as he kept looking down. He pulled off after finish, passed mechanics area without pulling in, made the next turn, and then circled back to the mechanics area with his hands up. There was something wrong with the front brake, so they cut the line and he went back out to salvage 15th.
A few laps after Tomac, Baggett, too, washed hard in the exact same spot. Baggett was banging on his clutch lever and never quite recovered. Later in the race Baggett faced the triple similar to Davalos. Baggett rolled around for a couple laps before pulling off. It was a weird night.
With four minutes to go Dungey caught the back of Wilson who was now in fourth. Dungey followed Wilson for about four laps before making an assertive pass with a small amount of contact. It didn’t look like there was really a good spot to make the move so when Dungey saw an opportunity, he took it. Reed somehow went down in the first set of whoops late in the race and with about two minutes to go he pulled in with bike issues as well. While all this carnage was going on, the race up front was actually quiet. Musquin was riding around out front by himself and took his first ever 450SX race win. Seely would finish second and Anderson third.